Day 10 - Wales (Monday July 1st)
After our 'Full Welsh' breakfast, we walked across the street to Swallow Falls. Very scenic, dark and atmospheric. Early on a drizzly Monday was a good time to go there, it's a very popular site. We got on the road headed for Llanberis, our goal for the day was to take the cog railway to the top of Mt Snowden - the highest point in Wales (and higher than anything in England.) The weather was not looking good, lots of rain and low-hanging clouds. The terrain changed from rolling green hills to rocky, craggy mts. Coming through the Pen-Y-Pass, we had foggy views of the mountains on both sides.
In Llanberis the weather wasn't any better, but we booked tickets for the 2pm train, hoping that predicated afternoon clearing was correct. Llanberis was a massive center for slate-mining and the hillsides across the lake still show that very clearly. To kill time we walked over to Dolbadarn Castle, which is a mostly intact keep with some outlines of the old walls. Another built by Llywelyn the Great in the 13th century. It is on a hill with views of the slate mine and up the pass. I never got tired of those castle ruins.
We went into downtown Llanberis and had a lucky find with 'The Heights' pub & inn. More 'Modern Welsh' but the food was excellent (served on slate planks) and they had Welsh cask ales. There was still time before our train so we killed a few minutes at the slate museum. It is free and we could have spent much more time there (of course) and we had to run to catch the pre-train movie at Snowdonia Railway. Then it was on the train and up the mountain. Yes, we could have hiked up there, but we were short for time. From Llanberis it's a 10 mile round trip hike, or a 2.5 hour round trip train ride.
The forecast turned out to be accurate and it was a beautiful day. Blue skies, puffy clouds, cool temperatures; what more could you ask for? The summit was mobbed with hikers - there are 5 different trailheads that lead to the summit. You can pay to take the train up and hike down, or hike up and take the train down for free. Or go up & down different trails and take a shuttle bus back. This is definitely on the list to go back to.
After our return trip down the mountain, we hit the road to go back to Sheffield, about 2:45 minutes away. But of course we got sidetracked and stopped in Conwy for a 'brief' visit. The town has Conwy Castle, one of "the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe", intact city walls, Telford bridges, a beautiful bay and the smallest house in Britain. The castle was closed, but we walked around the outside, up on the walls, down to the water, and decided it was time for dinner! We found Watson's Bistro, another Modern Welsh restaurant with more excellent food to send us on our way. The bistro is connected to the city wall and had it's own staircase that led to the top, but we didn't know that. So we walked around the block, climbed the wall, and walked to the sign on the top of Watson's. We took the wall all the way to the bay and headed back along the promenade to our car (maybe the only time in the UK we didn't have to pay to park!) We got back to Sheffield around 11pm after a wonderful day in Wales.
Many pictures from today, but it was a photogenic day.