Setting off without Mr Prue made the whole venture seem pointless, but I knew it wasn't and Mr Prue would want me to go, even if he was unable to go along. I messed around, made a packed lunch but eventually got my act together, got in the car and was off, heading north on the M40 to join the M42 to head west towards Wales.
The journey was uneventful with a coffee break at Dobies garden centre near Shrewsbury. Not a very inspiring building but their coffee shop is great - tucked away in the back corner of the shop, it was clean, well-lit and had sofas and comfy chairs with a relaxed atmosphere and good coffee. Lunch looked good too. Loath to leave, I eventually tore myself away (buying 2 cushions on the way out) and kept heading west.
|Frost on the Roadside|
Once across the Welsh marches the scenery changes: steep hills and mountains set in wild countryside, with the occasional farm dwarfed by the sweep of the hills behind it. One valley, still in shadow at lunchtime, had thick frost and the air was cold and crisp, scented by woodsmoke curling up from a lone chimney on the farmhouse. I took photos and left, climbing slowly up to a pass and then down the other side into full sun.
|Road Leading to Pass|
|Standard View of Barmouth|
Barmouth lies on the coast on the great insweep of Cardigan Bay (go to Google Maps and type in Cardigan Bay Wales).
|To the Right of the Standard View of Barmouth|
The river which reaches the sea at this point is not the Bar, but the Mawddach.
|Mawddach Estuary from Just Outside Barmouth|
The town isn't large but has an enormous car park for its size as there is a huge sandy beach, a popular tourist destination in summer - but virtually empty in January!
|Part of Car Park Viewed from the Cliff - with My Little Blue Car (centre)|
The ticket machine gave instructions in Welsh and English. All road signs in Wales are in both languages too, and walking around the town I heard Welsh being spoken by most locals.
It was fortunate that I'd taken a packed lunch and flask of coffee as it was either early closing in Barmouth or it was closed for the winter! A couple of pubs were open and that was about it.
After lunch, I walked up the cliff path, over the top and down the other side, arriving near the church.
|Barmouth and Sea from Cliff Path|
|Barmouth Church Nestling Against the Cliff|
Last time I was in Wales, Mr Prue and I had stopped briefly in Barmouth, before going on to Harlech with its famous castle, so hadn't been into the church. It was unlocked and I had it to myself; quiet, peaceful with sunlight filtering through the arched windows. I thought of Mr Prue and cried, then wrote in the visitors' book and asked for a prayer for my husband.
The sun was on its downward arc towards the horizon so I left the little town to be swallowed up by its lengthening shadows. But I didn't go straight home. Another port of call was Lake Vrynwy some miles back along the main road and then a detour up into the hills. Last time Mr Prue and I had been this way, it was too late to go and see the lake. Today it was too late really, the light was fading fast but I carried on!
I got to Lake Vrynwy at dusk; there was still light in a greeny blue sky. The surface of the water looked like molten silver, and the lake was bordered by mysteriously dark mountains. The lake stretched away and was much bigger than I had imagined. Within a short time it was fully dark although the surface of the water still held a bright sheen. With reluctance I turned the car for home, noting the lines of lit windows in the hotel on the hillside. Next time I go further afield I need to take an overnight bag.
I arrived home, tired but pleased I'd made the effort to go on this 'expedition', sad that Mr Prue wasn't there with me, and determined to go on another one.
February's picture the calendar is of Salisbury, so that's where I'm heading next. This time I'm going to take company. I have four seats in the car, two people who are definitely coming - there are two seats left.
Any takers? :)