Wales Day 2
We awoke to views across the valley of mountains splashed with wispy clouds and shards of bright sunshine, none the worse for our having raced around North Wales the night before. We were soon out on the coast again, this time at Barmouth, where we somehow resisted the temptation to walk over the exposed railway bridge, before heading inland again to the tranquil Tal-Y-Llyn Valley and it’s lake. We stopped for a photo and to take in the cold fresh air and scenery, which, had you seen it in a photo, you would have assumed was a Scottish Loch.
We pressed on for a brief stop at Cemmaes Road, to take a few pics of the Dovey Valley Hotel. This national inventory listed hotel probably doesn’t open during the day but we expected that, and we wouldn’t have got far with our cameras inside if it had been. It is allegedly quite defiantly unspoilt inside, demonstrated by an explicit ban on photography in the description on the inventory, and demonstrated by complaints from the owner that the hotel’ s inclusion on the inventory had blighted his life with unwanted customers (I have paraphrased this slightly).
We ploughed on into the nearby hills to head to a rather unique mountain village – where the village disappeared and the pub survived. The village of Dylife (pronounced D-liffer ) exists almost only through its sign, a few farms and the pub. The village lost the last of its other services in the 1960’s and there is now just the Star Inn.
We arrived a little late about 14.00 and unsure f the opening hors piled hurriedly in to secure drinks and possibly food. At first the site of the turned round pumpclip made my heart sink but the landlord told us about a beer he had on from the newly opened Waen Brewery. Based in Penstrowed, Powys, they use no finings in their beer, and conveniently for an isolated pub out of season, they supply it in 10 and 20 litre beer boxes. The beer had a very malty nutty taste and was quite heavy, possibly due to it being unfined, but was strangely moreish, resulting in my troughing 3 pints of it with my dinner, which for me and Mr P was sandwiches, given our breakfast feast.
We left as the pub closed up gone 3 and headed down into Llanidloes, a surprise stop that WF had slipped in for me, where we parked up behind the main street and walked to Lucy’s, the national inventory listed Crown and Anchor. The town was busy and all the pubs had throngs of outdoor drinkers, giving me the ideal opportunity to nip round the pub’s many rooms and get some good photos of the interior. WF went for a wander to snap the town sites whilst Mr P and me had some Rev James.
We moved on next to follow the main road from Machynlleth to Aberystwyth, stopping at the Druid Inn at Goginan. This is a small grey stone roadside pub with a sign only visible hanging across the road, so took straight on resembles a house. Inside there are a couple of rooms and a real fire, and a small bar with 3 or 4 handpumps, on this occasion selling beers from Wye Valley. I went for a Butty bach whilst the others had the Pale Ale.
Further along the road and heading towards Pembrokeshire we stopped at the Tynllidiart Arms at Capel Bangor, home of Bragdy Gwynant, the words smallest brewery, although this doesn’t seem to be operating at the moment. This 16C pub is also small, especially inside where it was packed out. Mr P and I tried the Ystwyth Ale from the brewery of the same name; there were a couple of other handpulled beers as wall. This beer was an odd, malty, vegetably red concoction, which was neither unpleasant nor enjoyable. Given the steep prices for the other ales, I think this is a pub perhaps best visited once.
We continued along the main road just behind the coast all the way into Pembrokeshire before turning off and heading for the Gwaun Valley and Pontfaen, to visit the fantastic Dyffryn Arms. This is a proper rural farmhouse pub, no frills, no keg fonts, no food, just cask beer on gravity from the barrels in the servery, a few bottles and a 1920’s to 30’s living room with tables and chairs and a picture of a very young looking Queen on the wall – clearly, based on the other decorations, a late addition.
We all plumped for the gravity dispensed Bass, and took time to soak up the scene before pressing on to Fishguard where we were staying. We found the B+B in the lower town and were made to feel very welcome. The owner even ran us up to the Indian in the upper town in his car. After a filling meal we headed to the Fishguard Arms, a tiny pink fronted pub on Main Street. Inside it is about the size of a small terraced house, with pictures, mirrors and photo’ covering most of the walls, a fine fireplace and a shiny wooden slat ceiling. The bar is tiny with no handpumps, but they serve Bass from the jug so we enjoyed it again here.
Walking down to the B=B we stopped in the Ship round the corner – an unassuming frontage with a small sign in a residential street, inside is reminiscent of a wooden ship’s interior, with a few handpumps dispensing Headstones, and a rare Felinfoel stout keg font, which tempted Mr P and WF. Out the back there is a gents trough, but gentleman requiring a sit down visit need to use the ladies – a very fragrant and comfortable sit down for an outside loo.
We arrived back late to sleep off our refreshments and for WF to rest his driving legs before venturing out in a circular tour the next day.