look! there! up in the trees!

after a nice breakfast at _6 oakfield street_ where we meet our
co-guests as well (two americans, mother & daughter, on a two week
tour of the UK), we are off via earls court underground to kew
gardens! well, eventually we are off, as we at first board the wrong
train ๐Ÿ™ but we manage to get that sorted and 20min later emerge at
sunny [kew gardens station][], have a coffee at the _starbucks_ right
on the route to kew gardens, and arrive shortly after 10:00 at the
_victoria gate_ of the [_royal botanical gardens, kew_][kew]

[kew]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Botanic_Gardens%2C_Kew
[kew gardens station]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kew_Gardens_station_(London)

the weather is gorgeous and we are really looking forward to a day at
kew: i just love the arboretum and the whole landscape. this year is
particularly interesting as kew has just opened the [rhizotron and
xstrata treetop walk][kew-tree], a 200m walk way some 18m above ground
winding its way through the tree tops of some very magnificent old
trees!

[kew-tree]: http://apps.kew.org/trees/

i’m a bit apprehensive: on one hand i dearly love to get up there and
have a walk-about in the tree tops, on the other hand i’m really
afraid of heights and exposed places… this is going to
interesting…

first things first, we register for the special 12:00 [“champion trees
of kew” walk][kew-ct] — and then are off to have a go at the tree
top walk.

[kew-ct]: http://apps.kew.org/trees/?page_id=251

the whole structure looks fantastic — and breathtaking. 18m above
ground is quite a bit if you are not really a fan of exposed
places. the walkway itself is constructed from punched and streched
steel sheets, giving you plenty of the exposed stuff, enough to drown
yourself in ๐Ÿ™ mrs d, true to form, just dances up the stairs and is
on her way around the tree tops. me? well, i make it half-way up and
then have to call it off ๐Ÿ™ and retreat down to safer grounds, where
is stand with my head tilted back, longingly looking up, wishing i was
made of sterner stuff and not such a wuss when it comes to heights…

…well, after about 10min i had enough of that and decided to give it
another go: i must have been the slowest person ever to climb that
staircase, resting every so often to get used to the height, until i
finally was up on top of the first platform! wow! still scared i made
my way round — and it was worth every bit of courage i had to scrape
up: being up there in the tree tops was fantastic, the view across
london was great and just the fact that i had made it up there was
exhilarating! still scared but also enjoying it ๐Ÿ™‚

the guide walk — _champion trees of kew_ — was really interesting:
champion trees are trees that are considered to be prime examples of
their species and kew has quite a few of them.

lunch was long and leisurely at the conservatory and we really enjoyed
it! most of the afternoon we spent walking through the arboretum,
reading (remember the new elisabeth george? ;-), and enjoying our last
vacation day in england.

a fantastic day.

first class to london, a bohemian b&b, a distributed fridge, visiting victoria and albert

it’s 9:45, our taxi which was supposed to have picked us up at 9:30 is
still not there, and our train is due to leave bangor station at
10:18, slowly but surely our adrenalin level is reaching new
heights. our landlord phones the taxi company once more and returns
with the good news that “she’s just seconds away” — which turns out
to be literally true. we hurriedly say our goodbyes to our landlord
and landlady of [marteg bed & breakfast][bb-llanberis] and get into
the taxi as quick as possible. the drive to bangor station is a bit a
race against time, particularly so when we hit a traffic jam just
0.5km from the station — luckily our taxi driver knows her way
around and does a u-turn and weaves her way through a couple of side
streets and we make it with a couple of minutes to spare! phew…

[bb-llanberis]: http://www.marteg-llanberis.co.uk/

the train from bangor is a direct, fast train to london euston and we
are travelling first class again today (which, thanks to our britrail
flexipasses, comes out cheaper than buying 2nd class tickets in
bangor) — complete with free drinks and coffee ๐Ÿ™‚

the weather has turned wet — as forecast, but we are not really
concerned ๐Ÿ˜‰ and as we move further south again the rain slowly
ceases and it’s sunny and rather warm when we arrive in london
euston on the dot at 13:40. we take the underground to [earl’s court
station][tube-ec] and then head south to [6 oakfield
street][bb-london] our b&b for the next two nights.

[tube-ec]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl%27s_Court_tube_station
[bb-london]: http://athomeinnchelsea.com/

_6 oakfield street_ is a narrow, three floors victorian terrace house
in a side street of “little chelsea”. our [double
bedroom][bb-london-double] is to the front and on the top floor of the
house — nicely done, has a bit of a [changing rooms][cr] flair to
it, “oliver heath’s grey area”, as mrs d so aptly summarizes it ๐Ÿ™‚ we
even spot the famous [MDF][]! a bit of a curiosity is the fridge,
which i at first mistook to be the b&b variant of a mini-bar but which
on closer inspection turned out to be the “overflow” fridge of the
family fridge containing vegetables, a cake, and other stuff.[^1] but,
in total, a very nice room ๐Ÿ™‚

[bb-london-double]: http://athomeinnchelsea.com/images/large/beddouble.jpg
[cr]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Changing_Rooms
[MDF]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Changing_Rooms#MDF

[^1]: …explaining why all the rooms had no keys: otherwise it might
be a bit of a problem gaining access to the fridge when the double is
occupied.

we unpack and then make our way to the _[victoria & albert museum][]_,
the v&a, which is “close by”. mrs d is interested in the fashion
exhibits, i’m looking forward to the [photography collection][v&a
photo]. we also intend to get a little walk through south kensington
in sideways to offset the hours of just sitting on the train…

[victoria & albert museum]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_and_Albert_Museum
[v&a photo]: http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/photography/index.html

it’s a bit past 16:00 when we arrive at the v&a, leaving us with just
about one and a half hour to spend at the museum. mrs d decides to
look at the fashion through the centuries exhibit, i make for the
[photo gallery][v&a photo gallery]…

[v&a photo gallery]: http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/photography/galleries/38a/index.html

…which turns out to be rather small but also rather interesting,
motivating, and inspiring! if you are in the vicinity and have the
time, go pay a visit — it’s completely free but worth the effort.

we meet again at 17:00, stroll through the v&a shops (finally pick up
that birthday present for my sister-in-law, mrs a) and then go on that
mini-walk of south kensington.


before returning to earl’s court we stop for a look around at a nice
little independent bookshop. mrs d very kindly points out the
latest [elizabeth george, _careless in red_][eg-careless] — a grave
mistake as it turns out: once i get started on it i just have to keep
reading, reading, reading…

[eg-careless]: http://www.elizabethgeorgeonline.com/books/careless_in_red.htm

dinner is at a local restaurant, _[balans][]_, at the corner of [_old
brompton road_ and _redcliffe gardens_][balans-map]. nice food,
charming waiters (according to mrs d ;-).

[balans]: http://www.balans.co.uk/chelsea.html
[balans-map]: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=239+old+brompton+road,+london,+sw5+9hp&sll=53.800651,-4.064941&sspn=12.605358,29.355469&ie=UTF8&ll=51.489467,-0.190673&spn=0.00648,0.014334&t=h&z=16&iwloc=addr

tomorrow it’s [_kew gardens_][kew] and, perhaps, if i dare, the [new tree top walk…][kew-treetopwalk]

[kew]: http://www.kew.org/
[kew-treetopwalk]: http://apps.kew.org/trees/

all in all: nice train trip. interesting exhibits at v&a. exciting new
book. nice dinner ๐Ÿ™‚

a windy mountain pass, a fantastic vista, an underground walk

after [yesterday’s][] fantastic day out on mount snowdon we are eager
to see more of snowdonia. the recent _snowdon_ special issue of
[country walking][] — which we brought with us ๐Ÿ™‚ — has a couple
of rather scary walks (scrambles, exposed ridges, and so forth,
nothing for me, though mrs d wouldn’t mind doing those…) but also
describes a walk around [beddgelert][] which sounds rather interesting. so,
the 10:16 S1 sherpa bus sees us again and we ride up to pen-y-pass
once more, this time to change to the sherpa bus to beddgelert.

[yesterday’s]: http://d2h.net/blog/2008/06/16/mount-snowdon
[country walking]: http://www.livefortheoutdoors.com/
[beddgelert]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beddgelert

whereas the scenery on our left and right up llanberis pass and for a
couple of kilometers past pen-y-pass was rather barren and conveyed an
almost alpine feeling[^1], it now morphs into a more tree-d one and
resembles the country side in the lower parts of the lake district at
times. the road to beddgelert winds its way along the valley, passing
the _llyn gwynant_ and _llyn dinas_ lakes before reaching a rather
nice little hamlet at the confluence of the _afon colwyn_ and the
_afon glaslyn_ rivers[^2], beddgelert.

[^1]: at 300 to 400m above sea level!

[^2]: the latter winning over the former and the two rivers continuing
onwards as _afon glaslyn_.

beddgelert is a bit smaller than llanberis but it becomes immediately
clear that tourist-wise you are better off in beddgelert: a couple of
decent looking restaurants and pubs, tea-rooms and nice surroundings
— if we are to return to snowdonia we’d probably “take lodgings”
here. after a tea at one of the tea-rooms (a bit too overstuffed with
“antique” nick-nacks and riff-raff for our taste, oh, and “prices are
not negotiable”) we start our (mini-)walk by walking along the _afon
colwyn_ to the confluence point and turn south after crossing over a
foot bridge. at first the walk is quite level and “suitable for all
ages” and abilities. a sign informs us that the former railway tunnel
unfortunately is now longer open as it was becoming too dangerous and
to expensive to maintain, and that the footpath now is diverted along
the river bed…

…as it turns out that really is not quite true: as we progress
towards the “former railway tracks” we quickly realise that those
tracks are anything but “former”! before us we are seeing brand new
tracks! way cool! and — that tunnel? it’s no longer closed but
instead has the new line passing through it again. the railway
enthusiast in me is very satisfied to see what once was thought lost
being restored.[^3]

[^3]: our landlady later tells us that the line has just 4.8km left to
porthmadog. even our relatively fresh ordnance survey map is clueless
about the new line which extends the _[welsh highland railway][]_ from
rhyd-ddu.

[welsh highland railway]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_Highland_Railway

once we have crossed the new old tracks we indeed are now following
the riverbed. at first wide and more or less flat the path then
becomes narrow and at one point circumnavigates a protruding rock
where we have to use iron grips anchored in the rock itself to avoid
having to introduce ourselves to the lovely river below. after about
30min we reach the pass and turn left into a valley which is at the
same time climbing up and narrowing. the path takes us past disused
mines and mining equipment. whereas the wind was initially just a
breeze, the funnel-like shape of the valley concentrates it and it
almost becomes a veritable storm when we reach the highest point, a
style taking us across from rather rocky terrain into a moorland of
sorts — and fantastic views towards snowdon but also towards the
irish sea!

the path soon takes us steeply downhill past a lake and back to and
along afon glaslyn in the direction of beddgelert again. about halfway
there we pass a sign for the _sygyn mine_ and mrs d suggests we pay a
visit. sceptical at first — it does look like one of the typical
british tourist traps — i join her…and we go on a walk on the
other side of the mountain that we’ve just crossed: the _inner side_
that is.

we enter the mine at the former base level and a long low tunnel (i’m
a tad on the tall side for this adventure and am in a constant crouch
state) takes us quite a bit into the mountain. this part of the mine
had to be dug out again when work started on it in the the 1980s to
turn it into a museum mine. finally, after what feels like an
eternity, we get to a series of caverns containing rather interesting
displays about the working conditions, the geology, and the everyday
lives of the ancient miners. also “on display”, so to speak, are
underground lakes entertaining hundreds of stalagmites and
stalactites!

the path then takes us up a series of stairs (183 in total) through
various work areas — the most impressive one explaining about the
actual mining process itself, complete with recreating the atmosphere
and a “real” underground explosion (at one point we are left in almost
complete darkness with just a couple of candles burning: the working
conditions of the original miners). very interesting!

we emerge about 100m above the base level and return to the visitor
centre to drop off our hard hats[^4] and to have a cup of tea before
tackling the last part of our walk to beddgelert.

[^4]: yep, you have to wear hard hats to get into the mine.

that last part is almost flat out tarmac road and we soon reach
beddgelert where we have a pint of beer each at one of the local pubs before
we board our bus back to pen-y-pass and onwards to llanberis.

all in all: breathtaking landscape, exciting riverside path,
satisfying rail development, a walk on the other side. would do it
again ๐Ÿ™‚

mount snowdon!

good breakfast at 8:15 today, then we are off to catch the [S1 sherpa
bus][sherpa] from llanberis to pen-y-pass, the starting point for our ascend to
the summit of snowdon!

[sherpa]: http://www.gwynedd.gov.uk/gwy_doc.asp?cat=2567&doc=13774

the weather forecast for today is fairly good and the bus ride (the
bus stop is almost right outside our b&b) is nice and short, after
20min we are at [pen-y-pass][]. although pen-y-pass is “only” at 360m
above sea level it has a very alpine feeling to it with the barren
mountains surrounding it and the strong wind blowing.

[pen-y-pass]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pen-y-Pass

we intend to take the [pyg track][] up to the summit of [snowdon][]
— from the 1:25K ordnance survey map it’s not entirely clear where
the track starts so we follow the broad miner’s track for about 200m
and then climb up a small track going off to the right which takes us
almost straight up and we quickly gain height. we end up on a track
parallel to the miner’s track but about 100-150m higher. eventually we
join the real pyg track — it turns out that it started at the
northern end of the pen-y-pass car park — and are now on a nice
track leading us along the eastern side of the snowdon horseshoe up to
the little col between snowdon and garnedd ugain. the track zig-zags a
bit, crosses boulder fields, very occasionally requiring a
[scramble][]. the view towards the south of snowdonia is just
breathtaking and become better with each meter gained. when we reach
the col the wind coming from the north and the sea is already waiting
for us and we very quickly don our rain jackets to block it off. from
the col on we join the track coming up from llanberis parallel to the
rail tracks. snowdon summit is now veiled by low flying clouds and
it’s become rather cold rather quickly. after 15min we reach the
summit and are rewarded with breathtaking glimpses across mountain
ranges of snowdonia!

our packed lunches from our b&b turn out to be a bit of a surprise:
ours must have been swapped with those of the other couple staying at
our b&b — i certainly didn’t order eggs with onions and mrs d didn’t
order tuna with tomatoes… oh, well.

[pyg track]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyg_track#Pyg_Track
[snowdon]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowdon
[scramble]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrambling

half an hour later we are on our way back down. instead of following
the _llanberis path_ along the railway tracks back into llanberis, we
decide to take the pyg track back and follow through to its starting
point — the scenery inside the snowdon horseshoe is just so much
nicer and “dramatic” than the easy-peasy llanberis track ๐Ÿ™‚

back at pen-y-pass we both have a cup of tea and from the cafรฉ enjoy a
last survey of where we’ve been today: a fantastic walk through a
breathtaking landscape with really exciting weather!

while we wait for the bus we chat with one of the cafรฉ ladies and
learn that this year alone there have been 10 fatalities already on
snowdon; that pyg track is the most dangerous of the routes; that the
sherpa buses are sometimes in a bit of a squeeze when one of those
large “german made” tourist buses is coming down the pass to
llanberis, forcing the sherpa buses to reverse all the way back…

it’s 16:15 when we get back to llanberis.

dinner: tandoori chicken at _spices of llanberis_, quite well done.

all in all: a fantastic and exciting day!

time-travelling…

after an early breakfast (7:30) we are picked up by _[tony’s taxi][]_ at
8:40 and are taken back to haverfordwest station. rather unexpected
but welcome nevertheless there’s a newspaper stand open just inside
the station, so i take the opportunity and get today’s _observer_ for
the rather long trip to north wales: funnily enough, to go by train
from south west wales to north west wales we have to go all the way
back to [crewe][] in england, change trains there again and go back into
wales — a rather roundabout way of travelling but there are
absolutely __no__ buses from st david to aberystwyth where we might
be able to take a train to porthmadog (if there were a through service
to begin with). public transport in wales has a great future ahead of
it: there’s lots and lots of potential for improvement…

[tony’s taxi]: http://www.tonystaxis.net/
[crewe]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crewe

the 9:40 train to crewe does arrive on time in haverfordwest — with
us on the train is the group of germans (the fischkรถpfe) that we met
earlier this week on the _strumble shuttle_, they
apparently are going back via manchester airport.

all seems to be going rather well, when that great british weekend railway pastime
strikes again: **engineering works between hereford and crewe!** bummer!

the conductor kindly tells us that we are going to be over an hour
late into crewe (and thus into bangor), and he kindly recommends taking
a different connection to save us the hassle of the bus transfer in between
(but we’ll still be over an hour late). so, at [llanelli][], we
disembark, figure out that we need to cross over to platform 1, listen to the travel guide of the fischkรถpfe group trying to explain via the info phone to some _arriva train wales_ person[^3] that he is in “laneli” and would like to know the platform for the train to crewe[^4], consequently
redirect the german fischkรถpfe who were on their way to fall off the
platform end that there is a pedestrian bridge right at the station, and
make our way to platform 1 ourselves and wait for 45min for the 11:29 train…

[llanelli]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llanelli

[^3]: propably sitting in a call center in bangalore, india

[^4]: the phone call gained a slightly comedic quality due to the circumstance that the travel guide had not done his homework and didn’t know that “ll” in welsh is a [voiceless alveolar lateral fricative][ll] that’s **not** pronounced like a single, drawn-out “l”: he kept repeating that he’s at “laneli” and the bloke on the other end of the line kept repeating “you are _where_???”

[ll]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiceless_alveolar_lateral_fricative

…which eventually arrives and causes a mild deja-moo: it’s that old
1980s british rail feeling again: same old train, same old seats, same
old carpet[^1]. we stow away our luggage and start our trip through
wales towards crewe. the train is very, very thorough: whenever there
is a possibility for a stop, it does stop! at [llandrindod][] we even
pause for about 40min — the train’s diesel powered engine running through all the
time, diesel must still be very cheap for arriva trains wales.

[llandrindod]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llandrindod

[^1]: seeing that carpet reminded me of a pub landlord last year on our
southdowns walk who was showing the pub to an octogenarian who used to
frequent the pub in the 1930s: “same carpet as back then! we didn’t
even clean it since!”

after what feels like two days of travel on a 1980s british rail train
(where is a tardis if you need it?) we do get to crewe. at _upper
crust_ it’s a sandwich and a large tea for both of us, then we trod to
the 17:02 train to bangor — which turns out to be a nice modern one;
welcome back to the 21st century ๐Ÿ™‚

the train does leave on time, but after about 20min we stop at some
forlorn station and don’t leave again for another 30min due to some
“service failure ahead of us”. it’s about 19:10 when we finally do arrive in
bangor — mind you, the scenery all along the north wales coast is
absolutely fantastic: on one side the irish sea, on the other side the
welsh mountains slowly rising higher and higher!

luckily for us our taxi (arranged by our very friendly b&b landlady
carol torr) is still waiting at the station front and we are finally
on our last leg of today’s journey. the ride from bangor is quite
nice and takes us slowly into the mountains of snowdonia.

at about 19:40 we are in llanberis at our b&b, [marteg
b&b][marteg]. carol torr, our b&b landlady, welcomes us and makes us
feel right at home. our room is a very spacious double with a nice
large bathroom — the bed room overlooking llanberis’s lake. nice!
additional nice feature: proper duvet on the bed! no “DIY duvet kit!”
as mrs d so aptly puts it again.

[marteg]: http://www.marteg-llanberis.co.uk/bedandbreakfast.html

as it’s getting past 20:00 and british pubs outside cosmopolitan
london[^2] have that annoying tendency of stopping serving food almost
the moment they started doing so we start our quest for dinner…

[^2]: and even in “cosmopolitan” london i know a couple of pubs that
stop serving food at 19:30 — and those are not pubs in remote areas
of london…

…it quickly transpires that llanberis is _not really_ a haven of
culinary delights:

* right opposite the driveway to our b&b is a _kebab,
burger, pasta, pizza_ take-away (hmm, no),
* further north on llanberis high street we find a _fish and chips_
shop (hmm, no),
* then there is a chinese take-away (no customers, looking a bit
un-patronised, again, no),
* then _pete’s bistro_ which seems to be out of service (those
upside-down chairs on the tables are a bit of a give-away),
* diagonally across from that it’s _pete’s eats_ (sic!) which seems to
be the place where all the climbers refuel on carbohydrates and
anything that supplies energy (interestingly enough they don’t have
any pasta dishes on their menu, weird; also not very enticing, so
no)
* then two doors further along is _spices of llanberis_ an indian
tandoori restaurant which does look quite nice inside, so keep that
one on the stack
* south of our b&b is the _heights hotel_ looking quite a bit
dilapidated and not really hope-inspiring (so: no)
* then we have _[the peak restaurant][]_ which looks ok-ish and is even
“open from 7pm”
* then the _pardan hotel_ (closed, not really
looking very inspiring), the _gwynned hotel_ (clearly has seen
better days and will never see us inside), and the self-serve
outdoor seating area at the snowdon railway (closed, but does do
burgers)

[the peak restaurant]: http://www.peakrestaurant.co.uk/index.html

basically, that leaves us — as we are not keen on take-away (neither
is our b&b landlady, understandably so) — with just two options:
either the _spices of llanberis_ or _the peak restaurant_. not feeling
very spicy this evening we settle on _the peak restaurant_.

the menu of _the peak_ does look quite interesting and we do get a table for two. two other
couples (two american walkers and an elderly couple) and a group of
three are our fellow restaurant patrons. the beer is by the bottle and
the welsh one i take (_[ramnesia][]_) is actually quite nice. mrs d’s wine seems to be
ok (at least she is not complaining). starters are ok-ish, the main
course is less so: mrs d’s salmon clearly is not fresh and a bit on
the dry side; my steak is anything but well-seasoned, it really lacks
salt — in fact, cook must have plain forgotten to salt it.
when we get the bill we notice that while “VAT is included,
service is not” — which i don’t really like as my intention when
coming for a meal to a restaurant is to get a package of (hopefully)
well-tasting food and a well-working service both of which i hope i’ll
enjoy, i don’t really want to have to worry about how much to pay the
waitress for serving us:

[ramnesia]: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/pen-lon-cottage-ramnesia/67839/3700/

* is it by the amount of time she actually spent on us?
* is it by the amount of time we spent in the restaurant?
* should we pay her more if we had lots to eat and she had lots to
carry?
* do we spend more on a waitress that is experienced and less on one
that is just learning?
* does all this cover at least the minimum wage?

if i really wanted to worry about all this, i might as well run the
restaurant myself.

all in all: a loooong train journey with _arriva trains wales_, a very
nice and friendly b&b, a not so impressive restaurant.

tomorrow: snowdon!

shopping, culture, sunshine, cwtch

we get up late today, a rocking 30min later than the days before, and,
after breakfast, flip the tourist-bit to the _on_ position and make
our way into the city of st davids[^1]:

* fuelling stop at the local delicatessen (biscuits for the train ride
tomorrow, burned sugar likewise)
* three very nice scarves at the fashion shop in new street
* today’s _guardian_ at the post office
* some apples at _peter’s_ the grocer

[^1]: queen elizabeth II very kindly granted city rights to what
really is just a village to st davids in 1996.

next, we finally visit [st david’s cathedral.](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_David%27s_Cathedral)

st david’s cathedral is a bit unusual in that it’s the first cathedral
that i’ve visited whose floor is not level but instead slowly rises
from the main entrance up towards the choir. also, the main pillars
are slanted outwards. very interesting. also fascinating are the
different styles of ceilings each section of the cathedral has. really
impressive — and we do get an almost sub-sonic blast from them —
are the bass pipes of the organ: thick as trees and certainly as high.

the cathedral shop has the usual nick-nack and riff-raff on sale,
nothing really tempting — and nothing suitable as a birthday present
for our in-law, mrs a, meaning we’ll need to keep on looking.

after a nice lunch in the cathedral refactory we sit on the green and
spend the afternoon reading ๐Ÿ™‚

our last dinner in pembrokeshire is a the excellent _[cwtch][]_ restaurant
again (nicely completing the symmetry of this week: our first dinner
last sunday evening was at _cwtch_ as well) — we managed to get a
reservation for 20:30, leaving enough time to pack our bags, watch the
latest _dr who_ on tv, and stroll back into town.

[cwtch]: http://cwtchrestaurant.co.uk/

not as energetic a day as the rest of the week, but rather pleasant as
well!

a lighthouse, an old dachshund, a woollen mill, another fantastic day

the last leg of our pembrokeshire coast path walks today: again, we
take the 9:10 _strumble shuttle_,[^7] this time from st davids to
_strumble head_ — a ride of over an hour! again, it’s the friendly
bus driver we already know from the previous days. the rides through
all the nooks and crannies of the pembrokeshire coast are always
fascinating for me.

[^7]: or was that the_strumble shuffle_? hmm…

the bus picks up lots of walkers today along the route. at
_abercastle_ we make a brief stop at the bend in the road, the driver
opens the door — and greets the [old dachshund we had seen
yesterday][dachshund] who’s already been waiting for him: and, yes, he
gets a dog biscuit, some parting words, and we are on our way again to
strumble head.

[dachshund]: http://d2h.net/blog/2008/06/12/an-overestimated-walk-excellent-long-lunch-more-fantastic-coast

contrary to the [weather forecast by the met office][met-office] the
weather is just brilliant today — the forecast had us down for some
real rain, reality has us up for some serious sunshine — and we
enjoy the good weather and the fantastic scenery. the lighthouse is
unfortunately not open to the public but looks like a proper
lighthouse should look: on a cliff top, all in white, facing the
“ferocious” seas, a schooner on the horizon crashing through waves two
times it height, seamen holding on for dear life…[^1]

[met-office]: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/uk/wl/fishguard_forecast_weather.html

[^1]: ok, the sea today is really smooth like a glass table top…and,
yes, i made up that schooner business as well.

…we hold on to the path and make our way west and then south. this
part of the coast path has “alpine” bits and pieces sprinkled over it
— some scrambling[^2] is called for: fun ๐Ÿ™‚

[^2]: nothing to write home about, really, so pretend i didn’t write
that.

at _pwll dweri_ (next to the entry to the holiday cottages and just
above the youth hostel which seems to be undergoing some renovation)
we break for half an hour and enjoy the breathtaking views across the
bay and further south.

the path from pwll dweri to tregwynt takes us further up and then past
some spectacular cliffs, caves, and little bays. when we reath the
pebble beach at tregwynt, it and the sunshine join forces and lull us
into a bit of “sun-bathing”[^3]…

[^3]: there is a big advantage of a pebble beach over a sand beach: a
sand beach tends to grow on you and ingratiate itself with your socks,
shoes, rucksack, and so forth; pebbles are much more self-composed and
independent, you actually have to pick them up yourself to end up
taking them home with you…

as the bus from tregwynt woollen mill leaves at 16:44 we finally make
our way there to have a look at the shop[^4] and also to have a cup of tea
and a piece of cake.[^5]

[^4]: a new woollen pullover and a nice hat for me ๐Ÿ™‚

[^5]: well, a piece of cake for me, a bowl of cawl for mrs d.

then, at 16:44 our friend the _strumble shuttle_ picks us up again and
we are on our fractal bus ride back to st davids.[^6]

[^6]: we do make a short stop at the bend in the road at abercastle,
but old dachshund seems to be otherwise engaged this afternoon.

dinner again at _the refactory,_ followed again by “one for the road”
at _the grove_.

fantastic scenery, great weather: another brilliant day ๐Ÿ™‚

an overestimated walk, excellent long lunch, more fantastic coast!

having “finished” the southern parts of what we wanted to see of the pembrokeshire coast yesterday, we now turn north again and — due to a breakfast at the earliest possible time (8:00 am) — manage to catch the 9:10 bus from st david’s new street “station” to [tregwynt woollen mill][]. the bus, the _[strumble shuttle][]_ is full with walkers and travels all along the coastal path diving from the “main road”[^1] down to the various bays and havens, occasionally reversing to avoid oncoming tractors with oversized equipment attached or to let oncoming traffic pass on the side — very interesting way of travelling, and you get to see lots and lots of little villages and country side.

[tregwynt woollen mill]: http://www.melintregwynt.co.uk/
[strumble shuttle]: http://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/content.asp?nav=838,839,1038&parent_directory_id=646&id=11496&Language=

[^1]: “main road” as in “the one from which all others fork off from”…

our bus driver clearly knows the territory and every little corner and passing point. he also seems to be rather fond of dogs: every dog coming on board is offered a treat — much to each dog’s suprise: they clearly didn’t expect that but take the treat enthusiastically nevertheless!

also, our bus driver really knows his coast: he drops each of us walkers off at exactly the right spot to start today’s walk! very nice. we start from tregwynt and head south towards porthgain (to have lunch at _the shed_ ๐Ÿ™‚

the weather is fantastic — yesterday’s breeze has cranked up a couple of notches and we have veritable gusts coming in from the sea, the sun is shining (lots and lots of suncream applied this week), just fantastic!

in abercastle we meet an old dachshund at the harbour, we say “hi”, he looks at us, and we all part our ways.

about 4km away from porthgain we realize that we somehow have overestimated today’s walk: instead of the intended 20km we are just going to clock up 14.5km — hmm. oh, well, more time to enjoy the culinary delights of _the shed_…

…which we do! mrs d has a very nicely cooked sea bass, i enjoy my lemon sole! we finish with an apple tart tatin and a mocha coffee — excellent, long lunch.

at 17:10 the _strumble shuttle_ comes back and we are on our way back to st davids.

dinner: again at the refactory — good food, decent prices, nice setting, and WLAN ๐Ÿ˜€

…oh, and mrs d suggests that we “have one for the road” at the _[grove hotel bar][]_, which we do.[^2]

[^2]: though, the road is rather short, with _the grove_ being located almost opposite _the waterings_…

[grove hotel bar]: http://www.beerintheevening.com/pubs/s/29/29791/Grove_Hotel/St_Davids

cliffs, beach, pebbles, unfriendly pub

we pick up where we left off yesterday and take the bus to solva. the
coast path picks up on the other side of the harbour and soon starts
to climb up again (we are clocking up quite some altitude meters
here). the weather is overcast today and we are quite a bit slower
today then the two preceding days (just 4.1kph on average as opposed
to 5.0 and 5.1 the days before) — must be the “third day syndrome”.

past solva the coast is still spectacular, but not as dramatic as the bits we’ve seen so far (porthgain to solva) — the weather is a mixture of stratocumulus clouds and sunny intervals. luckily it’s not the nimbus variant of the stratocumulos and it’s not raining ๐Ÿ™‚

at _newgale_ we descend down to the beach — lots of pebble collection possibilities: we end up with quite a few very nice exemplars that end up in our pockets ๐Ÿ™‚

lunch is at the _duke of edinburgh_ in newgale: a cawl (pronounced caul) for each one of us — the cook must be a bit absent-minded: absolutely no salt in it, lol. between mrs d and me we almost end up emptying the table salt (which is not very strong) into our respective cawls.

the last bit takes us along a bit of cliff walk to naughton haven — where the 1:25k ordnance survey map has a blue pub symbol. there is a pub, the _mariner’s inn_ but when we try to get in at 14:30 we are told by a lady that the pub has already closed — which is a bit funny as she is having a smoke right in front of the sign telling us that the summer opening times are until 14:45. oh, well. a bit rude that — we retreat to the beach and wait for the 15:10 _puffin shuttle_ back to st davids.

dinner tonight is at [the refactory][] at the cathedral: interesting & well-tasting food, it’s counter-service (meaning you pick it up at the counter) but the upstairs seating area has lots of very nice tables with interesting views towards the surrounding cathedral green as well as the main cathedral building itself. oh, and they offer free WLAN![^1]

[^1]: just ask for the “internet timecode” at the cash register…when in doubt: the cook knows!

[the refactory]: http://www.refectoryatstdavids.co.uk/

isle of ramsay from afar, on the beach, a beer at solva

day 2 of our pembrokeshire adventures. having figured out the shuttle
bus to whitesands bay we can’t resist and take it again today —
instead of turning north, though, we turn south to walk past the isle
of ramsay, around st david’s head, and then all the way to picturesque
solva — to have a beer there. quite a long way for a beer, but what
can i say…

the weather is fantastic still: sun shine, little cumulus clouds, a
nice breeze coming in from the sea. the surf has picked up today at
whitesands and lots of surfers are giving it a spin. we slowly turn
the corner and leave whitesands bay behind us. the isle of ramsay is
following in the west for the next two hours or so.

at _st justinian’s_ we watch the giant kodiak inflatables come and go:
think rubber inflatable with two 200 bhp motors attached, each boat
carrying up to 25 persons. quite a sight — i’d hate to be the one
having to inflate one of those, though…

the cliff walk is, for my taste, a bit more exciting than yesterday: a
couple of straight drops down to the crashing and burning sea!

eventually we reach solva which has an almost fjord like, stretched
harbour. very picturesque. luckily solva is on the main route between
haverfordwest and st davids and there is a bus to st davids almost
every hour — time enough for a beer back in the beer garden (at the
river) of the _ship inn_.

dinner is back in the bar of the _grove hotel_ in st davids: nice
interior, food is good as well.

another fantastic day!