After leaving Noongallas Farm and the South of Cornwall, we were hitting the road for a few hours to move up north in a good pace. We knew that it would be too ambitious to reach Wales in just one day, so we randomly last-minute-booked an overnight stay in Cheddar, Somerset, which turned out to offer a lot more than just a bed. Cheddar is the home of Cheddar Gorge, apparently the deepest gorge in the whole UK. A landmark worth exploring. And that’s exactly what we did.
On our steep ascent to the top of the gorge we were joined by some agile mountain goats. Unfortunately, the weather turned. So as soon as we had reached the top, we turned tail and tried to get to the car before the storm. We almost did it. But the curiosity of seeing more of the gorge was still present. So after dinner, we headed back – this time into the gorge. All the crowds that were there hours before had disappeared. We had the area to ourselves and the busy gorge turned into a peaceful, quiet place. The girls started a conversation with the echo and John joined the mountain goats on higher grounds to take a picture.
Earlier than usual, after a bad night’s sleep (those YHA mattresses!!!), we got back on the road. We aimed to arrive on our campground in the Brecon Beacons (Wales) at a reasonable hour in order to get settled and see something of the area. The tent was up on Pencelli Castle Campground just in time before the heavens opened – again. The weather stayed unsteady all afternoon that day, but it did not stop us from having a walk up and down the canal which was right next to our campground. After another one-pot-wonder, map in hand, we headed out in search of nearby waterfalls, taking advantage of a dry spell. Which did not last, of course! We are talking Wales. John promised me rain. And he delivered. Even more than that. Man, was it windy that night!
The next morning, we headed into Brecon on the hunt for some waterproof trekking shoes for Sophie. And we found much more than that: The craft market was on;-). Eyeing a break in the weather, we headed for the mountains. Climbing Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in Southern UK (886m:-)), was our mission. After a detour through the ferns (not appreciated by me!), we finally found the path and went for it. Nearing the top, half the hiking party, turned back to base camp / car due to strong winds and sore feet. “Lilly Little Leg” and “Daddy Long Leg” persisted, strode out and drank in the view from the summit. The party reunited at base camp and rewarded itself with a trip to the pub.
Mission accomplished, our remaining time in Wales went as so: Breakfast – overcast, washing – heavily overcast, finding a so-called waterfall – rain, watching a canal loch in operation – drizzle, hot drinks in a warm restaurant – dry, movie – chucking it down, pub – still wet, sleeping – dry, packing tent up – torrential! Loved our time in Wales.
Some of our highlights:
- Cheddar Gorge in the evening.
- For John, Sophie and Lilly: Getting lost in the ferns hiking up Pen y Fan.
- The view over the Brecon Beacons on Pen y Fan.
- Welsh countryside in general.
- Lamb shank in the White Hart.
- Watching the canal lock in operation.
- For the girls: Cinema night (Nut Job 2) with lots of Pop Corn in their hands.
- Camping meals. Our one-pot-meals, cooked on a very simple gas burner are very enjoyable.
- Pencelli Campground: Best camping so far. And hard to beat. The proof that camping toilets and showers can be super clean.
Our learning curve so far:
- When camping in Great Britain, bring your wellies.
- Don’t even attempt to pronounce names in Welsh.