Caernarfon to Cardiff
7 Jun 2012
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Day 4: Caernarfon to Cardiff
We have a cooked breakfast this morning, but we don’t have time for too much as we were a bit later than we hoped getting downstairs. We have to be at the bus stop across the road by 8.30. Today is the longest travel day as we go all the way to Cardiff in the south.
We travel to Aberystwyth for lunch, we are told THE BEST fish and chips can be had here. It is raining, again, and we cannot find the shop Gary pointed out on the way in. We wander through the shopping centre but soon run short on time and cannot decide what to have. We call into a pub but they cannot do a meal within the time we need, so Tony heads for a subway, and Cynthea finds a chippie on the promenade. Unfortunately the fish is not fresh, and it is still frozen, but we have to be at the bus and there is no time to go back to complain. Tony is banned from the bus until he finishes his lunch, the salami in it is too strong.
We visit the Devil's Bridge (where the devil was banished from Wales) and go on a gorge walk following down the waterfalls. It is very steep in places, and it takes us a good forty minutes to do this. Not everyone goes on the walk because it is quite steep and uneven. It is a great walk, and the rain holds off for us, though the recent wet weather has made for an impressive sight.
We are not finished with seeing great sights, and there is a wee bit more exercise for us. We are travelling through the Elan Valley where there is a system of reservoirs. The recent rain has filled them to overflowing, and water is spilling over the top of many of the dams. We stop on the side of the road, in the drizzle, to get out to take photos. We have to be careful of the other traffic, and a number of cars have also stopped to take on the view. At the next stop there is a car park, and we walk a couple of minutes to the base another dam. Tony is amazed that plants have managed to grow on the top of it!
We pass through the town of Aberfan, the sight of a mining disaster in October, 1966. After several days of heavy rain, a subsidence occurred on the upper flank of colliery waste tip No. 7. At 9:15 a.m. more than 150,000 cubic metres of water-saturated debris broke away and flowed downhill at high speed. It was sunny on the mountain but still foggy in the village, with visibility only about fifty metres. Workers on the mountain saw the landslide start but were unable to raise the alarm because their telephone cable had been repeatedly stolen – although the official inquiry into the disaster later established that the slip happened so fast that a telephone warning would not have saved any lives.
The slide destroyed a farm and twenty terraced houses before slamming into the northern side of the Pantglas Junior School and part of the separate senior school, demolishing most of the structures and filling the classrooms with thick mud and rubble up to 10 metres deep.
The pupils of Pantglas Junior School had arrived only minutes earlier for the last day before the half-term holiday. They had just left the assembly hall, had they left the assembly for their classrooms a few minutes later the loss of life would have been significantly reduced, because the classrooms took the brunt of the landslide. The final death toll was 144, of which 5 were teachers and 116 children. There was considerable criticism of the actions, or rather inactions, of the chairman of the coal board, Lord Robens. The subsequent tribunal into the cause found that the blame for the disaster rested entirely with the National Coal Board, and that the basic cause was the NCB's "total absence of tipping policy".
The Bee Gees wrote a song about this, but were pressured to change the details, it is now well known as the New York mining disaster – but there are still many, some not so subtle, references to this.
We arrive in Cardiff after 7pm, it has been a long day. This is the last night of the tour, but we have decided to stay to in Cardiff an extra day, and will not leave on the bus at lunchtime. The weather is getting worse, the rain is getting heavier and it is windy too.
NosDa (good night in Welsh) is right in town, and looks to have had a bit of a makeover recently. The Millenium Stadium is right across the River Taff, and the railway station and bus station are just a few minutes walk. The shopping centre and pubs are close by, as is Cardiff Castle and Bute Park. This would have to be one of the better hostels we have stayed in. We book for tomorrow night as well, and pay £40 for tonight, £45 for Friday night. The hostel has it’s own bar and meals are available from their kitchen. The guest kitchen is not well set up, a small microwave, a pizza oven, a toaster and a small grill. There is a big tv lounge, and DVDs for hire. They were supposed to have a gym, but it closed in February, we aren’t told why.
Because we are booked in as a group Cynthea is with five of the girls on the first floor, Tony is with four of the guys on the top floor. That room is a studio unit, and very nice it is too, even has an ensuite. The beds are bunks, and one set has been split so the bottom bunk is against another wall, and a couch is under the top bunk. There are a couple of other seats, plenty of room to spread out. Cooking facilities are better than downstairs, we have a microwave and cooktop hob. There is a TV on the wall, and the boys might have talked that up a wee bit, not quite a big as we might have implied, and probably didn’t have the DVD player we thought it had… ahem.
Last night of the tour, so we head out for tea at Weatherspoons. They have a big group in upstairs, as well as our group, and last the ones to order from our tour are told there will be an hour wait, others were told ten to fifteen minutes. Even those at the same table wont have their meals at the same time. We talk to a waitress who says orders are dispatched from the kitchen in the order they are received. Fair enough, but not really on when people at the same table get their meals all at different times. They obviously get something sorted out because we are all eating within twenty minutes, and most meals for our four tables come out within a reasonable time.
After tea we head to the Outback bar, it is quiet when we arrive, but it is only just after 9pm. Tony reckons that it will crank up around 10.ish, and he is not far out. We stay for a few drinks, some leaving early, some around midnight, and others crawl in around 3am.