There was a chill in the air and a touch of frost on the grass when I took the dogs for their early morning walk just after 6am but the sun soon chased it away and by mid morning the day was warming up nicely. I'd originally planned to go to Llyn Brenig, a lake which I'd seen featured on a tv fishing programme and which I thought looked nice, but after reading a leaflet about it the previous day I thought there may not be enough there to hold my attention for more than half an hour - and the car park fees weren't cheap either - so I decided to have a change of direction and go back to the coast, this time to Porthmadog.
The first part of my route took me along the A494 back to Bala but instead of going through the town and past the lake I turned west along the A4212. Several miles along I came to Llyn Celyn and a convenient roadside lay-by where I could stop to take a couple of snaps of the views across the lake. A bit further on still I discovered Capel Celyn Memorial Chapel, a small semi-circular stone building with a square front and tiny windows, and with a small graveyard at the rear. Later information told me that back in 1965 the small village of Capel Celyn and the adjacent valley were flooded to create the reservoir, and many of the stones from the original chapel were used to construct the new memorial chapel. From the outside I couldn't really tell if it was derelict or actually in use, but it was in very a peaceful place overlooking the lake and worth a photo.
My journey to Porthmadog continued with no further stops and as I knew where I was going from a previous visit four years ago I headed straight for the large car park behind the main road near the station, then with four hours on the car park ticket I released the dogs from the back of the van and set off to explore. On my previous visit I'd only briefly looked round one side of the harbour so this time I crossed the bridge which carried the main road and went to look round the other side. A small development of private houses and apartments bordered the harbour and when I walked through to the far side I was surprised to see that although the inner harbour was perfectly clear the outer harbour was partially shrouded in a thin sea mist - that didn't really help the photography so I retraced my steps and contented myself with a few shots of the inner harbour.
Back on the other side of the harbour I walked further round than I had done previously and behind a shop selling marine supplies I found a single track tarmac lane. There were several people walking along in each direction - it must lead somewhere so with curiosity aroused, but not knowing how long the lane was, I kept on walking. Past another marine supplies place, a business dealing in boat engines and a small development of modern harbourside apartments the lane finally came to a dead end with a path leading up the grassy bank on the right. At the top was a small estate of older houses and bungalows with a narrow road going down the far side of the hill, and at the bottom was a small bay backed by colourful cottages and houses. A handful of boats were beached on the sand and from somewhere under the road a stream emerged and ran across the beach; this looked like a lovely little place and I was glad I'd decided to follow the lane from the harbour.
Walking round the curve of the bay to the far side I found a small car park which was free, and an information board which told me this was Borth-y-Gest, presumably part of Porthmadog itself but looking very much like a small village in its own right. Across the road from the beach were two small tea rooms but both places were full with no room at any of the outside tables so any thoughts of coffee and cake were immediately abandoned.
At the far side of the car park a path went up the hill and round the nearby headland so I decided to take a look. Following the contours of the coast, with sandy coves down below, the path seemed to go on for ever but the sea mist put paid to any photography so I didn't walk too far before I turned round and retraced my steps. Walking back around the bay I snapped a few photos then headed back up the hill towards the harbour, where the mist was beginning to drift into the inner reaches.
Returning to the van I gave the dogs a drink then set off for Black Rock Sands, another part of Porthmadog. I hadn't a clue what was there but I'd been told by someone at work that it was nice and I would be able to park right on the beach so I thought I may as well take a look. The road took me through the town and out the other side, and a left turn took me down a long straight lane to the beach - except when I got there I couldn't even see it; the sea mist had turned into a thick fog which shrouded the whole area and visibility was down to almost nothing. A board at the side of the lane told me that the parking charge was £5 for all day but with nothing to see there was no point staying so I turned the van round and headed back up the lane and back into the sunshine.
Driving back towards the town I saw a sign for Borth-y-Gest so decided to go back there; if I could get a space in the car park I could leave the dogs in the van and hopefully get some coffee and cake at one of the tea rooms. The decision was a good one; the little bay was still clear of any mist and I managed to find a parking space with no trouble and a vacant inside corner table at the second of the tea rooms, so I was soon demolishing a decent-sized slice of carrot cake and a mug of latte coffee while deciding what to do next.
I still had over an hour left on the original car park ticket so I drove back there, parked up again and went for a wander. Across the road and up a mile-long embankment at the far side of the harbour bridge was the Ffestiniog narrow gauge steam railway with a gravel pathway running alongside the line, which gave me good views over the former tidal estuary of Traeth Mawr. I walked about two thirds of the way across before turning round, and with another few shots taken I headed back to the van for the last time that day.
The drive back to the camp site was very pleasant in the late afternoon sun, and with the van parked up for the night and the heater on in the tent I made a brew and something to eat then settled in to while away some time with my book. While I'd been out the few other campers on site had gone, leaving just one couple in a caravan on the next pitch; the site was a very quiet place anyway but it was even more so that night, and when I took the dogs for their last walk at dusk it was to nothing more than the sound of the river and the occasional hoot of an owl.