Looked like a glorious beginning to a few days away in Pod, sun was actually out and promised to be so during our 5 nights away at Glanllyn Lakeside Caravan and Camping Site, Lake Bala, Wales.
Pod was loaded with clothes and the fridge stocked the night before, all that was let to do was hook up and set the satnav up, by 9.30am we were ready to go, only problem was we weren’t allowed on site till 12 so we had sit and twiddle our thumbs for half an hour, like two kids waiting to be told it’s okay to go downstairs on Christmas Day.
10 o’clock finally arrived and after saying our goodbyes we set off, roads were pretty quiet, apart from the usual mob who like to sit in the middle lane oblivious to what’s going on around them and refusing to move over so others can overtake, most people don’t seem to realise caravans aren’t allowed in the outside lane and not over 60mph, very frustrating !
Rolled into the site a couple of minutes before 12, all looked good from the main office and the site looked pretty empty, one of the joys of mid-week breaks. The lady behind the desk was very helpful and even though we’d booked a hardstanding pitch she told us to go anywhere we liked.
The grassed area looked in really good condition so made the decision to go for a grass pitch, not something we would normally ever do but it all looked so open, green, lush and inviting as one of the wardens was busily going up and down the huge open lawned area on his ride-on mower.
Slow drive round the site and we discovered the hardstanding pitches were near the office, grass caravan pitches were in the middle and tents had the best pitches nearest the lake. Some motorhomes seemed to be set up on the carpark which was on the shore line.
We eventually chose one of the last grass pitches nearest the lake as we planned on getting the kayak out on the water.
Once set up, whilst dodging the warden on his mower, we went for a drive into Bala to see what was on offer, parking along the main road was free for the first hour but no return within an hour and then free after 6pm, as it was early afternoon we opted for the large carpark at the end of the village, near the bridge. £3.00 for 4 hours so seemed reasonable enough.
A walk up and down the main street took us past a few cafe’s, craft and antique shops, plus some pubs who seemed to have a good variety of food on offer.
Back at the car with ice creams in hand we decided to go for a drive and just follow our noses, this took us left out of the carpark and towards the steam railway. Once passed this we continued on, it turned out to be a circular route that encompassed the lake. Dodging on coming cars this took us down some very narrow hedge lined roads and past another lakeside campsite which if we had time would warrant further investigation, eventually the road returned us back to the site.
Shower time arrived, there were two blocks but only one was open as the site wasn’t very busy. They were clean, no privacy cubicles but adequate for the job in hand. We did notice signs that clearly stated hot water for showers was only available between 7am and 10pm, through our stay we never tested it by turning up at 10.05 as we much prefer a hot shower to a cold but we were curious as to how they turned the hot water off.
Tuesday morning we woke to the sun sneaking in through the half open blinds and it looked like another good day ahead, slight breeze but nothing too heavy. Took our time over breakfast and watched the world go by with a few ‘hello’s’ and ‘good morning’s’ to those who passed and stopped for a few minutes to chat. Plus the grass cutter made another appearance.
As we slid out from the shore we could hear kids screeching and splashing away somewhere behind us, once we left the shore and followed it round to the left we came across a group of kids in their early teens having a fine old time in the water having left their canoes beached on the side.
We continued on and once on the main body of water the breeze became stronger and the poor kayak bounced along on top of the water, eventually it broke over the sides and into the kayak, neither of us minded getting wet, added to the experience but it was getting harder to paddle against the wind.
Looking across to the other side of the lake it looked slightly calmer as it was sheltered from the wind so we paddled like fury to cross to the other side where we then glided on up the lake side.
We passed people walking dogs, some were having BBQs and picnics, others were having a paddle and we could hear the ‘toot toot’ of the stream train in the distance. The lake its self wasn’t particularly busy, save for the kids who must of been out on the water as part of a school or club activity we were passed by only 2 sail boats and those were only small dinghies. The sky seemed busier as Tornados, Typhoons and a Hercules passed over, camera was never at the ready but the sight of them always made us stop and stare, before we realised it they were over our heads and gone.
We continued on up the lake and came to the caravan site we had seen on our circular route, it looked perfect from the water as many units had set up literally on the waters edge and one gentleman was using the lake as a cooler for his milk, very enterprising.
At this point the wind had dropped totally and we just sat in the kayak in the middle of the lake and allowed the very gentle current to take us back towards the site, at this point it was the perfect opportunity to do a Facebook live, whilst MrB turned us 360 deg, LB filmed and did her usual bit of commentary.
Paddling began again and we had our eyes peeled fora suitable place to stop for our not so healthy picnic of crisps, chocolate bars and biscuits. This we found easily enough and it was directly across the lake from the site, sun was beating down from a cloudless sky and a breeze made its presence known every now and then.
As our lunch came to an end we could quite easily of dozed on our little piece of shingle beach but stirred enough to take a couple of snaps of the steam train that went by, even managed to generate a few waves from the passengers onboard.
Back into the kayak we went and continued on round the lower part of the lake, when it came time to crossing back over to the site side the battle against the wind began and muscles were found that had been dormant for some time, good upper body work out we thought.
Once back on land the kayak was carried back to Pod and tipped on its side so it could dry in the still glorious weather. Great piece of kit but had the wind been any stronger it would of been a real battle to move anywhere but backwards, time maybe to look at a more solid structure of which there were many to drool over on the site.
Feet were then up and we did our best to relax in the sunshine whilst ignoring the mower man who was still going round the site doing what must be done.. we guessed.
Dinner was eaten, a very tasty veggie sausage paella which had been made in our multi-cooker and as the weather looked good for the following morning plans were then made to go for a walk in the hills of Snowdonia, a starting point of Ogwen Cottage was decided upon and then head in the direction of the Glyders.
Alarm woke us at 6am and a quick weather check during breakfast told us we had till 1pm before the heavens opened, well and truly.
Rucksacks were packed up smartish, we were on the road and at the hostel for 7.30 and just as we rolled into the carpark heavy rain joined us, we stayed put in the car as it bounced off the roof making it hard to hear what each other was saying, needless to say body language was enough to say neither of us was moving until it passed… hopefully.
It did. Within 10 minutes we were out of the car, kitted up and on our way up towards the Glyders.
We didn’t see many people on the way up but passed quite a few school groups on the way across and down, one in particular made us giggle as a group of teenage girls in their matching long plaits were in deep conversation, all were discussing the merits of revising for a recent English exam on Romeo and Juliet, one in particular was amazed at anothers ability to recite more than half a dozen quotes.
The sun had been with us most of the time but the clock was slowly moving towards midday and that 1pm down pour was on the horizon, so after a hill top picnic with amazing views across and down the valley to Penrhyn Quarry we began the decent and were soon on the footpath back to the car. We passed quite a few people dressed in just t-shirts and shorts and they didn’t seem to have coats of any sort, we just hoped they didn’t plan on going too far as the bad weather was due to be set for the afternoon.
Back at the carpark rucksacks were dumped in the car and we crossed back over the road to the cafe, food was bought and we sat on the cafe wall eating piping hot pasties and ice-cream, no sooner had we began when we felt droplets of rain.
Food was eaten smartish and just as we got into the car the deluge began, again it was bouncing off the roof but this time it had thunder and lightening for company. Driving back to the site wipers were going ten to the dozen whilst we thought of those half way up or down who had been caught by the down pour.
Back at Pod the rain continued for the day and into the evening, we were so glad we’d made the effort earlier in the day, we felt less guilty about chilling in Pod with a little snooze thrown in.
Thursday was a very mixed day to start with, if the sun was out it was lovely and warm and shorts and t-shirts were adequate even with the wind blowing through, but once the sun dipped behind a cloud goosebumps were very closely followed by the thick long sleeve tops and long trousers.
The plan had been to get the kayak out again but we just needed the wind to drop a little, so we spent the day waiting for this to happen and sat most of the time outside watching various planes go over plus doing the odd impromptu viewing of Pod. We don’t do a bad job at it either, maybe the manufacturer should pay us commission 😉
Sadly the wind didn’t drop but we’d had a good day watching the world go by and the site was now slowly starting to fill up with tents, caravans and motorhomes, including an entire family of 2 caravans a motorhome and 3 tents who set up right next to us. The 6 metre rule was just about in existence.
Rain returned late into the evening, continued through the night and into Friday morning.
We parked the car across the road from the railway and made a dash for the platform and office.
A special treat was needed so 1st class tickets were bought and once on board the views from the observation carriage were spectacular, even with the rain slowly running down the windows obscuring the view some what.
The train set off on time and we moved along at a decent pace with the familiar rock from side to side a train gives. The tunnels were brilliant, we trundled on in near darkness, the only light being given off was by some very decorative wall lights which lined the inside of the carriage. On we went, past woodland and waterfalls, then along rock lined tracks that were barely wide enough for the train go through, very relaxing experience.
The staff on the train were brilliant, knowledgeable, very good at the sales patter and looked great in their colourful uniforms. Just wish for that added touch of 1st class specialness the drinks and food ordered had arrived in proper cups, and on proper plates, wasn’t expecting china, just a plain white cheap pot plate from Asda (or any other well known high street shop) and not the paper cup and plastic wrapped packaging they arrived in.
After stopping a few times to allow others on and off we eventually rolled into Porthmadog and it was still raining, so after a walk along the high street and jumping in and out of a few gift and souvenir shops we stopped at the Grapevine for a spot of lunch, looked like a popular cafe and the selection of food on offer looked very appetising.
Mozzarella, onions, olives and tomato toasty for one and a huge all day breakfast for the other, all went down extremely well, especially the bacon which was thickly cut and good quality, not that stuff that leaves a pool of water behind it.
Lunch eaten, we continued our walk in the rain along the high street and eventually found ourselves on the waterfront, no one else was around and we blamed the weather for the lack of holiday makers, it really wasn’t the best day for sightseeing.
Time came to catch our train back to Ffestiniog and whilst sat on the wooden bench on the platform an old gentleman with a long white beard wearing a black woollen rail uniform slowly walked in our direction. He stopped to say hello and whilst leaning on his walking stick he told us tales of his early years on the railway and how health and safety didn’t come into some of the things they did, it just got done. Very interesting man, with fiery blue laughing eyes, full of life and pride for the job he was still part of.
Our train hooted away on the platform and once again we made ourselves comfy in the observation lounge in 1st Class, the rain was very persistent but it didn’t ruin our view as it trundled down the tracks along the same route we had arrived on.
It was our last evening so we decided to treat ourselves to a meal out, only thing was we would have to drive, the centre of Bala wasn’t really in walking distance as it was at the far end of the lake and just over 3 miles away.
Parking was free after 6pm so found a spot on the main road and began to walk along looking for something that took our fancy, it’s not always easy this because we have been fooled before, the outside doesn’t always depict what is on the inside.
Plas Yn Dre, a pub in the centre caught our eye, so in we went. Looked very fresh, modern and new, we were shown a table through the back and given a menu to peruse. The waiter was very friendly and well informed on the contents of the menu. Duck and soup were the chosen starters followed by ribeye steak and mushroom, pepper stroganoff. Fabulous food, well presented and delicious to-boot.
Back at Pod we discovered the site was somewhat fuller, and Pod was now encircled with vans of all shapes and sizes, someone who had either come for a nosey at Pod or just not looked where they were going had snapped one of our guy-lines, very annoying and just a little inconsiderate, don’t you think.
There was no point repairing it as we off home the next day but this wasn’t helped by kids from surrounding vans using Pod as a target, needless to say this didn’t go down well with either of us.
Such a shame, not the way we wanted to end our stay as we’d had a fabulous time. The site is obviously very popular but a little consideration for others goes along way.
Saturday arrived and we woke to a dry awning, always a blessing and makes packing up so much easier. We eventually rolled off the site and took the 2 hour journey home where talk was taken up about our next trip in August, Edinburgh and the Tattoo.