The plan is to stay a night in Portree (Skye) on Fri. Dec. 27th, then drive the remaining 15 miles or so to Uig the next day and get the ferry from there to Tarbert in the afternoon. The ferry is quite pricey so we'll want to leave some cars in Uig - but not all of them, as we'll need transport to explore Harris & Lewis. The bunkhouse is very close to the Tarbert ferry terminus, about 200m I think. Note that the accommodation in both Portree and Tarbert includes bedding in the price, so sleeping bags shouldn't be needed unless you plan to camp! On the morning of Sat. 4th January (or Fri. 3rd if that's the preference) we leave Tarbert and drive back down to the southern Highlands (somewhere around Loch Lomond) or to Glasgow, for a final stopover. Any preferences/recommendations for places to stay in either of these areas? In Glasgow, that I know of, there's either the Youth Hostel (do we still have YHA membership?) or an independent hostel called Bunkum Backpackers
Friday 21st -Sunday 23rd March 2003
Celebrate springtime in southern Snowdonia at Islawrdref, that well known location near Penmaenpool on the Afon Mawddach estuary. This is regarded as one of Europe's finest estuaries especially at low tide when colourful sandbanks are revealed to a backcloth of mountains. Immediately to the south rises a long
mountain ridge culminating in the summit of Cadair Idris at 893 m. Superb views are achieved from almost anywhere along here towards the sea and the high mountains of northern Snowdonia. Crossing the toll bridge across the estuary at Penmaenpool gives easy access to various peaks of the Rhinogs. Opportunities for lower level walks, including the short, but popular Precipice Walks, will appeal to those people slowly resurfacing from winter hibernation.
We are staying at Caban Cader Idris, a converted rural primary school, which SUHC stayed at several years ago. The sleeping accommodation consists of two rooms (10 and 6 beds respectively) with 3 extra beds in the lounge. Camping is possible for 3 tents on the lawn outside. The first 16 deposits will secure beds in the rooms, unless someone asks specifically for a lounge bed. The Caban offers the usual bunk barn facilities and, according to the info leaflet, 'an independent massage service is provided next door'! The Caban is located at Grid Ref SH 682169. It is best approached along the A493 to Tywyn from its junction with the A470 Dolgellau Bypass just west of the town. Follow the A493 for less than two miles south of the estuary past The George III. One mile beyond the pub turn left (south) up a minor road signposted for King's Youth Hostel. There is a steep hairpin bend at the start and then after 200 yards or so the Caban on the left. If you cross a bridge and see the Youth Hostel then you have gone wrong... Send £5 deposit to Gustav to bag a bed or else.
We have all been there before so no explanation necessary.
This small village will be turned soon into a mecca for train spotters as the
Welsh Highland Railway continues to reinstate Britain's longest narrow gauge
railway on its coast to coast route from Caernarfon to Portmadoc through the
western part of Snowdonia. Anoraks will be jostling with bobble hats for the
remaining parking places in the village as the car park reverts back to its
former function as Rhyd Ddu Station.
'Ruff Duff', as some of us have been known to call it in the past, is centrally located for excellent walking on some of Snowdonia's quietest, but not inferior mountains. Indeed, one of the best routes up Snowdon itself starts from here. On the opposite side of the valley a steep pull up Y Garn gains access to the rather fine Nantlle Ridge. Further south above a tide mark of forestry are the rockier summits of Moel Lefn and Moel Hebog. To escape the crowds completely then Mynydd Mawr is the place to be. Low level alternatives exploring rivers and lakes are possibilities with the honey pots of Beddgelert, Caernarfon and Portmadoc just a short drive away.
We shall be staying at the Cwellyn Arms Bunkhouse. This is a recently refurbished stone barn owned by the Cwellyn Arms in Rhyd Ddu just a few hundred yards away. The accommodation consists of the usual bunk barn amenities. We have booked 18 places comprising of one room with 12 bunk beds and a room in the loft 'decked with good quality mattresses for 6 people'. There is an additional loft room of 4 mattresses which we can also have if our numbers exceed expectation. This has been provisionally reserved for any family with kids. However, if two families are interested then we can put all the little buggers in the same room, lock the door and raffle the key! Costs will work out at £10 per person per night for bunk beds with a SHOT subsidy (yet to be agreed) of £1 for those on mattresses. Kids have been allowed in at half price by the owners. A deposit of £5 sent to Gustav will definitely secure a bunked and/or mattress.
There is an additional small bunkhouse next door called Bwthyn Bach (could be a former coal shed or something) which sleeps 3 and has similar prices to that of the bunkhouse. There are also some self catering properties in the village owned by the Cwellyn Arms, and some not particularly cheap Bed and Breakfast rooms in the pub itself. If anyone is interested in these can they please get in touch directly with the Cwellyn Arms to check availability and not Gustav. Rhyd Ddu is easily accessible 10 miles south east of Caernarfon on the A4085 and 4 miles north of Beddgelert on the same road. Access the Cwellyn Arms web site on www.snowdoninn.co.uk for further information and photos including a fine array of hand pumps. Or contact them by phone on 01766 890321
We are staying at the Agon Alexanderplatz, in the old east Berlin, close to the centre. Berlin the capital of Germany following its reunification following the end of the cold war and demise of communism through most of eastern Europe. It originally became the seat of government in 1871 with the expansion of the German empire. The famous parliament the Reichstag opened. But it is the periods before and after that produced the Berlin of today. The Baroque period produced the oldest part of Berlin, the university and the Brandenburg gate. The war era saw the massive industrial expansion of Berlin and eventually its destruction and separation with the division of Germany and the construction of the Berlin wall. We have just a few days to discover all this history as well as sample the cuisine and culture of Berlin.
Rail timetable from Inverness to Plockton, with connections to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
This year's New Year trip is to Plockton, which is located on the west coast near Kyle of Lochalsh. We will be staying in Plockton Station Bunkhouse, which is unsurprisingly located near the Plockton train station, which is on the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh line.
The bunkhouse is booked from the 27th December to the 3rd January, and the cost is £9/night assuming all the beds (20) are filled.
Plockton is near Kyle of Lochalsh, which makes it ideally located to get to a number of mountains, such as the Cuillins and Torridon, and others in between.
Plockton ("Britain's Prettiest Village") was founded in the early 1800's as a planned fishery town, is now a thriving village with a number of shops, hotels, restaurants and, of course, pubs. You may have seen it on the TV or the silver screen, as it it where "Hamish MacBeth" and part of "The Wicker Man" were filmed.
Plockton and the surrounding area have a number of activities available
(of course not all of these can be guaranteed to be open at New Year so
advance checking would be advisable):
- Swimming (at Kyle of Lochalsh)
- Sea Trips
- Wildlife watching inc. a rare breeds farm
As far as evening entertainment is concerned, the Plockton Inn and the Plockton Hotel (AA 2002 seafood restaurant of the year) look favourable.
If you want to go, please let me know and send me a £10 deposit.
If you have an internet connection, Plocktonn's web site has a vast amount of info about the village and surrounding area.
highlands Tourist Board: http://www.host.co.uk/welcome2.asp.location-hospor.pagetype-content.category-guide.htm
Skye & lochalsh Marine Tourism Association: http://www.slmta.co.uk/pages/home.html
Plockton Inn: http://www.plocktoninn.f9.co.uk
Plockton Hotel: http://www.plocktonhotel.co.uk
Spring 03 Newsletter
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