Thursday, 21 June 2012

Wednesday 20th June

Another sunny day, another list of places to visit! Sally wanted to go to a woollen mill near Betws-y-Coed, so i perused the map, and came up with a list of six places to go, knowing that some, if not all, would not take long to visit.

First off we had to headed to Beddgelert, which is always nice, but this time we didn't get to stop there, as our first port of call was Sygun Copper Mine which is just the other side of Beddgelert. This is, as its name suggests, an old copper mine that has been turned into a visitor centre. There is a small cafe and gift shop (oddly selling nothing made of copper!), and then you can go for walks around the old works, or indeed go down into the mountain to the mine itself.

We only spent a short time in the shop and looking around the area. The views are stunning, as we have become used to, and if we had not got other plans, we would have gone into the mine - something to save for our next visit to the area.



Next stop was Swallow Falls, which are just before you get to Betws. The village they are in has been very clever, and made it so that you have to pay to get to see them - i gather that they use the income from this to fund the upkeep of the village. Not a bad idea, and although there is part of you that feels a bit cheated by having to pay to see a natural feature, it is only £1.50 each, and if it keeps the place nice and tidy, it is well worth it.

The falls are in two parts (called the "upper" and "lower" falls.....wonder how long it took them to come up with those names?) I"m sure that if we had been here a couple of weeks ago when the area had the flooding problems, that the falls would have been even more impressive. As it was they were still pretty good though, and i'm glad that we made the time to go to see them.



Following this, we headed to the woollen mill at Trefriw, which turns out to still be a working mill turning out its own products, rugs, bedspreads and such like. The gift shop also sells lots of other similar products from around the world, as well as other usual touristy type gifts.

Their own products are rather expensive, but when you see the work that goes into them, and factor in the British labour costs, rather than the Far Eastern ones, it all makes sense. If we all just look at the price of things and go for the cheapest it can only ruin the UK's manufacturing prowess even more. We have already pretty much knackered it up as it is!



Heading back through Betws and out the other side we made our way along the A5, and then onto the A543 heading towards Denbigh. If you ever have the chance, this is another of those must drive roads. It was more like one of the roads across Dartmoor, or up in North Yorkshire, up and down, windy twisty, but wide and EMPTY. Views to impress, and bends to bring a smile to your face. You can see the road disappearing into the distance, and in our whole time on the road i think we only saw two other cars.

Turning right onto the B4501 we headed into wooded area, and towards the Brenig Reservoir. There is a Visitor Centre there, where we stopped for a pot of tea and a slice of really nice home made cake. Unfortunately, while we were there in the cafe, which was fairly busy, one man came in who was very loud, and slightly obnoxious.

His first words to the lady behind the counter were "Answer me yes or no, can i have a cheese and ham toastie?" Having been told that he could, he ordered one and sat down and immediately started a conversation with the people on the next table. "where are you from?" , "Suffolk" came the reply. "Oh, that's where Harwich is isn't it?", "Yes" was their reply.

"Did you know that you can't take a car with you from Harwich to Norway anymore?" was his next comment. "No. Really?" came their beleaguered reply. "No, not for a few years now. You can still get cruises from there though can't you. Ipswich. That's in Suffolk isn't it?" he babbled on. Strangely, this other couple made their excuses and left.

We sat there shaking our heads in disbelief. Then people wonder why the English are so disliked!! Thankfully now that everyone was ignoring him he returned to reading his birdwatching magazine.



Leaving the reservoir, we headed back towards Betws, but turned off before there to find Penmachno Woollen Mill. Either it was very well hidden, or it no longer exists. There were no signs for it, and where it is shown on our map, there was nothing that looked like it was a woollen mill, so that was quickly ticked off the list, and we headed on toward Blaunau Ffestiniog.

We were heading for Llechwedd Slate Caverns, which is a working slate mine. Again, there is a gift shop, cafe and visitors centre. You can also go down the deep mine if you wish, something we will also have to keep for another visit.

So, five out of six places visited in one day - not bad considering it was almost lunch time when we started out! Tuna pasta bake for dinner - we are trying to finish up the things we have started, so that we have as little as possible to take home.

Tomorrow is our last full day here. Time has flown, but it also seems as though we have been here for ages. I am kind of looking forward to getting home, but will also miss the sound of the waves and the view from the window......



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