On December 9th, 2018 we rented a car for our upcoming trip to North Wales. As an American and my first time driving in England, I knew there would be challenges but I was positive that I would become accustomed in no time after hearing rumors that you adapt to the motorways very quickly. I soon found out how wrong those rumors were, at least for me. There are rotaries (roundabouts if you are British) which goes in a circle and you have to figure out which lane you need to be in to exit the roundabout, but figuring out the exit was a challenge within itself.
In America, we don’t have many rotaries but the ones that do exist are simple as you enter counter clockwise compared to British roundabouts that you enter clockwise. It’s difficult (or in England, bloody difficult) enough to keep in mind you’re driving on the left side of road navigating from right side of car. I’ll not go into detail the numerous times as the driver I got in on the wrong side of car or drove in the wrong lane. It did not take me long after leaving the car rental place to realize that my brain receptors were going to be confused for the next thirty days and as sure as the sun will rise in the morning, mad stress had settled in and made itself at home.
Despite the chaos of the motorways, the stunning scenery from rolling hills to the picturesque countryside begs to be explored with its quaint villages, green fields and beautiful rivers and majestic lakes which you will find all across England. You are destined to fall in love and the fresh air melts your driving worries away and as we headed to Northern Wales, the beauty intensified and my heart felt like it belonged there. Our fist stop was in Llandderfel which is only two miles from Bala.
Upon arrival, I noticed the cottages was a detached farmhouse, once a stable over 300 years ago. The setting was a stunning courtyard of traditional stone barns that had been converted to what they call self-catering cottages. I was hungry to know the history of this beautiful place and could not wait to unload the car and get to work to find the knowledge I was seeking. As I grabbed some bags and headed for the door, I stopped to take a photo of the entrance and at that moment, I felt a presence that wasn’t exactly pleasant. At first, I brushed it off thinking that it was just me suddenly feeling tired, but once I entered the cottage and headed upstairs, I knew immediately something didn’t feel right. I know that touch of the uncanny, the “creeps” if you will and my spidey senses certainly heightened as my attention and focus was like a laser on the landing upstairs where everything seemed unwelcoming and you just knew something was wrong in that place.
I’ll save the details for another time, but my entire stay there in those cottages was very uncomfortable and the heaviness was always present. When I researched and learned what occurred there many years ago, I understood why I was feeling the way I did. When evil has been present, it doesn’t necessarily leave it might linger forever and I was not there to construe willful agency about some circumstance. I didn’t now the circumstances nor was I told prior to my arrival there. But I will say this in all honesty, I do believe the evilness was malicious as the individual that was with me endured changes during our stay there and his attitude towards me suddenly dimmed the minute we entered those doors. He was not the same person I knew going in.
Every time we left the cottage, things changed and all normality would return and we both agreed that the cottages was without doubt, haunted or possessed as I believed it to be. We decided to spend our time exploring the beautiful area and we found a quaint little pub just around the corner from where we were staying and it became our nightly place to dine. The home-cooked meals from the varied menu was outstanding and we felt cozy warming ourselves by the open log fire. The friendly and welcoming atmosphere made for a perfect environment.
This Pub is also a secluded Inn with en-suite guest rooms. I don’t know much about the suites or accommodations, but the owners, Martin and Linda Woods were very pleasant folks and their aim was to make each customer feel at home and if I ever return to this particular area, this Pub will be the first place I stop for fish and chips. But there is also a little surprise when visiting the Pub and his name is Screwfix. He is the Pub cat and while mainly staying to himself, he might come around and rub against your leg in hopes of breaking bread with you.
We enjoyed spending time at Llyn Tegid which is Welsh for Bala Lake and is the largest body of water in Wales. The ducks were very friendly and entertaining not to mention the beautiful scenery surrounding us. Peaceful, serene and very cold with threats of snow storms rolling in so we didn’t hang around the lake for very long. We headed back into Bala which is a lovely market town and community located in the Snowdonia National Park. We enjoyed shopping for snacks at the local grocery store and even had lunch in one of their marvelous diners. Have I mentioned how wonderful the food is in Wales?
After our stay at the cottages, we really didn’t have an itinerary and decided on the spur-of-the-moment to go look for castles and we chose Harlech which is a seaside community in Gwynedd. As we drove along those skinny winding roads, just ahead in the distance arose the towers of the medieval Castle of Harlech spectacularly situated on a near vertical cliff face where it is perched overlooking land and the Irish sea that separates Wales from Ireland. I had never seen a castle in person and my excitement was definitely climbing to unprecedented levels.
We drove down the one tiny street that snaked through the sleepy town to find a parking space. It was very impressive and so was my driving, but at the same time, very terrifying. I finally found a spot to park and I have to say, in England it doesn’t matter which side of the road you park just as long as you park. I was caught by surprise upon exiting the car to experience the charm of the small, old town. There was even a fold-up chair in a parking space that left us chuckling. I suppose that’s one way of getting dibs on the parking space. We walked the stone walkways through the town and visited a couple of shops there before migrating to the castle.
It was a tail spin after learning the castle was closed that particular day but we were able to have lunch at the Caffi Castell by the castle and I enjoyed the apple pork stew with buttered bread it’s absolutely difficult to put into words just how delicious it was. After our relaxing time in the Caffi we headed back to the car for our next adventure and along the way, we browsed a few shops before leaving. As I got back into the car and began to drive away, I felt an aire of sadness leaving the breathtaking landscapes and amazing coastlines, but I somehow felt I would return again some day and it is on my to-do-again list.