Following on from the previous post, this was the first place that the coach driver took my Mother and her friend to on their mini coach tour of North Wales from Llandudno. To put this post into perspective, the occupants of the coach were allowed a small amount of time here to see a few shops and enjoy the delights of a tea shop visit while my task was a little more rushed as my retrospective camera data showed that I took 40 photographs between 10:56 and 12:26. Unfortunately not enough time to photograph 3 key viewpoints on the perimeter of the village.
Ex Lead mining Betws-y-Coed is the principal village within the Snowdonia National park and is located in the Conwy valley of North Wales at the junction of the valley and River Llugwy. It takes it's name from rather misleadingly from the classic village image above of "Chapel or Prayer House in the wood", however this refers to a 6th century monastery, later replaced by a small 14th century church called St Michael's. Due to political struggles of the time, the great bridge builder Thomas Telford helped not only improve the links to Holyhead and beyond to Ireland at the head of the Conwy valley, but also on this more direct route by building the cast iron Waterloo Bridge over The River Conwy to the south of the village in 1815. Despite improving this link he had no idea that Betws-y-Coed would eventually become a destination in itself 30 years later when the first Victorian explorers, landscape artists and anglers who came to enjoy the beauty of the scenery and the contents of the river !!
|Ancient Coaching Inn on the A5 road ( London - Holyhead - Ireland) ... Where's all the cars now ? ;-)|
The Stable block that used to service horses on tour from London to Holyhead and beyond now caters for visiting tourists as an adjacent and separate hotel.
As this was such a big operation, there were additional stable facilities across the road and down a short tree lined drive. This block has been redeveloped as a visitor centre incorporating a tourist information centre, a display room and a craft / art shop unit.
|Fusion or clash of Outdoor and tourist shops|
According to the coach driver, Swallow Falls have started charging for the privilege of the visit and consequently, the coach tours no longer stop there but instead a detour is made over the ancient miners bridge in the village to observe it's little sister Pont-y-Pair Falls.
These Falls on the edge of the village are close enough to the provide the visitor with a small substitute for those on a budget of time and for the main event further upstream !!
Accommodation with a view ... looking the other way downstream from Pont-y-Pair in the direction of the village.
There has always been controversy with the pronunciation of the name due to the incorrect lazy English way of Betsee Co-ed, there is always some doubt on whether it should be Bettus ee coed or Betoose ee coed. My idea rested on one of these for years until I was told that I was incorrect. My trip to Llandudno last October last year involved meeting a Welsh person from Anglesey and one from South Wales and after much discussion, it was agreed that the pronunciation depended on whether one was from South Wales, North Wales or ... Anglo Saxon !!!
The railway played a great part in the development of Betws-y-Coed with it's arrival in 1868. Like many of the rural Welsh railway lines, it's initial use was to transport slate from the mountains down to the sea. For cost saving exercises, many of these railways were built to narrow gauge standards but the terminus further down the line at Blaenau Ffestiniog that resembles something of an alien and lunar landscape to the first time visitor was unsuitable for this purpose. Such was the extent of the slate operation here that narrow gauge plans were abandoned in favour of a conventional size railway. The torturous route of excavation from Betws-y-Coed to Blaenau Ffestiniog meant that the railway line took another 11 years to complete.
|My first arrival through this arch back in 1986 ! ... or 5 minutes of my 90 waiting for a people free zone !|
The station at Betws-y-Coed in 1868 provided a link for tourism by connecting with local buses to onward scenic journey via The Swallow Falls to the picturesque Snowdonian destination of Capel Curig.
|Tea anyone ? ! ... over the bridge to the Railway Museum and cafe|
Back in the day, the railway station was a busy thoroughfare with many platforms but as they were gradually removed the empty space was later occupied by The Conwy Valley Railway Museum in the early 1970's to retain some of the heritage albeit in some unauthentic forms including a selection of vintage cars.
|Pretending to be like it's big brother !!|
Imagine if plans were successful to run a narrow gauge railway back in 1868 ... it would take all day to get to the North Wales coast !!
|Tourism over expansion ... closure of the original doorway.|
During the 20th century, tourism took off in a big way with Anna Davies who has been trading and expanding her operation since 1956.
|Coach tour goodies !!|
The area around the railway station has developed as a bizarre mixture of tourism, shopping and sculpture.
|Sharing the love in Wales !!|
|Weird Fish, weird sculpture !|
If tourist shopping is not quite your your thing, imagine my surprise when I saw this big and impressive fellow !! After much research, the existence of this cast iron statue made by Garden Art of Dolgarrog remains much of a mystery to me other than being an object of humour, discussion and distraction from the shops ... and another 5 minutes waiting for a people free scene !!
The Cockerel and it's size may be difficult to comprehend but maybe more surprising is this nearby sculpture. Although it struck me that apart from The Conwy Railway Museum and the village green, there are not a lot of things for entertaining children. Kazie the Gorilla may redress this balance as it seeks to raise money for several animal organisations such as Ape Action Africa and The Orangutan Foundation. These projects are supported heavily by the adjacent Alpine coffee shop who are passionate about animals .... even to the extent of their "sausages for dogs" loyalty card !!!
|"Do I need to look at this marquee all day ... Can I not escape into the nearby "Coed" (woods) !!|
The tour continued over Robert Stephenson's Britannia bridge with views of material from my previous posts Menai-bridge 2011/06 (Thomas Telford) and the torture of a Woollen mill that pretends to be Welsh but has it's roots in a more Northern part of the UK at llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll 2011/06 ...
|Watch the cones ... Coach friendly destination ?? !|