The beautiful Loire Valley, with its romantic chateaus, the flowing river and the picturesque countryside.
Dolgellau (said as Dol-get-la) is a little market town in the southern part of Snowdonia National Park in northwest Wales; that was our base as my daughter and I set out exploring this beautiful corner of the country.
Once off the highway, winding country roads brought us to our first stop for some Hoffi Coffi and Welsh cakes at the Brigands Inn in Mallwyd.
The serenity and silence of this pastoral stop was suddenly shattered by the deafening noise of fighter jets flying above us, but we enjoyed our coffee-and-cake-break anyway. The innkeeper had warned us of the narrow roads in Dolgellau, but nothing prepared us for the tiny, tiny, turnoff from the main road to reach our home for the night.
A warm welcome from Jan, some tea with more Welsh cakes, and the calming view overlooking the town were just perfect.
Some hiking to start with – we chose to do the Pony Path to the base of the Cader Idris, a dark and craggy mountain.
Legend has it that a giant sits atop its peak! The hike took about five hours at a gentle pace, and we found ourselves at the base of the mountain. No sign, however, of the Lyn y Gader lake which was our destination. An hour later, and after a few wrong turns, we were relieved to reach the beautiful and pristine lake ringed by shiny pebbles.
A little frolic in the water and a bit of rest to admire the view, and we were ready to make the trip back down. As we ambled down the gentle path, we were joined by a curious sheep which kept us company all the way to the base.
Biking was next. The 15 km Mawddach stretch is a biking and walking trail from Dolgellau along the estuary of the Mawddach river.
It joins the sea at the port-town of Barmouth and is one of the most beautiful and gentle tracks I have cycled on. The estuary is broad and sandy with ever-changing views caused by the tide.
Crossing the rail bridge on that runs alongside the cycling track and across the river at Barmouth was special. The estuary on one side, the ocean on the other and – fanciful as this may seem – a feeling we were floating came over us as we crossed the bridge.
There was a treat at the other end – sinful sundaes at the famous Knickerbockers Ice Cream Parlour.
On the way back, we stopped at scenic Penmaenpool for beer and lunch in the George III Hotel Restaurant pub, known for its great ambience and atmosphere.
Another must do at Dolgellau is the Gwin Dylanwad. Unusual wines you can choose by the bottle from the cellar, and small eats under a skylight – a relaxed way to spend our last evening. Owner Dylan Rowlands is well-loved and has been highly-recommended over the years.
A spot of slate shopping on the Main Street and our joy was complete!
I have found time to travel to many countries and live in 2 countries (3 if Scotland ever does becomes one!) and 6 cities during my career in finance. I was a diplomat first and started in the Indian Foreign Service with my first posting being Paris – The City of Light. And began my lifelong love of travel and coffee there! An MBA followed and I’ve been in finance since.