Day 9 - Wales (Sunday, June 30th)
Today we headed to a foreign country within the UK - Wales. It felt like moving between states in the US, or maybe more like between an English speaking province in Canada and a French speaking province. I'm sure we don't understand the subtleties beyond that, and I won't try.
Anyway, going west from Sheffield means driving through the Peak District again. By this time we've taken every road in and out of Sheffield going that way. We drove by the Ladybower & Derwent Reservoirs again and continued through Snake Pass, we assume named for the shape of the road. Of course it was scenic! Then it was onto main roads around Manchester until the border crossing into Wales - marked by a sign saying 'Cymru.'
Once in Wales we paralleled the Irish Sea for quite a ways, and took a smaller road with hopes of better views but most smaller roads are lined with hedgerows, so we had no views! The road did go to the top of a hill with a lay-by (rest-stop) with good views of the Irish Sea, Colwyn Bay and the town of Rhôs-on-Sea. There were many windmills and a couple of drilling platforms out in the Irish Seas. Maybe scenic, maybe not.
We stopped in Rhôs-on-Sea to stretch our legs, visit the tourist info and have lunch & ice cream. Walking along the promenade at low tide was cool, all the boats in the harbor were resting on the ground! We read about a fishing weir that we could see at low tide. This was yet another of those crazy-old things; all the other weirs were closed - "Because such weirs decimated inshore fish stocks, Parliament banned them in 1861 unless it could be shown they pre-dated the Magna Carta, which the then owners, the Parry Evans family, were able to prove." So this fishing weir in the ocean pre-dates the Magna Carta in 1215, and they could prove it! These things just never cease to amaze me.
From there we headed inland to Betws-Y-Coed. This is a very small town with a very large tourist population! We checked out the gorgeous stream that flowed through town, then headed out to get away from the crowds. Just a few miles down the road is Dolwyddelan, with a wonderful castle ruins on a hill top, and very few tourists. This is one of the many Welsh castles (or castells in welsh) built by LLywelyn the Great, and captured by Edward I. Heading back into town we stopped at Fairy Glen, a privately owned picturesque river. We stayed at hotel/inn/hostel just out of town across from Swallow Falls. Some local brews in the pub fortified us to head back into town for dinner at Bistro Betws-Y-Coed, the best place in town. They serve modern-Welsh food (which is just like modern-English food), so it was served on a plank. The food was very good and paired well with some more local Welsh beer.