Britain 09 - Day 33
Today we left the timeshare in Wales early and headed west out to the coast at Aberystwyth. From there we drove north, to the market town of Machynlleth, before continuing on towards Porthmadog and Llanberis. We had two objectives on this journey - Llanberis and the railway to the summit of Mt Snowdon and the fantasy land of Portmierion. We had decided to stay the night at Llanberis, but would decide when we visited Portmierion (before or after Snowdon) on the way. A lot depended on the weather. As we neared Portmierion, the weather turned into a fine, warm afternoon, with the forecast for a similar day to follow. That settled it, we would visit Portmierion first.
We found our way into the town then picked one of the narrow one-way streets that took us out to the coast. We drove past the old university and stopped on the quay that overlooks the small port. But there was nothing else to entice us, so we continued on to the north. We soon came to the market town of Machynlleth and found ourselves in the midst of the market, the main street lined with stalls. There is a large carpark just off the main street so we parked there and went looking for coffee. We were surprised to discover that most of the stalls were trying to sell the most amazing range of junk.... and the average age of the people wandering the streets was at least 80. Nearly all were supported by walking sticks, frames or in wheelchairs. That made walking through the crowds rather difficult and at times dangerous, So after a quick coffee and a look at the large clock tower we departed.....
The Fantastical World of Portmierion
Portmierion was the creation of the architect Clough Wiliams-Ellis, beginning as with an experiemnt in European design that soon had a life of its own. Images of Portmierion were still vivid in my mind from the TV series "The Prisoner", which of course we watched in black and white. The TV series also did not show the full panorama of the location, so visiting had high expectations but, like the place itself, not grounded in reality. We Followed the signs to the large carpark, which for once was free of charge! However the entry fees were high enough to cover the parking. From there on we wandered through the small valley, filled with surreal buildings, statues and colour. I think it was the wealth of colour that struck me most, perhaps heightened by the early grey images from the TV show. The weather too played its part. A brilliantly fine afternoon with strong sunlight bringing out the colours and deepening the shadows to give an overwhelming impression of space, colour and life.
Now a few pictures of various small features and views that make Portmierion such a fantastic place
The road to Llanberis
From Portmierion we continued north towards Llanberis. The road eventually climbs to a vantage point to the south-east of Mt Snowdon, overlooking the small power station that is fed from the lake of Llyn Llydaw. A little further on the road forks, the left fork heading to Llanberis. At the fork is the old hotel of Pen-Y-Gwryd, little changed from the early 1950s, when John Hunt and his climbing party, including Hillary, used the hotel as a base to prepare for their ascent of Mt Everest.
Lake View Hotel
We finally arrived at Llanberis and found the Lake View Hotel. I had emailed the hotel a few days earlier to book a room, but had not received a reply. The hotel was locked up, but eventually the co-owner/chef came to the door and told us the restaurant was closed until 6pm. This we already knew from the sign on the door. But afer explaining that we had emailed for accommodation she brightened up and led us up to a room. Our host soon returned and opened the bar, to be joined by two couples who had been guests for a few nights. We were now in northern Wales and here the Welsh language is strongly defended. All at the hotel were fluent speakers, especially as the guests were school teachers from Bangor and they are now required to teach in Welsh. So we very soon had our own pronounciation lessons, followed by an excellent meal and drinks.
Last updated: 16/06/2017