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Is Beddgelert The Place?

Away Date 19-20 April 2023

By Ren Withnell

I need to do some explaining.

I started a new job in February last year. I had my reservations, things haven't been going the way I hoped and last month they came to a head so I handed in my notice. I'm unsure of my next move but one of the advantages of being a tight fisted curmudgeon is I have enough savings to see me through for a while. This does however mean I have some spare time to do a few things I've been meaning to do.

Ren pulling a stupid face
Would you employ this buffoon?

Between the various lockdowns and rule changes of the recent pandemic Sharon and I managed to slip in a night's camping in Llangollen. The site we used (Tower Farm) was not posh or well appointed but satisfactory although it did have a very special feature. It was close to Llangollen, I'd say 10 minutes easy walk. Finding a campsite close to any amenities is rare in the UK.

A very high percentage of UK campsites are "out of town". On the one hand many are located in beautiful surroundings and you wake to the sound of sheep sheeping, cows cowing and tractors tractoring. On the other hand when you've pitched up and settled in if you need a little shopping, fancy a chippy tea, or wish to seek shelter in a friendly bar you find yourself having to get all your bike gear on once more.

Tents and caravans on a site with the sea and mountains in the background
Scenery is great, but you can't eat the grass.

The site in Llangollen was out of town enough to avoid disturbance from the masses, close enough to make the trip to town easy peasy. It was also just over an hour's ride from Sharon's home which means we could pop down there nice and quick if the mood took us rather than having to make big plans for a huge trip. Of course this site no longer takes tents. DAMN!

Since then Sharon and I have been searching. We desire an acceptable campsite that is within about a mile (20 minutes) walk of a small and pretty town or village that offers basic amenities. It also needs to be within 2 (maybe a bit more) hours ride from where we live. Ideally it ought not to be ridiculously expensive, we're not rich you know.

I don't recall how but Sharon put me on to Beddgelert Capsite and it's been on my list of places to try out since. There is a path from the site to Beddgelert which sounds far nicer than walking along the road. Beddgelert is very pretty and while there's not much there - there is a shop, a cafe of some description and a couple of pubs. It's around 2 hours from Sharon's place with some fabulous routes if you fancy a blast, or the A55 if you're not in the mood and just want to get there. Sounds ideal!

I figure now is as good a time as any with a reasonable forecast and no work. I load up the bike and head out into what I consider ideal riding conditions - dry with cool but mild temperatures and hazy sunshine. It feels quite odd being alone, it's been quite some time since I went solo camping. I'm sure I'll be fine. I think. I hope.

Ren's CB500X loaded with all the bags filled with camping gear for a night away
"Cor! That's a big load". It's mostly air.

En route I take in A&D Motorcycles in Denbigh, stopping to chat with several riders and having a brew. I enjoy some exuberant twisting and turning across the moors to Pentrefoelas. I admire the familiar yet delightful scenery of Llyn Gwynant. Regular readers will be sorry to hear I rather enjoy today's ride. 

The bike is in the scene of scant old buildings, trees, hardy grasses and mountains
Wales - convenient and quite lovely.

The campsite is easy to find and I'm soon booked in, pitched up and settled in. Perhaps a bit too settled, it takes some mental effort to get off my ass and get ready to walk into Beddgelert. 

The path requires me to cross the narrow gauge track of The Welsh Highland Railway and I'm walking along a hard gravel, occasionally stony track. I'm surrounded by trees and babbling brooks, ferns and heavy grasses and it is rather pleasant. Yeah, Sharon would really appreciate this, she likes trees.

Aaah natch. The path re-crosses the line and becomes a vague walk across a sheep filled field. This field is marshy and boggy in places, requires jumping across the odd micro-stream and the avoidance of mud filled dips. This is fine - today. This would not be fine if the weather was recently wet, you'd need proper waterproof walking boots and good visibility. It's not that the path is impassable, it's just not "a pleasant stroll into town".  

A hard grassy field with a vague path of slightly shorter grass on the path to Beddgelert
This is the "path". Fine today, maybe not after a deluge.

The path comes out on the main road leaving still another quarter mile to walk on the main road without any footpath. This sees me squeeze into the stone wall or step into the verge. Again it's not bad but it's not "a pleasant stroll into town". 

I purchase a Twix and a can of pop from the little shop in town then spend half an hour enjoying the sun and scenery of Beddgelert. I feel strange. This is nice yet I have that nagging feeling of guilt because I'm not working. Get a grip Ren, life is short. 

The village centre of Beddgelert with traditional welsh buildings and the towering Moel Hebog
Beddgelert is small and pleasant.

I decide to walk back along the main road. Once out of the village the footpath disappears. There is just enough verge to step out of the way of oncoming traffic and all the motorists politely ensure to slow a little and give me space. The return walk only takes 25 minutes and is fine, but again it's just not "a pleasant stroll back from town". 

Before I finish I take a look around the site. There's a shop on site with basic supplies but they're "artisan" teabags and "traditional" crisps. I'm sure they're all quite lovely and would appeal to a Hipster from that there London, for me I'm baulking at the prices but in a pinch the shop would be most useful. There's also, well they call it the Bakery but it's a posh burger and pizza shop. Oddly the prices here are above average but not excessive, within tolerance given the convenience.

I don't sleep much, if at all, I seldom do the first night I go camping. I decamp and load up, saying goodbye to the young couple from Kent who were my only camping companions last night. I head out in search of a good route home but after a little fruitless meandering I find I'm on the A55. Stuff it, I'm going home.

Steep hillsides, a Llyn, grasses and trees with clear blue skies near Beddgelert
I did manage to capture this wonderful scenery on my meanderings.

I'm sure you've already guessed my thoughts on Beddgelert Camping as our "regular" camping spot. The campsite is not perfect but it's fine, it's just not quite as convenient I had hoped it would be. I plan to visit Dent in The Yorkshire Dales next. It was mentioned on here by a few folks during "BATFest-Gate". There's 2 sites both right next to the village, I'm just curious what the village has to offer.

I had an interview the other day. My brother asked how it went, I think it went OK but you never know. 
"Well, what's the worst that could happen, they turn you down?" he said.
"No, the worst that could happen is they offer me a job!"

Advertise here - ren@bikesandtravels.com

Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
Look on the bright side Ed, at least you'll have time to go the barbers and buy a sponge to wash ya bikes.
Accommodation for biking is tricky, probably more so if you're not camping. There are plenty of great B and B's but many with no decent parking or accessibility to evening food. The biking accommodation sites are very hit and miss and when you find the perfect place it's booked solid.
Just part of the joy of motorcycling I spose. Although it snowed yesterday so I won't worry about it for a while yet.
Now get a job you idle git and get ya hairs cut. Someone's got to pay for my pension increase.
25/04/2023 11:06:43 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
You describe perfectly one of the reasons why we love France. Most small towns and even villages have municipal campsites which are a short stroll away from the boulangeries, cafés and small shops. See Bogger's tale of his adventures in Brittany and the campsite they stayed at - which we're intending to visit this summer. Last year we stayed at a municipal at Montoire sur le Loir. The site was an easy 10 minute walk along a lovely river, the town very attractive with 2 markets each week as well as a fascinating music museum. All for about €12 a night.

The only trouble with these municipals is that they can be so comfortable it's a struggle to drag yourself away.....
25/04/2023 11:36:25 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Oh, and regarding Upt's comments - again I never had a single problem finding hotel / B&B acommodation in France. One place in the Pyrenees even insisted on bringing my bike into the kitchen overnight. In another, the bike was ensconced in the ground floor of a castle. I may have a photo somewhere.....
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25/04/2023 12:46:56 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
My room was in this tower. Can't remember where it was now.
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25/04/2023 12:48:18 UTC
nab301 said :-
Ren , good to hear you're enjoying yourself ..... again, can't help on the campsite locations but the couple of times I went camping in recent decades the ex army friend I travelled with whipped up some great meals on a trangia with supplies purchased on the way to the campsite i.e forward planning!.
25/04/2023 14:48:24 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I used to believe Ian Soady was retired but I'm beginning to suspect he's in the employ of The French Tourist Board.

nab301 - I almost always have with me a tin or two of something simple like sausage and beans or lentil soup. I often pack some rice and/or pasta. I certainly have milk, sugar, and tea otherwise life would be intolerable. I have my trusty stove. It is common practice to include a shop while en-route to restock and purchase the evening meal. All this being said even when on a trip it is nice of an evening to saunter into some kind of civilisation to look at the houses or to sit outside (or inside if the weather is poor) and enjoy a glass of pop.

The problem with France Ian Soady is it's just a tad out of reach for an impromptu weekend away. I concur that many places in France have conveniently placed affordable campsites. They vary in quality somewhat, from acceptable to rather splendid. Being close to town is NOT without potential trouble though. When we were in Charleville-Mézières I was awoken at some ungodly hour as the local youth had chosen the campsite as the place to hang out... and fight. See the link.
25/04/2023 15:53:22 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Ian, I was really referring to good old blighty.
On the subject of French B and B's they're not all in villages/towns and the remote ones do tend to do evening meals, but not all. I would say at the low to mid range of B and B's over there the quality and reception you receive varies greatly. From wow to crap, and anywhere in between.
Yes I've been offered the use of garages in France by polite and considerate owners but this is not unique to France, I would say that the Italian small hotel and B and B's are some of the best we've used but like I say it's always hit and miss to a certain extent.
In one small German hotel near the French border the owner insisted she took her spanking new Mercedes E class out of the garage so I could put the ancient grubby Pan away for the night.
You meet some good folk on the road.
25/04/2023 16:45:57 UTC
Bogger said :-
Ref Dent ED. Do not go to the Posh bigger site. The crappy smaller site IMO is much better.........and Cheaper.

In Dent you have two pubs and one very small 'corner' shop and about twenty house.

For a couple of nights its fine. Very peaceful.

An alternative for you to contemplate is the Duke William pub at Matlock. It's a pub with its own tiny campsite at the back. It has a couple of toilets and a shower and the pub does food. Matlock is a ten minute stroll down the hill.

Plenty to see and do in Matlock for a long weekend.

25/04/2023 18:55:57 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
I agree Upt' but it is easy to find places in small towns. I often looked for a Logis de France which is an association rather than a chain, and generally came with a good restaurant.

On one trip on the mighty Tiger I found a lovely little auberge down a back road just north of the Gorges du Tarn. A very comfortable room, splendid dinner with unlimited wine and very convivial company and a great breakfast all for less than €60. This was about 10 years ago however.
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26/04/2023 12:23:58 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Bogger - I went to Dent today. The "posh" site (I presume you mean High Laning) is an odd setup and I couldn't get a straight answer out of the chap running the museum/cafe/campsite reception. But well £12 per night for ONE person on a motorcycle with tent seems fine... but £12 each for 2 people on 2 bikes in one tent makes £24 which seems steep, even by modern standards.

The "cheap" site I only rode by (I presume you mean Conder Farm) and it appears to be on a steep slope and just a farm. I didn't find a reception or anything else - so I think I'm missing something. How does it work, what's the field like, is there a reception or do you just try the farmhouse etc etc.

Yeah Dent is tiny but the single track road from Devil's Bridge heading north east to Gawthrop is achingly beautiful.
26/04/2023 20:29:05 UTC
Bogger said :-
Conder Farm is the one. Just turn up earlyish get a spot on the flat bit at the bottom. The old farmer bloke will turn up sooner or later. He'll have a natter with you then wander back to the farmhouse. He's dead chilled out.

As you look at the camping field from the road, camp near to the wall on the right hand side, not by the road. Less, as in no one will be walking past to get to the village.

The 'site' looks crapish and it is. But somehow it's also really really good??

It's good, because the Farmer doesn't give a monkeys.

Give it a try.

27/04/2023 08:17:32 UTC

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