Dining al fresco on Whit Bank holiday at Graig Wen
Finally the sun comes out this Whit Bank Holiday and stays out all day. This evening everyone has been sitting outside enjoying the sun, watching the house martins swoop up from the Estuary and sipping a drink. The weekend has seen a fair few downpours but it hasn’t stopped our guests getting out and having fun, as shown by the above comment left in our visitor’s book today.
Things guests have told us they’ve done over the past few days include taking the steam train up Snowdon (a bit cramped and cloudy), walking up Snowdon (exhilarating), rocketing through clouds on a zip wire at 90 mph (really exhilarating), sheltering in TH Roberts cafe in Dolgellau with Meg’s wondrous cakes, watching the Dyfi Ospreys from the stunning new observatory, exploring the slate mines at Llechwedd, and listening to the nightjars churring and owls calling across the valley from the comfort of their beds here at Graig Wen.
Congratulations to Anna and Neil who became engaged this weekend during their stay with us. Neil popped the question on the summit of Cadair Idris on a stunningly clear sunny Easter Saturday. We colluded with Neil, providing an ice pack keep a mini bottle of bubbly cool in his ruck sack on the way up there! Smiles all round.
Must be something romantic about this magical area. This weekend we also welcomed back Caroline and Mike who spent their wedding weekend with us a couple of years ago. They returned bringing their baby son.
And we are looking forward to welcoming Sarah and Prys and their friends and family when they spend their wedding weekend here at Graig Wen at the end of August. They were here too on Friday, measuring up for their marquee…
Graig Wen presents children aged 10 years and under with a special certificate if they climb up Cader Idris
Cader Idris is the beautiful mountain just behind us. It is 892 meters high – not quite as big as Snowdon but a good challenge for a family walk and far less busy.
Idris is the name of a Welsh giant and “cadair” is the Welsh word for chair – so Cader Idris is a giant’s throne! Why not walk up and see if you can find him?
The Pony Path to the summit is clear to follow and keen children aged 7 years and upwards should be able to enjoy the walk with their families. It takes about 5 hours to climb to the summit and back down – maybe a little longer with children.
Please remember mountain weather conditions change quickly so check the forecast, wear sturdy footwear and clothing and take appropriate supplies. Please ask at reception for more details when you are here.
One of the lovely things about Graig Wen and The Slate Shed B & B is that there are lots of walks in Snowdonia National Park you can do from here without having to use a car at all. As long as you can manage the steep track from our site to the Mawddach Estuary and back, then there are many walks suitable for different abilities and ages.
Yesterday I walked along the Mawddach Trail for a while where the dogs can run off their leads and there’s sweeping views across the beautiful estuary. During late Spring all along the trail there’s pink Sea Thrift, yellow Bird’s Foot Trefoil and wild strawberries coming out. The swallows and housemartins are diving through the air and swans and oystercatchers dabbling around the reeds.
We headed up Arthog waterfalls through the cool woods and out onto the uplands. The ancient stone clapper bridge in the picture is a beautiful spot to dip your feet in the stream and eat your packed lunch. Once here you can choose various routes to explore the foot hills of Cadair Idris, with many offering epic views across Barmouth Bridge and Cardigan Bay. Walks in this area taking in hidden valleys, abandoned chapels and quarries and lovely lakes are wonderful to do even on days when the cloud is low.
If you are staying here please do come into reception and ask us for tips on walks and we will be happy to share some of our favourites with you. The Snowdonia National Park web site is a good source of ideas for walks and the following walks described on their site are all within close reach of Graig Wen and The Slate Shed B & B:
Foel Ispri Path
One of our highlights of 2012 was our bike ride through Wales from Holyhead to Cardiff. Despite choosing possibly the wettest week of the wettest summer on record to cycle 300 miles, we loved every minute. Well, maybe there were a few challenging moments like Sarah’s saddle shearing off, being lost on muddy mountain bike trails above Cardiff on touring bikes, and our web site being hacked en route, but pretty much it was fab.
Cycling through some of the loveliest scenery in Wales included some stiff climbs through Snowdonia, the Cambrian mountains and Brecon Beacons. We are new to long distance biking so it was tough sometimes but exhilarating too. We’ve definitely caught the bug now.
Thanks to the various mates who joined us for different parts of the trip who did a great job of keeping up morale on those long climbs. Also to the support team of random friends and family who helped out with refreshments, repairs, dog and Graig Wen sitting.
Most importantly, thanks to everyone who sponsored us. A total of £300 was donated to Zanokhanyo Children’s Safety Home in South Africa. It’s not a huge amount of money but it can make a big difference to a small organisation. The money is enough to pay for one of the children to have clothes and an education for a year.
We have decided that it’s time to explore the length and breadth of our little country called Wales. The best way in our opinion to do this is by bike. So on the 26th June Sarah and I will leave Graig Wen in the capable hands of our team and set off from Holyhead in North Wales to head south. Eight days later we should arrive in Cardiff.
The route we are taking is called the Lon Las Cymru or Dragon’s Back, and is a journey of 400km/ 250 miles. We travel from Anglesey down the coast through Snowdonia. And then out and over the remote hills of mid Wales before tackling the Brecon Beacons to finish in the capital city.
Whilst this will be a challenge for us, and some of the friends who will be joining us, we also hope to enjoy it and would like to raise some money for those who face far greater challenges in life.
In the past we have raised money for Cancer Research and we support the Wales Air Ambulance. However whilst talking to Tom, John’s brother in law, about his work with a small children’s home in South Africa, we decided we would like to support them.
Zanokhanyo Children’s Safety Home in Cape Town is run by Nolu and one volunteer. Nolu, an unemployed community worker, founded the home in 2005. She was troubled to see children living on the streets without food, after her parents had died of HIV/AIDS. She opened her heart and took the children into her home and began looking after them. Everyday her life revolves around taking care of the 26 children to the best of her ability.
We know that any money we raise will be go straight to the charity and make a big difference to the kids including helping them get an education. As a small organisation ourselves we know what a big difference a little help can achieve.
If you would like to help you can donate in reception or online via Graig Wen’s Facebook page
You can follow our journey on Twitter at @graigwen1868
Thanks to Mr and Mrs Oliver of LLandudno for these pictures taken from the breakfast table here at The Slate Shed.
Our guests often remark on the variety of colourful birds they enjoy watching over breakfast. A greater spotted woodpecker and nuthatch are regular visitors and I can hear a cuckoo outside this morning.
Pictured below is a house martin nest-building. They return each year and bring up a brood under every eave in the house. Their chirping is a lovely way to wake up in the morning! Apparently it takes 1000 beakfuls of mud to make one nest. That’s a lot of trips to the estuary and back.
Yesterday was one of those days that according to forecasts should have been wet and wild and turned out to be full of sunshine and smiles. Anyhow we decided that a day on the bikes was in order.
After cooking breakfasts for guests we hit the road, the plan was to cycle to Machynlleth and be back by 4pm. Some of you super fit roadies might be able to do this in the five hours we had, however we like to look at views, stop of at interesting churches and lie on grass verges eating our lunch.
The answer to this is to get the train back. You get the best of both worlds. A fantastic cycle ride with the highlight being the quiet lanes and views of the Happy Valley and one of the best train journeys in the UK. There can’t be many railways where you can see such magnificent views and if your lucky, as we where, an osprey sitting on the nest.
Its then a short ride back to Graig Wen.
Top Tip – get on the rear two carriages of the train
Yesterday was the first of what will hopefully become an annual event at Coed y Brennin, and I decided to take part. You could choose a 30k of 50k course, which covered the man made trails, fire roads, tarmac and plenty of mud.
The 30k course was finished in 3hours and 9 mins (according to my bike computer, which also said I had riden 33k!) ,this is what I had wanted to be able to achieve. Putting this in context the first rider completing the 50 k finished in 2 hours and 45 mins.
Low point at 15 k when pushing bike up a wall of mud, balanced by high points of being able to ride some great and challenging trails which are normally of limits and a great pint of ale at the end.