Delighted with the results of my early morning sleuthing I returned to the caravan where my pal was ready for the planned trip to nearby Aberystwyth.
The journey took only half an hour or so and I drove first to the car park of the Vale of Rheidol Light Railway and my plan was to take the one hour steam train ride up the mountain to Devil’s Bridge at the top. At the station booking office however all enthusiasm was washed away as though by a tsunami when we horrified to discover that the return fare was just short of £20. I can travel a thousand miles on Ryanair for £20. I would rather swim with sharks, wrestle alligators or jump out of a plane without a parachute than pay £20 to go on a steam train ride.
I had been on this train ride before so it wasn’t a really big issue for me so we left the railway station and drove towards the harbour where we parked the car and strolled along a concrete jetty which gave fine views of the elegant town and lush countryside beyond.
It was rather cloudy and there was a keen wind so we didn’t stay long and instead drove into the town and the Promenade and Constitution Hill where there was some late morning parking difficulties to overcome.
I am not very keen on paying for car parking either so we drove around for a while in a futile attempt to find a free parking space but eventually had to concede defeat and pull into a pay and display Council car park and begrudgingly pay the £2 charge.
We were now at the lower station terminus of the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway, which at one hundred and twenty years old is the longest funicular railway in England and Wales. Not Scotland however because they built an even longer one in 2001.
A return trip on the Cliff Railway was a lot cheaper than the Vale of Rheidol Light Railway so we didn’t grumble when we paid the modest charge, took the best spot in the carriage to give us views over Aberystwyth and then waited for the ascent to begin and within just a few minutes we were at the top and enjoying the panorama set out below us.
Aberystwyth is a fine looking town from above. The town is situated near the confluence of the rivers Ystwyth and Rheidol and is built into the folds and undulations of the hills and valleys that surround it and the really good thing is that the Promenade and sea front cannot really be extended and spoiled because the geographical limitations north and south prevent any further development.
I visited Aberystwyth with my parents in 1966 and I recall that I didn’t like it very much (don’t ask me why, I don’t remember), I applied for a University place here in 1972 and they turned me down and I resented that and in 2011 I drove through and was caught on a sneaky Powys Police speed camera and I raged about that but I liked it today as I looked out over the attractive town nestled gently into the topography of the natural landscape just as a protective mother might hold a child in her arms.
Half an hour or so at the top of the funicular was long enough so before we blew up with excitement we took the train back to the seafront, picked up the car and drove to the Promenade for a fish and chip lunch. Actually, after a large breakfast I wasn’t especially hungry so I strolled for a while along the seafront back towards the harbour and past the ruins of the castle and the original University buildings, now fallen into shameful disrepair.
We were done with Aberystwyth so we drove back to the caravan park at Borth and prepared for a home cooked meal of chicken stuffed with goat’s cheese wrapped in Parma ham (a speciality of mine) and an evening of important football on the television because tonight Wales were playing Russia in the European Championships.
We made different predictions and gripped in a wrestling hold of extreme pessimism my companion was certain that they would lose but I was a lot more confident of success and after Wales had won the match 3-0 I went for a final walk to the beach while he calmed himself down and rediscovered his composure.
There was a bit of a sunset but nothing to get carried away by so once the last strip of red sky had finally been extinguished and I was confident nothing more dramatic was going to happen I returned to the camp but instead of going directly back to the caravan I went to the clubhouse bar where there was entertainment and singing and dancing.
I enjoyed it, it was good fun and as later as I made my way back to the accommodation I looked up into a moonlit sky and thought that maybe I could finally get the hang of this caravan holiday business!