Beauty and the beach to put you on a high

Finds fun and re­lax­ation in Gwynedd

Salford Advertiser - - TRAVEL -

calm down and re­lax. And we needed it.

As we set­tled in, we could still re­call how, just a few hours ear­lier, we had reached the point of no re­turn. How the chit-chat stopped... My har­ness was dou­blechecked and clipped onto the inch-thick cable above my head. My seven-yearold son was in my lap, teth­ered to both me and the cable.

Our guide heaved the gate away to our right, re­veal­ing an un­ob­structed and spec­tac­u­lar view of the huge man-made hol­low that is the Llech­wedd slate quarry ex­tend­ing for what seemed like miles into the dis­tance.

Be­fore my lad had a chance to ob­ject to the sheer lu­nacy at hand, we To book your stay at Na­tional Trust Cot­tages con­tact 0344 335 1287 or na­tion­al­trust­cot­tages. To book Zip World Ti­tan log onto zip­ were off, hurtling down and across quarry at speeds ap­proach­ing 70mph.

I tried a cou­ple of ‘whoops’ to re-as­sure my boy but they were rammed straight back down my throat by the Snowdonia wind, which was now try­ing to spin us round.

Go­ing back­wards into obliv­ion seemed less than heroic so I used my out-stretched legs and arms like rud­ders to try to keep us straight. Our des­ti­na­tion loomed into view. A few mo­ments later, the over­head rig slammed vi­o­lently into the stop­per at the end of our line and we were slung for­wards. The ter­ror and, yes, the thrill ebbed away. Our amaz­ing 890m flight was at an end.

Back on solid ground, with streaky trails of my own drool stretch­ing from the edges of my mouth across my wind-swept jowls to my ears, I feigned non­cha­lance.

“How was that, son?” I asked. “Epic!” came my lad’s an­swer, feign­ing pre­cisely noth­ing as he marched off to the next zip wire.

Two-more heart­stop­ping trips later – this time fly­ing solo – and our day at Zip World Ti­tan in Blae­nau Ffestiniog, north Wales, was at an end.

Back at Gw­ernouau Cot­tage, life could hardly have been more dif­fer­ent. We didn’t see a soul in three days.

Rather shame­fully, the Scheer­houts used it es­sen­tially as some­where to sleep rather than as a des­ti­na­tion in it­self.

We spent two fun­packed days ex­plor­ing the Llyn penin­su­lar. The jour­ney in it­self is a mini-mar­vel as the green, wet and dra­matic scenery around Snow­don flat­tens out and the land stretches 30 miles into the Ir­ish Sea.

Our first stop was the beach at Aberdaron very close to the tip of the penin­su­lar and shielded from the worst of the wind.

This de­light­ful vil­lage isn’t over-run – as Aber­soch reg­u­larly is – by Cheshire-set­ters driv­ing Range Rovers. It’s just a bit more nor­mal and qui­eter.

Here, the Na­tional Trust has set up Porth y Swnt, which is eas­ier to visit than it is to say.

Part mu­seum and part gallery, it’s a thought­ful cel­e­bra­tion of the land­scape on which it sits, ex­plor­ing how it’s been

formed ge­o­log­i­cally as well as how it’s been shaped by farm­ers, pil­grims and now hol­i­day-mak­ers.

Our day ended with a visit to another Na­tional Trust gem. Just a few miles east along the coast and over the head­land, we dipped down to Plas yn Rhiw – a beau­ti­ful­lyre­stored 17th cen­tury man­sion set in lovely gar­dens.

The stun­ning prop­erty – res­cued by the Keat­ing sis­ters in the 1930s – is trumped only by the view across the azure – yes azure – wa­ters of Cardi­gan Bay.

We were blessed with fan­tas­tic weather and the next day we were back on the penin­su­lar, this time en­joy­ing a day at Porthor beach for a fam­ily day or­gan­ised by the Na­tional Trust.

Nar­rowly, we had plumped for a day on the sand rather than a trip to Bard­sey Is­land. On the north side of the penin­su­lar, it’s ac­cessed via a long, nar­row road to a car park and then a steep path.

It’s one of sev­eral rather lovely Na­tional Trust beaches around the coun­try I’m lucky enough to have vis­ited. This one is among the best.

An un­promis­ing start with dark clouds and rain even­tu­ally be­came a proper scorcher.

Rock-pool­ing, ca­noe­ing, beach foot­ball, body­board­ing – our sun­bleached brains soon for­got the long jour­ney to get there.

We were kept well fed and wa­tered with a su­per cool beach cafe look­ing over the wa­ter.

As we headed back home to Manch­ester after our north Wales ad­ven­ture, it seemed to me we are lucky to have so much lovely scenery – and ad­ven­ture – on our doorstep.

Above, Porthor Beach. Above right, part of an old light­house be­ing ex­hib­ited at Porth y Swnt, a Na­tional Trust vis­i­tor cen­tre in Aberdaron. Be­low, Aberdaron it­self

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