In “Map Addict” (which I hope to review when I finish it!), Mike Parker explains how he used to make visitors place a pin in a map where they felt they most belonged (not lived, but belonged). Without barely a thought, I would place my pin in Snowdonia near Rhyd Ddu (just west of Snowdon)
I love Snowdonia. Being surrounded by such amazing scenery has a powerful effect on me – the rugged mountains, the dense forests, the remote moorlands, and the rivers, steams and waterfalls surging down the slopes. Snowdonia makes me feel alive and at peace with myself.
A few months ago I made, what is starting to become a regular occurance, a pilgramage to Rhyd Ddu with a group of friends. We were staying in the self-catered farmhouse managed, and presumably owned, by The Cwellyn Arms.
I first discovered The Cwellyn Arms in August last year – I was staying in a campsite on the Llyn Peninsula, and had decided to make my first attempt to climb a mountain – The Nantlle Ridge. Unfortunately I was forced back by the weather (I finally defeated it on this trip) and instead headed into Rhyd Ddu following the “PH” symbol on the map.
The Cwellyn Arms was nothing short of magical – there were several log fires burning, real ales on tap, and friendly staff who were happy for me to wander in with my muddy boots and even muddier dog. The dog curled up in front of the fire, and as I supped on my ale (the name has long been forgotten!), I watched a young couple (just back from a walk) playing chess in the corner. This is my kind of pub!
I returned the next day, after having climbed Moel Hebog, to try the food – the quality was outstanding! The prices aren’t cheap, but are certainly worth it (they are listed in the “Which Good Food Guide”). I spotted a flyer for their self-catered cottage, farmhouse, bunk house and campsite – and vowed to return.
I returned at the start of December with a group of friends. We had booked the farmhouse, which has two bedrooms (one with a double and a single, and one with two doubles and a single), a lounge with log fire (wood provided), a full stocked kitchen (including huge fridge and freezer, flasks, and all the pots, pans and utensils you can think of!) and a conservatory (with a double sofa bed and large windows looking out over snowdon).
The views are what really get to me – you are almost completely surrounded by moutains. To the one side you have Snowdon, and the peaks of Moel Cynghorion, Foel Goch, and Foel Gron. To another side Mynydd Mawr. There is a lake, Llyn Cwellyn, a few hundred yards from the farmhouse (the campsite is between the farmhouse and the lake). The farmhouse is about fifteen minutes walk from Rhyd Ddu – so you feel really isolated. The walk from the pub at night is an experience, the dark mountains tower around you against the slightly lighter sky (although annoingly on the last visit some idiot left the Snowdon cafe lights on, which sort of spoilt the effect!)
I am looking forward to experiencing the owners hospitality again soon – in fact I am already planning a return visit next month!