"get away from it all"

Croeso / Welcome

Our four luxury courtyard holiday cottages are set in 8-acres of private land and gardens in an idyllic countryside location near the market town of Pwllheli on the Llŷn Peninsula in Gwynedd, North Wales.

The cottages are decorated and furnished to the highest specifications and are perfect for “getting away from it all” holidays in peaceful surroundings, benefiting from a children’s playground, barbecue areas and private parking. The coastal resorts of Pwllheli and Nefyn, many stunning beaches, pubs/restaurants and shopping facilities are all within a 10-minute drive. The Snowdonia National Park is within a 30-minute drive.

Ideal for larger families and group of friends who enjoy holidaying together whilst still enjoying their own privacy. Bed linen, gas, electricity and Wi-Fi is included in the price, as is full use of our extensive kitchen garden, seasonal herbs, fruit and vegetables. Strictly no smoking in the holiday cottages please. Small pets welcome by prior arrangement.

Geraint Jones

Eglwys Ynyscynhaearn

It was a lovely day and having been busy on cottage improvements for the past 6 weeks I really had to get out exploring. I have recently been reading a fantastic book about Porthmadog – Slate , Sail and Steam by John Idris Jones and was intrigued by a description of James Spooner’s burial site in a medieval church called Eglwys St Cynhaearn or more commonly known as Ynyscynhaearn in Pentrefelin. Now, I know the area very well and know of no church in Pentrefelin, I got the maps out and started searching, nothing, put a few random searches in on google, nothing much coming up, found the name St Cynhaearn and bingo, some results about this fantastic church but nothing about how to get to it. I was thinking to myself, why is this such a well kept secret, this does build even more interest and intrigue within one self, back to the maps and found a path that led down to a historical monument on a mound, well I thought to myself, this must be it.

Is it not strange how little you know about a village you pass on a weekly if not daily basis. How there is a church you have never heard of there How there is a 3.5 mtr high standing stone set in now what is tarmac on the footpath known as Maenhir Pentrefelin, with a cross and the date 1791 carved in to it , it is believed to be much earlier mind you. How there is no parking whatsoever.

I managed to find a small lane adjacent to a small housing estate and de camped there, parked up, rucksack out, crazy Nel out, lead on and away we go. We headed down the main road for a few hundred yards, I knew where the path was so not to bad, crossed the road came to the public footpath sign and then turned off. To my amazement we had a tarmac road all the way down. We had good old fashioned pasture land both sides of the road interwoven with some trees and scrubland, blackthorn was starting to show it white glory and the gorse was a lovely, summery shade of yellow dancing in spring sun. We were walking on the remains of an ancient causeway which lead down to an island known as Ynyscynhaearn, the surrounding land is all very low lying and used to be a lake fed by a river with brackish water, in the 19th century the river was diverted and a shale bank developed thus draining the lake and cutting it off from the sea, when you glance over to the right you can still see the marshland and the road makes so much more sense when you imagine it being surrounded by water. What a sight it must have been then, all those years ago. On stormy, wild days it was very difficult to get to the church at times.

As you approach closer first thing you notice is the sense of solitude and sanctuary within this small church yard flanked by some mature trees and a lovely stone wall enclosing it, it really does look like an island in the middle of a sea of green grass by now. The first real feeling of the magnificent history of this place is when you approach the timeless lynch gate that grants you access into the churchyard, when looking at it in detail you can imagine if not hear the dozens of churchgoers, be it on foot or horseback making their way down the causeway. As you open the well worn gate and head through it suddenly hits you that this is a the final resting place for many people from local wealthy landowners, bards, businesspeople, sea captains as well as the local, more humble farm workers. One thing is certain about death, it certainly is a great leveler, yes some graves are more grand than others but they are all graves.

Services ended at Ynyscynhaearn in 1983 but it is still remains consecrated and was taken under the wing of the Friends of friendless churches in 2003. It is listed as a grade II by Cadw. Records show that there was a church on the site during the 7th century, nave from the 12th century, north transept added during the 16th century and the south during the 17th, it was partially rebuilt to what we can now see in 1832.

From the outside the church itself is a very pretty little thing if being quite plain and simplistic in design , but once you open the heavy wooden door then it all changes from then. Now I am no expert on churches and church architecture but even to me its clearly obvious that this is special and quite different form your run of the mill estate church. Many notable figures involved with the booming slate industry during the 1800’s had links with the church so maybe some money was spent on it during its rebuild. First thing that hit me was the three decked pulpit on the right hand side of the building, then the fine array of stained glass windows. As you approach the fabulous alter you notice the wonderful painted floor, still intact today. ‘No organ’ I thought to myself, how can a church be without organ , then I turned around to see the most remarkable organ situated on the first floor gallery above the entrance in the west gallery, apparently its a Flight and Robson chamber organ, not that it means much to me . Another interesting feature is the tiered pews in the North transept with the names of all the local estate owners carefully painted on to them , everyone had their seats. I could go on about various features but if you are interested in its history then please look it up yourself. There is a fantastic piece on it called ‘Four Graves at Ynyscynhaearn’ by Gary Hill, do a search on google for it.

The graveyard itself is fascinating with so much history there, the final resting place for some notable people such as

James Spooner and his family – founder and developer of the Ffestiniog railway.

Dafydd Owen(Dafydd y Garren Wen – local Harpist and composer.

John Ystumllun(Jac Black) – a young boy who was brought to Ystumllyn as a slave but soon integrated in to local society learning to speak both welsh and english, married locally and was an accomplished horticulturist, his bloodline still live on.

Robert Isaac Jones (Alltud Eifion) – Famous pharmacist, inventor of many famous pills and potions as well as being a very well known bard.

John Williams(Ioan Madog) – Local Bard.

Ellis Owen – Local farmer and very talented writer of welsh poetry.

I spent the following hour exploring the graveyard and imagining these people going around their daily lives. One thing that did surprise me was the amount of people living well in to their 80’s during the 17th & 18th Century, this small part of Wales must have been a very happy and healthy place to live in .

We closed the door behind us and myself and Crazy Nel starter our short journey back up the now tarmacked causeway just wondering to ourselves about the lives of the locality over the years, it’s easy to see these things through rose tinted glasses, one thing I do believe in though, it might have been a tough and hard life, but I do think people were much more content with their lives back then.

What a wonderful journey I thought to myself, Nel agreed waging her tail, but that might have been the interest she showed in my chocolate Bounty .

till next time …..

Note. The church is funded and looked after by the ‘friends of the friendless churches’, look them up, there are a few places on there no matter where you live, they do sterling work to maintain these wonderful snapshots in time. If you have time then please subscribe to them and help fund their work.


Warning: Use of undefined constant is_single - assumed 'is_single' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/customer/www/rhosyddbach.co.uk/public_html/wp-content/themes/rhosydd-agency/index.php on line 51

Cwmystradllyn – water water everywhere & some slate and a view

As I am sat here typing this our esteemed first minister of Wales has just announced that we will be in full lockdown for at least the next 3 weeks, bang goes that inclination to go exploring once more …….  but I have plenty of past rambles to keep me going, luckily I have made notes and taken plenty of photos.

 

 

Yr Hebog 

 

    Hed hebog fel dart heibio- a’i wgus

Lygaid yn tanbeidio;

           Drwy y drain dyro dro –

       Nid oes gan lle disgynno.

                                                                                                                                                                                     Eifion Wyn

 

 

It was promising a lovely  Sunday so myself , Els and the dogs Nel and Sali all loaded up into the pick up for our latest adventure , little did we know it would be one of Sali’s final jaunts.

Destination was Cwmystradllyn, the old disused village of Treforus and the magnificent slate workings of Gorseddau.

 

    

To get to Cwmystradllyn you head up towards Garndolbenmaen from Porthmadog. It is a lovely valley with a lovely lake well known locally as its the main water reservoir feeding most of Llŷn and Eifionydd. The lake itself belongs to Welsh Water and is also a very popular fishing venue, the gin clear waters hold wild brown trout as well as stocked rainbow trout. The valley itself if flanked by the harsh, dramatic mountains known as Moel Hebog and Moel Ddu, both reaching well over 100 mtrs towards the skies, to be calling the environment harsh is certainly an understatement.

The lake itself is a natural lake being fed by the surrounding mountains and peat bogs, even during the hottest of summers the level does not drop much. It has been extended in 1959 when the original dam was constructed then further altered both in 1976 and 1981. It covers in total 40 hectares and holds 3 million cubic meters of water.

As you drive up the traditionally welsh narrow lanes, dodging the walkers and making room for oncoming cars, you will see an old derelict building on the right hand side, first time it really does take your breath away. Akin to an old  gothic medieval abbey out of the set of  ‘game of thrones’, it is actually an old slate mill, yes the original designer went a bit over the top with his designs but same could was said for many of the slate mine developments.  Ynys y Pandy slate mill was a huge white elephant and was open barley 10 years. I shall not go on as I have a separate in depth blog planned for the history or the mill…… watch this space.

  

We arrived at the small car park, sometimes parking can be quite tight, a mix of fishermen’s cars, a elderly  couple with the back door open and enjoying a coffee whilst admiring the view, and a camper van – enjoying Wales’s free hospitality. We pop out and walk back up the road for about 200 yard and then turn right around the back of the old farmhouse on to a track.  Luckily for us fair weather explorers the path up to Gorseddau quarry is on the old quarry tramway,  after quarrying the slate it was pulled all the way to Ynys y Pandy Slate mill , fair old distance. Cwmystradllyn is a wet old place hence why there is a natural lake, water is constantly pouring off the peaty desolate hills, even in the height of summer so I was very grateful that I had my scarpa boots on and not my lighter summer shoes, you need them. Dogs of course were loving all the water and mud, what is it about dogs and mud, bit like cheese and wine, one thing is for certain, they won’t be in Mrs J’s good books.

As we push along you eye is drawn towards the once fantastic farm buildings, now ruins, how have they been left to attain this fall from grace. Known as Tal Y Llyn,  close your eyes and you can imagine a family all dressed in traditional rags with the children outside running around and pigs and animals penned in the various  buildings, it must have been a busy old place all those years ago, still a fine if not sad sight today.

 

  

We arrive at a fork in the track, straight ahead takes you through a rather strange oasis in the middle of the desert you could  say. A piece of mature woodland in the middle of this bleak, inhospitable valley, once inside the shelter of the canopy  it is quite pleasant, again remnants of an old coach house and further in something that resembles the foundation of an old building. Again known as Plas Llyn which translates to Lake mansion or Lake country house. I presume this was the managers house built alongside the quarry development, would make sense as everything else involved was on a very grand scale. It’s so pleasant within this speck of greenery  that it takes a while to escape its warmth and carry on the road to Gorseddau. After admiring the bleak landscape and various slate embankments and bridges we finally arrive at the quarry only to be welcomed by what must be one of my very favourite bits of slate engineering, the famous overhanging wall. No one really knows why this was built with such an overhang, maybee for strength, maybee for shelter for the trams, maybee to stop sheep climbing up, one thing is certain and that is its amazing construction, pictures really  do not do it justice. Maybee for the o so grand designer it was just a folly, and he is up there today looking down at us mere mortals debating his wall whilst  he is laughing graciously at us.

 

Gorseddau was based on the Penrhyn principle of quarrying, stepped galleries and incline access with plenty of infrastructure  thrown in such as blast shelters, inclines, and the famous wall. Although quarried from 1859 – 1871 it never made a single penny in profit. During its better years in  1860    1800 tonnes was processed but during its final days  in 1871 only 23 tonnes was removed. The quality of the slate was quite poor and only suitable for floors, urinals, and fencing thus not attracting much money.

 

After a well earned cup of tea, sandwich and some exploring we decided that we should head back on the return journey, this time via the top path and visiting the abandoned village or Treforys. After a few hundred yards we took a path up towards the right which brings you a few hundred meters up the hill side. Here you can see the remains of Treforys, a village build for the expansion of the slate quarry that never was.  By 1831 thirty six houses were laid out in 3  streets , each with its own 1/4 acre of best quality welsh peaty farmland, not that they grow much in this inhospitable environment, a pig or two maybee. By 1861 the whole village was totally abandoned. you can still see its ruins, a very sad place in my mind. Once through you rejoin the path and the tramway and follow your nose back to the car park.

 

 

 

A good morning had by all

Summer, Autumn, Merry Christmas, New Year and all of that….

 

Well , where has the time gone to , I am so embarrassed to see that my last blog was dated  29th June 2020 and here I was carving out a new interest in historical and factual writing. I promise I will not let it happen again.

This is a quick catchup of what has been going on over the past 6 months and some photos along the Journey.

As far as the cottages go, it was a busy summer season , when it finally arrived. Strangely enough as the country opened its doors to a sort of normality , shops , restaurants  pubs and holiday cottages trying to resume  ‘business as usual’ , the weather decided to leave us. Summer brought its own set of problems , track and trace, a new cleaning regime , bits and bobs stripped out of the cottages but on the whole it went well and everyone was very understanding. One positive we have had out of this was outsource the bed linen to local laundrette – well me at 6am o a tuesday morning down at the outdoor laundrette that is , where else on earth would you have such a facility on the beach, had some nice swimming sessions there whilst waiting for the clothes .

Summer came and went, then the months of September and October proved to be also very busy, very trying times managing bookings as some people who had booked were afraid to travel , so9me still shielding but eventually it sorted itself out, as with many we adopted the policy of trying to move bookings to another time , later in the year or next year and those who didnt for various reasons we refunded them in full, at the end of the day we are all in this together and sometimes clients are for life and not just one season.

We were back in to  lockdown for thanksgiving week , and we had two weeks of it  and as soon as we came out of lockdown then our good neighbours England went in to it , then it was December, end of the season.  Christmas and New year were full for us but again lost all the bookings but it is for the good of the country and to try and rid our world of this awful virus.

in the meantime we took a few photos , more photos and even more photos .

 

I am striving to post a blog twice a week now and keep all you lovely people informed on what is going on in our lives and the area generally …….

in the meantime , enjoy the photos

 

 

 

 

 

A wet Sunday afternoon – well nearly ….

Three  days ago we were praying for some rain and a break from the relentless heat experienced over the past week, as they say ‘be careful what you wish for’ and could not have been truer . The rain came Friday evening , all day Saturday and all day Sunday.

Luckily for me I have been building some new bookshelves in my study,  well it was get rid of some books or build bookshelves – no contest. This had kept me busy along with the usual office stuff of paperwork, marketing ect, but by Sunday afternoon cabin fever was starting to set in, I had to escape from this place, fresh air, even the crazy one followed me everywhere with  the look in her eyes of – please can we go out. Having waited for a break in the weather, and to no avail, 4 o clock arrived and I looked at Nell and it was time to escape – rain or no rain.

Rucksack packed, coffee made, we made our way to the pickup, getting rather wet between here and the car, well here we go, its going to be a wet one I mumbled under my breath. We hit the road and as we were coming down in to Pwllheli we could see the drab grey clouds parting ahead to show a lovely brightening  shade of blue, we might be in luck I thought to myself. As we pulled in to the car park it was positively dry and dare I say , the sun was ever trying its very best to show its beautiful face, downside being, everyone else will be thinking the same.

We were going to head out along the beach at Glan Y Don in Pwllheli, we have always known it as ‘lan mor berch’ from Childhood days. There has been a lot of development here over the past 30 years , some say for the better some say for the worse. Thirty years ago we had a muddy, silted up harbour with swing moorings and a few trot moorings, remnants from times past when Pwllheli  harbour used to be big player in the shipping and shipbuilding world, disappeared many years ago by now.

       

A large portion of the inner harbour was dredged along with a new channel as well as the required sea defenses built, a new 450 birth marina built along with the relevant maritime shops, new boat yards. It really has put Pwllheli on the map and excelled it to being one of the finest boating areas in Wales and North West. A long way from the paths I used to walk as a youngster with my grandfather, at that time is used to be a party developed estuary and caravan park.

In any case we were walking from  glan y Don all the way to Abererch , past the awesome Abererch Sands Holiday Center and then back on the road to Pwllheli, past the marina and back to the pickup , bout 4 miles in total. It is a lovely walk, today particularly quiet as I think our timing was perfection itself. As we were trundling through soft sand we could see the occasional dog and owner exploding on to the beach behind us. The beach is a mix of very soft lovely sand which flows down to a very hard Plato of compacted very fine mud &  sand. The tide was quite high so walking was on not the easiest task in the world especially as it has a 30 degree angle as it does ramp down sharply to the flat stuff , walking akin to someone with a harsh limp, and muscles twice as big on one leg than another. It had been blowing a bit during the day so the waves were breaking smoothly on the shore, mother nature signing one of her unique melodies once again. As it was so quiet I let Nell off to run freely and to be fair she only disappeared twice, once after a seagull and the other after a Rabbit, she returned quite quickly after some wise words from myself, her training is coming along well I must say, and I didn’t spend two hours trying to find her. Once you get to Abererch sands you just head along the road keeping left all the way until you arrive back at Pwllheli and the marina , pleasant enough journey with some nice views of the afon erch along the way.

 

   

Strangely enough I should have been at Abererch sands this weekend, It was supposed the weekend of the superb pen Llyn Ultra which was yet another casualty of  Covid 19. A tremendous weekend of running , over 200 people running either a 50,75 0r 100 mile coastal ultra marathon, getting to be a must do event for all these crazy ultra athletes. And before you ask , no I am not a runner and if you saw me in the flesh you’d understand what I mean. Quite sad to walk through there and seeing the place as it would be in bleak midwinter. I did not ponder and onward we went.

As you walk out along the beach and back again we came across the new Pwllheli Lifeboat station currently being built. This will be a state of the art brand new facility which will see Pwllheli coming in to the 21st century and and being able to launch a new ‘Shannon Class’ boat quicker, faster  and  straight in to the sea.

There has been a station at Pwllheli since 1891 at Tocyn Brwyn , at the outer harbour at then a cost of £480.  Pwllheli has always had very strong inks with the sea and the RNLI. We headed back in to the car after a very well needed walk and off home we went .

I will leave you with this list of past lifeboats .

 

1891 -91                                                                      Caroline Richardson

1892-98                                                                     Margaret Platt of Stalybridge

1898- 1930                                                                Margaret Platt of Stalbridge

1930 -1931        Watson Class     40′                     Maria

1931 -40            Watson Class     43′                     William McPherson –

1940-43             Watson Class     45′                     C & S

1943-53              Watson Class    46′                     Manchester & Salford -XXlX

1953-72              Liverpool Class 36′                     Katherine & Virgoe Buckland

1972-79              Liverpool Class 36′                     Anthony Robert Marshall

1979 – 1991        Oakley class       37′                     Royal Thames

1991 – Present    Mersey Class                               Lilly & Vincent Anthony

 

”We launched the boat in the tempest, though

death was the goal in view,

               And never a one but doubted if the

                                                           Craft could live it through”                                    The Lifeboat

                                                                                                                                      by George R. Sims.

 

 

Lon Goed

“A llonydd gorffenedig, yw llonydd y lon goed” – R. Williams Parry

 

It was a lovely afternoon, very warm be it a tad cloudy, 4 o’clock was looming as crazy Nel was making her presence known to me here in the office.  She always has a very well polished habit of coming in, brushing against my legs and going out again, as if to remind me ”don’t forget about me”.  Where shall we go today I thought to myself…. I don’t have a planned agenda when it comes to walks, its a case of  ‘where shall we explore today?’, yes I have some ideas spinning around – when the hamster is awake that it.  Today is was an old classic ‘Lon Goed’ or  ‘Lon Mon’ as some die-hard stalwarts of the area call it.

Lon Goed is a stunning, tree lined track which runs south – north east for approximately 7 miles between Afonwen, skirting against the village of Chwilog and ending at a farm called Hendre Cennin nr. Bryncir, here in Gwynedd.

Locals to the area prefer to call it by its original area name of Eifionydd rather than Gwynedd,  must say it is a nicer name, some say Gwynedd is a modern name but it is actually  one of the very oldest as in ‘Kingdom of Gwynedd’.

The name stems from medieval times during the period of Medieval Cantrefi of Wales.  Eifionydd was the northern half of the minor kingdom of Dunoding within the kingdom of  Gwynedd, and took its name from Eifion, son of Dunod, grandson of Cunedda Wledig.  Now there is a very short lesson for you in Medieval Welsh history .

To do the walk properly then you must drive to the beach at Afonwen and park up then take the road up to roundabout, cross over the road, then walk right for about 50 metres and you will see a turning to the left.  It does look as if you are walking through someones private property but you will instantly recognise the beginning of the trees lining the dirt track ahead.  Take this for about 500 yards you will come to a busy main road, cross straight over and carry on.  Now I must say I do cheat a bit as this is where I do actually start, more space to park up and you cut out crossing two busy roads, well none of us are perfect.

As you progress up you will notice numerous tracks coming in and out of the ‘lon’ it will also cross numerous small b roads and can be quite confusing at times trying to wonder where you are, and that’s from someone who knows the area, one small tip, just follow the signs and just make sure you have trees either side and you can’t really go wrong …… famous last words.

Sometimes whilst out exploring magical things happen, totally random.  After getting the rucksack on, Crazy Nel attached, car keys and everything else in place  I started on my explorations, relaxing into a nice walking rhythm and enjoying the peace and tranquility associated with the lon.  I then came across an elderly lady who was walking the same way, she was walking home and does the walk every day for the past very many years.  Once we got the formalities out of the way “Who are you then?, where do you come from?, who is your family? and why are you here?” she asks me along with many other questions.  It is a tradition around these parts to be able to associate yourselves with everyone else,  be it through family, friends, associates or even someone living close by, anyone living in ‘Cefn Gwlad ‘ will understand exactly what I’m going on about.

My pace reduced to a slow shuffle for the next half mile whilst I walked and had a good chat with the lovely lady, she confirmed many of the facts I had come to know about the Lon.

How Chwilog got its name from an old medieval stream and marsh  called Y Chwilogen, translating Chwil meaning beetles, Chwilog – Abundance of Beetles, all from this marsh on the left she eagerly pointed out to me.  Fascinating.

She then went onto proudly educate me about the lon.  How it was built  between 1819 – 1828 by John Maughan, Stewart of Talhenbont Hall at the time, and why many of the older generation still call it ‘Lon Mon’ after Maughan  rather than ‘Lon Goed’.  I was listening avidly absorbing all these priceless jewels of information. She then carried on to explain it was originally destined to carry on all the way to Caernarfon but it was never completed and it was built in order to carry limestone from a kiln factory at Afonwen up towards the rural farms and they used to carry peat back from the hills, bit of a modern day local motorway I thought to myself. It all ended when the Afonwen – Bryncir railway line opened late 1800’s. The information just kept on coming.  I then asked about the trees, what were their purpose and then started history lesson no 3.  She explained that it was very wet in parts and they raised the level of the road above the fields, Maughan had the vision that if he were to plant trees either side it would create a natural boundary wall, the roots reinforcing the raised road and also helping to soak up the drainage.  Well to be fair it has worked for the past 200 years she explained. After about half an hour the lady turned off to the right where she had farmed for over 60 years with her husband, I bid her farewell and thanked her for her time , she even invited my down for a ‘panad’ and look at some old maps but I made my excuses and carried on otherwise my supper would be in the bin.

By this time Nel was very frustrated at the lack of walk so we upped the pace and forward ahead.  One thing you will notice are the dozens of gates along the track where it intersects with other roads and, paths and country tracks, it can be quite disorientating at times.

After a while you come across an old converted chapel on the left Capel Engedi – now a private dwelling. A very busy place indeed they tell me during the 1800’s as it was quite central to all the old roads. The avenue itself is lined with a mix of beech , local welsh oak and plenty of holly, this seems to be the pattern all along.  As you are walking along you will see numerous patches of farmland along the way with a good mix of sheep and cows intermixed with pieces of scrub-land and even some private dwellings.  At times it seems to be an endless landscape and then you turn a corner and see something new.  Crazy Nel became aware of a few squirrels, when she tried to up the pace somewhat without informing me or the rucksack she is attached to,  dragonflies were also in abundance today.

It is very true what the great poet R.Williams Parry wrote ‘A llonydd gorffenedig, yw llonydd y lon goed’ –  translates to  ‘Truly  endless peace is the peace of the Lon Goed’, now that is my translation, I’m sure there will be many a better one out there. Much of his work was based on the contrasting landscapes between the quiet rural way of life in Eifionydd as compared to the industrial legacy of Dyffryn Nanlle. A great man indeed.

After a good while you come across a very pretty quaint picture postcard house in the middle of nowhere, total out of place with its lovely cottage garden, just the other side is a gate with a large tin circle on it which give away its past secrets.  This is the railway crossing where the old Afonwen – Bryncir line crossed the track, known as ‘Croesfordd Rhosgyll’  look both ways and you can imagine the locomotive going off in the distance.  The walk is worth it if only to see this beautiful little place, except for the cars parked outside you really could be transported to a bygone age. We crossed and carried on up for a further mile before turning back and walking back down.  If you were organised then you would leave a car at Afonwen and a car at Hendre Cennin and walk its full length, but who wants to be organised, its all about exploring.

Along the way you will see numerous wooden sculptures and some lovely seating if you need to park up your backside and enjoy a panad, thoughtful people this Eifionydd lot. These were part of an initiative to highlight this really wonderful path a few years ago, well done whoever organised it.

On the way back I noticed a chap walking his dog in his car, popular pastime round here on quiet roads, throw the dog out and drive. Strangely enough I recognised him from a few years ago when I knew him as a beater on a local shoot, we stopped and had a good chat, after 20 mins crazy Nel was expressing her desire to go home so again we parted out separate ways .

What are the chances that you meet two local characters on a short blast out in the countryside. As I was walking back I was thinking to myself  ‘what if I did pop down to the lady’s farm and saw some total stranger  who knew nothing about her’,  did she exist or was she from a time gone by, stop thinking Ger , of course she did ………….

I wonder if I will see her again…

Back home we went again with more magical memories .

 

Thank you for reading

 

Ger

 

 

 

Abergeirch, peli golff & Nain Fitz

Funny old world , if you look closely enough at the history of your own area then you would be amazed at what went on.

This walk was inspired by a friend – Ken Griffiths, who lives in the area and is a keen walker and explorer of all things outdoors, just don’t get him started on mines and quarries.  He often posts pictures  of Abergeirch and surrounding coastline.

I used to spend a great period of my youth staying in Morfa Nefyn with my grandparents during the summer holidays, spending time on the beach with my both my uncles and their family.

This was one of my  nain’s favourite walks, usually Friday evening after tea, whilst scouring the bays and rough for stray, lost golf balls good memories. Hope this account serves you well  ‘nain Fitz’ aka Stella Fitzpatrick up by the pearly gates.

It was a lovely afternoon and we arrived at Morfa Nefyn for about four ish , parked up under the usual lovely pine trees, anyone conversant with Morfa will know where I mean. If its full just pop round the corner to the National Trust car park. I have never seen Morfa so quiet, early June and the area should be a hive of activity with tourists and local alike. Covid 19 has really created some strange times, when will normality resume, will normality resume or will we be living life under a ‘new normal’, a tad heavy for a Sunday afternoon and I’ve not even started on my pilgrimage yet.

I was getting strange looks from my walking companion – Nel, evil eye telling me its time to go. We headed down through the quiet village of Morfa Nefyn towards Edern, 20 years ago you would be doing this at your peril as there was no pavement, but alas traffic was much quieter then. Again a sleepy village – as are most at the moment. We headed through the village and at ‘Y Groesffordd'(crossroads) turned right  past the old shop.  This road is a no through road and ends up at a farm at the very end Cwmistir Isaf, before you arrive there there are a couple of footpaths both on the right which lead you to the world famous Llŷn Coastal path, part of the Wales Coast Path network. We took the first one.

After a 400 yards of tinder dry grass we arrived at a lovely little bay know locally as ‘Bryn Gwydd Cove’, taken from the farm which it belongs too,  time for a sit down and some water and readdressing that question ‘what is the new normal’, its was going round and round in the head now akin to hamster on his wheel. After 10 minutes of contemplation we carried on up the path and enjoyed the truly spectacular views down towards Tudweiliog and up towards the look out hut on ‘Trwyn Porth Dinllaen’

After just over three quarters of  a mile you arrive at a lovely picturesque, natural bay called Abergeirch, this is a tiny estuary at  mouth of a the river which comes down from a SSSi site on the Llŷn called Gors Geirch, teaming with wild duck and a variety of nesting birds. I could have sat there all day, and Crazy Nel was eyeing up the ducks I must say. At times you can get a build of seaweed there with a lovely aroma but to me this is natural, nature at its best, just watch out for flying golf balls from above.

Now, I hear you ask ”Why did you call it cable bay earlier”

Before these times of high tech mobile telecommunications, satellites and so one, how do you think a telephone call was made from the UK to Ireland or telegram earlier, well simple, by running a cable across the Irish sea – yes seriously ……….

 

In 1886 Abergeirch was chosen at the location for some telegraph cables  between the UK and Ireland due to its proximity to Ireland and its geology, and many more in the future as well.  It wasn’t the first, that was in 1952 from Holyhead but the coastline wasn’t ideal. When the cable was laid they also built a small hut at Abergeirch to house the end of the cable and machinery.  Remnants can be seen there today. A manually operated relay office was set up at Plas Tirion up in Morfa and run by an Irish gent by the name of John Wales. The cables were so heavy they were normally laid in two parts with a buoy either end, they would then lift both sides and splice them together.

 Here is a summary of cables

Anglo-Irish Cables 1870-2010

Year                           Route                                                                              Manufacturer Company or OperatorCable                                                            ShipsNotes

1886                            Aber Geirch, Wales – Newcastle, Ireland                      No 1GPOFour conductors

1892                            Aber Geirch, Wales – Newcastle, Ireland                      No 2GPO

1898                            Aber Geirch , Wales – Newcastle, Ireland                     TelconGPOTelephone cable.                                        The third cable on this route, the first two being telegraph cables.

1913                            Aber Geirch – Howth                                                          Siemens BrosGPOMonarch (2)System 64 nm.      Four-conductor loaded telephone cable insulated with gutta percha.

1937                            Aber Geirch – Howth                                                           No 2 Submarine Cables LtdGPOFaraday (2)                                           Paragutta insulated telephone cable

1938                            Aber Geirch – Howth                                                           No 3 Submarine Cables LtdGPOFaraday (2)                                           Paragutta insulated telephone cable

 

After a bit of exploring we carried on up the path on to Nefyn Golf Club, a stunning 27 hole links course.  One 18 and one 9 hole. It was established in 1907  by a few local gentlemen over a few pints at the well known watering hole Ty Coch.  The coastal path actually takes you on the very edge of the coastline with the course to your right, so keep an eye out for the flying golf balls. The views and terrain are simply out of this world. The bay to the right is known as Borth Wen, stretching  right up to the old coastguard look out tower on the end of the peninsula.  We had a quick look the other side to see if the seals were out playing but not today, must have been following lockdown rules. The old coastguard tower has taken on a new lease of life now and is run as part of the national coast-watch institution run by local volunteers, good on them. From here you follow the path down to Lifeboat Bay, the home of the tremendous  Tamar class all weather lifeboat and its recently build multi million pound state of the art station. Years ago we used to go swimming and crabbing of the old slip but HSE dictates otherwise now with secure fencing all around the facility, how times have changed. Its a lovely path around the coast taking in some amazing views of the Eifl, Nant G and towards Sir Fon on the  north coast as well as the lovely soothing sounds of native sea birds and the eclectic mix of shanty type houses, boats and awesome flora & fauna. The Ty Coch was a sad site today, normally a quick half would be consumed before doing the last leg on the beach and back to the pickup but alas covid 19 has put a stop to that. It was myself and Nel all alone on the beach, not another person in sight.

 

On we went on the last leg, past the houses on stilts, it was a big tide, at low water. Again evoking memories of spending hours of an evening and at weekends netting shrimps under these houses, what a way to spend a childhood. As the water was so far out we were   walking more or less in a straight line towards beach road at Morfa, feet aching and a very weary Nel by now we ventured back up the hill to find our carriage for the trip home leaving the wonderful memories of the north coast behind.

 

good old  ‘nain Fitz’

 

Thanks for reading

 

Ger & Nel

 

Ar y tren i Afonwen, lle collais i fy mhen……..

Beeching did some damage I tell you …….   The Axe fell  on Afonwen Station, closed on the 7th December 1964 as part of the country wide massacre………

This is the start of today’s lovely walk  – Traeth Afonwen

Afonwen  translates to  ‘white river’ I have no idea of its origins, and is the name of the small stream which works its way down from Chwilog to the beach, the whole area is commonly known as Afonwen. When you mention this name chances are that you will have heard  of it for two reasons:-

1 – You must have seen these big blue lorries around the country delivering and collecting towels and bedding , yes Afonwen Laundry , a local company which was bought out a few years ago by Brookes laundry but now are using the ‘Afonwen’ brand all over the UK once more. I wonder if someone in London is thinking ‘what on earth does that name mean?’ whilst watching this huge lorry passing by with tonnes of clean sheets and bedding on it. They still have a depot at Afonwen.

2- The famous station  which was closed in ’64 during the decimation of the UK rail network by Mr Beeching , and who’s title is in the Welsh classic song  ‘Ar y Tren i Afonwen’ by Bryn Fon , a well celebrated Welsh music artist.

You will find yourself driving down a small narrow lane and at the end you will see a lovely big railway bridge, finding a place to park can be tricky but local knowledge helps.  Afonwen is a tiny stream running down the road and ends up as nothing really on the beach but a wide wet trickle of water over the sands, once you  go under the magnificent railway bridge you will see a small, steel footbridge on the left, we crossed and followed the very narrow footpath which brings you out on the beach.  Here you will see a step up to the left on to the sea wall defenses, this gave us a much better view of the sea and of the old Afonwen Island station ahead.

 

Nothing much exists of it except  in your imagination to try and work it  all out . You will see a small collection of houses and some static caravans on the left again , the last house is the renovated station master’s house,  everything else was stripped bare and flattened.

On July 29th The Caernarvonshire Railway Company was granted permission to build a railway between Caernarfon and Afonwen , was completed and opened in 2nd September 1867, it had 3 platforms and was a junction station which the Pwllheli – Dovey railway ran through.  It became a very busy station with up to 15 services a day passing through and up to 10 arriving and departing on the Caernarfon line but like many other successful services the axe did fall, and fall heavily.

Here are some Archive photos …

 

As we carried on walking a solitary train came past us on the Pwllheli line, 3 passengers on it, shows you the strange times we are in , we waved and Crazy Nel started barking , I do believe the train came off better on that score. about 100 yards ahead the railway line leaves the sea wall and goes inland somewhat so this was our cue to find our way down to beach and Nel’s freedom off the lead, a grown man climbing down some very high boulders with a small Westie in his arms is certainly tricky at the best of times and a rather strange sight to see, thank the lord there was no one else there – phew.

Onward we went , Nel with the freedom to run and chase flies as if there was no tomorrow. Today is  a special day in the lunar calendar, full moon, new start tomorrow.  For this reason we are on big tides and we were there at pretty much low water, it always amazes me the size of some of the boulders, rocks and reefs popping up out of the sea’s tranquil face, akin to a hungry shark waiting for its pray to come happily sailing bye, you really need to know these waters to sail or fish in them.

One thing that never fails to amaze me is the amount of erosion that is constant here on the south of the Llŷn.  As you can see from the photos , a good 20-30′ high bank exposing thousands of years history from its cross section, a geologist dream I’m certain, no hard gabbro round here only shale, sand, and more shale, does show how fragile an landscape we exist in and we really do need to start respecting it for what it is, mother earth, if we don’t then it will sort itself out I’m sure and we are not part of her plan.

 

That’s what happens when you have a sit down with a flask of coffee and the usual banana, contemplating life, earth, where do we fit in, do we fit in, one thing is certain we need to be more responsible my friends.  Nel enjoyed her 1/4 banana & coffee, any one else with a crazy Nel who likes coffee.

Time to turn back round and head back on the return leg of the journey, Nel running free to her hearts content, me cursing the soft sand in places.

Afonwen is a truly lovely quiet walk ….  well worth it .

 

Thanks

 

Ger x

 

 

 

further reading        http://disused-stations.org.uk/a/afon_wen/index.shtml

 

 

Wild Flowers, gates & country lanes

Sometimes the very best things can be found on your doorstep, why do we crave to travel many miles to see something different when its right there, just in front of your nose.

During this difficult ‘lockdown’ period I have really been soul searching and trying to find answers to questions yest to be asked. One is Why o why do we have to drive miles to find the highest mountain passing many others on the way, travel miles along busy roads to find a new footpath. Yes we all do it and that is the reality, at heart we are all explorers but sometimes it really is worth taking a step back and have a good look what you have withing walking distance of your own home, you would be very surprised.

Today’s walk is a 4.2 mile circular walk from  home, Rhosydd & Rhosydd Bach, it follows a very easy route mostly on small country lanes and a small stretch on a busy main road- well busy by our standards, one car every 3-4 minutes.

We live right at the heart of the Llŷn Peninsula , Pen Llŷn as we call it in our native tongue. We are in a very open piece of fine rural farm land between the villages of Llannor and Rhosfawr. Llannor is our postal address but many in the are prefer to say they live in Rhosfawr, creates a bit of confusion at times. Most farming around here tends to be mixed livestock, beef and Lamb  on small traditional family owned farms with one or to dairy herds as well.

Traditional working farms are great, they waste nothing and work with the land rather than against it. One lovely trait we have around here is the old traditional iron riveted gates. Most are either 9′ wide or 12′ wide , you’d struggle to get anything through those today but what many have done is left the gates and just wired them up and opened another new entrance at a more convenient place, especially on the main roads. Imagine driving stock out and along a main ‘A road’ today, military operation to close it either side, then get the stock across it so many have been done away with and better access at other places.

What many have done is use the existing gate, widened the entrance and welded a piece of old gate on to it, sometimes they are awful but sometimes it takes a while to see it. Its a case of being sustainable – before  such a word existed, and make do with what you have rather than always buying new. So next time you are out, keep your eyes peeled in the hedgerow for wire up gates and realise how small the entrance is compared to today’s  and even better see if you can find a ‘widened  gate’ .

This time of the year the hedgerows are simply amazing , the explosion of color and contrasts between the tapestry of varying shades  green foliage, new growth  and vibrant bright flower. Nature at its very best. The freshly mown silage fields always look good and are a sign of summer yet the field next door might not have been touched for centuries with its collection of docks and nettles in the corner, a true patchwork quilt landscape.

Sometimes its worth slowing down a pace or two  and really look hard at what is around and various objects and  structures come bouncing out. I love to see the old hen houses, sheds and garages built out of galvanized sheets, well looked after as if they are the crown Jewels, somehow all having  their own distinctive  style and specific colour . Have you ever wondered what that small stone building is in the trees , it has to be something important in its day as it took some building, now derelict and sad , redundant from use and to small for anything today, the mind is always working overtime .

So back we headed after a good couple of hours in our own backyard, nice cup of tea and some cake.

Remember , next time whan planning a walk , look what is local and walk round with your eyes wide open and questioning why it looks the way it does.

 

thank you for reading

 

Ger x

The Kitchen Garden

During these unprecidented times I have been confined to the boundaries of Rhosydd Bach. An ideal time to catch up on some maintenance, some exiting new developments and of course the kitchen garden.

The Kitchen garden is an integral part of our lives and the cottages, our guests love to pop along for a chat, pick a few sprigs of mint, maybe some fresh new potatoes for supper with that lovely fresh crab the bought in Pwllheli. Well the kids just love the peas, no matter how many rows we plant they never seem to make it to the freezer. But hey ho, what is then better than watching children shelling fresh peas and devouring them as they would a bag of m&m’s.

 

We have been living off Rhubarb fools , crumble and tarts for the past few weeks, yes, plenty here. Gooseberries and currants should be ready in a few weeks and for the first year it also looks like we might have some fresh blueberries. A long time coming as the blueberries have been planted 7 years now and very slow to develop fruit.

 

On the veg side, we have just finished the last of the winter cabbages and now starting to enjoy our own home grown lettuce leaves mix. May is always a difficult time for produce – seems to fall in between both winter and summer. weather has been splendid so we are well ahead this year. Onions , broad beans, potatoes are all in . Taken a risk and sown some beetroot, baby turnips, peas and carrots direct outside. Whilst in the potting shed the tomatoes, brassicas, and various beans are well ahead. Just planted squashes and cucumbers this week so lest see how it goes .

Project for the coming weeks will be the development of a new asparagus bed as well as a new globe artichoke bed, big fan of asparagus but never having tried or eaten globe artichokes, will be interesting.

i will keep you informed of the progress and hopefully we can welcome you here soon to share some produce .

buy for now

Ger x

 

 

 

Nefyn, Nant & the German spy?

Nefyn, Nant & the  German spy?

During the second world war people in Britain often listened to German propaganda from a German based radio station in Hamburg. It always began with ‘Germany calling , Germany calling. The broadcaster was known in Britain as Lord Haw Haw, it was a strategy that the German army had to undermine the resilient spirit of the British people.

Lord Haw Haw purposely mentioned different locations in order to unnerve people and quite often he would name Porthdinllaen and Boduan Woods according to R. Gerallt Jones. As you can imagine this caused some anxiety within the local community , especially on the Northern peninsula as is was well documented that German U boats were often in the area.

With the Abergeirch cable line 2 miles down the road, a prominent target, and the German Planes always flew over the Llyn on their way to their bombing campaigns in Liverpool and Manchester. One can imagine the people of Nefyn were expecting an imminent invasion any day.

There are a couple of occasions when the Nefyn Home Guard had been called to various incidents. The first being to a rather eccentric retired gentlemen living a quiet life, again reputed to be a big player in the military during the great war but did have some nazi sympathies. People were very weary of him especially when walking his dog on the coast late at night. The second incidence is when 5 home guards were called to the beach just above Wern , they could hear a boat coming ashore in the darkness(bearing in mind there was a night time curfew for fishermen), they could hear whispers in the distance getting closer and closer , they mounted their guns thinking this was it , the invasion has started only to hear the gentlemen speaking in welsh, they were local fishermen flouting the curfew.

During the Second World War a mysterious stranger called Mrs Margaret Gladys Fisher moved from Beddgelert to  ‘Four Winds’ ,  an isolated, wooden  bungalow above Carreg y Llam, on the western side of Nant Gwrtheyrn. Mrs Fisher had 4 dogs, Irish wolfhounds maybe from the description, was a tall lady and kept herself to herself, when she did venture in to Nefyn which was quite seldom, usually to buy paraffin and other essentials, she never had much to say, from descriptions her accent was strange. Some were convinced she was a man dressed as a woman, others say she was a German lady, all sorts of stories were circulating about her.

Due to Mrs Fisher’s strange behaviour, local people speculated if she was a German spy. They believed that she had come to the Nant to flash signals to German boats in the bay below.

Whether she was a spy or not will never be known because in the early hours of one Sunday morning in 1943 her wooden bungalow was burnt to the ground.

Her dogs didn’t bark, no one raised the alarm, some accounts say that there were no charred remains, others say there were remains but they could have been her dogs.

As it happened it was a high tide early following morning with the tide having been at perfect height for mooring boats, rumours were rife that Mrs Fisher had staged her own death and escaped on a ship back  to Germany.

No one ever heard or saw anything from that day on , its as it she never existed.

 

That is the mystery of ‘Mrs Fisher’  The German spy. History or folklore – we shall never know.