Time for another castle! We’d had a brilliant day out at Harlech earlier in the year, so while me and the boy were staying with Anma and Grandpa at the caravan, we took the opportunity to pootle round another. Grandpa loves castles too, so he joined us for our day out – this time to Conwy Castle. We parked up at Morfa Bach car park (postcode LL32 8FZ) and paid £4.50 for over four hours parking – Conwy is a big one. And with Rowan all kitted out as a knight, we headed through the pedestrian tunnel towards the imposing walls.
Our first weekend away in Tormund proved to be extremely lucky with the weather. After a brilliant day out exploring Birkhouse Moor and Red Tarnand a surprisingly comfortable night in the van, we woke to warm sunshine and wisps of cloud in the blue sky. We had already decided to take it easy on the Sunday so after a bit of a lie, we started the day with a breakfast of kings in the fresh air.
I love castles. Whenever I picture a castle in my head, invariably it will be something akin to what I would have drawn as a child – imposing stone walls standing proud on a hill, turrets and battlements, arrow slits and a huge portcullis. So when we decided to visit Harlech Castle in North Wales, I was very excited.
The bustling village of Betws y Coed is surrounded by forests, so during a visit to North Wales, we decided we would explore them with the aim of reaching Llyn y Parc in the Gwydir Forest. We left the car at the Pont-y-Pair car park (LL26 0LS) and after the usual faffing around, turned right out of the car park. A quick stroll led us to a road on the right, at the bottom of which, the forest awaited. As we made our way into the trees, we found ourselves on a wide track bounded by pines.
Newborough Beach is somewhere we have visited regularly – each time looking enviously towards Llanddwyn Island. I had always believed it was out-of-bounds to us as its status of a nature reserve meant we couldn’t take the barking furry pair. However, the opportunity arose when me and Rowan were at the caravan with my Mum and Dad, and Rick (who has fewer holidays than me) had stayed home with the muttlers and several packets of Tunnock’s teacakes for company.
With its dramatic mountain scenery to the north, and rolling green fields in the south, Arran is said to be Scotland in miniature. The A841 circumnavigates the island in 55 miles and there is lots to look out for along the way, whether you have ten minutes or a couple of hours. Below are some of the many other things we enjoyed whilst out and about on our honeymoon.
Amongst the books we found in our hire cottage on Arran, was one called “Arran for Families”. It was a brilliant little book – fully illustrated with easy to read information about places to visit on the island. On a showery day, we decided to visit two of the destinations we found within its pages – the Giant’s Graves and Glenashdale Falls.
Most of my previous walking has been done in the Lake District. When I open the OS map to plan a walk, it is criss-crossed with green and black dashed lines indicating footpaths and right of ways. This was not the case when I opened a map of Arran. Contours and streams were there, and lots of other symbols, lines and colours that make maps so brilliant to look at – but not too many footpaths. I guess the Scottish Outdoor Access Code means that much of the landscape is one big right of way (within reason). But it came as a bit of a shock when I was trying to plan a day in the hills for us. After consulting my guide book, I decided that Coire Fhionn Lochan would be the walk for us.
One of the great things about Arran is just going for a drive and pulling in to different places to see what is there. I suppose that can be the same anywhere really. After a morning spent at Kildonnan looking for seals, we decided to drive round the island, pulling in wherever we fancied. It was getting late when we drove into a picnic area at North Sannox. It was a gorgeous spot. After messing around for a while at the spot where North Sannox Burn enters the sea, we decided we head back to the cottage for some tea. Before we left, I checked the information board and noticed that we could start a walk to Fallen Rocks from here.
After we’d visited Machrie Moor Stone Circle, there was still plenty of time left for more adventure, so we drove the short distance down the road to Torr Righ Beag, a coniferous forest by the sea. From here, we could walk down to the beach to explore the King’s Cave, but not before the customary check of the information board. Here, we found a circular walk which, for no particular reason, we chose to do clockwise. We made our way to a forest track on the left hand side of the car park.