Chiltern Welsh Society – Trip to Aberystwyth 18-22 June, 2018
An early start for the Society – 8 a.m. saw the Gerrards Cross Group welcomed by Mike- our driver from Mid Wales Coaches. Once all on board with pickups from Little Chalfont and Amersham the 20 + souls motored West. The first stop was Ludlow. What a brilliant medieval town. Everywhere the architecture was impressive. Our visits to various lunchtime hostelries confirmed that most of the interiors of the buildings were somewhat ‘higgledy piggledy’ ……. a reflection of the 15th century.
By late afternoon we arrived at Aberystwyth- greeted by dismal weather and high winds. The group was joined by a further 6 free spirited members of the Society – so we were 26 having the opening Dinner at Medina- the nearest thing to an Istanbul Restaurant that most of us had seen. This was the first taste of friendly staff and very good cuisine; such events and venues were repeated on all subsequent evenings at other establishments.
In the morning our first port of call was the National Library of Wales. We were treated like royalty with an outstanding guide and an endearing helper ensuring stairs were negotiated and lifts made available. The National Library is far more than ‘it says on the tin’ ; it is a wonderful archive of Welsh history, culture and indeed a repository of all things Welsh. We all had an injection of joy and pride from the visit. The 200 staff should be very proud of how they are looking after the legacy in their custodianship. We had the privilege to see the Kyffin Williams Art Exhibition. Though the paintings were somewhat melancholy (see illustration) – the mood and atmosphere of the North Wales mountains is brilliantly captured.
The afternoon visit to The Cliff Railway and the Camera Obscura was abandoned as the railway was not working and the ONE repair engineer was indisposed- so plan B was introduced; a visit to Cae Hir, – a Welsh Garden with Dutch history. A 6-acre garden – the dream of Dutchman Wil Akkermans – now an elderly Welsh speaking gentleman. An afternoon for all of us to remember- some visitors even managed a scone (A WHOLE ONE ) tea ! We returned to Aberystwyth and enjoyed a walk around the Castle in glorious afternoon sunshine.
Wednesday morning soon arrived and we embarked on our boat trip from New Quay- to look out for dolphins and seals. To say the trip was rough would be an understatement- the sounds of all sea birds were drowned by the screams from the amateur mariners. I do not recall if we saw any dolphins! We returned to terra firma and progressed to Llanerchaeron House; a John Nash villa – the Regency architect responsible for the Royal Pavilion at Brighton and Buckingham Palace. The walled garden and picturesque lake were a delight – on yet another cold dank Summer’s day. On the way home Aberaeron shared its excellent afternoon teas – with the select few.
Next day the steam train to Devil’s Bridge- with a carriage totally assigned to the Chiltern Welsh. The scenic panorama is breathtaking – Wales at its best! Anyone in doubt about the beauty of Mid Wales should book a trip on the Rheidol Steam train. At Devil’s Bridge there is a choice of walk, – one of 210 steps the other nearer 680 steps. Hafod House, nearby offered refreshments – if you had enough time to wait, and wait …………We then visited Strata Florida Abbey, translated from Latin – simply ” Vale of Flowers”. Strata Florida, built around 1164, quickly became not only a site of huge religious significance, but also a natural home for Welsh culture. You only need to admire the majesty of the huge carved West door to appreciate how impressive the building must once have been.
It is worth recording that Aberystwyth is a GEM awaiting to be found and enjoyed. See one further photo – Aberystwyth Sea Front. The entrepreneurial cocktail bars, St Paul’s Methodist Chapel – now an elegant bar, plus the BBQ restaurant, Pyscoty – boutique eatery, Ultracomida – outstanding Tapas Bar, – were all a delight and contributed to a most social ending to every evening. We will return.
The journey home was a fitting end to the Mid Wales visit, – a comfort stop in the delightful Builth Wells and then experiencing the beauty of Chepstow – the Castle – built on cliffs above the River Wye and an appropriate reminder of the Castle grandeur of the Principality.
Well done Jonathan for again organising such a rewarding trip.
More pictures of the trip are shown here