Thursday, September 17 - Saturday, September 19
The drive to Llandudno in Wales was very long (for England) - about 180 miles. Signs in Wales are in both Welsh and English. We found our hotel, The Clontarf, easily. It's a B&B really, and we are on the third floor, American style. Great views from our windows and almost on the ocean. We found a great resaurant called "The Seahorse" nearby and had a delicious supper.
Next day, Friday, we explored the area. It is far more rugged than the Cotswolds, but what they call mountains are not really to our American standards. Very beautiful, however. The driving was fairly harrowing, with many narrow roads on which cars were often parked along the side! Our first stop was Trefriw Woolen Mills where we had a complete tour of all the industrial carding and spinning devices, as well as industrial looms. They also had a great shop to browse.
We had lunch at a cute little tearoom on the banks of a small river in Llanwrst, and proceeded on to the Llechwedd Slate Mines where we had a nice tour of the mine by tram, complete with hard hats. Being a slate miner in the old days was pretty awful and short-lived - before electricity, they used only candles.
We then had a scenic, but harrowing, drive back to Llandudno, and had supper in a great pub where we each had a sort of potpie called a "minister pie". Very filling and served by the Queen at her Christmas Party! Another good thing was that we could walk back and forth to dinner.
On Saturday, we decided to explore Caernarfon Castle - part of the many castles built by King Edward I, and the site of the investiture of the Princes of Wales (always the male heir-apparent of the king or queen). It is considered the best of the castles in this part of England and it's not in ruins. The castle is very large with several towers - and immense defensive fortification against attack from both land and sea. Built of very thick stone, it had up to three stories with steep and very winding staircases to climb - an enemy had to be very sure-footed, as did any inhabitants - and visitors today.
After leaving Caernarfon, we drove over to the nearby Isle of Anglesey - much less mountainous than the mainland. We came back earlier than usual for some rest and a chance to visit the beach one block away. The tide has quite a range here and comes rushing in quickly. Dinner was at our hotel and was yet another gourmet repast.