North Wales mini break – Day 1

With almost two weeks off work and nothing to do in the week between Christmas and New Year the morning of Wednesday December 29th saw me heading down to North Wales on an impromptu and hastily arranged 2-night break at a new-to-me camp site not far from Abergele. The weather was atrocious when I left home, that fine but heavy rain which really wets you, and the spray from other vehicles on the motorway was dreadful. At one point I did question my own sanity in doing this but by the time I’d got a couple of miles past the turn-off for Manchester airport the rain had stopped and the sky was doing its best to brighten up.
Undecided whether to head straight down the A55 or turn off along the A548 coast road I opted for the second choice when I noticed some patches of pale blue sky appearing over to the west. The A548 crosses over the River Dee via the Flintshire Bridge which was officially opened in 1998; it cost Β£55m to construct, is 965ft long and 387ft high, and is Britain’s largest asymmetric cable-stayed bridge. It would give me a few good photos but there was nowhere for me to safely stop so I was only able to get one shot quickly snapped through the van’s front windscreen.
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Unfortunately the patches of blue sky which had initially looked so promising had amounted to nothing and it was still very dull and grey when I made a short stop at Greenfield Dock on the River Dee estuary. It was a shame the tide was out as it’s quite an attractive little place, especially when there’s blue sky and sunshine. Now incorporated into a section of the North Wales Coast Path the dock itself was constructed in the early 1700s on the site of a natural harbour and was used to import raw materials to and export goods from the nearby (now non-existent) Greenfield Valley mills which processed copper and cotton.
Raw copper from Parys Mountain on Anglesey was unloaded at the dock and sent to the mills where it was turned into cups, pots and manilas – lead coated copper armbands which were highly prized in West Africa and were the currency of slave dealers. The copper goods were shipped round to Liverpool and the slave ships took the manilas to West Africa where they were exchanged for slaves who were then taken to America to work on the cotton plantations in exchange for bales of raw cotton. These were then brought back to Liverpool and shipped round to Greenfield Dock for spinning at Greenfield Valley’s cotton mills, thus completing the infamous ‘Triangular Trade’ which was eventually abolished by the Slave Trade Act in 1807.
During the early 19th century ferry services were introduced to Greenfield Dock. Ferries sailed to and from Liverpool and the Wirral and the dock became an important passenger terminal for pilgrims visiting the nearby St. Winefride’s Well, however freight and passenger business eventually declined when the Chester-Holyhead railway line was opened in 1848. Fast forward to more modern times and in a collaboration between Coastal Rangers and local fishermen the dock was restored and reopened in 2010; now more than 40 commercial fishermen work on the Dee estuary, cockle fishing in the summer and landing seasonal catches of bass, flounder and shrimp throughout the year.
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”The Lookout” – sculptor, Mike Owens
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The second stop on my way to the camp site was a surprise visit to friend Eileen. When I visited in October she had known about it beforehand but this time she didn’t so I was taking a chance that she and her hubby would be in. Luckily they were and I spent a lovely couple of hours with them and Tilly the Cockapoo before it was time to head off to the camp site.
Now to call this place a ‘camp site’ is rather a misnomer – it’s a 5-star holiday park, doesn’t accept tents and is way over my normal budget, but trying to find somewhere open at this time of year in the right place and with availability at short notice had been like looking for the proverbial needle in the equally proverbial haystack. My options had been limited but this site ticked all the boxes in many ways; I could live with the expensive cost just for a couple of nights so my large mpv became a ‘small campervan’ and I’d booked a serviced pitch for a 2-night stay.
Booking in at reception I was given a site map and a barrier pass then a very helpful young lady showed me to my pitch, which turned out to be in a small section of the lower part of the site and directly overlooking the sea, and with only one unoccupied caravan in the corner I had that section to myself. Living in the van meant that things had to be kept to a minimum so it didn’t take long to get sorted out and after a quick dog walk round the site I was soon settled in for the evening.
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The only downside to the site was the railway line to Holyhead running below it and the very busy A55 running behind it, but train noise was virtually non-existent and once I was settled in the van I couldn’t hear any traffic noise at all. After a very grey start to the day the sun had appeared at lunch time and the rest of the afternoon had been lovely so I kept my fingers metaphorically crossed that the next couple of days would be just as nice.

20 thoughts on “North Wales mini break – Day 1

  1. I’m not familiar with this area Eunice, so It’s good to see something different. I like to follow your route on Google Maps, but I can’t be sure what campsite you’re in. I’ve got the general idea as to where you’re talking about though.

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    1. Have a look for Wern Road, Llanddulas, the site is on the left just off the roundabout from the A55. Ignoring the constant traffic noise from the road it’s in a good location and a place I may very well stay at again sometime.

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  2. You certainly did surprise me with your visit and I’m glad you found a lovely campsite / holiday park for your stay. You do look cosy in your van I have to say and it looks a lovely campsite with a gorgeous sea view. I hadn’t heard of The Triangular Trade before, it’s quite chilling to read about it. I do like The Lookout sculpture, something I’ve not seen before even though it’s not too far from where we live.

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  3. I was lovely and cosy in the van, for two or three nights it’s a good alternative to the tent. The Lookout sculpture was quite odd – I came across it unexpectedly, set back in a quiet corner off the dock with no information about it anywhere so I had do some internet digging – turns out it was done by the same guy who did the three knights sculpture in the corner garden in Rhuddlan.

    By the way, have you any idea what’s being done at Tir Prince? It looks like the fairgound has gone now and everything is being dug up.

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    1. The weather could have been better but those three days really broke up the ‘flat’ bit between Christmas and New Year. I guess I was lucky with the pitch I was allocated, if it had been one of the others I would have been facing away from the view.

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  4. Good to be able to get into wordpress blogs again & catch up with what you are doing. Looks like a nice little break mid-winter and I do enjoy seeing where you go in your campervan. I also found the info about the area very interesting. I like seeing the pitches in England,not quite like our camp/caravan sites, so maybe I should do a post (now I’m blogging again) & you can see where we stayed just recently. We were able to get “away”. WOW!!!! Look forward to hearing more of this trip. Happy New Year, take care & hugs.

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    1. I’ll look forward to seeing where you recently stayed Susan, especially if your camp/caravan sites are different to ours – it would be nice to compare πŸ™‚

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  5. I’m glad you enjoyed your trip. I didn’t make it up to North Wales this past year (we usually head to the Criccieth area), but hopefully I will this year.

    It looks like you had the best of the weather as it’s been pretty wet in Wales over Christmas/New Year!

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  6. Wait until you read the next post – the weather turned out horrible the day after this 😦 It was nice again the day I was going home though πŸ™‚

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  7. It was a good site – not cheap by any means but you get what you pay for. A very clean and well kept place and the toilet/shower facilities were spotless.

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  8. Greenfield Dock is a nice little place, obviously looks much better with water in it πŸ™‚ I was quite surprised to find the sculpture as it’s not visible from the dock – it was only went I went round the far end of the dock that I found it, set back in a corner off the coast path though with no details about it anywhere.

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