Harlech Castle Wales
One day not so long ago I had the good fortune occupy a little spot on the northwest coast of Wales. The closest village is called Dyffryn Ardudwy.
I knew nothing about the language though I did learn a scant bit while I was there. The problem with trying to learn and speak Welsh is most people in Wales speak English far better than I could ever speak Welsh. It's just more convenient to speak in English. I was pleased however, to hear quite a few people speaking Welsh (Cymraeg) in Wales (Cymru).
I had to ask myself why the English term for Cymru is Wales. I thought the answer was interesting. Wales is derived from the Old English term for "foreigner or stranger" and Cymru is derived from the Welsh word meaning "fellow-countrymen". I guess it all has to do with perspective - ain't that a hoot.
Our little hideout in Wales was wonderful bolt-hole called Gegin-Faeldre on an 18th century working farm. When we arrived and met the owner she told us that their family was on their way to a sheep shearing contest for charity. There were lots of sheep and cattle on acres and acres or land. There are more sheep per acre there than I had ever seen in my life.
As it happens the left coast is efficient at some things and not so efficient at others. The wifi at our little cottage was all but non-existent. If you could catch a signal you'd be lucky if it could catch you back. It was a constant chase which made it difficult to connect to t'internet.
That lack of connectivity gave us a bit of a tech holiday. If your video entertainment is normally provided by Netflix, Hulu and/or Amazon Prime, you might, as we did, have to get used to a terrestrial television for a little while. We were not so much weened off the internet as cut off cold turkey.
We had wonderful walks and saw some amazing things like a beach that must have been 10 miles long with hardly a soul to be seen, took a ride to the top of Snowdon Mountain on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, descended into the dark caverns of an old slate mine, and visited a small place called Portmeirion. The sights were amazing. It was like having your very own little piece of heaven (if anyone really knows what that looks like).
For the most part, we had beautiful weather. However, one day we experienced what is arguably what Wales does best. Wales is very efficient at combining of hydrogen and oxygen . Two from column A and one from column B. This sometimes manifests itself in gorgeous sunsets, beautiful big pillowy clouds, a chill in the air and a great reason to hold up in by a dry and comfortable fire. This day the rain decided to set in and make itself at home. Long walks in the rain do not make me happy so we found something better to do.
Only a 10 mile ride from Harlech, we hopped in the car and careened down the road. to visit an old castle. Some roads in Wales, much like the rest of this island Kingdom lack sufficient girth to carry two cars operating in opposite directions. The verges are blocked by stone walls or precipitous drops. Maximum attention needs to be employed at all times. You never know when a car will come speeding (and I really mean speeding) around a corner and presuming the right of way. It's often a gut twisting drive that's made more harrowing when the passenger yells something like "Watch It!" or "Look Out!" or "Oh My God That Was Close" or my personal favorite - "Aaaaaaaaaghhhhhh". A scream that would make "The Scream Queen" - Jamie Lee Curtis proud (Check out the original Halloween movie) .
Once we navigated ourselves up a steep narrow road we found a place to park and walked to the Castle. We walked all over the castle's parapets and climbed a very narrow staircase to the top of one of the towers. The view was great you could see Barmouth to Snowdon Mountain. The castle was built in the 13th century by Edward I. From this vantage you could see attackers coming from far and wide. The ruin is not as big as the Tower of London but it does have, I believe, a much better view. Instead of cars, buses, aircraft, the city skyline and ubiquitous cranes and construction equipment. I imagine you can measure the economic strength of London by the number of cranes on the skyline.
All that rambling is to say that I really liked that castle and Wales delivered big time in natural beauty, ancient and near-ancient ruins, and better weather than we could have hoped for. If you have a chance I would recommend that piece of North Wales for great walks, interesting sights, and a really chilled out atmosphere.
In remembrance of our trip I drew this little pic of the castle. I wish you all the very best.
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