Today we decide to start the holiday with a gentle walk – a couple of miles along the river to visit a waterfall just outside Glynneath, which is some twenty miles away from our hotel. We start off well: finding the required B road, making our way through a chicane barely inches wider then the car; crossing the weak bridge and driving through the village of Llangynidr at the other side.
Then we come to a junction. The map shows a left turn, followed by first right – if you ignore the tiny white road, so small on the map that it’s possible to miss altogether – which I do! I also fail to notice the Dead End sign and blithely ignore the fact that we appear to be heading in the opposite direction to where we want to go! As the road turns to a lane, then a narrow lane, then what would be a goat track in Greece, the temperature in the car drops a few degrees. But we get over it; we find somewhere to turn around – eventually – and take a picturesque drive through back roads we would otherwise have missed!
Then it starts raining! Not the sort of gentle drizzle that can be quite refreshing during a summer’s walk, but big heavy raindrops that thunder on to the car and obscure the views of the surrounding mountains. We abandon the idea of a walk and head instead for the National Showcaves at Dan yr Ogof. This complex has deservedly been awarded Top Attraction in Wales. We visit the main cave complex, the magnificent Cathedral cave, the tiny, but history-packed Bone cave. Michael baulks at the poor science displayed in the commentary – ‘water does NOT dissolve limestone,’ he mutters – and I find the continual loudspeaker explanations intrusive and would have preferred the headphone system used in other tourist locations – but these are minor quibbles and we thoroughly enjoy our prehistoric morning.
We can’t resist taking pictures of the dinosaurs dotted around the park – not the one or two that we’d expected, but dozens, life-sized and artistically located in the undergrowth. Okay, so they are artificial; there’s a complete mix of geography and era – but it’s still an impressive display.
By now the rain has stopped, so we resume our journey to Glynneath and the Waterfall Centre. I narrowly avoid demotion to Navigator, 5th Class, when I realise we are just a couple of miles from our destination and the long detour down side roads that I am planning is unnecessary – although my assertion that the place we’re heading for ‘is on the wrong road’ is greeted with derision. We both miss the sign for the start of the walk – although the driver insists it’s not his job to spot signs – but we manage to turn around within a mile or so – so no real problem.
The walk takes us through muddy woods, past rushing rapids and still pools and, for once, we are adequately clothed and shod – unlike the elderly lady in white leather pumps who commends us on our walking shoes. We try not to look too smug. Sgwd yr Eira waterfall, when we finally reach it, is both majestic and peaceful.
Our meal this evening is in the Felin Fach Griffin, a twelve mile drive from our hotel. We find the place quite easily – and as we sail past the turning and search for yet another place to turn around, we both admit this one is no-one’s fault – expect the person who located the sign for the Plough and Harrow right outside the Griffin. The meal is superb in this friendly pub with rooms. We promise to recommend them to others – and we do!
Tomorrow: Day 3, we do our Julie Andrews impressions
Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.
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