Approaching 30 and I realised I haven't seen much that is on my doorstep, in particular Wales, actually up until mid-May I had never crossed that border. It’s funny how joy of travel can take one far and wide to the most remote corners of the world, then you realised a place so close, so beautiful to your home you’ve not even attempted to go to.
I am now on a mission to see as much of the British Isles as possible, we have some incredible landscape, history, and culture here; a lot more intact than a lot of other countries!
I’ve recently returned from a week long roadtrip through Wales with buddy and photographer Usha Fath; starting out Monday 26th June and dropping our beast “Carlos-the-Camper” back on Sunday 2nd July to Mark from KamperHire, so wanted to write up a little run through of where we went and what we achieved in that period of time.
On Monday we drove directly from Winchester where we picked up Carlos to the Brecon Beacons in South Wales; a beautiful, yet rugged landscape, dramatic looking rounded mountain peaks, many (like us) headed to conquer Pen-Y-Fan, Wales 2nd highest peak. We parked in the Neuadd car park south of the horseshoe; walked on up to the Upper Neuadd reservoir and then west up to the ridge. From the ridge we walked north towards the centre of the horseshoe where we made our way up Pen-Y-Fan and Corn du which gave us breathtaking views across the Welsh countryside, with Brecon in the foreground and the rolling hills behind.
That evening we drove 10-15 mins away to another reservoir ‘Talybont’ where we sound a small carpark on the north western shoreline, and camped there for the evening.
In the morning we rose and made our way to Brecon, a small quaint market town and had coffee and a breakfast while doing a bit of research into the road and weather ahead. Over this coffee we defined our plan over the course of the next 6 days.
We headed west towards Pembrokshire, in particular we had seen and read about a beautiful looking surf beach called Freshwater West – a large sandy beach, backed with dunes and cow fields with a road running round and along the coastline. Despite on arrival the Welsh weather not being on our side we sat tight, brewed some tea and rested. Soon, the grey, wet clouds started to clear as golden afternoon rays of light spilled on the sea in the very distance, highlighting some of the coast line. Within 15 minutes most of the sky had cleared giving us pretty much the whole beach to ourselves.
We then ventured on around the coastline to St Govan’s Chapel – a small holy building built into the cliff face, a perfect place to spend the last few hours of sun. We went back to our VW Campervan and set up for dinner; fried kippers in ciabatta with chilli mayo and salad, accompanied by sautéed new potatoes in mixed herbs and butter, and cooked up fresh inside our campervan.
On Wednesday we woke early with the aim to catch sunrise, we drove to a little fisherman’s village and National Trust site around the corner for Barafundle Bay. After clambering over the rocks to catch the fishermen setting off on their day’s work, we walked around the coastline a little more to Barafundle bay looking for interesting angles to capture the large (almost tropical looking) beach.
After we set off for another small fishing village I had heard of before; Porthgain in north Pembrokeshire where we cooked up an English fry-up in the van which we ate overlooking the small harbour and ordering our coffee’s in from the local tea shop.
The rain soon started to kick in, so after a while chilling and reading we drove north headed for Snowdonia, headed to a campsite for a little TLC accompanied with a hearty leg of local Welsh lamb for dinner in the local pub ‘The Oakley Arms’ and a some local traditional music to our astonishment.
From a little research a few days prior I had found an interesting looking landscape and road perched up in the mountains by a reservoir just outside Blaenau Ffestiniog so after a morning coffee that is where we headed. Unfortunately we found it to be a private road, so while it was fine to talk up we couldn’t drive our VW beast Carlos up there. The landscape was breathtaking, and the curves wound like a snake down the mountain around boulders and rock formations.
The afternoon ended in a wet state, so we found shelter in the lovely town of Betws-y-Coed; quaint, cute and very wet is how I will remember it. We camped in a campsite just out of town.
The day also ended up to be a bit of a washout so we spent a lot of it resting, and editing images in a café. In the late afternoon the clouds seemed to part and we made our way to Llyn Gwynant, a lake with a campsite at the north, westerly end. We went off to find dinner in an equally beautiful small town to the evening prior, called Beddgelert.
We awoke on our final day to find the sun glaring, something we hadn’t seen too much of in the past few days, we set the camper up for some hearty breakfast, showered, got ready and then went off to climb the Snowdon Peak. The sun stayed strong for the majority of the day but about 10-15 minutes away from the peak and thick cloud came in to cover us, meaning we weren’t able to see the sights we were hoping for, but we were able to touch the very peak which was enough sentimental value to return back down the mountain. Before I came to Snowdon, I wasn’t aware of how mountainous these parts were, vast, beautiful, green valleys, with the peaks towering above you from both sides. Dramatic landscape that really gave me the feeling of adventure.
From here we travelled back to Winchester to deliver the camper back to KamperHire, passing through Shropshire and The Cotswolds. Wales is a truly amazing place, somewhere I could see myself living in later life. I am to return maybe in autumn or perhaps winter with the hope of seeing some of these peaks dusted with snow, until next time! :)