Our first stop today was the Snowdon Mountain Railway at Llanberis, a village in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. We boarded the 9 am departure which was the first train of the year to travel to the summit of the highest mountain in Wales and England – Mount Snowdon. The carriage was pushed by a diesel locomotive all the way to the summit. The day was clear but as we rose higher up the mountain we could see the clouds surrounding the top. On the way to the summit we saw hikers and mountain bike riders travelling along the various paths, a waterfall plunging into the gorge below, lots of sheep with lambs grazing and some of the most stunning scenery. After an hour we docked at the summit and climbed to the cairn, but the area was covered in cloud, so the view of Ireland unfortunately was not to be. It was very cold and a bit windy as well. After a half hour break we boarded the train for the return trip down the mountain, this time with the locomotive in the front. A very worthwhile trip.
A little further along we visited the National Slate Museum which occupies the Victorian workshops. It features excellent video clips of the history of slate, worker’s cottages furnished in a progression from 1861 until 1969, a huge working waterwheel and a demonstration of how to strike slate. It is a very well-preserved piece of history. The quite striking jagged cliff faces and the remnants of the rail system surrounding the museum are the lasting result of the slate which was carved out of the open mountainside.
We crossed the very narrow Menai Bridge to Beaumaris on the Isle of Anglesey. It is a picturesque seaside town on the edge of Liverpool Bay and was quite busy today as it is heading into the bank holiday long weekend. The waterfront is littered with boats and the Beaumaris Eye. The buildings are mainly Georgian style and the Beaumaris Castle is World Heritage listed.
Just two miles west of Holyhead we visited the South Stack Cliffs RSPB reserve which is home to thousands of seabirds. At the top of the cliff is a Visitor Information Centre and to view the colonies of birds there is numerous paths to follow through bracken-covered hills. At the edge of the cliff is Ellin’s Tower which provides visitors the use of binoculars and telescopes to spot seabirds and a live camera view of nesting birds. Whilst we were there we saw a puffin, lots of seabirds and a seal. A steep, winding flight of steps leads sown to the suspension bridge that crosses over to the South Stack Lighthouse where there are kestrels presently nesting. It was quite windy along the cliff face.
Driving back home we couldn’t believe the number of caravans and motorhomes going the other way to seaside towns. We knew it was a bank holiday weekend, but this was unbelievable.