Holyhead; Friday, 22 January, 2010

Up even earlier this morning and back to the station for a two zone rover ticket, even cheaper and I worked out by the time I hit the first castle of the morning I would be up. On the way in the previous evening it had been drizzling a little, but obviously overnight that had cleared and instead this morning there was a bright sky, but still some small patches of mist hanging around.

These were particularly noticeable as the train went past RAF Valley, with the runways and taxiways holding a few foot of mist above them, it was quirt eerie. Not quite as spectacular though as the scene as we crossed the Menai Straits. There the mist was filling the straits, but stopped below the level of the bridges, so you could see the bridge, clear air then the mist, but not the water.

The train pulled into Bangor a minute or so early so I was able to make the earlier bus to Caernarfon, and arrived at the castle about 10 minutes after it had opened, in fact it was so early that in some places the custodians were still opening up doors as I got to them!

Having taken in the castle, and a bit of a wander around the town it was time for an afternoon sightseeing tour by public transport. First off was the bus up along the edge of Snowdonia to Porthmadog. In the original plan I had about 10 minutes to make the connection in Porthmadog, but the bus was late and it stopped further from the train station than I was expecting so I had to walk very quickly. As I was still about 400 yards from the station the level crossing barriers came down and I knew I was going to have to really rush if I was going to make the train (which I wanted to as there is only one every two hours!) Thankfully, I made it, just, and only because the guard was at the end of the train nearest the road. If she had been at the other end I wouldn’t have made it as she had already closed all the rest of the doors when I ran up.

Collapsed into a seat I took in the stunning views as the train continued on its journey along the northern edge of Cardigan Bay. Cardigan Bay, if you look at the map of Wales, is basically the whole of the West coast. The train runs right along the edge of the shore for part of the way offering stunning views down the coast. I got off at the end of the line at Pwllheli (pronounced Poothl-heli, though speaking to a number of people not even other Welsh speakers can pronounce it the way the locals do!), and had a wander down to the beach. Whilst Pwllheli isn’t at the very end of the Llyn (the peninsular that forms the north sweep of Cardigan bay) it is the largest town on it, and does have some of the stunning beaches that the area is renowned for.

I walked the short distance from the centre of town out to the beach and after having climbed down through the dunes (on the laid out and signposted path in case you were worried I was destroying sand dunes) I sat on the empty beach for a while taking in the stunning surroundings, clear air and relaxing sound of the waves breaking.

From Pwllheli I caught the bus back along the coast a bit to the town of Cricieth and had a look around the ruins of it’s cliff-top castle, then it was back on the bus to Pwllehli for the final part of the journey direct to Caernarfon along the coast road, hugging the space of land on the north of the Llyn between Snowdonia and the sea of Caernarfon bay. As the bus ran towards Caernarfon the sun slowly dipped into the Irish Sea.

I arrived back into Caernarfon a little after 5, with the last of the light starting to go, but with enough twilight left to get some pictures of the Menai Straits at sunset, and then once the twilight had faded, some night shots of Caernarfon castle.

Then it was back to the bus stop, the bus back to Bangor and then the train back to Holyhead and some well earned dinner.


Sunny Sunny
Warm (10-20C, 50-68F)