We left Isle of Anglesey, driving from Amlwch along the east coast to Beaumaris where Tony used to visit many years ago to service marine engines in that Marina. Then over the Menai Bridge towards Snowdonia. We stopped a few times en route to admire the scenery, green and pleasant in the summer sunshine. The mountains of Snowdonia provided a majestic backdrop; caught in the summer haze they resembled huge mammoths standing along the horizon, their grey backs almost blending into the hazy blue sky.
We drove along the Vale of Conway, stopping to visit the Swallow Falls. They charged us £1.50 each to view the falls – and very pretty they were too. However, when we reached the bottom of the gorge we were hugely entertained by four fit young men swimming in the pools at the bottom of the waterfall, jumping and diving. They were climbing up the wet, slippery walls beside the fall and sliding down again carried down by the rush of water. I don’t think the sad attendant at the top had any idea were were being treated to such a spectacle.
We arrived at the pretty little town of Betws-y-Coed (sounds like Bettersea Coyd). The area was a base for walkers, cyclists, canoeists and horse riders and the town was heaving on that warm sunny evening. There were lots of people enjoying the cool waters of the river – paddling and swimming in the deeper pools whilst others lay in the sun along the grassy banks. There was a narrow stone bridge spanning the river towards the town centre and a crowd had gathered to watch some youths jumping from the bridge into the water. There was a stern sign warning folk not to jump at risk of prosecution – but the sign was in Welsh, mostly.
The following day we cycled a circuit of 25K along country roads and tracks, some very steep. The scenery was just beautiful, leafy country lanes, green fields, lakes and rivers with the green backdrop of the Welsh hills. The foxgloves and heather by the paths were vying with each other to win the “colour me purple” contest. Outside the towns we saw few cars but plenty of walkers, horse riders and cyclists.
Tony’s family used to come to Anglesey for holidays when he was a boy. Since that time, the main road from Menai Bridge had gained motorway proportions and the traffic sped unhindered towards the west coast to Holyhead. Our destination was Rhos-goch, five miles south of the North Anglesey Heritage Coast. We soon left the A55 and turned north towards Amlwch (pronounced – Am luk, the final consonant is made in the back of the throat, as if you were clearing phlegm).
The minor roads can’t have changed much since Tony was here as a boy. They undulated over hills and through small villages and were often lined with flint walls, disguised with vegetation, ready for the unwary motorist to pull in too closely to allow an oncoming vehicle to pass.
Our campsite was on a small farm with spaces for five vans, two pitches were already occupied. The weather was hot and dry and we were able to drive into the adjacent field and park the camper away from the other campers, overlooking the valley. There were sheep and cows in the surrounding fields and, in the near distance a wind farm with twenty or so turbines, just one or two lazily turning in the light breeze. There was a pub twenty yards up the road and by the time we had settled, checked the facilities (an outhouse containing one toilet and one shower -spotlessly clean) it was beer o’clock. We had a pint and a passable meal, although “seasonal greens” turned out to be frozen peas.
The following morning dawned with blue skies and the promise of an even hotter day. Had the weather been inclement our campsite would not have been so idyllic, but our newly mown field provided the softest of green carpets and our awning sufficient shade against the hot sun. We set off on our bikes towards Amlwch where it was “market” day – half a dozen stalls selling household items, second hand clothes, plus butcher and greengrocer. A far cry from the French markets we so recently visited. The town had a tiny natural harbour with just a couple of fishing boats. We cycled along the coast to Bull Bay where we enjoyed stunning views of the coast as we ate lunch on the terrace of a hotel. After lunch we cycled on, completing the circuit back to the campsite. Cycling was not arduous even though we were more used to cycling on the level terrain. The narrow roads rolled gently up and down over the hills, providing lovely downhill runs before rising up again, causing us to ride more and more slowly until, phew, we reached the top ready for a coast down again. We saw very few cars on the roads.