The picnic box had to be opened in the car, as the drizzle turned to proper rain, clouds gathering lower and darker. It did not augur well for the vague plans we had. Then there was a ray of sunshine; for Terry Nutkins was on R4X telling of his days with Gavin Maxwell, of Sandaig, and Glenelg, and otters. And he had John Lister-Kaye along for a blether too. So a magical half hour was spent, with pork pies and chicken thighs, and with Nutkins. The second and final episode is on tomorrow, and I’ll be tuning in, for the fire and the cancer and more.
That brief half hour lightened the gloom, and even a dismal walk along the prom prom prom, in the damp, on the sodden boardwalk, looking at little, didn’t dampen the spirit. We were in Llandudno, a quite magnificent sea-front, in days gone by. Our sights had been set higher, and the tram took us up the Great Orme. At 679ft it rises about 10% less than the mighty Grasshopper Towers, but is substantially more spectacular, and even windier. It blows up there at over 11m/s, non stop, taking your breath away, whisking it, gasping.
But it was a sublime afternoon, the clouds lifting as the tram rose, and the skies that greeted us as we reached the summit were clear, and blue, the grey clouds disappearing up the Mersey. As we changed at the Halfway Station a peregrine rose from a donkey paddock, following the wind, low and hard. Summit Station brought the fulmars, motionless against the gale. One twitch of a wing and they turned, swooping like spitfires on a raid. Later a pair of goldfinches flew as one, from branch to wire, singing together.
Butterflies, all around, leaving the buddleia far below, drawn perhaps by the heather, purple patches across the heath. And snails, little ones, poking their lugs out, tasting the air.
With those skies having cleared we were treated to some magnificent views, from Anglesey to the Mersey and beyond, and deep into the hills. But I was drawn to one of the closer sights, far below. I’d meant to tell of Conwy Castle, and the old city walls. Now seems a good time. I’m a big fan of old city walls, having walked a few, in Tuscany, and Istria, York even. There are snatches of ancient rampart through many of Europe’s classic cities, but none have walls like Conwy. And they take you to the castle, and to towers, walls as thick as houses, and tales to be told.
The other thing I’d meant to do was to brighten these notes with a few snapshots. You’ll have to bide your time though, as I try to reintroduce camera to tablet – they haven’t been on speaking terms for a year or so. It’s a skill I need to re-learn.
But the Great Orme, enjoyed by all – can we go back to the Orme – the call is already out. It was The Sleepy Sparrow who told me it was much more than a giant lump of rock (and instead of links in the text you’ll need to head over to the sidebar, where she awaits your visit); and as the tram came to a rest at the foot of the hill my flabber was well and truly gasted to find, just before the station, none other than Ty Newydd Cottage, which is meaningful only to said sparra and a few select others. It was a trip I was meant to make, and one hugely enjoyed.