A great weekend in North Wales

On Tuesday afternoon I got back home from a long weekend at Manorafon Farm camp site in Abergele, North Wales – a weekend where, for once, I hadn’t been camping alone as Michael had been with me. I’d actually asked him last Tuesday if he wanted to come with me as I thought a few days of sea air might help his continuing recovery from the broken ankle but he’d refused and said he was quite happy to stay at home. I’d left the van packed up from my Anglesey holiday a few weeks ago so his refusal meant that I didn’t need to re-organise and re-pack it with extra stuff for him, however at half past midnight last Friday he suddenly said he wanted to come, the deciding factor being that as there would be electric on my pitch he would be able to charge up his phone. So at 6.30 on Saturday morning I was busy packing the van with camp bed, mattress, extra bedding and food etc, and instead of leaving home at my intended time of 7.30am we didn’t leave until 8.30.
Although it had been rather overcast when we set off the sun started shining not long into the journey and from then on the weather just got better and better. My usual route down the M56/A55 was abandoned for once in favour of the A548 running close to the River Dee estuary as I wanted to stop at Greenfield Dock to take a few photos – I’d read about this little place on Ruth’s blog but when I wanted to find it for myself last year I’d missed the turning off the main road so didn’t get there. There was nothing much there other than a little creek with a handful of small fishing boats beached on the deep mud banks but in the sunshine the views across the Dee estuary were worth a couple of shots and it was nice to have a short break from driving.
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The Dee estuary from Greenfield Dock
I’d originally intended to make a stop at Talacre beach further along the coast, but the later-than-planned start to the journey meant I was running out of time as I’d arranged to meet my blogging friend Eileen at 11am and I didn’t want to keep her waiting too long. Having met properly for the first time last August it was lovely to see her and her adorable little dog Annie again and a very pleasant couple of hours was spent chatting over a coffee and a walk round her local boardwalk before we said our goodbyes. It was just after 1pm when I got to Manorafon – I’d been able to select my pitch when I booked online back in May so I knew exactly where I was going and with Michael’s help, albeit limited because of his foot, the tent was soon put up and pegged down and the inside sorted out, then the rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing in the sun.
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Manorafon Farm
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One of the site’s many residents
Late morning on Sunday saw us driving the 43 miles to Anglesey; although it was only a few weeks since my holiday there I was going for a particular reason – to photograph Parys Mountain with the heather in full bloom, which it hadn’t been back in July. And it was certainly worth going – in the six weeks since I last walked round there the mountain had burst into colourful life with pink and purple heather everywhere, and needless to say I took far more than just a handful of shots. My walk round the mountain was followed by a drive up to Penrhos for a cheeseburger then it was back across the island to Benllech where we spent some time by the beach before finally leaving the island and going back to the camp site.
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Parys Mountain in bloom
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Benllech beach
On Monday, while on a morning dog walk, I discovered that the old castle up the lane from the site was partially open to the public so Michael and I had a walk round up there. It was good to see what progress had been made in the restoration over the last year but I was rather disappointed to find that the most interesting parts of the place have been closed off since I was at the open day last August. Later on we had a drive along the coast and I finally found Talacre beach and its lighthouse and got the photos I wanted, then on the way back to the camp site I called at Eileen’s with a brochure which I’d forgotten to give to her on Saturday. I’d left Michael at one of the amusement places down near the beach and on my way back to collect him I managed, from Eileen’s directions, to find and photograph a possible ‘escapee’ from the local zoo peering over someone’s high hedge.
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Gwrych Castle
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Talacre beach & Point of Ayr lighthouse
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Anyone lost a giraffe?
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The Pantri Bach Cafe, Pensarn
After some overnight rain Tuesday was dull and overcast though the sun did keep trying to break through the clouds. A leisurely breakfast was followed by the packing up process and by 11.15am we were ready for leaving the site; a dog walk down on the beach was followed by an early lunch in the nearby Pantri Bach cafe then it was time to set off homewards. The day brightened up as we got further north and we arrived home at 3.15pm in glorious sunshine, a fitting end to a very varied and enjoyable North Wales weekend.

11 thoughts on “A great weekend in North Wales

  1. I’ve only been camping in Wales twice, once to Shell Island and once to Manorafon Farm! I remember it being a cracking little site…but I do remember it seemed to be next to a traveller’s type site, when we stopped about 5 years ago, with goats tethered and washing hanging out! I remember Gwrych Castle , which wasn’t being renovated then, so good to know it is now. I was reading Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein when we camped there, so now for some reason , the castle reminds me of the book. 🙂 The heather looks amazing. i still haven’t been anywhere yet , to see such a gorgeous display.x


    1. I went with my partner to Shell Island for a day about ten years back, we were checking it out for possible future camping trips. I was a bit put off though as it was a grey and very windy day but I can imagine that outside of school holidays and in good weather it’s probably quite nice.

      I know what you mean about the ‘traveller’s type’ site next to Manorafon – the first time I went there back in 2012 I made the mistake of turning into the wrong gateway and ended up in that one before realising I was in the wrong place. It was actually a small independent site called Gwrych Towers Camp Site and it was bought by Manorafon’s owners in 2013, to be developed as part of the main site – the two fields either side of the lane are now where the seasonal caravan pitches are. The main part of the site is being developed and improved all the time, the pitches are now all separated by fences and hedges so each one feels more private, there are more animals to see and feed and since last year a big wigwam has been put in the farm section for kids parties. The owners, Will and Jules, work hard to maintain a good standard round the site and it’s nice to see it so successful – I love it there and it’s a place I’ll return to many times.

      The heather on Parys mountain was fabulous and it was certainly worth making the drive down to Anglesey to see it, though I took so many photos I couldn’t possibly put them all on here 🙂


      1. Ahhh yes we did the same thing…and Will was like ‘what have you booked??’ but that was back in 2012. 🙂 Nice to know its been bought up by Manorafon.We stopped on Shell Island a couple of years before. Every day was beautiful and sunny but during the night it was like being at sea! An adventure though. X


  2. It certainly turned out to be one of the best late August Bank Holiday weekends weather-wise in a long time. It was lovely to meet up with you again Eunice and to meet Michael and I hope he enjoyed the weekend too. Parys mountain does look magnificent with the heather in bloom and I don’t blame you for wanting to revisit, they are stunning photographs. I’ve thought about why parts of the castle grounds have been closed off and it may be because the Preservation Society have signed a lease with the owners and it may be only a certain area they are allowed to restore and have access to. I’m glad you found the giraffe, he’s in no hurry to find his way back to the local zoo 🙂


  3. When we went up to the castle we paid to do the self-guided tour as otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to get into any part of it (well I probably could as I know all the little back paths up behind it, but Michael wouldn’t have managed it) and the guy taking the money said it was closed off because it’s dangerous. I know some parts of it are but I’m sure they could have made other parts accessible. I was disappointed for Michael more than anything as I’d have really liked him to see the courtyard and the other end of the castle 😦

    I was glad I found the giraffe, I’d love to know if it’s just a head and neck or if there’s a body attached to it. It’ll be interesting to know what he’s wearing next 🙂


  4. It was fabulous Anabel, there’ll be lots more photos on my other blog soon – I’m just now in the process of trying to decide which to put on as I took so many 🙂


  5. Nice weekend, Eunice! The heather transforms Parys, doesn’t it? And that’s a good looking castle and lighthouse. Bit of sunshine and what more do you need? 🙂 🙂


  6. Parys Mountain is a great place anyway but with the heather in full bloom it’s quite spectacular, and weather-wise it was a cracking weekend. Full details of the weekend with lots more photos of the mountain and the castle can be found on my ‘tigermousetales’ blog if you’re interested 🙂


  7. The castle Preservation Society have taken out something like a 25-year lease on it so it’s being renovated and restored bit by bit. Whether they have the time and the money to do it all remains to be seen but I hope they do as it’s a fascinating place.


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