We drove back down the crazy narrow lane and headed north on “A” roads (one step below motorway, meaning they are two full lanes wide, thank goodness) through rolling countryside populated by more sheep than people. (I’m not joking – Fodor’s says there are 2.9 million people in
We continued west to Aberystwyth on the coast (home of the National Library of Wales) and then turned northeast, passing through Machynlleth, its streets lined with handsome Georgian townhouses. By midday we had entered
I talked John into taking a scenic drive over Bwlch y Groes (Pass of the Cross), the highest road in
After our snack amongst the sheep, we continued onwards, the road narrowing to barely a car’s width as we crept up the side of the valley, watching constantly for pull-outs in the event that someone came at us from the other direction. Fortunately we didn’t see any more cars until we got to the pass, where we got out and climbed a nearby rise to survey the landscape. It was overcast and the clouds kept spitting cold rain at us, but we could see the ridgeline of the
We continued on over the pass, rolling treeless grassland stretching out around us. We arrived at a crossroads and admired the view down another steep valley (photo, right), but our route took us in the other direction. On the way down the other side we had to keep our eyes peeled because we encountered several oncoming cars. A couple of times John had to back up quite a ways in order to give the other cars room to pass.
We finally emerged at
I navigated us back to a nice wide A road (who knew we would ever be so grateful to see a dotted white line down the middle of the road) and we headed west to Trawsfynydd and then north for the final push to Betws-y-Coed. We passed the Llechwedd Slate Caverns en route, where you can tour the slate quarry. The scenery in that area was amazing – enormous piles of slate literally poured out of the mountainside like shards of black glass. Unfortunately it was now raining heavily so I couldn’t get any pictures.
We turned off before reaching the popular resort
Tan-y-Foel is known for its fine cuisine, cooked up by co-owner and Master Chef Janet Pitman, so we were really looking forward to a wonderful meal. We were seated all alone in a nook in the modern dining room, looking out on a little walled garden where a tabby cat was snuggled in a box under an umbrella, oblivious to the rain. Our meal was simply fabulous, starting with the homemade bread – white with Welsh cheddar and brown flavored with molasses. For starters, I had chicken livers on toast with mixed greens and raspberry-mustardseed vinaigrette and John had roast salmon with tomato fondant and olive tapenade. We both had the Welsh pork tenderloin with crisp pancetta, potato cake, apple cider sauce and something called “bubble-and-squeak,” which is a crispy sort of cracker made from the pork drippings. Can you imagine a more perfect meal for a dark and stormy night? To go with it we had the recommended Jackie Janedot Moulin-a-Vent