Great days in Bristol and Wales

Trip Start Aug 12, 2011
Trip End Oct 16, 2011

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Where I stayed
Lawrenny Lodge Barmouth
Read my review - 5/5 stars
What I did
Hop On Hop Off tour Bristol
Raglan Castle

Flag of United Kingdom  , Wales,
Monday, August 22, 2011

Sorry for the delay - we haven't had internet for a few days now

Fantastic start to the day on Sunday with a buffet breakfast at the Holiday Inn - enough food to last us well into the afternoon. Into Bristol - and a nice simple drive to the Info Centre got difficult when the GPS somehow directed us back to the carpark we'd been to the night before (when the GPS was turned off) - slightly spooky!!! Reverted to a boring old map and compass navigation technique to find both the ICentre and a cheap carpark.

The day was beautiful, we walked around the waterfront and then booked onto the Open Top bus - great choice. The buses (3 of them) are run by some older people who have obviously lived in Bristol a long time and have vast amounts of local knowledge - and an easily understood way of getting it across. We saw heaps of stuff we never would have seen otherwise, and learnt lots about the history of the town.

Highlights for me - seeing where Wallace and Grommet are filmed (I even got a glimpse of them - check out the picture), the awesome Clifton suspension bridge above the Avon Gorge, and the multitude of gorillas all around town (the local zoo is having a birthday so there are over 60 lifesized gorilla statues all around the city - all painted different colours, sounds a bit naff but it's actually very cool - turns into a bit of a 'spot the gorilla' competition).

We got off the bus at the village of Clifton, up on the hill above the city, walked across the bridge and back - amazing views, then walked back thru the village and got a healthy lunch (sausage rolls) before catching another bus to finish the tour.

Glenda went for a look around the shops (I tagged along sullenly), then it was back in the car for a drive up to South Wales. We'd booked a place in a little village called Raglan (about 9km from Abergavenny) - drove up the M4 and over the huge Severn Bridge into Wales and then along an A road (which was still bigger than most of the roads in NZ). The hotel was good, our room was right at the top just above the garden bar (we worried about the noise but everything went quiet about 10pm so we were fine). Walked around the village and checked out the cemetry - always an interesting thing to do in an old place (1823 was the earliest grave we found).

For dinner we went up to Abegavenny (our hotel had a sign out for a new Chef urgently required so we'd decided to try somewhere else). Took a while to find somewhere - most places seem to stop serving meals at 6pm on a Sunday, but eventually found a great pub called the Lamb and Flag (your guess is as good as mine - I couldn't work it out). Great meals. Bit of sunburn on my head today - really should start wearing a hat I guess

Monday morning dawned foggy, but looked like it was going to be another great day - another big breakfast (the current chef at the hotel was obviously not too bad) and then it was off up to Raglan Castle - YEAH OUR FIRST CASTLE!!!!

It was really good - quite ruined, but had obviously been cleaned up a lot over the past full years, lots of handy guide boards. Built in 1500 / 1600's, destroyed in the English civil war - we got to climb up very high in the central tower, magnificent views over the countryside. We both really enjoyed it.

In the car for a quick drive (without GPS) down the A40 road to Abergavenny, but we must have missed a turnoff because we ended up back on the A449 heading for Bristol again - next exit wasn't for about 10k's - turned out okay though because we drove some great little back roads thru and saw some stunning wee villages.

An hour wandering around town before we headed off for our big adventure of the day, a 170km drive up to Barmouth. The drive up was pretty cool, the GPS took us on an amazing drive - over mountains, through valleys, roads getting narrower and narrower; I got concerned as we went past signs saying "not recommended for caravans or heavy vehicles" had visions of the Skippers Canyon Road. Eventually we got down to a narrow single lane with 7 ft hedges on either side of us - but the GPS came through and we made it. Stopped in a beautiful stereotypical little Welsh village called Dolgellau (all slate buildings, narrow lanes and old men saying lots of "boyo's") before driving across a rickerty old bridge (with a 60p toll) to get into the town.

The guest house we're staying at (Lawrenny Lodge) is stunning, our room has a beautiful view over the sea. Its been done up really nicely and has a lovely comfortable bed. Wandered into town, beautiful beaches and a large estuary. There's even a long railway bridge which stretches across, trains come through regularly to join the town to the rest of civilisation. Had dinner at a little place called Davy Jones Locker on the seafront - nothing spectacular but an ok steak.

Glenda had seen brochures for a play at the local theatre, so took some time out from me to go and have a look. I caught up on some blogging and headed down to the beach to watch the sunset over Cardigan Bay.

Tomorrow we continue heading North up towards Anglesey

More photos below
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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