Saturday, 23 July 2016

Closer to Home - the Solace of the Green Valleys

Escape to the hills of North Wales.

Time for some rest and relaxation and with the sunshine drawing us to venture further afield than our  usual Thursday lunchtime choice Allen asked,
'Well, where do you want to go?'
'I don't know, I just feel the need to wander by a river.'
Do you want to go to Betws-y-Coed and have lunch at the Waterloo?'
I jumped at this and needed no further bidding. After the hurly burly of the last couple of weeks another escape was called for.
Turning out of our village, away from the town and the usual drive along the A483/A5 through Llangollen, Allen turned the opposite way towards the Mold road.
'I am coming this way for a change.'
'Fine by me'.
We found that the dual carriageway had a reduced speed limit to 50mph. Neither of us could see the sense in this but knew that there had been a few serious accidents further along where the road went back to single lanes before the sharp bends.

Taking the Corwen road at Pontblyddyn we were soon climbing through the leafy, sleepy road towards the hills and moors of Llandegla. The sign for Pentredwr reminded me that we were on the other side of the mountains that we were used to on the Horseshoe Pass. The many sheep grazed contentedly on the lush grass, keeping their balance on the steep pastures as the hills rose and fell into deep valleys.
It was lovely driving through the valleys to Betws-y-Coed. Mile after mile of green fields in the sloping mountains - such solace. 

Just after the Rhug Estate and ancient chapel, we turned onto the A5  - it is an historic route being the old post road from London to Holyhead and the ferries to Ireland - just past the Ruthin junction, stopping off at the newly expanded Rhug Estate  cafĂ©/shop/bistro. For many years it was a simple stop and a favourite with bikers as there was not much else along this stretch of road. The Rhug Estate breed Bison cattle and a feature of the menu is 'Bison'. We settled for the outdoor seating area with a cup of tea. There is also a covered 'no smoking area'  where the milk and sugar etc. is found. The Bistro looked very inviting as did the Farm Shop which stocks organic  and artisan products. Many of the food there was gluten free. We spent a happy time examining all the wonderful array of labels on the cakes, meats, preserves - they even have a bacon butty sauce - and the vast selection of artisan cheeses. The washrooms were excellent. A bison's head with a bow in its hair proclaimed 'Merched/Ladies. My husband told me that the bison on the gent's door had a bow tie.

Onwards to Betws-y-Coed and after crossing the ancient Waterloo Bridge we passed the sign informing us that Betws-y-Coed is the 'Gateway to Snowdonia'.

After an excellent meal in the 1815 lounge/bar of the Waterloo Hotel,we decided against going further into Snowdonia on this visit but headed home through Corwen and         Llangollen.

The solace of the hills and valleys had done their work (although I didn't get to wander by the river which tumbles over the rocks -above).