The Ruffled Crow

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Tag Archives: Harlech

LLandanwg – Calesthenics For Your Tongue

That’s the name off the Welsh village where we’re staying. The closest I can get to a proper pronunciation is ‘Shlandanoog’ or ‘Thlandanug’. The leading double-L is a killer.

The view from our deck. In the middle distance are sheep. The far hills are Snowdonia, an area of Britain denoted as an “Area of Natural Beauty” and I quite agree.

No matter, though, the folks we’re staying with at Morlyn House are wonderful and our room looks out across fields of sheep and onto the hills of Snowdonia. Behind us, only a couple hundred yards away is Bae Ceredigion which, if you follow it southwesterly by Ireland through St George’s Channel, leads to the Celtic sea.and eventually to the North Atlantic.

A short walk to the north on the way to Harlech is access to about a four mile stretch of sand that is said to be decent for swimming. Not for me of course, I keep to indoor pools if convinced to swim, and rarely expose myself to water other than a shower or my quite beloved rain. (Or as a main ingredient of coffee)

An even shorter walk south takes us to a nice rocky beach, much more like our own Washington coastal beaches. On the edge of the dune on the beach approach is St Tanwg’s Church that dates back to at least the mid-fifth century if not further back to the third century. It’s a tiny building that’s still used regularly. 

St Tanwg’s Church

Entering the grounds through a small portal gate drops you into one of those places of time and age that we’ve experienced a few times during our trip. The closeness between the walls and dunes surrounding the church, as well as the burial markers spanning back hundreds of years, almost push the time into your pores. With only the sussuration of the surf and the calls of the birds the spell of that spot in time and space is remarkable.

I’ll write more about the beaches tomorrow, but today we had nice enough weather to take the train up to Porthmadog to see if I couldn’t find some of the pull-overs I tend to favor. We are in the middle of wool country here so I had high hopes.

Porthmadog Library display. Everything is bilingual here.

Porthmadog is a also a seaside village, but quite a bit larger and full of shops catering to tourists. Still, we were probably the only Americans in town. A good portion of the art and such are from Wales, and what isn’t is almost all from the UK. Certainly, like any tourist town there is a good smattering of less expensive eye-catching imports.

About wherever we’ve visited has had charity shops that sell second-hand items for one cause or another and Porthmadog was no different, however two of their shops were for animal rescue, one exclusively for cats. Needless to say we stopped in and left a donation with both. (we adopt all of our furry family members from shelters and support rescue shelters as we can)

Anyways, my search for woolies was quite successful expecially given that we went to an outlet for a nearby manufactory called The Edinburgh Woollen Mill. With that need sated we journeyed back south towards out B&B and stopped in Harlech on the way.

A view from the south-west turret of Harlech Castle. A picture does not do justice to the amazing vista.

The sole purpose for the stop in Harlech was a large pile of rocks on a hill – namely Harlech Castle. The castle was built in the late 13th century by Edward I and was important in several conflicts up through the 17th century including the War of the Roses. There is even a song memorializing a siege called Men of Harlech. It’s really quite the striking edifice.

Back in it’s day the sea was quite a bit closer to the castle, but today you have to climb a very steep hill to get to the gate. Mrs Crow and I are not the spring corvids we once were, but we made a valiant effort at the 25% grade hill and after a rest or three we finally made the summit to be greeted by an incredible view of the surrounding valley and hills.

Sheep grazing on the salt flats as seen from the train up to Porthmadog

Continueing our adventurous saga we scaled the south west turret, the tallest remaining portion of the castle. The interior stairway is dark and narrow, so  getting by folks going the opposite direction is somewhat a trick, but sturdy ropes rail both sides of the circular stairway so it can be done. At the top is a rather small platform that can only fit perhaps a half-dozen people comfortably. The wind is quite brisk as well.

There is a good lot of information on the history of the place both in the castle itself and at the gift shop and the place is well suited to families with kids and even had a young lady who gave a bit of instruction on sword and board play to a few youngsters while we were there.

Nearly rolling down the hill on our way back towards the train, we grabbed a toastie at a local cafe and hopped a train back to Llandanwg to nurse our aches on the wonderful little deck off our room.

Tomorrow is another full day in this beautiful village and we intend to spend it all here within walking distance. Much of it walking the beach and investigating a couple little trails we noticed by the church.

Observations from day…this one: The “feels like” temperature runs a few degrees warmer than the actual temperature here, unlike in Seattle where it tends to run cooler.

At petrol stations the diesel pump handles are black and the gas handles are green, the opposite of the US

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