Published: March 29th 2012March 27th 2012
All the best laid plans of mice and men - this comes from some poem or other and it sums up the way our weekend turned out. We had planned to go north to Northumberland and visit Beamish with its old fashioned village where you can still use pre-decimal halfpennies, pennies, threepences and tanners to buy old fashioned fish and chips and sweets and travel on old tram:, to Alnwick castle and gardens; to Rothbury and Cragside the home of Armstrong and to Lindisfarne and its serene beauty. However things didnt quite work out right. I had thought I would be on strike from work and have an extra day holiday but this was cancelled last minute and it left us with only three days to play with. Northumberland would have to wait.
We had been disappointed with the attitude of the company we bought the motorhome from as they advised Swift that the damage to our locker door was caused by us or by the company that fitted the alarm system. We knew we hadnt done it and the alarm company had denied all knowledge of the damage. We were waiting on Swift for their thoughts on what had
West Highland Railway
One of the little trains near to Meillionen Station
gone wrong with out but not holding out much hope. So much for customer care and the customer always being right. In the end to brighten up life we decided to spend a few days in the small town of Beddgelert in the Snowdonia National Park.
The roads were quiet on Sunday morning as we wound our way into the heart of North Wales. The scenery is stunning with mountain ranges jutting upwards like a set of jagged teeth. Reflections shimmering in the spring sunshine on the lakes. The lakes hold out a certain sense of awe and wonder as they are crystal clear and stunningly beautiful however there is a dark side to them too. Anyone knowing the history of Wales and water will understand the depth of feeling surrounding the reservoirs of North and mid Wales. One reservoir in particular causes most concern and that is Llyn Celyn which was constructed between 1960 and 1965 in the valley of the River Tryweryn in Gwynedd . A large lake of 2½ miles long by a mile wide with a maximum depth of 140 ft (43 m) it was created by flooding the valley so that Liverpool could have
West Highland Railway
a little train passing through Meillionen Halt
their water. Construction of the reservoir involved flooding the village of CapelCelyn and the adjacent farmland which was deeply a controversial move at the time due to the drowning of the village, the church and the graveyard. Many other lakes in Wales were formed by the same means . Beautiful as the lakes are they do cause deep hurt still in the hearts of welshmen and women. We stopped on the banks of Llyniau Mymbyr two stunningly beautiful lakes in the heart of North Wales. With the sun glinting on the water they looked impressive. What is it though about photographs that never do justice to the view you see yourself.
We travelled on through the small village of Capel Curig arriving at the campsite at Beddgelert. We had phoned earlier that morning to book a space and were told to "just arrive". Upon arrival the campsite shop was closed with only a notice on the door advising that during winter time the shop only opened between 9 and 10 in the morning and between 4 and 5 in the evening. We parked up, plugged in to the electric and made a cup of tea. Tea always tastes good
West Highland Railway
a train on the line at Meillionen Station
when you really feel like one. We spent the afternoon watching the tiny trains travelling between Caernarfon in the north to Porthmadoc on the coast. The railway had not been open long mainly built by and maintained by volunteers. We heard the engine liveried in bright green in the distance as it wound its way along the valley, peeping its whistle at every road junction. When it arrived memories were evoked by the plumes of black smoke belching from its funnel and the cheery waves from the drivers on the footplate, the passengers and the guards. It wasnt long before the second train a brilliant deep blue arrived from the opposite direction again belching smoke. We planned to go on it the next day and looked forward to our trip to Portmadoc.
The evening was spent sitting by the riverside in Beddgelert watching the dippers flitting from stone to stone. We ate fish and chips in the evening sunlight before walking over to Gelerts grave. Gelert is the name of a legendary dog associated with the village of Beddgelert . Gelert is alleged to have belonged to Prince Llywelyn the Great a Prince of Gwynedd. In the legend, Llywelyn
The language of heaven
returns from hunting to find his baby's cradle overturned, the baby missing and the dog with blood around its mouth. Imagining that it has savaged the child, Llywelyn draws his sword and kills the dog, which lets out a final dying yelp. He then hears the cries of the baby and finds it unharmed under the cradle, along with a dead wolf which had attacked the child and been killed by Gelert. Llywelyn is then overcome with remorse and he buries the dog with great ceremony, yet can still hear the dying yelp. After that day Llywelyn never smiles again. The grave lies in a field just outside the town.
The campsite was quiet and light pollution low so it was possible to see the stars lighting up the night sky. The next morning we got up early and sat for a while watching the rabbits and squirrels bounding from tree to tree, the blackbirds and blue tits flying between the trees, we listened to the sound of water babbling down from the mountains of Snowdonia. In the distance we heard the rap,rap, rap of the woodpeckers in the trees.
We walked up the mountains all on our own seeing no-one enjoying the views across the valley to Eryri itself. What a peaceful place - the mobile phone only working in a nearby laybye and the satellite taking minutes to find a television signal.
We enjoyed the campsite very much. It was different to others we had stayed at set in the coniferous and deciduous forest. The shower block clean and tidy but utilitarian. Wooden with heather brown floor tiles reminiscent of school days. Water hot and plentiful. We couldnt have asked for more. Three days of peace and quiet enjoying nature at its best with the bonus of seeing two wonderful steam engines. We sadly did not get the opportunity to go on the train but intend to go back one day and make a journey up to Caernarfon and down to Portmadoc.