Wales 2017

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JUNE- Our excellent young driver Michael was already waiting for us when we boarded the coach at 7.00 am, and after picking up passengers at Shenfield and Brentwood, we made good time to our lunch stop at Almondsbury Garden Centre near Bristol. I rather wished a magic wand could have transferred the centre back to Essex. Then over the impressive Severn bridge, after which progress was much slower, but also much prettier, along the winding roads of Wales, to the Glen Usk Hotel in Llandrindod Wells. Brian enlivened the journey with a “Who am I?” quiz, with the solution J. K. Rowling. The hotel faced a pretty park, which contained a most unusual war memorial: three benches with wrought iron backs, two illustrating scenes from WWI and II, and a third with an olive-bearing dove, and poppies.
Much cooler on Saturday, after the heatwave we’d had at home. I wondered what there was to see in the vicinity and discovered that about half a mile away there was a large lake, so made that my early morning walk. To my surprise there was a “Loch Ness Monster” emerging from the lake (no, not real, just a lifelike statue). Real life were the pretty ducklings scuttling round the edge. The official programme listed three objectives: Machynllewyth, Tywyn, and Meirion Mill. Machynllewyth had an interesting history; it was the site of Wales’s first Parliament founded by Owen Glendower in the l4th century, the Royal House visited by Charles I, and a most impressive “Big Ben” type clock, built to commemorate the coming of age of the Marquess of Londonderry’s eldest son in the l870s. Then on to Tywyn, where St. Cadfan’s church contains carved stone pillars bearing the first inscription known in the Welsh language, and a walk along the very breezy promenade, which didn’t do much for the ladies’ hair-dos! Last stop Meirion Mill – which didn’t look much like a mill, but a high class shop, specialising in woollen goods, with a cafe serving tasty tea-cakes at the back.

 It is still possible to “drink the waters” at Llandrindod Wells, but these are no longer the attraction for visitors that they once were. About ten minutes’ pleasant walk from the hotel, the “waters” can now be found in a wood, coming out of a small fountain donated by a local worthy. I was advised by the hotel receptionist that they tasted horrid – and I didn’t put them to the test! (I had already sampled the delights of the water at Harrogate.)
Sunday was a wonderful day (apart from the weather). We all enjoyed the museum in the Elan Valley depicting the history of the building of the dams and the reservoirs; I am not sure whether the residents displaced from their flooded villages would have waxed so enthusiastically over the new landscape. Then the little steam train from Devil’s Bridge to Aberystwyth; I loved this – the scenery was superb, and the stations were pretty, bedecked with flowers. When we finally arrived at our destination, a railway official unlocked the doors of our carriages, and even put down a little step by each door to make our exit easier. We just had time before the train to look at the Devil’s Bridge (actually three bridges, one above the other), where there was a magnificent waterfall cascading into a basin many feet below. A pity it was pouring! One could walk down to the bottom of the gorge – but a) this cost £2, and b) there wasn’t enough time. This must be a pleasure to be enjoyed on our next visit.
The dear little train took us to the seaside town of Aberystwyth; but the station was about a mile from the sea, so for many of us, there was not time to see it – a brisk 20 minute walk for Peter and me. However we did manage to get a good lunch at the brand new branch of Marks and Spencer!
Monday took us home again, by the same route as Friday’s, thanks to the careful driving of Michael, aged only 2l; after dropping us at our respective stops, he then had to drive back to Wigan that evening – and do a full day’s work on Tuesday. I felt sorry for him, but he never complained and remained friendly, cheerful and helpful throughout the holiday. (Report Christine Pearce, photos: Bill Reeves)

As well as the pictures below you may click on the button below to access more of Bill's photos

 see more pictures and videos at Bill's Website

Dinner on the first evening in the pleasant dining room . . . and a panoramic view of the final breakfast

Left to right: Driver, Mikey was praised by all.     Centre: Prizewinners Sheila Hogg and Doris Kearns with Brian Leith..    Right: The party ready for the off on the final morning.

Victorian Llandrindod Wells

High Street,  Llandrindod Wells

Machynlleth Royal House

Machynlleth for tea lovers

Machynlleth - something unusual

St Cadfans Church, Tywyn


Cabab Coch water generator

Cabab Coch statue

Cabab Coch Victorian Bridge

Cabab Coch centenerary statue

Cabab Coch - Millions of gallons held back by the dam

The engine that took us

All aboard the train

Gill is on board

View of a river from train

Circus spotted from the train

End of the line

Aberystwyth, Dull, grey and windy . . . and at Tywyn Beach much the same . . . .welcome to Wales!

Aberystwyth - Gill braves the weather

Aberystwyth - Bill relaxes while Gill takes the camera

Tywyn-Beach - In the distance U3A members huddle together

Almost a must  - ice cream

Devil's Bridge - a spectactular gorge which with slippery moss-covered steps was pretty inaccessible. The three photos below were taken by Mike Lewis our coach driver. 

The final glimpses. Left to right: Machynlleth Clock Tower, Machynlleth Sites, one of the many waterfalls, Severn Bridge

As well as the pictures above you may click on the button below to access more of Bill's photos

 see more pictures and videos at Bill's Website

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Page last updated : Tuesday, 23 June 2020