Jane B (knally) wrote,
Jane B

Ty Uchaf

I spent last week in Snowdonia, near Betws-y-coed in North Wales, staying at this remote cottage. It's actually only 2 miles from the town, but you have to drive up through a Forestry Commission area to get to a parking area. Then you take a flagstoned path into the trees, through a kissing gate, using a stepping stone to cross a stream, pick your way through the boggy patch in the meadow, up a hill, along a path, up another hill, pause, and then the final ascent! Once I got the hang of it, it only took me 10 minutes, but I'm really glad I arrived in the summer and during daylight. As usual in Landmark Trust properties there's a logbook, and some of the stories of people trying to find the place in the dark or when raining are hilarious - after the event :-)

Ty Uchaf Exterior

The cottage was built in 1685 and would have been for a fairly prosperous family home at the time - yeoman farmers, rather than peasants. It's built into the hill to provide shelter from the elements, but I wonder if that might have made the back prone to damp. The weather for the week forecast a lot of rain, but there were dry spells and even some good sunshine, particularly in the morning. I was still glad for my waterproof boots in the surrounding countryside.
Ty Uchaf
The cottage is all one level, although it retains part of its original croggloft which is a loft over the bedroom reached by a ladder. There's one main living space, with a kitchen area. The bedroom, and bathroom and a lobby area where you can leave your (wet!) walking boots. Landmark properties use the same soft furnishings, bedcovers and crockery, but they all have slight variations to fit in with the house. I liked how the paper liners in the cupboard here had been given a serrated edge.
Because it faces east it was often possible in the morning to sit at the table having breakfast, looking out at the meadow and wood. There's actually a rock feature right in front of the cottage, which partially blocks the view but interesting in its own right.

It was quite a snug cottage, but got a little chillier at night time since it didn't get the evening sun. But that gave an excuse to light the Clearview stove (all wood and coal ported up from the car). The logbook for the first five years had innumerable comments and advice on getting the fire lit, so it was a relief to find out the stove was a new arrival. It was easy to light and get going, and gave out a good amount of heat. Plus, I always enjoy playing with fires in Landmarks :-)
Most evenings I sat and read - quite often the logbook which I've mentioned before. It was one of the most entertaining and event-filled ones I've seen. Apart from the trials of fire and portage, there were marriage proposals, honeymoons, almost a baby delivery, and all sorts of adventures in the surrounding countryside.
Ty Uchaf Fireplace

There are two nearby cottages on the way; Ty Capel the old chapel, and Ty Coch which is about 150 yards away, but I think Ty Uchaf is actually the best positioned - if you don't mind the walk! There are a couple of meadows in front of the cottage and nearby woods with the most amazing moss and lichen growth. It's very difficult to find any path since fallen trees block a lot of the routes, but you can find ruins amongst the trees which shows this was quite a populous area at one time. There are some walks which you can follow and one leads up to a reservoir Llyn Elsi which has good views of the surrounding hills.

South Stack

My one day out was to Anglesey which is one of those places I've always seen on the maps and wondered what it was like. The drive there was great, starting off with some wonderful views, and then going across the Britannia Bridge onto a dual carriageway - which is actually a treat after all the twisty A roads in North Wales :-) I went up to Holyhead and visited the South Stack Lighthouse - 400 steps down to lighthouse on island, 113 steps up to light, 113 down and 400 back up cliff ... whew!

THE single most wonderful thing here were the choughs. They have about a dozen breeding pairs and I was able to watch a pair for some time. They are the most exuberant and acrobatic flyers I can remember seeing. I spoke to the gentlemen manning Ellin's Tower, which is an RSPB visitor centre, and as he said, they really seem to enjoy flying.

Because it was cloudy I didn't try to go up Snowdon, but just a few minutes away on a hill opposite the cottage, you get a great view of Moel Siabod (on the left) beyond which is Snowdon. I believe the hills on the right are the Carneddau.
It was wonderful place to stay, and one of the Landmarks I'd really like to go back to - perhaps in the spring or autumn.

Since I was in Wales, I went to visit a retired colleague who lives near Rhyader in a house with a lovely, huge garden. I think she probably had to retire to look after the garden!
Because of all the nearby trees and shrubs she has an amazing number of visitors to her bird table. Apart from the usual robins and finches, there were siskins, nuthatches, lesser spotted woodpeckers and jays. Overhead in the afternoon we also saw some red kites.

Since it was good weather she took me on a drive around the dams of the Elan Valley which was very nostalgic since I went on a coach trip there with my Aunty Fizz-wizz when I was about eleven or twelve. All but one of the dams had water flowing over the top wall, with the Claerwen dam being particularly impressive.

More pictures of the holiday can be found in this Photobucket album including one of Claerwen.
Tags: landmark trust, travel

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