For the past couple of weeks, two of my cousins from Michigan have been staying with us at our flat. They arrived 2 days after George and I got home from the U.S. and have been with us since the new year. During the week they have been exploring on their own, however, some of the best places in the UK can’t really be reached by public transportation. So, over the weekend we thought it would be fun to take them to one of our favorite places: Wales.
We drove up to North Wales on Friday after George got out of work and spent the night in Llandudno near the Great Orme headland. The next morning, we got up early in order to make the most of the daylight hours and caught this view of the sunrise on our way out of town.
Our first stop of the day was the Isle of Anglesey, where we had planned to see the Tŵr Bach lighthouse at Llanddwyn Island.
At the gate near the entrance to the car park, we asked how long it would take to walk to the lighthouse. The woman told us it would take 20 minutes, which sounded reasonable to us. In actuality, it took us about an hour to walk to the lighthouse. But it was a lovely walk along the beach, so we didn’t mind too much.
On our walk to the island, we also discovered the ruins of a 16th century chapel. Apparently, this was originally the site of the church of St. Dwynwen (the Welsh patron saint of lovers), who is basically the Welsh version of Saint Valentine.
Later, we made our way to Caernarfon Castle, which is a world heritage site and probably one of the coolest castles in Wales. King Edward I built the castle on the site of a Norman motte and bailey castle. And prior to that, it was the location of a Roman fort.
In 1284, Caernarfon became the birthplace of the first English Prince of Wales. This explains why today, the Prince of Wales is crowned at Caernarfon. Prince Charles received his title here in 1969!
The sun was just beginning to set as we left the castle and headed off for the night. It was nice to drive into the mountains while we still had some sunlight left in the day and when we arrived at our hostel, it was twilight.
The hostel we stayed at is right at the base of some of the best walking trails in Snowdonia, which is a mountainous national park in Wales. And it seemed like everyone staying there was up at dawn, wanting to make the most of the day as many of them were pretty serious climbers. I have complaints about most of the hostels in Wales, but the location of this YHA is too good not to share.
The walk up to the first lake, Llyn Idwal, was a fairly easy one. It hadn’t started raining yet and the rocks weren’t at all slippery.
George and I walked this same trail in February last year, but the snowy conditions this weekend made it seem entirely different. It was a gorgeous view, but we wanted to get even higher.
We continued up the mountain to a second, smaller lake called Llyn Bochlwyd. And this time, the climb was definitely not easy. The snow on the pathway started about halfway up, making the rocks super slippery.
It was a little scary at times, but once we got to the top it was totally worth it. The starkness of the landscape was incredibly beautiful. And I took a million pictures because I couldn’t help myself.
I have been begging to see snow all winter, so I am especially happy about the way things turned out. I really wasn’t sure what to expect considering how little (if ever) it snows in England.
The way down was slightly rougher than going up, but at least it was faster. At that point we were all too hungry and tired to even think of doing anything else. We got some pasties and sausage rolls from a cafe at the bottom, then got in the car and started making our way home.
One of my favorite parts of living in England is having friends and family stay with us. We both really enjoy playing tour guide and taking our guests out on adventures. It’s always fun to see how others react when you take them to a place you know and love.