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Late Doors

Dolgellau, South Snowdonia

From, Shrewsbury we crossed the Welsh Bridge and headed West to Mid Wales. I’ve had a couple of cycling trips in Wales and never quite understood the animosity that sometimes occurs between the two countries. In fact I’ve always thought the Welsh were like Yorkshire folk in many ways. Geographically, class wise, industrial and agricultural heritage and attitude. They won’t thank me for saying that of course. They are better singers than us and their sheep are prettier but a god that gives them Charlotte Church and the beast from Gavin and Stacey is surely a benign God and wants to even things out somehow.

So Dolgellau, on the River almost coastal west Wales set amongst the peaks of majestic Southern Snowdonia. MrsD had booked one of those “boutique” hotels in the center of the small town about the size of Elland. It was run by two blokes who could well have been “partners” and was everything the term suggested it would be. Well presented and scrubbed, an air of unhurried casual elegance but with slight pretensions of being classier than it was. No more demonstrated so than when Tarquin or whatever his name was tried to tell me about the Crafted Bottled conditioned ales they sold. Other than that the place was very comfortable with great breakfast and restaurant supported by friendly staff.

We had a little look around the town on the first afternoon and first impressions were not good. Bare chested tattooed young lads paraded about while the spongy bellied lasses all seemed to be either pushing a pram or their luck with them. It was an impression that didn’t last as the town turned out to be a welcoming place with a lot of understated charm and friendly locals. The next four days were planned to be focused extensively around walking. Mainly in the green hilly wilderness around the town but also along the old railway line to Barmouth following a walk Julia Bradbury did on tv that inspired our trip in the first place. In all we did six fantastic drifts through serene moorland, foothills dwarfed by towering mountains, dead calm still lakes reflecting the mountains around them, rippling streams, forests, rocks surrounded by heather, sheeps, birds of prey hovering high above and all almost exclusively to ourselves such was the isolated wilderness we were in. Four days of outdoor bliss where you can do nothing but be awestruck by the wonders of nature and what we can do with it working together

The walk to Barmouth was a different terrain altogether. A ten mile saunter alongside the river as it expands into a spread-eagled sand lined estuary eventually joining the sea under the bridge that linked our side to Barmouth. We could see it shimmering in the hazy distance. It looked just around the corner but was in fact still six miles away. Then a most bizarre sight slowly emerged. It was like something out of a BBC Serengeti documentary. What looked like a herd of wilder beast  roaming majestically in the sand along the river  in the distance flickered into view. It was in fact a herd of cows trooping along in the sand paddling in the low tide estuary but it was a bizarre sight for two landlocked country bumpkins like us to behold.

Barmouth itself was pleasant with huge spotless beaches of golden sand. Masses of pink faced sports gear wearing groups milled around in slow meander along the front and inner streets. Judging from the accents and colours they all seemed to be from the Midlands. Fat sweating blokes swigged lager in the sun outside the pub while the women and kids queued up for fish n chips. We had Cod, Haddock and one lot of chips. They were  ok but the batter was a tad too soft and greasy but not bad considering it wasn’t West Yorkshire.

Tell you what though. Jonesey was bang on about North Wales. Not a single Wrexham shirt in sight and the predominant team by far was Everton, why is that anyone?

We got the bus back to Dolgellau for tea time and had a pint in the sunshine outside the Ivy Clad Royal Ship on the handful of wooden tables. Central Dolgellau is a curious collection of buildings. Lovely Grey/Brown stoned and slated cottage type dwellings with unusual chimneys that had rogue slates jutting out around them dominated  the centre . Apparently this is to stop excess rain from gathering around the base. Outer Dolgellau though seems to have lost all architectural cohesion with a real mash mash of modern buildings that seem out of place and rather spoil the whole look when the village is viewed from the many high vantage points around it.

The pubs are nothing special i have to report and the beer less so. Personally i quite liked the unspoilt shabbiness of them with their base premise of being a place to meet, talk and drink but MrsD with her fancy ideas about cleanliness, ambience and deco thought otherwise especially as the concept of a decent Merlot was as alien as putting a picture of the England heroes of ’66 on the wall would be. The Unicorn next to our hotel had nice staff, Sky TV, outdoor seating and a foisty old fashioned interior serving dreary GK IPA. The hub of the town seemed to be a pub called the Torrent walk.  A locals gathering spot for lively talk and laughs. I liked it. The Bay horse had the only gay in the village behind the bar and a trapped sparrow in the chimney that had been chirping all day apparently and “doing my head in” he said. It stopped while we were there to cheers from the barman announcing the poor little buggers ceasing to be and a mournful sigh from two huge German Girls in Jeans and comfortable shoes across from us who were the only other customers in the place. The Royal Ship, already mentioned was a typical hotel bar with foreign staff and no locals serving expensive drinks and plain food and the Cross Keys rounded off the collection.

If the pubs were ordinary the jewel in the town's crown were the eating spots, superb. Varied, stylish, classy but unpretentious and friendly, great staff and most importantly great offerings of fresh mainly local produce skilfully cooked. I could go on and on about what we had and how it was but fear i have gone on too much already and i have forgotten the detail.

First and foremost the excellent Y Sospan. Seemingly a two person operation but quite brilliant. Lovely service and food of the very highest order, sensational. Our Hotel itself did a mean brekky of perfectly cooked quality local produce beautifully laid out in the downstairs restaurant which used to be the dungeon cells of the police station. We also had evening meal there on Tuesday and that was also terrific. Dylans i think was the towns gastronomic showpiece but in truth it was no better than the two already mentioned.

Now as we all know on here cakes n that are for Girls, bummers or blokes that do not drink anymore but this particular place in town is something else. I have never known cakes and other sweet stuff like it, nowhere near, absolutely beautiful. The sort that makes me realise what that fat bald bloke on master chef drools about. Buttery, textured, balanced mix of sweet perfection. In total we had six different bits  in between morning and afternoon walks accompanied by steaming proper coffee, ace, quite unforgettable. So much so i can’t remember the name of the place. Ill ask MrsD laters.

Right, that’s our Welsh Trip, brilliant, really enjoyed it, roll on Green Man.

Only ever driven through the place, not sure you've quite sold it to me apart from the walks and I can get that wild camping.
Late Doors

Thats the main thing i was trying to put over. The walking was just superb and in great weather as well.....which was nice.
Plastic Man

Late Doors wrote:
great weather as well

That must have been an pleasant delight... and shock!

(Mellifluous reportage, as per usual!)

We went for a wander through Dolgellau when we were there last week - went to the Royal Ship Hotel.
I drunk cider though as the Welsh beer didn't agree with me. Food was nice - can't remember exactly what I had.

Late Doors wrote:
Thats the main thing i was trying to put over. The walking was just superb and in great weather as well.....which was nice.

Good, I got the feeling you weren't overly enamoured.

I shall be heading off into West Wales in a couple of Weeks, I shall make a note to steer clear... Forum Index -> Strange plaices
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