There are few places left in Great Britain with unspoiled nature, natural forest, and deep bodies of water. One of them is the Cambrian Mountains, a massif of glacial origin. Once slender, sky-high peaks are now left with rounded peaks and long trough-shaped valleys on which are scattered many glacial lakes.
History and etiology
The mountain range and the bodies of water scattered throughout it are of glacial origin. The Cambrian Mountains were originally called most of the highlands of Wales. In the 1950s they were called the Ellenydd Highlands of Mid Wales, which stretched from Pumlumon and Radnor Forest to Minid-Mullane.
In the 1960s and 1970s there were attempts to create a national park in the Cambrian Mountains. However, due to the objections of local farmers and government officials, a positive decision was never made.
Geology and Geography of the Cambrian Mountains
Unlike Snowdonia (a region in Wales), the base of this mountain range is red Devonian sandstone and limestone of the Carboniferous period. Ordovician and Silurian sandstones and mudstones have been found in some sections.
On a world map you can see that the Cambrian Mountains stretch from north to south for 60 km. They pass through the following regions of Wales:
Most of the Cambrian Mountains are in the barren and sparsely populated wilderness known as the Welsh Heath. Despite this, it is here that the Elan Valley and Llyn Brianne Reservoirs, the main sources of fresh water for Wales and the English cities of Liverpool and Birmingham, are located.
Tourism in the Cambrian Mountains region
Unlike the northern and southern massifs, this region is not popular with climbers and scramblers. Because the Cambrian Mountains face a westerly air current moving in from the Atlantic Ocean, humidity levels here are much higher.
Despite the high rainfall and relatively low altitude, the mountain range offers many interesting activities for tourists. During a tour of the Cambrian Mountains you can:
- see spectacular waterfalls coming down the slopes;
- Explore black basalt walls and limestone outcrops;
- descend into mysterious caves where small rivers disappear;
- walk through steep passes leading to picturesque gorges.
Approximately to the middle of the mountain range are covered with forests of oak, elm, beech, and hornbeam. At the next level you can see the meadows and heaths that are typical of northern Britain. In spring they are covered with fresh lilies, purple jatril and pale yellow daffodils, which are the national emblem of Wales. As summer arrives, the Cambrian mountains are covered with golden buttercups. At this time it’s hard to imagine you’re in the territory of Foggy Albion rather than sunny France. If you go down the western slopes, you’ll find yourself on yellow sandy beaches. A little farther away from the Cambrian Mountains begins the territory of Snowdonia.
How to get to the Cambrian Mountains?
The mountain range is located in central Wales. On a world map you can see that the Cambrian Mountains extend in the southwestern part of Britain 344 km northwest of London. They can be reached by any road transport. The M1, M4 and M40 freeways lead to the massif. Following them, you can reach the natural landmark in 4.5 hours. It takes no more than 2 hours to get from Cardiff to the Cambrian Mountains on the A470.
North Wales, Part III
Snowdonia is a high mountain geological and biosphere national park (i.e. nature reserve) in the Mount Snowdon area . In general, North Wales is a mountainous area, it is the Cambrian Mountains (the Romans called Wales Cambria). Not the Caucasus, of course, but the mountains.
And so we drove to the village of Betws-Ecoyd in Snowdonia. In the spring, when the trees are in bloom, it’s very beautiful!
The village (you could say a small town, but the locals call it a village) is very picturesque.
Right in the center of the village caught the rain – ran to hide in a local mall, which is called Gallery. We bought a lot of eco-friendly and inexpensive woolen things there.
Betuz-Ecoid stands on the familiar Conwy River, where several tributaries flow into it at once. The largest are the Faerie Glen (glen in Welsh) and the Afon Llagwi (afon in Welsh).
And this is where the tributaries and the river itself form five small waterfalls. The smallest one is at the entrance by the road, and this one is right in the center of the village.
Here are children taking pictures of the waterfall and taking pictures in the background. The largest and most famous waterfall – Swallow Falls, it is quite far, we had no time to get there. By the way, the entrance to its territory is paid (!).
We had to visit the old woolen factory. It was founded in the middle of the XVIII century, and after it developed. But then the whole area around Mount Snowdon was declared a nature reserve. So it became impossible not only to build, but also to re-equip the existing production. That is why the factory was turned into a tourist attraction, that is, a landmark . The equipment of XIX-beginning of XX century works! We even saw how the real old waterwheel worked!
And after the wool is reeled in bobbins – from threads are woven fabric on this machine. The craftsman has a shuttle in his hand and he showed how it is slipped between the warp threads.
And here are the products: on the right is a Scottish ornament with squares, and on the left – a Welsh ornament with rhombuses and crosses. The store at the factory is a tourist paradise, or rather, female tourists. Buy whatever you want: yarn, tweed suits, knitted sweaters, and hats, scarves, etc. And everything is still cheaper than in the village!
The next time we went to Snowdonia we went for a different purpose – to visit Mount Snowdon, the second highest mountain in the British Isles after Ben Nevis in Scotland. The weather was fine as we drove out of Hlandudno, on the coast.
According to accurate data, the height of the mountain is 1085 meters, and the name Snowdon means Snow Hill . As we approached the reserve, we just saw that the peaks were covered with snow (it was cold). We were introduced to this as an attraction, and called Snow Mountains. Moreover, the clouds were very low, the attendants were worried that it would not rain with snow. The Welsh name for the mountain is Yr Widdfa Faur, which means Great Burial Ground.
At the foot of the mountain, it rained like a bucket. Good thing it didn’t snow. So we could see the famous Snowdon Lake only from the car window. And we planned the picnic on the shore of the unique glacial lake. There was a picnic place with tables, benches and grills.
We went up by the access road a little bit higher, there is a station of the tourist railroad – an old steam locomotive takes to the top – well, as high as it is possible. There’s also a Mountain Rescue Rangers station. And here we were politely turned around – you can’t. It was raining heavily.
So we drove to the town of Carnarvon, 13 kilometers from Mt Snowdon.
It was raining here too, but not very hard. But the wind was pretty strong and cold.
It’s a small town, about 10,000 people. It stands on the river Seent at its inflow into the Irish Sea.
The word castle in this case is written in Welsh.
Opposite the church is a monument commemorating the proclamation of Welsh autonomy, and on top is a dragon, the symbol of the principality.
On weekends the central square is something like our weekend fair. We wandered around and checked out some farm produce.
Here they also sell traditional Welsh souvenirs – Lovespoons, that is, Love Spoons. It’s a beautiful old tradition where a guy would carve a wooden Love Spoon and give it to his girlfriend. So he proposed to her. After the wedding, the young couple considered this spoon as their family talisman and hung it on the wall in their home. Lovespoons were usually given on the day of St. Dwynwen. Saint Dwynwen is the Welsh patroness of all lovers, who lived in the V century. Nowadays such spoons are also given on Valentine’s Day.
The main attraction of the city is the castle, built in 1283-1285 and was a part of the already mentioned Iron Ring of King Edward I.
The total length of Carnarvon Castle walls – 750 m, height – up to 6 m. The walls contain nine polyhedral towers. As we can see, here too the Norman architectural style.
The castle is famous for the fact that in it the title of the Princes of Wales is given . Legend has it that it was this way: the aforementioned Edward I Longshanks was engaged in hostilities, trying to subjugate Wales after the death of Llewellyn ap Griffith, prince of Wales. At the same time, he was building his Iron Ring, specifically Carnarvon Castle and living there with his family. And so, in 1284, while negotiating an honorary surrender with the Welsh barons, he promised them he would not occupy Wales, but would simply appoint them a prince who was comfortable and loyal to himself. The barons made conditions: such a prince must be a native of Wales, must not speak English or French. They thought that only a Welshman would meet these requirements. But the wily Edward, after promising to do so, demanded a vassal oath. How disappointed the barons were when the king presented them with his son, born a month previously in Carnarvon. Since then, the heirs to the British Crown have held the title Princes of Wales.
The bastion is called Eagle Tower . You can see it if you go around the castle from the north, along Castle Ditch. At the suggestion of British Prime Minister David Lloyd George (Welsh nationality) in 1911 the investiture (official titling) of the Prince of Wales to the future King Edward VIII took place at the castle. The precedent was considered a success and in 1969 Charles, Prince of Wales, was also invested at Caernarvon.
In general, Carnarvon Castle, unlike Conwy, is actively used for a variety of cultural events. There are regular Eisteddfods – festivals of Welsh singers and poets, jousting tournaments, various concerts, exhibitions and displays.
In the inner rooms there are exhibitions devoted to the life and work of the Princes of Wales and the Museum of the Regiment of Welsh Royal Rifles. This is their uniform, with the traditional bear fur hat. True, the modern members of the regiment have synthetic hats.
If you go further down Castle Ditch Street towards the sea you can see the Classical style picture gallery building. On the roof ridge is St. George. After the War of the Scarlet and White Roses, the Tudors (ap Tuddur), of Welsh descent, ascended the English throne at the end of the 15th century. Since then, relations between England and Wales have steadily improved.
After a tour of the castle, we come to the banks of the River Seent, which flows into the Menai Strait. On the opposite bank of the river we can see Carnarvon Golf Club.
This strait separates the small island of Anglesey from the island of Great Britain. Its shore can be seen on the right, despite the drizzling rain. There are two bridges to this island, there is a terminus train station, its name is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – 58 letters! The longest name in the world! Translation from the Welsh of St. Mary’s Church in the Hollow of White Hazel near the stormy maelstrom and St. Tisilio’s Church near the red cave .
And this is the famous Mount Snowdon all in clouds. You can’t see it in the photo, but in reality you could see it was still raining. You could practically not see the top! The view from the bank of the Sevent River, the distance to the mountain is about 13 kilometers.
And so we bid farewell to the town of Hlandudno, casting one last glance at it.
Beautiful Welsh scenery with the obligatory white sheep see us off as we drive to Manchester Airport. The journey to Wales is over.