Janette Sykes en­joys won­der­ful walk­ing and pic­turesque places on tour in north Wales

Janette Sykes is en­chanted by won­der­ful walk­ing and pic­turesque places to visit on the Lleyn Penin­sula

Practical Caravan - - Contents -

Gaz­ing at the gi­ant chess­board in Port­meirion, north Wales, was a bit like be­ing trans­ported back in a time ma­chine. Sud­denly it was 1967 – the Sum­mer of Love, the re­lease of Sgt Pep­per’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Bea­tles – and the launch of a strange but com­pelling spy drama on tele­vi­sion, The Pris­oner. I was only 10 at the time, but Pa­trick Mc­goohan’s enig­matic cult se­ries made a huge im­pres­sion on me. Now, ran­dom mem­o­ries flooded back. The show’s ‘Vil­lage’ sprang into life, as I vi­su­alised the huge white bal­loon bounc­ing down its nar­row streets and heard Mc­goohan’s char­ac­ter in the drama, known only as ‘Num­ber 6’, in­sist­ing: ‘I am not a num­ber, I am a free man!’ I have to con­fess, I never un­der­stood what it was all about, but as an adult, I could ap­pre­ci­ate why this very spe­cial lo­ca­tion was cho­sen for what be­came an in­ter­na­tion­ally pop­u­lar se­ries.

Ital­ian imag­i­na­tion

Port­meirion’s ar­chi­tect, Sir Ber­tram Clough Wil­liams-el­lis, de­voted his life to its de­sign, re­sult­ing in this imag­i­na­tive, Ital­ianate tri­umph, nom­i­nated by Tripad­vi­sor as the most colour­ful place in the UK. This unique project, painstak­ingly cre­ated by Clough Wil­liams-el­lis from 1925 to 1976, to demon­strate how a beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion could be de­vel­oped with­out spoil­ing it, is best ex­plored on foot. This is the per­fect way to gain a full ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the ar­chi­tect’s vi­sion and the sheer va­ri­ety and splen­dour of Port­meirion’s Grade I- and Grade Ii-listed build­ings, sur­rounded by 70 acres of for­est gar­dens. As well as strolling around and sight­see­ing in the vil­lage, you can also fol­low the cir­cu­lar wood­land walk or the coast walk, each tak­ing 30 to 40 min­utes, for a fuller flavour of its idyl­lic

‘Walk­ing is a pri­or­ity when we are on hol­i­day, and we were pleas­antly sur­prised to find that we were spoilt for choice on the penin­sula’

set­ting. If your legs be­come too weary, you can also hop on the wood­land train to tour the gar­dens and stop off at strate­gic points to take pho­to­graphs. There are plenty of places to pause for a re­viv­ing tea or cof­fee, snacks, lunch and more for­mal meals. We plumped for Caffi’r An­gel, where An­gel Ices gelato is made daily us­ing lo­cally pro­duced milk. Port­meirion was one of the high­lights of our car­a­van­ning hol­i­day on the un­spoilt Lleyn Penin­sula, an Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty be­tween An­gle­sey to the north, Snow­do­nia Na­tional Park to the east and Caernar­fon Bay to the west.

Welsh wizardry

Our base for the tour was The Camp­ing and Car­a­van­ning Club’s Llanys­tumdwy site, close to Cric­ci­eth, in the vil­lage where the Welsh Wizard, David Lloyd Ge­orge – one of the 20th cen­tury’s most colour­ful and rad­i­cal Bri­tish prime min­is­ters – spent much of his child­hood and later life. Vis­i­tors to the Amgueddfa Lloyd Ge­orge Mu­seum can pon­der his achieve­ments, such as in­tro­duc­ing the first state pen­sions and votes for women, and his less laud­able ac­tions, such as fail­ing to solve the ‘Ir­ish prob­lem’ and fac­ing se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions that he had sold hon­ours. More in­ter­est­ing for me was the neat Vic­to­rian cot­tage where Manch­ester-born Lloyd Ge­orge was brought up af­ter his fa­ther died. Mod­est by mod­ern stan­dards, it was con­sid­ered very com­fort­able at the time, and in­cludes his un­cle’s shoe­mak­ing work­shop, with a fas­ci­nat­ing col­lec­tion of cob­blers’ tools and pe­riod footwear. A short walk through the small Vic­to­rian gar­den and along a quiet path takes you to Lloyd Ge­orge’s beau­ti­fully tended grave on the banks of the river Dwyfor, whose air of tran­quil­lity is in di­rect con­trast with the Lib­eral politi­cian’s of­ten tur­bu­lent life. Lloyd Ge­orge’s fi­nal rest­ing place is off a quiet back road that leads to Cric­ci­eth, known as the Pearl of Wales, with its cas­tle dat­ing back to the 13th cen­tury, sandy beaches and views across Snow­do­nia. Cric­ci­eth be­came a fash­ion­able sea­side re­sort when the Cam­brian Coast Rail­way came to the town in 1867, and it re­tains an air of Vic­to­rian el­e­gance and charm. Ar­riv­ing on foot from Llanys­tumdwy, which takes around three-quar­ters of an hour, it’s a very pleas­ant stroll along Ma­rine Ter­race and the Es­planade. The High Street bus­tles with fam­ily-run busi­nesses of all kinds, and there are lots of cafés and pubs serv­ing morn­ing cof­fee, lunch, af­ter­noon tea and din­ner. We made the most of the sun­shine and sat out­side in the tea gar­den at Caffi Cwrt in the cen­tre of town, to en­joy a re­lax­ing sand­wich lunch. Later, we dis­cov­ered a friendly bistro-style restau­rant, Tif­fin, which bases its menu on de­li­cious lo­cal pro­duce, in­clud­ing suc­cu­lent Welsh lamb.

Ex­plor­ing on foot

Walk­ing is a pri­or­ity when we’re on hol­i­day, and we were pleas­antly sur­prised to find that we were spoilt for choice. Help­ful lo­cals rec­om­mended Llanbedrog, be­tween Pwll­heli and Aber­soch, and Porthdin­l­laen, on the north­ern coast of the penin­sula, and nei­ther dis­ap­pointed. We called at Llanbedrog on the way back from spend­ing a morn­ing in Aber­soch, where we pot­tered around the vil­lage and har­bour, stock­ing up on good­ies such as Welsh-made cheeses and free-range eggs, then lunched out­side Blades Café and Deli, fa­mous for its ar­ti­san bread. We chose whole­meal gra­nary sand­wiches, but

other va­ri­eties, in­clud­ing date and wal­nut, seaweed, and to­mato and basil, looked equally tempt­ing. Llanbedrog is a mag­net for vis­i­tors of all ages. We parked at the Na­tional Trust car park near the church and walked down to the beach, where we watched fam­i­lies build sand­cas­tles and pad­dle against a back­drop of brightly painted beach huts.

Walk­ing, not pad­dling

Though we briefly toyed with the idea of tak­ing off our walk­ing boots and socks to wig­gle our toes in the sea, we de­cided in­stead to climb the steep flight of stone steps to the top of Llanbedrog Penin­sula, home of the sculp­ture known by the lo­cals as the Tin Man. Back in the mists of time, the land­mark here was a wooden one, said to be the fig­ure­head of a slate boat that sank, but these days, it is made of metal, and is also known as the Iron Man. He cer­tainly has a fab­u­lous view across the beach! Walks at Llanbedrog range from easy beach strolls to chal­leng­ing cliff-top hikes amid gorse and heather. Af­ter our test­ing climb, we opted for a gen­tle down­hill walk through wood­land speck­led with del­i­cate dog vi­o­lets, prim­roses and wood sor­rel. Our wind­ing route back to the vil­lage took us past Vic­to­rian Gothic man­sion Plas Glyn y Weddw, now an art gallery and craft cen­tre, and the open-air John An­drews Theatre, which stages con­certs, drama and film screen­ings through­out the sum­mer. Near Morfa Ne­fyn, we parked in the Na­tional Trust car park and de­scended to the beach to em­bark on an easy cir­cu­lar walk past the fa­mous beach­side Ty Coch (Red House) Inn, around the head­land and back via the grounds of Ne­fyn Golf Club. Ac­cord­ing to travel web­site cheap­flights. com, Ty Coch is one of the top 10 beach bars in the world. Orig­i­nally a vicarage, it be­came a pub in 1842 to serve lo­cal ship­builders. To­day’s cus­tomers are lured by its beer, food, mu­sic and fab­u­lous views at the heart of the vil­lage of Porthdin­l­laen, now owned by the Na­tional Trust. Our fi­nal port of call was Pen Llyn Lusi­tano Stud and Rid­ing Cen­tre at Lla­ni­estyn, where we en­joyed a two-hour moun­tain hack on sturdy cob-type steeds. View­ing the world from the back of a horse gives you an en­tirely dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive, and the panorama across Caernar­fon Bay was cer­tainly mag­nif­i­cent. Pa­trick Mc­goohan may have felt like a num­ber when he filmed The Pris­oner, but vis­it­ing the Lleyn Penin­sula left us feel­ing like free peo­ple, re­freshed and re­laxed, thanks to the fab­u­lous scenery and the warm wel­come we had ev­ery­where.

MAIN Port­meirion is an ar­chi­tec­tural tri­umph IN­SET Janette sad­dled up for a ride in the moun­tains

con­sider Many peo­ple Inn the Ty Coch beach­side the best Wales pub in CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP Llanbedrog is a charm­ing place to build sand­cas­tles and pad­dle, or sim­ply sit and watch the world go by, with a back­drop of colour­ful beach huts. More ac­tive vis­i­tors might like to make the steep climb to the top of the penin­sula, to greet the Tin Man sculp­ture and ad­mire the stun­ning views. Then pop into the Ty Coch Inn for a re­viv­ing drink!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.