A Stop in Cambridge & a Drive through Wales
Monday, 29 August. We loaded the car before another huge breakfast. We began to realize that it may have been a mistake to book B&Bs for several nights in a row because we really did not want to have a big breakfasts day after day. We were on the road by 9:00, but the traffic was very bad on the two lane roads. It improved greatly when we finally reached the motorway.
Although Conwy, Wales, was at about the same latitude as Beccles, we had to dip south to cross England. That took us to the outskirts of Cambridge. We had not planned to stop there, but at the last minute we decided on a quick visit to the university. We found it very easily, put the car in a parking garage, and spent about two and a half hours walking around.
The University of Cambridge is one of the oldest universities in the world, dating from the 13th century. It’s made up of 31 Colleges, some very old (Peterhouse 1284), others quite recent (Lucy Cavendish 1997). Each College is an independent institution with its own property and income and appoints its own staff, but degrees are awarded by the University.
We randomly walked through the University area, passing St. John’s College (1511), Trinity College (1546), Kings College (1446), and others we didn’t identify. Each of the colleges was surrounded by a high wall and had attendants at the gates to control admittance. In addition to the colleges there were extensive commercial areas, filled with small shops that appeared to have living quarters on their upper floors. Walking around the back of some of the colleges, we found the Cam River with graceful foot bridges. There were several small boats in the water, apparently occupied by students.
About 12:30 we walked back to the car and started out of the city. Easier said than done! We lost an hour before we finally got back on the motorway heading west toward Wales. Our route took us generally east, around the north side of Birmingham, then north. We had another stretch with no motorways as we cut over to Chester, but from there it was an easy drive to Conwy. We got to the Castlebank Hotel there at 5:30.
This was unquestionably the nicest of the B&Bs we stayed in on this trip. It was located just outside the city walls, on a high point of land actually above the walls. There was a fantastic view from our window into Conwy and especially of Conwy Castle. Our room was large and beautifully decorated and furnished. The parlor off the entrance hall was also tastefully decorated and boasted many and various fascinating books about Conwy and Wales. Unfortunately, there had been some mishap in the kitchen, so we wouldn’t be getting the gourmet dinner we’d reserved in advance.
The town is dominated by Conwy Castle, standing on a high rock formation above the Conwy Estuary. It was built by Edward I and is considered one of the greatest European fortresses. The Castle and town walls were all built between 1283-87. The walls have 21 towers and three gates.
We hadn’t had lunch and, after our huge breakfast, never missed it. But now we took time to have a very nice tea in our room before walking into town. It was still sunny and warm as we walked back into town. We stopped first at the Tourist Bureau, located in an old railway station, to get a map and information on what to see. We managed to walk though most of the walled town before the sun started disappearing. [The pictures we took are on the next page with those we took the next morning.] About 7:30 we stopped for dinner at an Italian restaurant on our way back toward the B&B. Back at the Castlebank we spent at least an hour in the parlor going through the wonderful books.
We went up to our room about 9:00 and enjoyed the view of Conwy by night. The Castle and the walls were illuminated. We were pretty exhausted, though, and soon went to bed. We had driven 320 miles.