About Me

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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

Sunday August 28th - Part 2 - Harlech castle, a river and two lakes

Having left that lovely beach view behind it took only a few minutes to get to Harlech - and not much longer to begin to regret going there. Driving along the A496 I came to a fork in the road with the right hand side signposted 'town centre' and 'castle' - this was a narrow B road which eventually ran through what passed as a small town centre, but with a long line of cars parked outside the shops there was only room for one vehicle at a time to get through. With half a dozen cars in front of me my only choice was to join the queue and wait my turn while other vehicles came up from the other end.

Having eventually got through the bottleneck I continued along the road but with no castle in sight I realised I must have somehow missed it and gone too far, though I hadn't seen any more brown signs. Unfortunately the road was too narrow to turn round safely without risking something else coming along and hitting me so I carried on in the hope of finding a lay-by but there was nothing anywhere. I must have gone four or five miles in the wrong direction before I came to a junction with the A496 which, if I turned left, would take me back towards Harlech - I almost said "sod it" and turned right but going to the castle was one of the main aims of the day and I wasn't going to be beaten.

As I approached Harlech for the second time I could see the castle on top of a rocky outcrop high above the road and eventually I arrived at the same fork in the road as before. Turning back onto the B road I drove along slowly looking for another brown sign but there was nothing, so pulling into a car park set back on the right I found a cool shady spot under some overhanging trees, got a ticket for an hour and went across to a shop opposite to ask directions. A five minute walk along the road took me through the town centre, and just past the shops a lane on the left took me down the hill to where the castle was at the bottom - I'd finally found it, but at no time did I see any brown 'castle' signs anywhere. It seemed that the one right back at the fork in the road was the only one, in which case I can imagine I'm not the first person to have trouble finding the castle.

With only an hour on the car park ticket I didn't spend as long in the castle as I could have done - I really enjoyed climbing up and down the spiral staircases in the towers but the highlight of the visit just had to be the fantastic views from the top of the outer walls. On my way out I just had time to stop for a quick coffee and cake in the bright modern cafe then I returned to the van and gave the dogs a short walk round the car park before setting off on the next part of my journey.

Back on the A496 I headed northwards; I had no clear idea of where I was going or where I would end up, just that I was working my way round in a huge circle to eventually end up back at Bala. Leaving civilisation behind the road ran close to the Afon Dwyryd for quite a distance and as I rounded a bend I came across another view worth stopping for. In the early evening sunlight it looked really lovely so pulling up the van I hopped over the roadside crash barrier and took a couple of shots looking upriver towards Maentwrog.

Eventually the A496 joined the A487 and then the A470 which took me back in a southerly direction, and my next stop was made at Llyn Trawsfynydd. A single track lane led from the road down to a car park with an outdoor centre and cafe, and though both were closed by then there were still a couple of families at the lake side and some kids having fun in the water. A track behind the outdoor centre took me to a jetty where a few fishing dinghies were tied up, and with another few shots taken I retraced my steps back to the van.

Close to the south end of the lake I turned onto the A4212 which would eventually take me back to Bala, and my final stop was made near the end of Llyn Celyn. It had gone 7pm by then and I was losing the best of the evening sunlight so it was only a very brief stop, and with just one shot over the lake I got back in the van and resumed my journey. It didn't take long to get from there to Bala, and back on the A494 I was finally on the last leg of my marathon circular tour - another twenty minutes and I would be 'home'.

It was 8pm when I arrived back at the camp site and with the sun now gone the daylight was rapidly starting to fade so I fed the dogs and took them for their last walk of the day down the track to the lane and back, then with a brew and a sandwich for myself we settled in for the rest of the night. Apart from the minor irritation of not being able to find Harlech castle I'd had a good day, and after the cloudy and grey start the weather had turned out lovely and I'd got some good photos, so as I snuggled into bed later on I was a very happy camper.


  1. I enjoyed your jaunt, Eunice, thank you very much. The area reminds me of parts of Marin County in Northern California.

    1. I don't know why but I've never imagined that parts of the USA could look like places over here so I just looked up Marin County on Google Images and yes, some parts do look very similar to those I've recently been to.

      I always find it fascinating that even though England and Wales are both part of the same land mass I can always tell when I've crossed the border from one to the other as the countryside is different; it's the same going from England into Scotland too.

    2. Proof that Earth is round. lol. I think the same way just traveling through the different counties around us.

    3. Well from the end of this week I'll be spending ten days in the county of Norfolk, the countryside there almost totally flat so is in complete contrast to the hills and mountains of Wales - you and Tilda-Hilda would like it there as it's great for cycling :)

  2. We holidayed near Harlech a few years ago and I can picture the narrow road with the shops. I don't remember having trouble finding the castle but when we did find it, it wasn't dog-friendly and we were disappointed that we couldn't go in. Your photos are wonderful as always, you had a really good day with lovely blue skies.

  3. Maybe you should go to the castle again sometime Eileen as it is dog friendly now, though you have to keep them at ground level for obvious reasons - there's no way you could take a dog up and down the steep tower staircases or along the upper walls. I didn't know about it being dog friendly until I got in there but it wouldn't have made any difference to me as I wanted to climb the towers. Reduced rate admission is currently £4.20 and you get a wristband so if you need to go out for anything you can get back in again on the same day.

    The home made cake I had in the cafe was so nice I asked the lady serving to pass on my compliments to whoever had made it, expecting it to have been an older person, so I was quite surprised when she pointed out a young girl in the kitchen who couldn't have been much more than twenty years old. My mum was a baker and confectioner by trade from the age of fourteen and she made some wonderful cakes during her lifetime so I know a good one when I taste it, and that was definitely on a par with my mum's.

    As for not being able to find the castle I think if I'd parked in the off-street car park to start with and walked along the road and past the shops I would have found it with no problem but I was assuming there would be a car park at the castle and that's what I was looking for. There is a small car park right outside it but there are no signs on the road at all, not even a blue 'P' sign for parking. To be honest I was doubting my own sanity so I checked on Google maps street view and the brown 'castle' sign at the fork in the road is definitely the only one there is.

    Weather-wise the day definitely got better once the grey clouds had cleared so I'm really pleased with the photos I got :)

  4. Enjoyed "My Visit" Tigermouse, felt as though I was actually there.

  5. Thank you Yvonne, I'm glad you enjoyed the journey through my day out :)

  6. Harlech looks like a lovely place to explore and once again, you had decent weather :)

  7. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of a town centre, just a long line of shops along a very narrow road, but now knowing where the castle is and where to park I may very well go back another time and explore a bit more. I know I missed out on the beach as I still had a long way to drive, so that's definitely one for another time.

  8. What a lovely afternoon it turned out to be! You got some great shots.
    When we were in England a couple of years ago, I was most fascinated by the castles. The thought that people lived there, that they were built long before modern machines...it just blows my mind.

  9. Ruined castles completely fascinate me. Not so much from a history point of view but more because I like exploring the various staircases and narrow passageways which would once have been hidden within the walls, and also for the good photo opportunities they provide. It's amazing though to think that they were built so long ago.

  10. Loved Harlech castle when we visited years ago. Did Portmerion at the same time, lovely place with more stunning views but very commercialised now Eunice. That part of Wales is absolutely fantastic.


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