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  • Debi Holland

Beddgelert


It is a rarity to jump in a vehicle, drive a few hours and feel like you have been transported to another time but it has happened to me frequently these passed couple of years as I have explored Wales. Peace, quiet and staggeringly beautiful scenery.

Returning to Beddgelert after about 20 years I was presented with a tranquil green oasis and a plethora of wild, diverse plants.

I feel the need to immortlise the much loved Cae Du campsite at Beddgelert which I believe has recently closed down. What a terrible loss to the area as it was the only campsite in the area where you could go carless and walk to Beddgelert which was an important asset for a small village. Let's hope there are plans for it to reopen in the future.

We spent an extraordinary four days there last May. It served as our base camp for a big scramble up the ‘knife-edged’ arête Crib Goch, Crib-y-Ddysgl and onward to Snowdon - an adventure to tell on another occasion.

What a perfect paradise it was to unwind in. The only way I can describe the spectacular scenery was 'the land time forgot.' You feel you have stepped into another era, quite literally Jurassic!

A large lake reflects the romantic rise and fall of the Welsh mountains, bathed in green the surrounding foliage has an air of prehistoric about it as Gunnera manicata plunges out of the waterside.

There are not many campsites where you can rock up by a river bed and have a clear view across to the Snowdonia mountain range. Breathtaking. Simply breathtaking. Such a large spacious site allowed peace and escapism from the relentless rat race of life and in fact we only had to share the river with the local cows who took a fancy to a dip!

The countryside walk to Beddgelert is lined with moss covered dry stone walls, trees, wildflowers and grazing animals. Take a deep lungful of pure air and inhale nature as you go!

Beddgelert holds much of its popularity to a legend which has tourists flocking to the tiny village. The legend of Beddgelert is a tragic one. Take time to walk passed the church to the grave of Prince Llywelyn's hound Gelert.

Legend has it that Gelert was mistakenly slain in haste, as the prince wrongly thought his faithful dog had murdered his baby boy only to discover too late the loyal hound had actually saved the baby from the jaws of a hungry wolf, in a fight to the death! Devastated the prince honoured him with a grave and was said to never smile again... It is like a scene from a Shakespearean play.

The village also hosts another claim to fame as it was home to Rupert Bear illustrator and storyteller Alfred Bestall MBE who used Beddgelert and the Snowdonia landscape as inspiration for his work which featured in the Daily Express and the much loved annuals. Bestall also illustrated books for Enid Blyton. A truly remarkably man who ended up being part of most children's childhood growing up in that era.

Beddgelert hosts whimsical picturesque cottages within a mountainous backdrop, walls adorned with wisteria and roses.

The streets are a wash with flowers, ladened with unusual planters in full bloom. Golden petals line shops; great to see Welsh poppies in Wales. Many communal spaces boast relevant, historical planters which reference mining and farming; all are maintained by the local community.

I am fascinated by seeing where plants grow naturally. Where ever I go I cannot help but photograph the plants that spring up along the hedgerows, taking refuge crammed into cracks in walls, in meadows and woods. It has become a bit of an obsession! We can all learn a lot by observing where nature decides to grow and this can be tremendously beneficial to take back to our own gardens. Use this intel to plant our gardens more thoughtfully.

It does not matter how inconsequential some wild plants may seem, I am passionate about observing what grows where in different environments and altitudes. From grasses and ferns to wildflowers such as red campion, bluebells, stitchwort, navelwort, cow parsley and welsh poppies, everything has found a place to thrive.

Next time you go for a walk see how many wildflowers you can find. You will be amazed at the diversity of life hiding in plain view.

Camping is a great way to reconnect with nature, slow things down and remember what is important in life. Get away from electronic screens and keep it simple; play in a river, make a picnic - eating outdoors just seems so much more exciting than eating indoors, read and play some old school games like cards or Jacks.... it's harder than it looks!

Beddgelert and the Snowdonia National park is without a doubt a special place. A respite of calm away from hectic daily life. As life seems to get faster and faster paced I feel it is becoming more and more important to take these opportunities when you can, as a family, to get out in the great outdoors and re-establish the important things in life. Strip away all the constraints of modern living and get back to basics - water, shelter, food and light. Nature can provide it all.

The best TV in the world!

The sun sets on a perfect warm May evening, accentuating the welsh mountains. A calm close to a beautiful day, using every last second of light to enjoy nature at its best. Although we are sad to see Cae Du campsite shut its fields I am so grateful that we were able to experience it, we will certainly never forget our precious times there surrounded by mountains, water, wildlife and plants, camping out under the stars.

All photos taken by Debi Holland © 2019