We were being guided blindly through a maze of tiny lane ways with street signs unreadable through our Australian eyes. Mum and I were being escorted by our trusty GPS, fondly known as Alison through county side so beautiful it made you wonder where you had been all your life. Why had it taken so long to end up on a scenic route through Wales, its landscape a mixture of England and Scotland combined?
I drove on into wilderness, seemingly far from civilisation; the road curved, and straightened, an endless pursuit to nowhere it seemed, Alison’s silence an eerie reminder that we might be lost. We felt like Hansel and Gretel in one of The Brothers Grimm Fairytales. We were being hugged from both sides, deep within the clutches of Snowdonia national park as the sun faded into a dusky haze when Alison announced we were at our destination. Darkness was leering, and the trees seemed to be whispering the secrets of the forest. It was much too late to go trekking through the national park, with no idea where we were.
All we could do was journey deeper into bushy hues of green pine and foliage; following the trail of red, gold and copper leaves, until finally an arbour of light appeared, and before me was an artist’s impression from a page in my childhood fairytale book.
I crossed century’s old bridges with stone buildings to match, the babbling brook below brushing rock walls, weaving and curving through the tiny town of Beddgelert.
The Royal Goat Hotel stood proudly, enticing us to stay for a night, Bill and Ben the flowerpot men smiled happily from the garden welcoming us into the past, through our presence. We booked into our lovely room with views over the village, and learned of the sad legend about Gelert ,a beloved dog who was shot by his master because he had unmistakably thought that his pet, had savaged their baby, when in fact Gelert had saved the baby from death by dragging it to safety. The blood was only evidence of the battle between a loyal dog, and a vicious lone wolf. When the father found his baby safe, and realised his mistake, it was too late, and he grieved for the entirety of his life. Gelert’s grave still stands beyond an intricate gate, under the shade of a tree by the steam.
When we ventured out for a walk the following morning, the rain had settled in. We searched for treasures and keepsakes in unusual shops huddled in a corner of town, and soon enough it was time to leave. There was no denying Wales was as pretty as a story book.
As The Royal Goat was fading in the distance, Alison was guiding us, almost luring us toward somewhere more adventurous. We could not hide our eagerness and laughed, sustained by a hearty breakfast, although sad to say goodbye we were back into the rhythm of driving, through a mist of drizzle.
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