A grey early day gradually turned brighter as time went on and by mid morning the sun was shining and the sky was blue with bits of fluffy white cloud. I didn't need to plan where I was going that day, I'd already decided that if the weather was nice enough I would do something I failed to do last year - get to Castell Dinas Bran up on top of the high hill overlooking Llangollen. First though, I wanted to find the waterfall which was close to the camp site.
Just outside the site entrance, and about halfway along the farm track, a footpath wound its way down the hill through the woods and along by the river at the bottom of the steep bank behind the tent pitches. Skirting round the edge of the site owner's private land and garden the path took me right to the waterfall which was at the back of the owner's house; previous information had told me that the house had been built on the site of an old corn mill and the waterfall and river had once provided power to the mill. With leaves on the surrounding trees it would be a very pretty place, and the pool at the bottom of the waterfall would even have been deep enough for a refreshing swim.
Back at the tent I put the dogs in the van, collected my spare camera batteries and anything else I might need then set off for Llangollen and my quest to get to Dinas Bran. Just like last year the town centre car parks in Llangollen were full when I got there but I had no intention of spending ages driving round hoping for a space to come vacant - I drove through the town, over the canal bridge and up the lane beyond until I found a suitable place to leave the van at the roadside, which was only a five minute walk from the start of the footpath up to Dinas Bran.
Right from the start at road level the footpath went steeply uphill and only a few minutes into the walk I knew I was right not to walk up with the dogs last year - little Sugar would never have made it more than a couple of hundred yards. About two thirds of the way up was a fairly level plateau which offered a respite from the climb so I took a few minutes to snap a few photos and renew my energy before tackling the last and steepest part of the climb.
Even though there was a zig-zag path to make things a bit easier it didn't go all the way to the top and the final couple of hundred yards were steeper than ever - I was just glad that I had two fit and strong little dogs to pull me up the last bit to the very top. Being up there was like being on top of the world and I could see for miles in all directions, but the clouds had closed in a bit and the views across to the Dee valley in the east weren't as clear as they could have been; the sun was still shining through though so I still managed to get some reasonably good photos.
The descent back down the hill was definitely much easier than going up, though I had to watch that the dogs didn't pull me down any faster than I wanted to go - sliding out of control down the steep shingle path wasn't really on the agenda just then. We made it back to road level in one piece though and as we all needed a drink by then I headed for Llangollen's main street and the Courtyard Cafe where I knew I could sit outside. With Sophie and Poppie having lapped up copious amounts of water from the bowl by the cafe door and my thirst quenched by a mug of good coffee - without the cake this time - I had a brief look round the shops then made my way back to the van. It was still only mid afternoon but after my strenuous walk I didn't really feel like going anywhere else so I decided to go back to the tent and chill out for the rest of the day.
As I drove away from Llangollen I decided on the spur of the moment to make a quick return to Horseshoe Falls a couple of miles out of the town - having been rather disappointed with the place last year I wondered if it looked any better this time. It did - marginally - as there was no rubbish in the river like last time, but there were still lots of dead tree branches sticking out of the water which rather spoiled the look of the place. Maybe it would look better with leaves on the surrounding trees, but having been twice now and not being terribly impressed on either occasion I'm not sure if I would want make a third visit later in the year.
Back at the tent I spent some time chatting to my camping neighbours then as the warmth went out of the sun I retreated inside for the evening, only coming out again to take the dogs for a last short walk before the daylight disappeared. After our strenuous walk up to Dinas Bran I think they were just as tired as I was so needless to say it was an early bed for all three of us that night. Would I do that walk again another time? Maybe not, as the ruins themselves will never be any different, but if there's an absolutely cloudless blue sky and I can get some better photos of the views then maybe I will - all I can say is never say never.
- Hi! I'm Eunice and I live in Bolton, Lancashire, with my two dogs Sophie and Sugar and an assortment of cats - well it used to be Sophie and Sugar, now it's Sophie and Poppie. I first began camping back in 1997 when my then partner took me to Anglesey for my birthday weekend. We slept in the back of the car - a hatchback - using the cushions off the settee at home as a mattress, and cooked and brewed up on a single burner camping stove. The site was good, the views were great, the weather fantastic and I was completely hooked. Following that weekend we got a two-man tent and some proper accessories and returned to Anglesey two weeks later, then over time we progressed to a three-man tent followed by an old trailer tent, then a new trailer tent, a campervan and finally a caravan. When my partner decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the street - literally - in April 2009 and I suddenly found myself alone after fifteen years, I decided there was no way I was going to give up camping and caravanning if I could cope on my own. This blog is the story of my travels, trials and tribulations since becoming a solo camper - I hope you like it