Friday, September 2, 2011

Snowdonia - North Wales

Generally I used to do some research about the places before going for vacation, but this time there wasn’t much time. Also there wasn’t any organized information about things to do at Snowdonia. So, just looked at 2-3 important attractions and took a print out of the same. Picked up Hebbar and Pooja on Friday night itself so as to save some time on Saturday.
Unlike my usual routine, got up very very early at 7:00AM and got myself ready by 7:30. As usual others were late and we left our home at 8:00 for a long drive to North Wales. We have booked our rooms in hotel Esplanade at Llandudno, just infront of the beach. The drive was easy on M40 till Bermingham, but after that it was slow due to some accidents in M6. We took the normal motorway route of M40->M6->M56 and then A55 which was quite scenic. We reached our hotel at 2:00PM, the hotel was far below our expectation with all old carpets and cots reminding few hotels at Majestic. The TV was half the size of my laptop! Just consoled ourself saying that is what we can expect for what we have paid :(
On first day we wanted to cover the cable car in Llandudno, that was the only thing we have heard about that place. It was quite close to our hotel, so we went there by walk, I wasn’t sure we will get our parking space back if we take our car out. We walked till the cable car only to find that they have closed it due to ‘bad’ weather. The weather was very nice, but it was very windy. The entire place was called Great Orme and the eastern side was called as Happy Valley. It is a listed public park and was dedicated to the town of Llandudno by Lord Mostyn in 1887 in celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The Llandudno pier and beach was a spectacular view from Happy Valley in that weather.

Llandudno Pier and beach
We spent close to an hour there just watching the sea, pier and the beach. As the cable car was closed we decided to climb the hill, the higher we climbed more beautiful the sceneries were.

View from one of the Great Orme points

Wind mills in action

beach view from Great Orme
With some resistance we followed Hebbar to Great Orme summit to see its other end. It gave nice opportunity to shoot some sunset photos, but we decided to comeback next day by car for the full sunset as it was getting late and we still had one hour to climb down.

View from Great Orme

It took close to one hour as expected to climb down and then we went straight to a Bengali restaurant to have some food.
We got up early on second day as well and headed to straight to Llanberis to see Snowdon after having not so good breakfast at the hotel. Very close to Snowdon mountain railway, we saw a beautiful spot on the left hand side and stopped there for 30 minutes.

Lake Llyn Peris in Llanberis
After that we rushed to get our tickets for the mountain train, but the tickets were available only for 5:00PM in the evening. We weren’t aware that Snowdon mountain train will be so crowded. Hiking wasn’t an option as it takes more than 7 hours and we also wanted to cover some other places. So we took the tickets for 5:00PM train and headed towards electric mountain which is just 2 minutes walk from there. We bought the 12:00 noon tickets for the electric mountain and waited for our guide while the girls went for window shopping.
The tour started with a 7 minutes video about electric mountain followed by a guided site visit. The electric mountain is the hydro electric plant generating upto 12MW power which can serve the entire Wales. The power is added to the national grid and generally used as an emergency service where the demand is high during the day time. It is quite different from other hydro electric plants because it is a pumped hydro electric plant. There are two reservoirs with a hight difference of nearly 600 meters. The water is pumped to upper reservoir during night time where electricity is cheap and the same water is used to generate the electricity at day time when demand and price is high. The site works at an efficiency of 76% meaning it only generates 76% of the power used to pump the water to upper reservoir. It took a long time for me to understand why do they even do it if it is going to waste the energy. Apparently electricity can not be stored without converting it to some other form! And nuclear and thermal plants only generate electricity at a constant rate and most of the electricity generated at night time is not of much use as the demand is very low during night time. So they sell it at cheap rate during night which is used by these kind of plants. Hebbar suggested an easy idea used by Indians to cut the power for some villages when there is high demand instead of wasting so much energy. Don’t think they really heard him, so you will get to see the plant even when you go there next year.
After the electric mountain visit we had to follow Hebbar again to utilize 2 more hours before going for mountain rail. So we went to a viewpoint around 8 miles from electric mountain where lots of people were hiking. We also followed them for an hour but had to return as we were getting late for the mountain rail. The views from that place were also very nice.
We took the mountain rail at 5:00PM. It took 45 minutes to reach the summit. The views were spectacular till 70% of the peak and after that visibility reduced and the entire place was covered with fog. It reminded me of mullayaanagiri and bababudan giri in chikkamagaluru.

View from Snowdon

We spent 30 minutes in the summit and then took the steam train back to the base.
After that we went back to Llandudno for a marine drive to see the sunset we missed previous day. We reached the point just about the time to see the beautiful sunset.

sunset from great orme marine drive

We went back to our hotel after that and went for another Indian restaurant for dinner.
Got up early again on third day and cleared the hotel bills by 8:30AM. After breakfast we headed towards Conwy castle. We reached the castle but couldn’t spend any time as none of us had the change for car parking and there was no one else there except for us. So we went straight to Swallow falls in Betws-y-Coed. After some difficulty with the Satnav, we managed to find the place.

Swallow falls - Betws-y-Coed

The falls wasn’t that crowded, so could spend some nice time there. After that we went back to Betws-y-Coed town to spend one hour exploring the town before heading back to Reading.
On a whole, North Wales was much better than what we initially thought, so will definitely plan to go there again.


ದಿನಕರ ಮೊಗೇರ said...

wonderful photos.............

thank you...

Sathisha said...

Thanks Dinakar, welcome to my blog, heege barta iri...