The year 2019 in the Hymertrails household has been a whirlwind so far. We put our house up for sale back around Xmas 2018 and had big plans for selling by spring, packing our jobs in and heading off for a year or so around Europe, and beyond…
Jump forward to Autumn 2019 and we’ve only just sold the house, I’ve landed a new job and we’ve not as yet managed to explore Europe and beyond. We have though got ourselves in a better place. We are no longer tied to a house (that we really loved) but was blighted horrendously by terrible and very disruptive neighbours!
Throughout all the stress we’ve had a few brilliant trips away, Denmark in early summer and a return to North Wales in July.
We set off mid-week and stopped for a relaxing first night at the Sugar loaf, a lovely car park and hill just north of Llandovery. It’s a place we’ve wildcamped before to catch the amazing sunset and to give the hounds a bit of a leg stretch and to break up the journey North.
After a peaceful night we headed north towards Snowdonia with the aim of getting to Coed y Brenin, a forest visitor centre just outside Dolgellau, by the early afternoon. Nestled in beautiful wooded scenery Coed y Brenin is the flagship visitor centre managed by Natural Resources Wales. It attracts mountain bikers, runners and walkers and is a great place for a visit. It was a warm July day so we set off on a shortish riverside walk, the Afon Eden trail, perfect for our ageing houndies and with a riverside picnic stop ideal for Tilly our waterbaby!
It was lunchtime on the trail so a shady picnic spot was an ideal chance for a cool down before heading back to Hank.
That night we stayed at Coed y Llyn Campsite, just north of Trawsfynydd. It was a decent enough spot and had a pub, The Bryn Arms https://brynarmsgellilydan.business.site/ within walking distance serving lovely local ales and food. As always we had a decent nights rest before heading further north the following morning towards the heart of Snowdonia and a stop at Bettws y Coed. It was another hot summer’s day so we parked Hank in the shade, had a short wander around town, picked up some lunch before then heading off towards Anglesey. Hank is a slow and steady kinda guy, just perfect for driving along the scenic roads of Snowdonia.
We had a late afternoon stop outside Llanberis, parked up at Llyn Padarn with a few other vans watching a dreadlocked guy paddle boarding with a jolly looking dog and not getting the slightest bit wet!! Oh to have little dogs!!
Time to get going and our wildcamp spot for the evening was a small forest car park on Anglesey at Llangefni Reservoir. It was a strange old evening with a very drunk couple arguing in the car park before merrily driving off to get more booze…
Next morning after a decent, but soggy walk through the forest surrounding the reservoir we headed to the coast at Newborough, somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for years. Our first stop was the Pen Cob Car Park at the north end of the forest. It was a great spot so we all headed off on the 1mile long Estuary view walk. The houndies seemed happy, off-lead forest adventures, plenty to explore, sniff and chase!
Onwards to the other side of Newborough and after a not so friendly greeting from the car park attendant we parked up in the main Newborough Beach car park. Its a big old place, not bad at £5 a day but hey ho we got in for free as I work for NRW!! After a quick lunch we packed a rucksack and headed off on one of the other walking trails. We couldn’t go to Ynys Llandwyn as there were seasonal dog restrictions but nevertheless, we had a great forest walk, the houndies were a bit warm but we managed plenty of shade and water stops to keep them comfortable.
Having had a pleasant, if somewhat hot walk for Tilly, we had a restorative cuppa back at Hank before heading off across Anglesey once more to our stop for the evening near Benllech on the East of the island. We booked a pitch at the Cae Mawr campsite and managed to catch the last bit of sun relaxing with a beer and some food sitting outside Hank.
Morning time, dog walks and van life breakfast, there’s almost nothing better! But it’s time for the off as we head south back to the mainland with an en-route stop at Beaumaris. What a sweet spot, sweeping views across the Menai strait to Snowdonia, the impressive Beaumaris castle looming over the town and a lovely collection of shops and cafes. We managed to find a great ‘plant- based cafe so we treated ourselves to some top notch vegan lunches and a couple of meaty pastries for the hounds. They don’t do vegan…
Following the coast road back we squeezed across the Menai Suspension Bridge before heading inland towards the Ogwen valley. We were hoping to walk up to Cwm Idwal but it was a bit too far for the houndies, too hot and we couldn’t actually find anywhere to park Hank, it was rammed!! We made do with stopping in a few spots just to admire the amazing views!!
It was our last full day so we headed south to break up the journey home. Cutting straight through Snowdonia’s majestic peaks we made a beeline for the south of the National Park and a stop at Cadair Idris. We both would have loved a hike to the top but time constraints and ageing houndies meant a lovely meander around the estate lake instead and quick foray for me to view sections of the stunning ‘Celtic Rainforest’ on the trail to the top. Decision time, do we push on and wildcamp somewhere further south or park up (cheekily) for the night and enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Cadair Idris area? Staying put it is, so we tried to blend into the surroundings, fairly unsuccessfully in a Hymer, and settle in for the night.
Food time before the last dog walk of the day. We always seem to manage to create wonderful food in hank even with the limited space and just a few gas burners!
It was a quiet night with no other vans for company but early next morning the car park started to fill with hikers ready to tackle Cadir Idris. It was time to move on so one last walk around the site and we were off heading South. We had a decent run home with a pleasant afternoon stop at Dolaucothi. It’s a lovely National Trust property with old Roman Goldmines, nice walks and a fairly decent campsite. We holed up for a pinic under the cooling shade of some Beech trees and read a while, relaxed and contemplated the next trip away.
Here’s to the next trip, the stunning Chilterns in August!! Blog post coming soon when I catch up with a summer of our activities….