Travel: Britain - A week is a long time in Wales

'You should have been here last week' is the usual line about holidays in Britain. But, after seven wet days on the Lleyn Peninsula, Mick Webb rather wishes he'd been there this week instead

With my balance almost completely lost, I tottered on the narrow ledge, one arm grasping a struggling child and the other flailing wildly, while the heavy seas crashed menacingly below us.

There was just time enough to ponder the folly of involving the whole family in hearty adventures before I miraculously found a foothold on the slippery rock.

The vertiginous scramble in search of St Mary's Well was just part of a week of outdoor fun on the Lleyn Peninsular on the very western edge of North Wales.

The plan was to forget computer-games, TV and packaged entertainment and drag our children (six of them from two families, plus a dog and a German exchange student) kicking and screaming into the fresh air.

This is how the week panned out:

Sunday 26 July:

Arrive in Aberdaron after long drive through driving rain. Booked into a farm campsite on high windswept field. "You're a braver man than me," the farmer observes helpfully.

After battling like sailors in a round-the-world yacht race, we vanquish the elements and three tents were erected. Good team-building exercise, we reckon.

Monday

Wake up in bright sunshine to discover what a lovely spot this is with views across a wide bay, and only a gentle stroll away from the village of Aberdaron with its two stores, pub, excellent bakery, tea-shop, and small hotel that was still offering "last-minute vacancies".

Other holidaymakers are not much in evidence, which means the curving beach was mostly empty. This is sea for battling with rather than bathing in, but there are plenty of other distractions for all ages: falling off a windsurfer, building variations on sandcastles - the children make a dragon out of sand; and collecting pebbles, seaweed and yukky things - the younger ones find two dead dogfish and an equally defunct plaice.

Tuesday

Lifting the tent flap reveals ... nothing, apart from a very low, very wet cloud, that appears to have settled in for the duration. We pack picnic and set out on cliff-top walk to St Mary's Well (the Ordnance Survey map shows several wells, and an equal number of sheep-dips).

We meet a sheep-farmer using a quad bike to shepherd his flock, most of which have nasty coughs.

"Do you think the weather'll improve?," we ask.

"Oh, yes," he says. "Next year." This is supposed to be a splendid area for wildlife but we don't find any of the rare crow-like birds called choughs, and the visibility is too poor to see if there are any seals down on the rocks.

Blanche (10 years old) does spot a yellow-hammer which, just as the bird- book says, sings "a-little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese". Well, it does if you know that's what it's supposed to be singing. Fortunately our picnic is composed of lots of very good large bread rolls and loads of cheese. Unfortunately, we have to eat standing up as the grass is saturated.

Silas (five) has such wet trousers he can't walk but we carry him and press on to St Mary's Well. It's not easy to find - we heard later of someone who's been looking for it on and off for 50 years. But then you don't expect to find a well halfway up a cliff, which is where it is. Helen (13) thinks the lack of signposting is deliberate, as it's so dangerous getting there.

After my narrow escape from disaster, we fill a bottle with the water "the sweetest in Wales" (according to a man in the pub at Aberdaron), though by the time we get it back to the tent it had begun to pong. Some things just don't travel, do they?

Wednesday

Weather no better. Expedition to buy wellies and socks to nearest town: Abersoch. That's what the grown-ups pretend but the real reason is to stock up on cheaper booze than we can get in Aberdaron. The store there provides sweet little candy-striped bags to conceal your wine-bottle in "in case you meet the vicar'" and perhaps that is what doubles the price.

Abersoch is a good place to buy booze and wellies of all colours. It's a bustling little holiday port full of yachting-types in very clean clothes and unlikely tans. We linger for a while, feeling very unwashed, having coffee and hoping for a sighting of Posh Spice and David Beckham, who are rumoured to have bought a holiday house here. At the end of the day the sun appears in its full glory and we have a barbecue at the end of the beach. Faith (six) is bowled over by the pink tinge that the setting sun gives to the foam on the breaking waves.

We all are. We spend ages throwing the coloured pebbles at a plastic bottle, bank up the bonfire, sing songs and only Silas (five) is worried as he thinks our car will be locked in the car-park.

Thursday

More rain. Outlook worse. Confined to tents, one of which (mine) has almost collapsed, as a pole has broken Running, or rather sitting-down, repairs are effected. The children don't seem bothered by the weather - the older ones set up a casino in one tent, the others play for hours in the cars and are joined by other small damp waifs from around the camp- site. One of their fathers comes and warns his children that cars (his one anyway) are not for playing in!

The domestic chores seem to stretch out to fill the time allotted. We teach Thomas (16) from Germany how to wash up ("we have machines for this at home"). Thomas puts up good-naturedly with much teasing about his archetypal German habits - he is better acquainted with the camp-site shower (20p in the slot for hot water) than all the rest of us put together. He also has a teutonic capacity for beer, wine, coffee and food, often all at the same time.

Our main meals all comprise variations on what you can cook in a large pot and serve with rice/pasta /potatoes, described as "strange, stewy contraptions" (Alec, 10) and "All horrible except for breakfast" (Silas, 5).

I'm not sure that the local cuisine is a lot better, though the Bramley apple cake at the Y Gegin Fawr tea-house is ace and there's a nice cheese called Bardsey Chieftain (named after an island that's inhabited not by people but by the spirits of 20,000 saints, though we couldn't afford the pounds 100 boat fare to verify this).

Friday

No improvement in the weather. Adults becoming rather moody, and, in one case, almost clinically depressed.

We start drinking at lunch-time rather than in the evening. The children, on the other hand seem perfectly sanguine, and join wholeheartedly in the composition of a song about our holiday with the following immortal chorus:

Oh how we love Aberdaron,

Oh what a beautiful bay

The spirits of Bardsey are calling,

A pity the skies are so grey

In the afternoon a trip is organised to Whistling Sands, a beautiful bay owned by the National Trust where a dip in the cold water revives flagging spirits. The rock-pools here are well-stocked and a boy from Manchester called Graham achieves immediate hero-status with our children for his prowess in catching crabs.

Back at the camp, a man and his family arrive with a trailer filled with kites. He's a professional kite-maker and soon the sky is humming with strange flying lilos.

Adults repair to the pub and return at midnight. Thomas the German repairs to another pub and returns with various new acquaintances at 3am.

Saturday

An ironic but brief burst of sunshine accompanies the taking down and packing-up. We drive home past the rather more conventional holiday sites we might have visited: the stately home at Plas yn Rhiw; a Butlin's holiday camp with day-rates for visitors; the Blaenau Ffestiniog railway; and the extraordinary Italianate village of Portmeirion. I'd like to have stopped off there but by now it is pouring with rain again.

Overall, amazingly enough, everyone seems to have enjoyed the experience. Clarrie (15) says she wasn't at all jealous of her friends who were clubbing in Minorca, and Alec (10) summed it up as "cool".

It certainly was. And wet. And cheap - pounds 4 per family per night for the campsite.

Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map