I'd driven quite a distance down the A55 when the traffic began to slow down and I thought I may be heading for a bank holiday traffic jam, but as the road started to go downhill at that point I soon saw why. Only three days previously, during some very rough weather, a large cargo ship had run aground on rocks close to the shore and drivers were slowing down to look as they went past. I don't know why as there was nothing to see - only the tops of the masts were visible from the road. The traffic did keep moving though and once away from that area it wasn't long before I saw the sign for Rhos-on-Sea, so turning off the A55 and following the signs for the beach I soon found myself turning onto the promenade about halfway along its length. There were plenty of parking spaces along the roadside so I pulled into a convenient one and looked round for a ticket machine, but as there didn't seem to be one and none of the other cars had tickets on them it looked like it was free - that would do for me! So with Sophie and Sugar on their leads I locked the van, crossed over onto the seaward side, and set off to see what I could find.
I have to admit to being quite pleasantly surprised as there seemed to be a bit more there than my vague childhood memories had led me to believe. Behind where I'd parked the van a steep grass bank topped with a line of trees rose up from the promenade to the road above, and on the seaward side were several stone-built shelters set at intervals and a couple of kiosks selling drinks and snacks. Past the grass bank was a long row of hotels and guest houses and finally I came to a pub and what I assume passed as being the 'town centre' - a couple of rows of cafes and gift shops with a couple of side roads containing shops of a more general nature and a post office. Across from there was a beach and small harbour with a couple of dozen boats bobbing about on the water, and beyond there was a nice-looking pub/restaurant set back off the road in its own garden, a bistro and a grassy children's play area with swings, slides and various climbing frames.
From there onwards there seemed to be nothing more than private houses and guest houses with the promenade heading off in the direction of Llandudno, but even though it was a very grey afternoon and not terribly warm it was still quite pleasant walking briskly along with the dogs so I decided to go as far as the next bend in the road before turning round and heading back - and I was so glad I did as I came across the sweetest little chapel I've ever seen. Nestling in its own little garden on the lower part of the promenade it was built of stone, must have been no more than 7ft high at its apex, and had just one tiny window set in one wall. A board by the railings told me this was St. Trillo's chapel, built on the site of an ancient spring - the well can still be seen under the altar - and seating only six people it's thought to be the smallest chapel in the British Isles. Communion services are still held there regularly and in fact there had been a service earlier on that day.
After spending several minutes in the calm of this lovely little place I unhitched the dogs from the railings where I'd left them and set off back in the direction of the van. It was getting near to coffee and cake time so finding a cafe was next on the list but as it was a bit too chilly to sit outside with the dogs I took them back to the van first. I had passed a nice-looking large cafe on a corner which seemed to be a popular place so I went in there, but when I looked at the menu and saw the prices I went straight back out again. The coffee was fairly reasonable at £2.20 but £4.60 for a slice of cake (and they weren't big slices) was ridiculous - I only wanted one slice, not the whole cake! So I walked back along the promenade until I came to a no-frills type of place round a corner, and for much less than the price of the cake at the first place I had a decent sized piece of apple pie with cream and a mug of really good milky coffee. Back at the van I pondered for a few minutes on where to go next, but as the weather showed no sign of brightening up I decided to make my way back to the camp site and on my way see if I could find the ship on the rocks at Colwyn Bay.
Keeping away from the A55 I drove from Rhos-on-Sea and through Old Colwyn until I found a sign for the beach and following that eventually led me to one end of the promenade, fortunately the end where I wanted to be. Yet again the parking was free and though there weren't many spaces I managed to find a vacant one, so with the dogs back on their leads and the van locked up I set off in search of the ship. The promenade itself ended where I left the van but there was a cycle path heading in the right direction so I followed that until I could go no further - my route was barred by numerous strands of plastic tape stretched between various barriers and fence posts. The blue and white tape was emblazoned with the words POLICE CRIME SCENE - now I wouldn't have thought that a ship washed onto the rocks by heavy seas would be classed as a crime scene, so maybe that was the only tape they had at the time. In the no-go area beyond the tape were various machines and other items of heavy plant and several officials in high-vis jackets, but beyond the no-go area on the cliff edge I could see half a dozen people with cameras so there was obviously a way to get round there. To my left was a steep high grassy outcrop with a fence running across it about halfway up and with several people already up there it looked like that was the way to do it, so ducking under the tape I set off up the hill. When I got down the other side I knew the scramble had been worth it when I was rewarded with a great view of the MV Carrier beached in an upright position parallel to the shore.
After taking a couple of photos and spending a few minutes watching the salvage crew doing whatever it was they were doing I went back over the hill and made my way back to the van, and it was as I was driving through the outskirts of Old Colwyn on the main road which would take me back to the camp site that I saw a couple of guys in a lay-by with huge cameras on tripods pointing over a stone wall and down the coast. This was obviously another vantage point to see the ship so I pulled up and went to have a look, but unfortunately as I'm less than 5ft tall the wall was too high for me to see over. Not being one to give up easily though when I'm in search of a photo I took note of where the guys' cameras were pointing and went to look for another vantage point. My quest took me through a small housing estate but eventually I came to a cul-de-sac and could go no further; however I noticed a 'no man's land' of grass leading between the garages of two bungalows and with the traffic noise on the A55 sounding fairly close I went along to take a look, and bingo! I emerged on the hillside almost immediately above the ship. My view was partially obscured by the branches of various shrubs and bushes but I was still able to take a reasonable photo so my quest hadn't been in vain.
With my mission accomplished I returned to the van and set off again back to the camp site, and once on my pitch I reconnected the awning to the van straight away as I had no intention of going out again. After a brief chat with some of the goup members I made myself a brew and something to eat and spent the early evening watching a bit of tv. It was just after 9pm when the light and the tv went off, and poking my head out through the awning door I could see that the whole site was in darkness so it wasn't just me. By then the other members had got a camp fire going in a fire pit a couple of pitches further along so I went across to join them. One member, Dragon, had packed his van with lots of offcuts of timber specially for the occasion, another member (who shall remain nameless) had provided some bits from an old bed, and a lot of hilarity ensued when comments were made about notches on the bedpost! It was well after 11pm when I took my leave of the group and went to take Sophie and Sugar for their pre-bedtime walk, and with the electricity supply back on again (it had resumed while I was over at the camp fire) I made my final brew of the day, settled the dogs in their beds and retreated to my own in the van, where I lay for a while thinking over my day. Although the weather hadn't been particularly brilliant I'd still enjoyed myself - I'd had coffee and cake, found a tiny chapel and photographed a shipwreck, and joining the others round the camp fire had just rounded the day off nicely.