In Mid may my husband and I took a Friday off work and escaped from the south east for a relaxing weekend in beautiful Wales. We took our bikes and had grand plans for cycling, long walks and much activity. This all changed on arrival. We were staying at Gwalia Farm, a smallholding near Cemmaes, among the hills of Southern Snowdonia, inland from Machynlleth. The Farm has a small campsite as well as a cabin on the lake. We were camping, and were very lucky to find that we were the only ones on site for the weekend we were there.
The site is basic, with spring water on tap, and UV filtered water available to buy from the farmhouse. There is just a composting toilet in a field surrounded by sheep, although it is possible to have a shower in the farmhouse by prior arrangement.
This site would not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for us it was perfect. Fires are allowed, and wood and firelighting kits are for sale. Once we had arrived we knew we wanted to spend most of the weekend there, not rushing around to fit in the activities we had found nearby.
The star attraction of the campsite is the small lake, which you are allowed, nay encouraged, to swim in. In fact, this was why we had chosen to come here. Once the tent was set up on the Friday afternoon, my swimsuit was on and I was stood shivering on the side of the lake. My husband took the plunge before I did and we were soon both enjoying the silky golden water, swimming amongst shoals of tadpoles, with the mountains above us. It was truly magical.
Later that night we built a fire and sat chatting as the light crept slowly out of the day and drizzle crept in, soaking us before we realised we were getting wet, so content and happy were we. We slept deeply, waking very early to the sounds of the dawn chorus echoing around us, only the natural sounds of the breeze in the trees and the birds audible.
That morning I swam again in the morning light. The water felt colder, without the warmth of the sun being on it all day, but still silky against my skin. I swam round and round the island, a slow steady breast stroke, taking in the reflections on the water, the sounds around me, and the different perspective on the world from the level of the water. A cuckoo called across the valley, his call clear above the lapping of the water. I was joined by two curious Canada geese and came out feeling energised, and tingling with life, every nerve ending alive.
After warming up with a coffee, we headed out to explore the Centre for
Alternative Technology. It was really interesting and inspiring to see all the easy changes that we could make to be a little more sustainable. We filled up on a tasty vegetarian meal with piles of salad and vegan chocolate cake from their lovely restaurant before picking up food for a barbeque in Machynlleth and heading back to our campsite retreat.
We spent the afternoon wandering up the hill beyond the campsite, marvelling at the myriad different shades of green in front of us across the valley, from he vibrant acid yellow green of new leaves, to the deep dark forbidding green of a pine plantation, the brown green tones of dried bracken on the hillside and many more shades too numerous to describe. We spied tiny flowers, soaring red kites, imagined the movements of animals across the hillside down the tracks we could see criss-crossing in the bracken and enjoyed the far reaching views.
Back at the campsite we settled down on the jetty next to the lake with a cider and chatted, a long, deep and meaningful conversation, connecting and having time to explore our thoughts and ideas with no place we needed to be, nothing we needed to get on with. As evening arrived, we barbequed, then relaxed next to the fire, this evening dry and clear, with stars shining in the deep black sky overhead. A shooting star streamed overhead, the crowning glory of an amazing weekend.
In the dark we made our way back to the lake, shining a torch into the water to reveal the hidden world beneath the surface. The water teemed with tadpoles, there were an abundance of newts, gliding through the water, great diving beetles, water boatmen, pond skaters skimming over the surface, life abundant. Back at the fire we pondered over all that we had seen, and the beauty of the place. In the morning we slowly packed up, lingering, unwilling to begin the long journey home, but holding the peace and tranquillity of the weekend with us.
We stayed at Gwalia Farm http://gwaliafarm.co.uk/camping-machynlleth/ which is an adult only campsite close to Machynlleth and recommend a visit!