To see in the new year we intended to go to the sea simply to walk along the beach and enjoy the fresh sea air. But it was not to be, for 1st January 2014 was a day of storms and strong winds so we delayed for a day.
We woke on the 2nd to a far finer dawn. So we set off out of Shropshire and over the Welsh hills to the coast at the little old seaside town of Barmouth. A favourite place to visit, Barmouth is where we have spent so many days as our children grew up and indeed many on our own after they left home. When with the kids we collected pebbles and shells and built sand castles with occasional trips across the sands to paddle in the sea. These days we still collect pebbles and shells and Jude is still tempted to paddle a little.
The journey involved following just two main “A” roads once we left the Shrewsbury bypass behind, the A458 and the A470. After leaving our home county of Shropshire behind we crossed into Wales and traveled east to west right across the counties of Powys and Gwynedd. Along the way we regularly stopped to take shots of the landscape. It is amazing how varied the landscape can be in such a short journey.
The A458 main road from Shrewsbury to Welshpool cuts through rich lowland dairy cattle farmland before reaching the hills called the Breiddens.
We passed through the market town of Welshpool and followed the road down a valley which the road shared with a narrow guage steam railway, a favourite of tourists. Farms appeared to snuggle into the valley bottoms where water lay in many fields after so much winter rain. High bare rounded mountains began to rear up each side of the valley. The mountains were dotted with clumps of woodland some of natural broadleaf trees while others were of the coniferous commercial forest plantings. The winter time leaves the broadleaf trees bare showing their skeletons. White branches like bones of many trees were broken up by the colourful branches of birches, which looked Â like soft hanging purple mist. In places along ancient hedgerows black skeletons of oak broke up the horizon. The conifer plantations just looked like unfriendly, unnatural solid black blocks, scars on the landscape.
Clouds moved quickly and rain came and went with them lit up on odd special occasions by a rainbow.
As we progressed further into the mountains of mid-Wales the sky turned a deep grey-blue but shafts of sunlight still penetrated to light up green fields and the occasional grey stone farmhouses.
After crossing mid-Wales westward we neared the coast and our journey took us more in a northerly direction for the final section. See “Over the hills to the sea. Part Two” for the next stage of the journey.