When I mentioned to people that we were going glamping in North Wales in November, I got skeptical looks. Lucy and I enjoyed our bell tent camping experience in the Brecon Beacons (Mini Break in Wales) so much and I was yearning for another adventure. We aren’t silly though – November is too cold for a tent! Instead, we opted for a camping pod with a wood burner. We booked this holiday before Dad died (Some Words on Grief ) and it was fitting that I marked one month since his passing on an adventure, contemplating life while staring out at the stormy Irish Sea.
The place we stayed is called Bach Wen and it’s on the Llŷn Peninsula not far from Caernarfon . The site is on the remains of a working farm that served the St Beuno Monastery from the 7th century. There were several reasons why we picked this particular campsite. Firstly, we had actually booked a Shepherd’s Hut mini break closer to home through airbnb. However, the sneaky extra fees made the total price not worthwhile so we looked for something more affordable. Secondly, availability for glamping sites was limited for the dates we wanted to go, which meant that we ended up looking further afield. Lastly, at Bach Wen, there are only two camping pods and they are set apart from each other. This seclusion worked well for us because Wilbur tends to bark if he hears people nearby.
As there were no campers, we had the showers, toilets, and washing up station to ourselves. The only people around were the joint owners of the cottages/campsite who had come up for the weekend to celebrate the end of the season. Although it was camping, we certainly did not go without creature comforts! If you can believe it, the water was hotter, the heat warmer, and the phone signal was stronger than at home! The pod had a double bed, electric lights, a wood burner, and an electric stove.
Journey to North Wales
Getting to North Wales was a bit of a trek from Oxford. Google Maps said it would take 4 ½ hours and it ended up taking around 6 due to heavy traffic near Birmingham. Although sitting on the motorway outside Birmingham was tedious, our journey through Wales was magical. At the last minute, we decided to avoid a toll road via Chester and drove through Snowdonia National Park on the A5, which is an historic coaching route to Holyhead. While I loved the campsite, driving through Snowdonia in the golden hour before sunset was the highlight of the trip for me. I felt an instant connection to the mountains because it felt a bit like British Columbia, but with fewer trees. I also very much enjoyed driving through the Dee Valley.
Sustainability and Glamping
In general, camping and glamping are a more environmentally friendly option than conventional holidays (e.g. resorts or package holidays). There is no mass consumerism and no flight. You also get to reconnect with nature, and an appreciation of the importance of conservation and preservation of wild areas and historic sites.
Some of the ways our trip was environmentally conscious:
- Bought eco fire starters from a local hardware shop
- Plant based fast food choice on the drive up
- Meal prepping and bringing home leftovers
- Bringing water in a large container
- Supported local economy
- Brought home waste and recyclables
- Used a hybrid car
- Electric was supplemented by solar panels
- Lighting was LED and on timers
We arrived at the campground after dark, but the host was there to greet us and took us over to the pod. I appreciated that they had carts to help move our bags across the field. It took a while to get the fire started in the log burner, but once it was going we were toasty warm the whole evening (I was actually a bit too hot!). Wilbur loved the fire and sprawled out on the bed most of the evening. We ate pre-prepared chicken stew, drank red wine, and finished off the evening with a hot chocolate.
Saturday morning was our first opportunity to scout out our surroundings given that it was dark when we’d arrived. Saturday ended up being a very stormy day with 40 mile per hour winds, but that didn’t deter us! After breakfast, we went for a drive to Pwllheli to try and buy some Welsh cakes and fire starters. This small town was fairly quiet, and I was surprised to hear so many people speaking Welsh. Of course Welsh is an official language in Wales, and students learn it in school, but from what I can gather, English is more commonly spoken (more on spoken Welsh). We eventually found a hardware shop for a lighter and fire starters, but had no luck sourcing fresh Welsh Cakes. Rather than admitting defeat, we drove back in the other direction to Caernarfon . I’m so glad we did because we saw Caernarfon castle and I got Welsh Cakes and Bara Brith (tea loaf with raisins) from a local bakery.
I should mention that the whole time we were out and about it was raining and windy. Wilbur was such a little champ, with his sodden raincoat and belly! After out adventures, we stayed in the pod for the rest of the day and evening, and watched the storm roll in. Wilbur was happy to snooze in front of the fire, and Lucy and I read in bed. The only downside to the storm is that Wilbur refused to go to the bathroom outside in the evening and ended up having a small accident on my new sleeping bag.
Departure day arrived with clearer skies and we took our time packing up while enjoying a delicious breakfast of French Toast. We decided to go back home the way we came, mainly to enjoy the views through Snowdonia again, with a pit-stop in Betws-y-Coed. Betws-y-Coed is a small touristy village with an outdoors shop on every corner. It’s a bit like Whistler village but less skiing and more trekking.
The Glamping Itch
It was only a little break, but both Lucy and I agree that North Wales was well worth the journey. I would definitely love to go back to Snowdonia and do a bit of hiking, though maybe not up Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa)! Now that we’ve caught the camping/glamping itch, I can’t help but seek out new places to stay. We’re off to stay in a “wigloo” between the Lake District and the Pennines in spring.