Excerpts from 1,200 word article


For perhaps half an hour I dallied, as the dog obeyed verbal and hand commands to sit, stand, bring back a stray and finally move the entire flock of sheep from one end of the field to the other. A mile or so later, I pulled over again, this time to let an ewe locate her lamb, crying fretfully behind a hedge on the other side of the road. When they were reunited, I moved on but didn't really get far. First there were mountain climbers rehearsing for high adventure in the Swiss Alps, and then pictorial scenes nobody with a camera on hand could possibly pass by. At one point I waited to wave off a steam train that fumed and fussed mightily for all of ten minutes before starting its lakeside run. By then it was past noon, and Sunday lunch at a Welsh inn is not an occasion to hurry. Herein lies the problem of motoring in Snowdonia. With so many reasons to dawdle, you sometimes cover no more than a squiggle on the map during a morning's drive. Even less on a sunny Sunday in May.

This northwest corner of Wales is wonderful meandering country: mountainous, tranquil, picturesque, steeped in history and a culture typically Welsh. In 1951, 840 square miles were set aside as Snowdonia National Park, but long before that it was a well-loved destination for outdoors and nature enthusiasts. We see them everywhere, weathered, healthy looking men and women, faces bright with anticipation of a good day in the fresh mountain air. The park landscape itself is rugged, sometimes stark and mostly pleasant farmland, its scrubby hillsides etched with bracken to give it a bruised apple look. People are outnumbered by sheep with their backsides daubed with coloured dye to distinguish them from neighbouring flocks. We pass stone cottages with lopsided doors trimmed with roses, and country inns bent with old age but as modern and shiny inside as a new looney, lakes flecked with colourful sails of surfboards, and fishermen knee deep in rushing water ready to wrestle a feisty salmon. Then without warning, we are into the grey, grey world of slate, where houses and sidewalks and tombstones in the graveyards are made of the stuff, and its waste is piled high around us........

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact the Snowdonia Tourism Information Centre, Royal Oak Stables, Betws-y-Coed, Gynedd LL24 OAH, North Wales.