James C. has been out and about:
I spent a glorious car-free North Wales walking adventure this past weekend. This trip was a very special anniversary for me—my last and only Welsh visit was 10 years ago this month. I had flown into the UK for the first time and immediately set off for Wales from the airport in London. It was one of my life’s defining weekends. This one turned out pretty great too.
A tasty pit stop during a wonderful coastal walk that began at the evocative ruins of a medieval monastery. It grew up around a 6th-century hermit, Saint Seiriol, whose cell remains and accompanying well (a lovely prayer spot!) can still be visited. He also established an eremitic community on that great hump of an island you see in the photo, where tradition holds he is buried.
That’s a traditional Welsh oggie (similar to a Cornish pasty; this tasty one was filled with steak, leeks, swede and gravy) with a bottle of the nearby Purple Moose Brewery’s wonderful Elderflower Ale. I’m taking a lunch break from walking around the the top of the virtually intact walls of the town, built by King Edward I (of Braveheart fame) to subjugate the Welsh in the 1280s. That enormous castle in the distance is also his.
I’m in one of the rooms of an historic inn that sits at the bottom of a pass in the mountains of Snowdonia. That’s a pint of Purple Moose’s equally delightful Glaslyn Ale. All over the ceiling you can see the signatures of Sir Edmund Hillary and the rest of his famous climbing party; they stayed at the inn over 60 years ago, scaling the treacherous nearby peaks in preparation for their first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953.
And here I am, making an attempt on one of those peaks. I’m straddled on the knife-edge Crib Goch ridge, preparing to face the dangers ahead. See that white dot at the top of one of the two pinnacles in the centre? That’s a full-size man. My calorie-dense meal (which thankfully didn’t turn out to be my last!) was traditional Welsh cakes (so satisfying they could’ve been Tolkien’s Elvish lembas), a delicious mincemeat pie from a bakery far below, and some garlic naan bread (something I discovered for the first time 10 years ago in the same place–excellent hiking food!).
That’s a hearty Welsh breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, hash browns, toast and black pudding. Behind is one corner of another gargantuan King Edward I castle, which lords over the town and the Menai Strait like a colossus.
My kind of adventure: a feast of history and natural beauty, providing a stunning context for satisfying food and drink. Gloria in excelsis Deo.
As ever, James, your photographs are a delight. Every time I see them, I want to hop on a plane and go there, right this very second. Here’s what I think: you should hire yourself out for private VFYT tours in the south of England for readers of this blog who travel there. I would happily pay you to take me on an adventure that includes good food and drink — and I’m sure I’m not the only one.