Britain’s beauty lies outside the cities. Wandering about in quaint villages, getting lost on cobbled pathways that bear endearing names, revelling in the rustic charms of the English countryside and tucking into hearty pub fare by a roaring fireside – these best capture the essence of a British countryside holiday.
If you go off the beaten track to visit North Wales, you will be rewarded by the most spectacular sights. Rolling green hills juxtaposed with the sea and stunning views in all directions.
I first drove to a place called LLandudno (pronounced khllan-dood-no), the largest seaside resort in Wales. An enviable seaside location, gorgeous views as far as the eyes can see, Victorian architecture, a marine drive that has the deep sea on one side and verdant hills on another and a historical connection with the real Alice of Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland – this small place packs in quite a punch!
Everything about LLandudno was magical – especially the marine drive. Though I wasn’t alone in stopping the car and gaping awestruck at the surroundings, I was the only one to run up and down the hills and scream in pure pleasure. In my defense, it WAS that maddeningly beautiful! And the Welsh accent gets my vote for the most melodious of all British accents – mellow, musical and as pleasant as the place.
By nightfall, I was overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the place and wanted a quiet place to retire to at night. The Bed & Breakfast I checked in to was just one out of many in a town that seems to consist of B&Bs. But it turned out to be a 200 year old historic home that was as charming as LLandudno.
The next day I took off for Snowdonia, base for Snowdon, after bidding goodbye to the pretty Welsh town.
The Kingdom of Heaven
The most memorable part of the Welsh experience was the trip to Snowdon, the highest mountain peak in Wales. It was promised that if the weather permitted, we would glimpse all five kingdoms…Wales, Scotland, Ireland, England and…the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’.
The Snowdon Mountain Railway ride scaled the 1085m height chugging at a leisurely pace. Through every metre, I was marvelling at the awe-inspiring scenery and changing landscapes that the tracks cut across – the picturesque base at LLanberis that gave way to a brief glimpse of a cascading waterfall partially hidden by the foliage, followed by a contrasting treeless countryside. The topographical variations in that one mile journey need to be seen to be believed.
The third quarter of the ascent pulled us up through Rocky Valley, the most dramatic of all the stratas that Snowdon nestles. This area is dotted with massive boulders that were formed by volcanic forces millions of years ago. The majesty and power of that virgin terrain is overwhelming. In that moment and space, I was no more than a finite creature on a defiant train, scrambling across infinity. I felt small, but content.
Even with mists obstructing a clear view, spectacular panoramas await those lucky enough to reach the top. It was snowing at the summit when my train pulled up, the shifting mist offering a tantalising glimpse of what lay around. It was hauntingly beautiful, especially when considered that I couldn’t really see much because of the soft white swirls around me.
Crisp and cold, the winds slapped me gently as I looked around open-mouthed. The breeze shifted the cloud cover intermittently, allowing me to steal a glance of the promised kingdoms. The fifth one lay in no particular direction – the Kingdom of Heaven could be experienced in every aspect of Snowdon. The majestic heights had lifted me to the extraordinary, and for those precious moments, the world lay at my feet.