The Vaguely Alternative List of Things to Do in Llanberis, Wales

Having grown up nearby on the Isle of Anglesey, Llanberis is my absolute favourite place in the world. When I have mates from Liverpool visiting, I always bring them to here.

Situated at the foot of Mount Snowdon, Llanberis boasts the highest point in Wales (obvs). At any given time the summit is chokkers with tourists, where they’ll admire this cracking view:

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…unless it’s foggy and wet, in which case they’ll have wasted four hours.

You can catch a heritage steam train up for a hefty £37, and I’m not being funny, but it’s a bit of a cop-out unless you’re old or disabled. However there’s no guarantees you’ll nab a seat even if you’re old, as this elderly man found out when the train was too full of fat people.

Another little titbit: in 2011 a man was jailed for driving his 4×4 up the mountain in gale force winds not once, but twice.

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This Tweet from back in August gave me a right chuckle as well, after a helicopter burst into flames on the summit:

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Anyway, back to it.

I feel for all these tourists, because there’s so much more to Llanberis than a big rock. So, to make life easier for those of you visiting Wales, I’ve compiled a selection of my favourite and vaguely alternative things to do in Llanberis.

My boyfriend had never been to Llanberis, so our recent visit began at legendary greasy spoon Pete’s Eats.

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Pete’s is always packed full of travellers, all of whom look like they deserve a 2000 calorie breakfast. We, on the other hand, did not.

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With our bellies full, it was time to do some exercise. Maybe.

Go on – show me an English high street with better views.

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But first, we popped in to The Snowdon Honey Farm & Winery. It’s run by a lovely old Welsh couple who let us sample various alcoholic concoctions, fuelling us for our mission to the waterfall.

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Having visited Llanberis countless times, I decided this was the day I would finally find the waterfall. I failed, again – even by following the ‘waterfall’ signs – and ended up walking along the train track instead (not advisable).

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Down at the lake i.e. Llyn Padarn, you can hire a row boat for about 6 quid, or take the Llanberis Lake Railway around it. You can even get in the water for a kayaking lesson, among other water sports.

If you want to experience a mountain without having to actually climb one, you can take a bus deep inside the Electric Mountain, which my mum assures me is brilliant and cracking value at £8.50 per adult.

There are plenty of things to do for free in Llanberis, too, my favourite being feeding the ducks.

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I’m smiling but I’m actually quite scared.

Walking to the other side of the lake you’ll pass my favourite spot, Dolbadarn Castle. I camped and got steaming drunk here last summer, and it’s the best place to watch the sunset from.

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Once you’ve hit the other side of the lake, there’s a cluster of attractions to keep you occupied. The National Slate Museum is actually better than it sounds, whilst the Quarry Hospital Museum is also interesting, housing some of the original equipment from the 1800s (I like to play dead in the mortuary).

Another of my favourite spots is the Vivian Dive Centre, best visited at sunset when you have the entire hidden lake to yourself. The water is so blue it looks like a tropical lagoon. It’s worth noting that although anyone is free to enter, this lake is bloody deep so don’t be doing anything stupid like jumping in (although cliff diving is popular).

Right next to the dive centre is this spot:

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Climb right to the top of the tracks and you’ll find spectacular views from the Dinorwic Quarray and buildings and machinery from bygone days.

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Look closely and running alongside the road, next to the reservoir, you’ll spot a dragon cave.

Though not to everyone’s taste, I’ve saved my favourite ’til last. Located up in another quarry on the outskirts of Llanberis, near the Siemens factory, is an abandoned WW2 bomb store. It took us three attempts to find the place, which involves crawling through fences and various downright dangerous misdemeanours. It’s one of my most beloved spots.

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There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, including the interior, made possible be whoever keeps forcing the door open with an angle grinder (cheers). It isn’t for the faint-hearted: take torches, because you won’t see a hand in front of your face otherwise.

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Image by Nick Catford

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Of course, this adventure technically involves trespassing. However, local kids and urban explorers have been visiting for years. If you’d rather let someone else do the dirty work, you’ll find plenty of reports and photos here.

I would recommend staying a couple of days in Llanberis, maybe at the hostel above Pete’s Eats or The Heights bunkhouse, which is a great spot to chill with a beer after a long day.

The main thing I would say is to explore. Ignore all the advice I’ve just given you and do your own thing. Follow your nose, and you’ll find the lush picnicking spots Trip Advisor won’t tell you about.

What are your favourite things to do in Llanberis? Have I missed anything out? And most importantly, have you found the secret lake? Let me know in the comment section!

Urban exploration in Lancashire

Today was a little less remarkable compared to other explores, but interesting nonetheless. First up was a garden centre near Phill’s house, abandoned in 2013:

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According to the Warrington Guardian, the 66 year old bipolar co-owner attacked his business partner during a psychotic episode, choking him before attempting to topple a statue on top of him – before abducting the manageress. Because of his age the courts decided not to whack him in prison. DRAMA.

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The place appeared to have been abandoned around Christmas time, with broken decorations scattered about.

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The manager’s house was on-site, but we didn’t get many photos in the darkness; here’s a record of someone else’s visit. Phill showed me a photo from a previous visit which quite clearly shows a human silhouette and proper gave me the heebie jeebies.

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According to Phill, the place had deteriorated a lot since that previous visit; copper piping  ripped out, no  fish left in the pond. I found this video of it in a previous life.

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Next we found a bar-hotel which had only been abandoned a year or two. We had a good explore around the exterior, but climbing up the fire escape we seemed to trigger a motion sensor and had to scarper.

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Next, Phill wanted to check out this cottage along his daily commute he’d been keeping an eye on it for several months. We didn’t attempt to get inside. Isn’t it pretty even in this condition?

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Another location he’d previously visited was Daresbury Hall, a former Georgian country house in the home village of Lewis Carroll. During the second world war it was used as a military hospital, and then by a charity (now known as Scope) as a residential home for the handicapped.

It had recently been ruined in a fire (STOP BURNING STUFF, FUCKWITS), so here are photos from his previous visit:

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We didn’t spend much time at the hospital, which had two security guards’ offices attached. We didn’t even see security guards, never mind have to outrun them!

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Inside the hospital were the remains of a £750,000 cannabis farm, complete with police tape and evidence bags.

On the hospital grounds, a huge home had been semi-built on the sly by the dealers. According to Phill, the previous security guard had been in on the farm and alerted the family to a raid, who were able to slip out and never identified.

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It was too dark in there to bother taking many pictures, but believe us that no expense had been spared. Sauna… Dressing room… Marble… Elevated beds to make the most of countryside views…

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Here are pics Phill took on a previous visit:

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Hopping over fences on our way back to the car, we unexpectedly came across a series of miniature train tracks:

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I would love to hear about your adventures in the comment section. In the meantime, you can follow our adventures on Phill’s Instagram.

Green Man festival: a review

Last weekend me and my pal Jonny went to Green Man festival in the Brecon Beacons, the ticket for which I’d bought purely to see Warpaint (again).

We didn’t leave Liverpool until around 8pm on Thursday, when I was already drunk as a skunk. I puked twice on the way down and it tasted exactly like the BBQ Pringles I’d just eaten. And we almost killed fox.

Anyway.

Despite kipping in the car and pitching on the Friday morning, we still ended up 20 seconds from the festival site. We were woken from our power naps by the unfortunately named Deep Throat Choir.

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The first thing we noticed was the kids. Kids, everywhere. Oh God, we thought. The clientele appeared to be made up of old hippies, young hippies, and hippies with kids.

A medium sized festival, it is known for being one of the cleanest and most peaceful in the UK. The festival places a large emphasis on recycling, so every attendee paid £1 for a plastic cup with their first drink purchase and carried it around for the weekend.

Wandering about the grounds, I found the Fairylove stall I’ve raved about in a previous post. By day two I’d caved and bought this amazing rainbow bra. You’ll never wear it again, you say? Already have around Liverpool 🙂

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Because they cost £30 – £5 less than I’d originally thought – I figured I could afford to finish the look off with some £60 wings. Here’s Jonny modelling them, along with his new wizard hat and pants which I glimpsed a silhouette of his bollocks through:

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There were lots of lamas. I’m not sure why.

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The festival grounds provided plenty of nooks and crannies to get up to no good, and we found this LED cube whilst exploring.

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Toilets are always a festival talking point, but these were the best I’ve ever experienced. Not sure if that’s down to cleaners or half the festival being made up of mums. We salute you!

It also rained a lot, but what would a Welsh festival be without rain? Pointless, that’s what.

The biggest crowd of the weekend seemed to be for Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. I wasn’t familiar with them, apart from that song off the advert, but I had so much fun. Such a great live band!

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Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon were on in the Walled Garden, comprising of unusual covers and mash ups. Charlotte Church! Sequins!! Operatic Happy Together!!! So much fun and not even in an ironic way.

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The act I was most looking for was Meilyr Jones, member of Welsh band Race Horses (formerly Radio Luxembourg).

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My Maths teacher gave our whole class Radio Lux singles when I was 13 because his son was a member, and it’s still under my bed many years later. I caught both of Meilyr’s sets, one of which was the worst kept secret and Green Man and went on until 3am.

Not only is Meilyr a pleasure to listen to, he’s a wonderful entertainer. He’s bashful and smiley and makes polo necks work. He first addresses the audience in Welsh instead of pandering the the non-19%. Here’s a clip of him on the Mountain Stage. Wela’i chi yn Lerpwl mis Hydref!

Considering I literally came to Green Man to see Warpaint, I was disappointed. Although they were phenomenal live, as always, their performances are wearing thin. If I just wanted phenomenal music I would listen to it on Spotify. But the point of live music, for me, is the performance. I never thought I was bothered about audience interaction, but Warpaint bummed me out to the point that I became quite bored. Not one smile, too much pouting. Bah!

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Green Man hosts the Chai Wallahs, the largest independent music venue touring the UK festival circuit. Giving insight into the UK’s alternative and underground music scene, we spent a good deal of time here. It’s a place you can dance like a lunatic or perch on the floor and rest your muddy feet.

On the last night we observed a group of teens, all of whom looked no older than 16 but more likely 14. One girl had scribbled ‘look into my eyes’ on her t-shirt, cutting out eye holes where  to expose boobage. We were disturbed.

Anyway. Highlights included Will Varley, who had a lot to say for himself. My favourite lyric was ‘If you know where you are when you wake up, something’s wrong,’

Rews, meanwhile, were are an alternative all-girl rock band from Dublin. Great to see girls rocking AND smiling!

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The last act of the weekend were Belle & Sebastian. I was reluctant to watch because they’ve never done it for me, but Jonny was adamant that they’re an amazing live band. And what a show it was. Great visuals, great performers, great stage presence. I didn’t stop dancing.

Fans were invited onstage, to the point a stage manager appeared and scolded the band. Cue mutters of “Hillsborough” from the audience.

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The end of the night was marked by the ritual burning of the Green Man, which everybody had tagged with wishes during weekend (Jonny wished it could be Christmas every day. I wished for ‘peace, love and lemons,’ obv). I was bursting with a wee and nobody joined us for the national anthem – mainly because we only knew the first couple of lines – but it was a magical moment. Top fireworks, too.

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