Wednesday, 30 October 2019

A Welsh Week - 18th - 25th October 2019

Friday 18th October - Friday 25th October 2019
Furnace, near Machynlleth, Powys

Our autumn week in Wales is becoming a rather good habit.  Chris has family around Machynlleth, so it is a chance to catch up with them whilst we enjoy some 'holiday' time.

We stayed at almost the same place that we were in last two years, but at their slightly smaller property which is perfect for just the two of us and a dog.  It is ideally placed for family visits and close to Monty's favourite beach at Ynyslas.

We were slightly earlier this year and benefited from warmer and drier weather - we definitely chose the right week to go.

So what did we get up to apart from catching up with 15 family members aged from 2 months to 86!

As they say - first secure your base, so the cottage.  The owners are really friendly and welcoming and apart from the loo seat upstairs (very flimsy and if you lifted one seat, both moved - not ideal in the middle of the night!) it is very well fitted out and equipped.

I could get used to the view.

Downstairs is open plan kitchen, diner and sitting room, but it has most things you need for a week's holiday.  There is a good shower room downstairs with a utility area with a washing  machine and microwave plus a myriad of bins for recycling.  The bedroom upstairs has a small en suite loo and sink - an essential for us these days I am afraid.  A bonus is a selection of tempting goodies on arrival.

There were three (possibly four - I lost track!) visits to Ynyslas, so Monty was a happy lad.  It is a wonderful beach that is so huge that despite the number of cars it still felt empty.

Does Monty go for a paddle - no chance!  Water is bad enough, but stuff that moves is a real 'no no'!

 This was the closest he got

 One afternoon the tide was so far out it almost felt as if you could walk across to Aberdovey

Back to the cottage and there is a reasonable walk just along the road,

As the woodland opens up the views are wonderful

 At the end of the lane is the entrance to this - a Michelin Starred Restaurant.  The meals are very expensive and places have to be booked a long time in advance, such is the demand.  It is presumably so well known that no more information is required at the entrance!  A little further up the road is the RSPB reserve at Ynsyhir - not somewhere we can take Monty.

Back near the start of the lane in the car park are some information boards relating to how Furnace got its name - the mill opposite the lane was used to make pig iron.

One board in the car park starts you on a trail to find the pigs across the road at the mill!  I am sure it is designed to keep children amused, but I am never one to pass up a challenge!

So over the road we went to Furnace Mill to follow the trail!

which we did until at number 7 we found...

the pigs!  The reason they were called pigs was because the shapes the molten metal was poured into looked like piglets when they are feeding from their mother,

Apart from satisfying my curiousity it allowed us to explore the site.  You cannot actually get inside the mill, but it is definitely worth stopping to look round.

The first time I went round I was on my own, but had to go back as the board in this picture was

 inaccessible wearing trainers!

What an elegant bench to sit and admire the view

 Looking down to the bench from near

the source of the water

 View from the top looking the other way - our cottage is tucked in below the red arrow

 There is a working model to show how the bellows worked

The wheel is still in remarkably good condition

It is the sort of place that I am sure most people drive past without stopping.  This is the third year we have stayed in Furnace and the first time we have explored the mill - it was definitely worth it.

We paid our first visit for very many years to Aberystwyth and we will go back.  I had forgotten how nice it is.  Coloured houses seem to be a feature around this part of Wales.

 What did surprise us was how hard it was to find a parking space even though it was definitely out of season.  We ended up in a pay and display car park by the marina/harbour. 

It was towards the end of the day and we did not fancy paying the minimum fee of £2.40 when we were only planning on a fairly brief stay, so Monty and I headed off to read the information boards

and then to explore the remains of the castle whilst Chris kept his eye open for the traffic warden!

At first I thought these were two churches

however I am fairly sure that this was (or maybe still is?) part of the University

Looking out to sea past the WW2 Memorial

Our small explore was worth it for the views alone

We then walked along the promenade to the pier where Chris picked us up.  The view from the pier towards the cliff railway prompted us to drive along for a closer look.

We visited the Camera Obscura many many years ago - somewhere to go back to we feel.

Another day we drove to Aberaeron - another town with many delightfully painted houses
Taken from the car, so not the best picture!
 There is no sandy beach, but there is a good walk along behind the beach which we all enjoyed

Next stop that day was the National Trust property at Llanerchaeron.  It started life as a small farmhouse, but in the 1790's John Nash was employed as the architect to transform it into the elegant house it is today. 

It is not particularly visually stunning from the outside, but don't let that put you off going in - it is well worth a visit.

Nash had a great need for symmetry, so some rooms have false doors just to balance things out from the inside.  The door in the far corner goes nowhere!  When the NT took over the property some of the ceilings were in a dire state with a lot of damp.  I think they have made a really good job of restoring them.

 Another Nash feature are the ceiling frescoes - he loved them and every room is different

There are a couple of rooms upstairs that have a curved arch in each corner

and curved doors

On the upstairs landing is this - beautifully restored by the NT

This picture is not that remarkable until .....

you read the information about the artist

His and

hers bedrooms

There is a lot more to see including a very large kitchen, scullery and many outbuildings and for the children - well instead of pigs we were looking for mice!

What we did not see was the working farm - there is only so much you can do in a day, so we will go back again next time we are in the area.  If you are interested in the history have a look HERE.

After lunch (we can recommend the Welsh Rarebit) we took Monty for a walk across the bridge by the shop and cafe and into the woods

Still not going in for a paddle!

He did, however, find a squirrel!

On the way back to the cottage that day we drove to Ynyslas (for another beach run) by the coast road from Abersystwyth via Borth - the view is worth the narrow steep road.

The market town is Machynlleth and I suspect the part we visit most is never seen by most visitors.  At the back of the main car park is the rugby club - walk through to get behind it and you will not be disappointed.  It is a reasonable dog walk particularly in bad weather as it is tarmac walking for the humans with pretty good views as an added bonus. 

What I find most fascinating, however, is what started as a few pots of herbs a few years ago designed for people to help themselves, has flourished into mini allotments.

I don't know who nurtures all the plants, but they are certainly thriving.

When we were here last year the children's playground was being refurbished - they have made a good job of it.

Just on the off chance that any of you do decide to visit Mach and don't want to pay to park in the main car park, there is free car parking off the roundabout as you leave Mach on the main road heading towards Aberystwyth.

That pretty much sums up our week in Mid Wales.  As you will have seen from a lot of the photos we did have some bright, sunny, blue sky days.  There was some rain, of course - well it would not be the green and pleasant land it is without it now would it?