It was great to be heading back to the Royal Victoria Hotel in Llanberis in May, particularly as this trip is one of those which has been cancelled a time or two due to the Covid-19 pandemic! In fact, this was the last hotel we stayed at before the very first lockdown was announced, on a week where things were a bit strange and uncertain, so it was nice to be returning there for a stay now that things have returned to something a bit more like normality.

The Royal Victoria Hotel is situated in a beautiful location with stunning views across the Snowdon mountain range, Llyn Padarn and Dolbadarn Castle, which lies in the grounds of the hotel. It’s one of our favourites and this time we had an excellent itinerary planned, with some new and different excursions which we were looking forward to.

THE BEST LAID PLANS...

On Tuesday, we began the day travelling towards the isle of Anglesey and Beaumaris for our Puffin Island boat trip. But – the best laid plans and all that – 15 minutes into our journey the boat company called to say that it was too windy for the boats to sail that day.

We always like a little impromptu itinerary juggling (!) so we soon had a ‘Plan B’ sorted. Instead of our boat trip, we headed to Anglesey Woollen Mill for a quick coffee stop, and then into Caernarfon for some free time, where some of our passengers enjoyed visiting the Castle and wandering along the river. We rounded off the day with our planned trip on the Llanberis Lake Railway and were lucky to enjoy some stunning views of the mountains, and the opportunity to disembark the train for a quick photo stop at the far end of the lake. We were quite intrigued trying to spot the ‘Lady of Snowdon’ on the distant hills too!

BODNANT GARDENS & PUFFIN ISLAND

Wednesday’s excursion began with a trip to Bodnant Gardens. These are a bit of a hidden treasure, and a beautiful National Trust garden to explore. Parts of the garden are very steep as you head down to the river, but there is a large area on the relative flat for people to explore without needing to go into the river valley. Highlights included the stunning laburnham walk which was just beginning to bloom on our visit, some fascinating architecture and lovely wooded paths.

We were keeping our fingers crossed, but the good news was that the weather was ok for sailing, so after leaving Bodnant Gardens we headed back to Anglesey for a little free time in the pretty village of Beaumaris before joining our boat for the trip out to Puffin Island. The time of year was perfect as we saw puffins, terns, auk, cormorants and seals, plus many more seabirds!

SNOWDON MOUNTAIN RAILWAY

Thursday was the highlight of our trip, with a journey on the Snowdon Mountain Railway! This year, the train journey terminates at Clogwyn Station (3/4 of the way up the mountain) as required maintenance hasn’t been carried out due to staff being furloughed during the pandemic, which was a little disappointing not to reach the summit. However, we had stunning views and a brilliant commentary as we climbed the mountain, with about 30 minutes at Clogwyn station to get out and take photos (and YES, it was COLD!).

For our final treat of the week, we left the hotel on Friday morning and headed up over Llanberis Pass for a scenic drive through the mountains on our homeward journey, again with perfect weather and passing some interesting landmarks on the way!

All in all a great week and we can’t wait until our next visit!

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