North Wales was hosting a summer time Geocaching Mega Event, so of course we had to go along and check it out. I was excited as this was a region I had wanted to visit for quite some time. Pete said the landscape would remind me of BC, and while he was right about that (the mountains, the forested areas), it was very distinctly Welsh. I loved it.
We stayed at a rental cottage in the small community of Berwyn which was situated on the side of a hill. Upon arrival, we stepped out of the car and were greeted by the “chugga chugga POOF POOF” of a steam engine.
Traffic going into Llangollen (pronounced CLAN-gock-LEN) was terrible due to it being the weekend and, well, the abundance of geocachers descending upon the town! However, we were offered a stunning view of Castell Dinas Brân. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to hike up and check it out, but I hope we can go back as the views up there looked unreal.
Our main purpose on Day 1 was to check out the Mega Event and do some geocaching on the way. The walk to the venue was about 25 minutes away, but it was along a nice flat path beside a canal.
There were plenty of cute stone bridges and horse drawn boats. Yep, horse drawn boats! You had to dodge poop every now and again, but watching a horse mosey along a canal with a boat gliding behind it was something I had never seen. I kind of felt sorry for the horses, but they are apparently treated very well. Horse massages and lots of carrots??
With the geocaching business done, we spent Day 2 playing tourist. We took the train the “long way round” to Llangollen. The little stations were all done up to look as they did back in the day. I’m not sure what day exactly, but it was a time before the diesel engine that we ended up traveling on!
I really loved the feel of the stations. They had vintage posters up, like the one pictured above, and old luggage on carts randomly placed around the station. Also…taxidermy cats?? Yeah, they had those, too.
It was extra magical when we sat on the platform and watched a steam engine roll on by. What a sound! You could feel the ground shake, too. Up until this trip, I hadn’t been that up close and personal with a British steam engine. It was a long time coming, but worth the wait!
Oh, uh, and then we saw Thomas. Yup.
There was a Thomas & Friends event going on in Llangollen, so families were lining up to have Thomas pull them up and down the platform at Llangollen station. It was a little weird seeing “real life Thomas”, but despite worrying I’d be creeped out I ended up thinking it was pretty cute.
A look at the train we rode that day at Glyndyfrdwy station. Please don’t ask me how to pronounce Glyndyfrdwy. We ended up calling it “Glyndy Willy”.
I think that was one of my favourite things about this trip–seeing all the signs in English and Welsh. I tried my hand at pronouncing the Welsh bits, but that proved to be difficult at times. Pete said my pronunciation is actually quite good. I guess I’ll take his word for it.
Our final full day was spent doing something that the huz has long had on his bucket list. With my mother-in-law in tow, we made the 90 minute drive to Llanberis so we could take the cog train up to Snowdon Summit!
I had never been on a cog train before, but I felt this was a tester session for when we (eventually!) ride one in Switzerland. It was a little jerky as you can feel it pulling you up, up and up, but not so bad that it was uncomfortable. My favourite thing was all the really unaffected sheep we kept passing. Oh, and the crazy hikers who were heading to the summit ON FOOT. Yeah, no thanks, I’ll take the lazy route any day.
I didn’t take many pictures at the top because it was freezing cold. Also, the fog was so thick that you couldn’t see much–or anything, for that matter! We joked that we very well could have been only 10 feet off the ground. It’s too bad we couldn’t see the lay of the land below us, but it was still a fun experience that I would recommend splurging on. It was a good thing we went when we did, too, as on the previous day the weather was poor and trains were cancelled due to high winds. Even the crazy hikers were turning back. It would have been a shame to miss out.
This trip consisted of trains a-plenty, geocaching and lovely scenery. This was pretty much the only true vacation I took during the summer (save for a short getaway to London). I already can’t wait to go back and we are tentatively making plans to go to North Wales again next year, this time a little further west to Porthmadog. It’s a place I have heard a lot about so I really hope that trip ends up happening!
Until then, Wales…hwyl fawr!