England's Countryside & Wales

Day 07 - Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - Tour of Caernarfon and Castle; Slate Museum in Llanberis; Train Ride on Llanberis Lake Railway on Lake Padarn

The skies were gray this morning but we could see a little blue sky, making us hopeful for another great day. The weather forecast was for partly cloudy with a little sun. The temperature was 48° and the humidity was 87%.

The distinct smell of coal smoke was in the air, but the ladies at the hotel desk were quick to tell us they no longer burned coal to heat the hotel. The steam trains at the Llanberis Lake Railway Station near the hotel were the source of the smoke.

We met at 9:00 and drove to the nearby seaside town of Caernarfon. We saw the slate quarries on the hillsides that are still in production.

Ellen, our city guide met us at the waterfront and told us the history of the area. She also explained that generally only 25% of the people speak Welsh in Wales, but in Caernarfon, over 87% of the people speak Welsh except when working with tourists. Welsh is not only taught in school here, but also the curriculum content is delivered in Welsh.

Caernarfon was originally a Stone Age settlement on the Seiont River. Romans, Normans, and then the British all had a hand in building the city through the ages.

The conquest of Eduard I in 1283 established the English domination of the land. In 1294 the Welsh rebelled, burned the castle, and lynched the sheriff. The Welsh takeover was short lived, lasting only 6 months before the English joined forces and expelled the Welsh from the fortress.

We began our tour on the Victorian Docks where the slate was loaded on to the ships for transport all over the world. At the Gallows Tower where the last hanging took place in 1910, Ellen told us the story of William Murphy. Mr. Murphy was hung for killing his girlfriend and Ellen told us his ghost still roams the tower.

Most of our time was spent in the imposing Caernarfon Castle. As well as for defense, Edward I built the castle to portray supremacy by the English. We thanked Ellen at 11:00 and had until 12:00 on our own to roam the castle and the town.

The castle was very well preserved. We entered through the King’s Gate that was protected by six portcullises, the heavy vertical latticed retaining walls that were lifted up or closed down to prevent access to the courtyard.

The layout of the castle was a figure eight, with two distinct sections on each circle and walls that were almost 8 meters thick with 6 watchtower lookouts. Several wells were found inside of the walls in case of a siege.

We climbed to the top of the Eagle Tower for panoramic views of the castle, the surrounding city, and the seacoast below. One could get an excellent feeling of the polygonal towers and how the castle was defended from these vantage points.

We left the castle about 11:30 and had tea and scones with jelly and whipped cream at The Gray-Thomas Tea House. Having a spot of tea and a biscuit (cookie) and getting in out of the wind was a welcome treat.

We walked to the bus stop to meet our group at 12:00 and went back to the hotel to drop off a few layers before our afternoon train ride. At 1:15 we were to meet in the lobby to walk to the nearby train station of Llanberis.

Several people had walked ahead to get a look at the Mount Snowdon narrow gauge line. Our tour was on the Llanberis Lake Railway that took us to Lake Padarn. The conductor gave the thirteen of us a private train car.

The open windows allowed us to take photos of the beautiful lake, the now abandoned Dinorwic Slate Quarry, 13th Century Dolbadarn Castle, Mount Snowdon, and the surrounding Snowdonia National Park. Our ride was about an hour to Pellyn and back to the Llanberis Station.

Before walking back to the hotel we had an ice cream at the Train Station. By 3:30 we were back in our room collecting our thoughts from the day and organizing the materials for the day’s journal.

The sun was bright by 4:30 so we took a break from working and decided to walk to Llanberis. We walked through the whole town and then circled back following Lake Padarn on the footpath.

The whole route took about 90 minutes and we guessed we walked about 3.2 miles according to the signs on the local map. Stopping to take pictures and to talk to a few local people also out for an evening stroll, it was great to stretch our legs after all of the bus time we have had for the past few days.

Most of the local eating establishments close as soon as the train schedules end. We went down to the pub in the hotel for a bowl of soup and onion rings. Yummy!

Tomorrow is a travel day so we packed and set our alarm for an early wakeup and 8:15 departure.

Accommodations: The Royal Victoria Hotel Snowdonia - - - Meal: B

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Our first overseas travel in 1977 included Snowdonia Park and I think Carnarfon. I remember eating a picnic lunch in the park and shooing sheep away! We also met a lovely couple from London at the farmhouse B&B where we stayed and they invited us to stay with them before flying home. We visited them several times before the passed away. Such lovely people. Hope you have good weather tomorrow.

Carol Larson   May 21, 2015 - 4:20am

Interesting that the curriculum is delivered in Welsh.

Lindy   May 21, 2015 - 3:11am
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“Pebbles” – Tour Director

“Pebbles” – Tour Director

Caernarfon Castle from Eagle Tower

Caernarfon Castle from Eagle Tower

Quaint Caernarfon

Quaint Caernarfon

Llanberis Lake Railway

Llanberis Lake Railway

Lake Padarn

Lake Padarn

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