Porthmadog to Pen-y-Fan

Our Welsh jaunt is coming to an end and we have to make some decisions as to what we still want to see with the few days we have left. But first and more importantly, we need services to refresh our tanks on Rex and get some fresh water on board. It’s a bank holiday Sunday with all campsites in the area fully booked… No room at the inn, so nowhere to empty our toilet or get fresh water! Serious planning error on our part!

Luckily, this is where the Camping & Caravanning Club DA (District Association) camping comes in handy. DA’s organise temporary sites or rallies which members can join (Details can be found on the Out & About website or app). Some have to be prebooked but most can be attended quite freely after a quick phone call and they generally represent very good value. Facilities are not guaranteed; each event will have the available facilities listed. However, they will generally always have a Chemical Disposal Point (CDP) and Fresh water.

The North Central Region had a temporary holiday site (THS) in Porthmadog at the Rugby club with all the facilities we needed as well as toilets and showers! It was just perfect for us. We booked in for two nights so we had some time to have a good look around.

True to Flip-flop form, we didn’t really know what was in the area so a quick google search revealed that Portmeirion was nearby; a tourist village. That sounds good! We figure we can go for a walk and check that out. What could possibly go wrong…

Well… A few things as it turns out… We set off on a lovely walk from our THS, through Porthmadog and along the Cob which crosses the Glaslyn Estuary where the steam train runs. We follow the coastal path through some lovely countryside and soon we arrive at the edge of Portmeirion. We notice a strange fence with lots of barbed wire on the edge of Portmeirion. Not very inviting and a bit hostile looking we thought… So we walk on until we get to the car park. It’s still quite early but it’s a hot day and people are walking dogs in the carpark and looking for the shadiest car parking spots. Still no alarm bells going off… We cross the carpark until we see a sign. It turns out that Portmeirion is a private tourist village where dogs are not allowed in and you have to buy a ticket to go in. If only we had read the websites rather than just google the area a bit..! So there we are, with Luna, hoping to get a coffee in this village before walking back. Plans scuppered by our own lack of research, we start the journey back to Porthmadog. Luckily it’s not far to walk back and we soon find ourselves back in Porthmadog in a cosy cafĂ© with a nice coffee and some lunch.

Before we know it, it is time to move on again. We have decided to head south to the Brecon Beacons. Stuart has wanted to take me to the Brecon Beacons for as long as we’ve know each other and finally we’re going! The aim is to walk up Pen-y-Fan. We’re hoping we’ll be as lucky with the weather as we were when we walked up Snowdon.

We arrive in the Brecon Beacons to thick, low cloud… We find a nice spot to stay overnight at Keeper’s Pond on the edge of the National Park. It’s a busy spot with cars coming and going most of the evening, but it’s lovely in the morning when we have a small flock of sheep for neighbours (as well as the 6 or so other vans that stayed the night).

We move on to the Storey Arms to park for the day and walk up to Corn Du and Pen-y-Fan. While we’re at the bottom, the weather seems to be clearing up so we’re hopeful the clouds will soon clear. We begin our climb up a quiet, steep path, taking us over 1 hill before descending into a little valley again. Then the climb begins again and the weather turns to rain! It seems the nicer weather from down below isn’t reaching up here! We continue climbing up and visibility gets less as we go. As we near the top of Corn Du, we can only see a few yards around us yet we are very aware of the fairly sheer drop to the left of us. Soon we reach the flat platform top of Corn Du. There are no views at all, just an icy wind blowing all around us.

We swiftly move on to Pen-y-Fan, we think it’s not far from here and if we stay still too long we get very cold very quickly, even in our big coats. Luckily the walk from Corn Du to Pen-y-Fan is fairly easy with a wide path and no steep parts. We soon reach the top! Still no views however. We stop briefly to eat a snack but even this is making our hands super cold! We would like to hang around to see if the weather will clear but it’s too cold and Luna is shivering too. We decide to make our way back down.

For the way down, we choose the main path that most people use to walk up. It’s wide and on a gentle slope. We don’t get down very far before the weather finally starts to clear. We get some views of the valleys below, peaking through the fog. It looks lovely but the top still looks covered in cloud so we carry on down. It’s a lovely walk down and when we get there, the weather is as lovely as it was when we left. It’s a good lesson in the changeability of the weather and to make sure you pack enough layers to be comfortable in all conditions, as the weather at the top can be very different to the weather at the bottom.

It’s time to find a place for the night. We want to stay in the Brecon Beacons another night. The upper car park of Blean Y Glyn provides the perfect spot. Very quiet (no phone signal, no TV) with waterfalls nearby. It’s a somewhat excitable drive with a large motorhome along single track lanes but we get to the carpark fine. It’s beautiful and quiet but here again we experience the how the weather is changeable with strong gusts of wind seemingly coming out of nowhere every so often. The next morning we venture out to see the waterfalls. They’re about 20 minutes walk away and they’re lovely. This would be a great spot to spend a night or two and do some walking. But for us, it’s time to move on.

We head to Abergavenny to retrace some of Stuart’s family history. Stuart hadn’t been back in many years and I’d never been. It was a big surprise to find a beautiful little town. It was nothing like how Stuart remembered it or what I had expected. We enjoyed browsing the shops, many of which were independents. After a coffee and a cake, we move on for our last night in Wales at Black Rock Picnic site on the bank of the Severn Estuary. Another lovely spot with views to the Severn Bridge and where, if you’re lucky, you can watch Lave Net fishermen try to catch the salmon in the traditional way as they swim upstream.

Tomorrow we will head over the bridge, back to England to start our way back to Portsmouth for Luna to go to the vet to have her jabs done, ready for our next European Adventure. Not long to wait now!

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