The first trip to Wales came about just before Easter in a rather random manner. I was sitting at my flat in Coventry talking away to my flatmate Hagrid when we discovered we needed milk and eggs (I think) so I went down to the dairy (or corner shop or whatever you want to call it) came back with milk, eggs, chocolate and a desire to go to Wales. Within about 5 minutes of being back home Hagrid had agreed.
We then spent the next few hours working out the cheapest and best way to see as much as we could, booking transport there and back and places to stay. We had a few difficulties in finding places to stay in city centres but decided we could find ways to ones slightly further out. That evening we packed. The next morning at some ungodly hour of the morning we were off in our taxi to the bus station.
We arrived in Cardiff hungry and excited so we headed off in search of food after walking through several streets and one rather large (and confusing) shopping mall we finally found Rouge which although my breakfast was yummy had far far far too much cheese for the first meal of the day.
Our next place on the agenda was the Castle which was great fun with long corridors in the walls and a moot and bailey (small castle/fort on a mound) with a moat going part of the way around. There were daffodils covering the hills going up to the walls and a crisp spring chill to the air. It was beautiful. We had fun exploring around then found some nice places to sit to listen to the information on the audio guide (yes I do realise your meant to do that on your way around but that was annoying).
I forget the exact order of the stuff we did next but we took a beautiful and rather long train trip around the coast and ended up in a place called Carmarthen, where we raced off the train in over to find a bus that took us out to our hostel, we got one and asked to check if it was the right one (as I couldn’t pronounce the name of the place I showed them the piece of paper I wrote it down on). Off we went and the bus driver kindly told us when our stop came up. It was in the middle of no where up a dubious looking road with little or no signage. At which point I was feeling very glad I was not travelling by myself. We wandered up and found it almost looking deserted apart from a dog that was barking at us like mad, so we wandered around, and found what looked like a caravan park but being still very early spring it was deserted but very pretty .
We were on top of a hill in which one way was farm land the other was the river end of an estuary, the view was breath taking. But it was cold so we headed back to what we thought was the main building and finally found someone. Turned out we were the only ones staying that night so the bar/restaurant downstairs was closed and there no shops anywhere near, so the owner took pity on us and cooked us up some chilli con carne. It was a rather random place but the owner was lovely and his two little daughters were coming with him to ‘help’, very cute.
The next day hearing that the bus we took carried on to Llansteffan which is a tiny town on the coast with a castle we decided to catch the bus and check it out. So we checked bus times and down the steep, long road we went. But we didn’t quite allow enough time and missed the bus. It was raining a little but we decided it couldn’t be far and started walking (carrying all our stuff as we weren’t planning on going back to the hostel). Then the rain started to get heavier, and heavier and though my rain coat kept the top half of me dry my jeans were now completely soaked.
Then a car pulls up and a lovely couple offer to drive us into town. we tell them how wet we are but they don’t mind so we jump in (again loving that I was travelling another person, bonus points that he was male and large) and they take us down to the beach and give us directions to the castle and to town, we thank them profusely and head straight towards the beach (having not seen the ocean since arriving in the UK several months earlier I was rather excited at this). But water was muddy and didn’t look safe for swimming as it was near the start of the estuary. So we headed for the Castle, walking up muddy pathways my pretty pink canvas shoes didn’t stay pink very long and the bottom of my jeans also got rather covered. But it was sooo much fun! Still pouring with rain we were going on an adventure so much so we got the directions wrong and ended up at another beach, with large warning signs against swimming there so we stood and stared out at sea instead only to see some dolphins in the distance playing in the swells. Well worth seeing.
Then we went back to try for the castle again, taking a different path we could see it so we decided to take a short cut up a thing muddy over grown path up a rather steep hill. We didn’t get very far before we found that it was far to slippery to go that way, but we gave it a good go first, but after another layer of mud and lots of slipping and sliding we went back to the proper path.
The Castle was the most maginicent Castle I have ever seen, in ruins on the top of a large hill, on one side the ocean rough and wild in the wind and rain, the estuary running along the other to come and meet it, the other direction was lots of green hills and farm land as far as you could seen, all lush and green and beautiful.
The place was deserted for most of the time we were there, so we climbed up towers, through winding stair cases, sheltered in old rooms with stone walls, floors and ceilings, walked around maze like walls that came no higher than our waists (I think it was once the kitchen) took lots and lots of photos and admired the beautiful view. It was amazing.
That is still my favourite castle.
To be continued…