Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Flaming June in Aberdaron

We have just seen the weather forecast for the next few weeks and they look as promising as they could possibly be given the uncertainties of forecasts. We have taken a lot of short term bookings at Manaros for June and early July and this has left us with some short periods which we are now offering out as short breaks at a 10% discount from our normal prices. These are:

2 night break commencing 07/06/17. 10% off our normal rates. Total price of £486.

2 night break commencing 12/06/17. 10% off our normal rates. Total price of £486.

6 night break commencing 24/06/17. 10% off our normal rates. Total price of £839.

As an added bonus the lillies in the garden will be out in June. This could be a great holiday for you and yours. If you would like to book please contact us on 01758 760 652.


 

Wales Coast Path Walking Holiday Providers.

We are very proud to unveil this new video created in cooperation with all our colleagues who run high quality walking holidays on the Wales Coast Path. The film shows that it is now possible to walk the whole of the Wales Coast Path using the luggage carrying services of the various members of the Association.

We are hoping this film will do something to improve the marketing of the Wales Coast Path which has the potential to attract serious numbers of walkers to the Wales coast - perhaps to explore places other than the iconic scenic highlights. The strapline of the path is "Discover the Shape of a Nation" and there is much to be gained by walking the lesser known parts of Merionyddshire, southern Gwynedd or the Dee Estuary. Whatever your ambitions, do please share them with us and we can give good advice.

Monday, 20 February 2017

This really is a holiday with a difference!



Everyone that visits Bardsey Island agrees that it is a magical place, an island somehow out of time and blessed with wonderful wildlife and peace. We have hundreds of visitors every year who also say that that they would like to stay on the island. Here is an opportunity, a stay on the island for one week beginning the 23rd of June 2017, hosted by the Journeying organisation and which doesn't commit you to taking a full house.




The party will stay in Cristin House which is part of the Bird Observatory. This is a spacious house and comfortably appointed. Catering will be shared but with planned menus. Everyone will be expected to help out, something which the organisers call hands-on hospitality - a term I expect to reuse next time my relatives come to stay!




£600 will buy you a shared room, station transport from Pwllheli, the boat crossing and all accommodation and food (£720 for a single room or single occupancy in a twin/double room). Full details can be found on www.journeying.co.uk, tel: 01646 279 478, email: info@journeying.co.uk.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Oil Rush in Aberdaron?



 Recent visitors to Aberdaron may have been surprised to see an enormous drill in the National Trust car park. Rather than drilling for oil it is actually to extract a much more environmentally friendly form of energy - ground source heat to supply the self catering apartments at Henfaes. The deepest borehole dug so far is 210 meters in depth. Once the boreholes are all finished the lengths will add up to 800 metres in total to extract heat energy from deep in the ground where there is always a constant temperature.


You can just make out the drill shaft rapidly spinning.

The drill is an impressive sight from ground level.



One of the steel pipes being winched into place to presumably be fed down the hole.

This is probably the pipework which will carry down cold water to be warmed up deep below the ground and returned to the surface.

It looks like there are lots more pipes to be sent down.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Christmas Newsletter 2016


A very Merry Christmas and Nadolig Llawen from Aberdaron to all our friends and customers! The village Christmas tree is erected and decorated outside the Ship Hotel, and the church services at St Hywyn's have been organised. December began with usually frosty weather but it has since turned milder. Simon and I thought we would take this opportunity to share some of the highs and lows of 2016.


"A jolly good place to visit." is how Prince Charles described Aberdaron on his visit in July. Such visits only take place once in a generation but Alun at the Ship was able to provide the Prince with a photograph of his last visit way back in 1978.


We very much enjoyed hosting the first Sacred Land conference which was based at Manaros. This was a group of people interested in spirituality and the environment and led by Rev. Tim Higgins, a Tertiary Franciscan who now lives just outside Tudweiliog. The photo above was taken during a candlelit Eucharist in Penllech church during which dawn rose in the east window.


We have been able to use Manaros as a base for a number of big parties, largely birthday and anniversary celebrations, where up to 30 people (who stay in accommodations in and around Aberdaron in addition to Manaros itself) are served a special meal. This is an organisational and catering challenge but hugely enjoyable all the same.



We've had some occasional wild weather this year. August brought a storm that would have seemed more appropriate in November. Luckily it did not last long, and the tail end produced some very good surf for our customers.





At the opposite extreme, calm conditions during a spring tide exposed more of Aberdaron beach than I have ever seen. You can clearly make out the remains of the piers that once extended out into the bay.


We continue to be pioneers in the walking holiday field. We have had a number of takers for the new self-guided walking holiday, including luggage transfer, from Porthmadog down to Aberystwyth on the coast of Cardigan Bay. The final section of the Wales Coast Path on Llyn between Porth Ysgo and Aberdaron came on stream this year and we think it the best section of the lot.

2016 was the first year that we had full use of the new VW Tiguan which we now use in place of the old Touran. It is a real pleasure to drive a car without any dents or creaks.



A reminder that, though we live in a beautiful and often tranquil place at the Edge of Wales, there is also tragedy. We attended the blessing of the memorial stone in St Hywyn's churchyard to commemorate the loss of five men during the sinking of the MV Swanland just off Bardsey Island in November 2011.



Fortunately this year Glandwr and Manaros are both booked for Christmas and New Year and bookings are coming in for 2017. If you are thinking of coming to Aberdaron again next year then now would be a good time to book. If you fancy seeing more of the Llyn than Aberdaron then you can always try one of our walking holidays - www.edgeofwaleswalk.co.uk. If you know any friends who you think might enjoy a holiday here then do please pass on our details. It would be a great help to us.



Simon and I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours.

Tel: 01758 760 652

Thursday, 24 November 2016

MV Swanland sinking and memorial


Sunday 27th November, was the 5th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the MV Swanland, which resulted in the deaths of 6 Russian men. The ship was loaded with stone on passage from Llanddulas to Cowes when it was caught in a storm, just a few miles off Bardsey island. Despite the launch of all local RNLI lifeboats and RAF helicopters, only 2 members of the crew survived.

The service of dedication was conducted by Father Huw from Pwllheli on a cold but very bright morning. Susan Fogarty recited a poem written by R.S. Thomas.

In Great Waters

You are there also
at the foot of the precipice
of water that was too steep
for the drowned : their breath broke
and they fell. You have made an altar
out of the deck of the lost
trawler whose spars
are your cross. The sand crumbles
like bread ; the wine is
the light quietly lying
in its own chalice. There is
a sacrament there more beauty
than terror whose ministrant
you are and the aisles are full
of the sea shapes coming to its celebration.




The ship was built in the Netherlands in 1977. Originally named Carebeka IX, she was renamed several times. The vessel was last owned and operated as Swanland by Torbulk, a company based in Grimsby, and was registered in the Cook Islands as a flag of convenience. She was 266 feet long and 46 feet wide with a draft of 11 feet, and displaced 2,180 tons.

In 2010, she narrowly avoided grounding off Lizard Point, Cornwall, after her engines failed and she had to be taken in tow by the emergency tow vessel Anglian Princess and towed into Falmouth.

Swanland sank in a gale force 8 storm in the Irish Sea 10 miles off the Lleyn Peninsula, Gwynedd at approximately 0200 on Sunday 27 November 2011. She was carrying limestone from Raynes Jetty near Colwyn Bay to Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

The search and rescue mission was co-ordinated by Holyhead Coastguard and involved RNLI lifeboats from Pwllheli and Porthdinllaen, RAF Sea King search and rescue helicopters of No. 22 Squadron RAF flying out of RAF Valley and Royal Marines Barracks, Chivenor, Irish Naval Service patrol ship LÉ Róisín and an Irish Air Corps Casa maritime patrol aircraft, and Irish Coast Guard helicopters from Dublin, Waterford and Sligo, and other ships in the area – MT Bro Gazelle, MT Monsoon and MT Keewhit.

Two of the Russian crew, Roman Savin (26), and Vitaliy Karpenko (48), were rescued during the sinking with Prince William taking part in the rescue mission. A third crewman, Chief Officer Leonid Safonov (50) was later found dead during a search for survivors. The rescued crew described how a large wave broke the ship's back.

On 11 December 2011 the BBC reported that Swanland had been subject to repeated safety concerns due to unsafe loading and unloading practices that placed may have placed stress on the hull. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) conducted an inquiry into the sinking and published its report on 27 November 2011. The synopsis of the report was as follows:

At 0200 on 27 November 2011, the 34 year old Cook Islands registered general cargo ship Swanland experienced a structural failure when heading directly into rough seas and gale force winds while on passage from Llanddulas, Wales to Cowes, Isle of Wight with a cargo of limestone. The vessel sank about 17 minutes later. Two of the vessel’s eight crew managed to swim clear and were rescued from a life raft. The body of the chief officer was recovered from the sea during an extensive air and sea search but the remaining crew were not found. There was no significant pollution. The wreck of Swanland was subsequently found 12 miles off the Welsh coast in a depth of approximately 80m. Sonar and underwater surveys showed that the vessel was inverted on the seabed; the hull appeared to be in one piece. The upper part of the vessel’s structure had failed in the midships region, on both the starboard and port sides. The investigation identified that the major factors contributing to the structural failure were:
• The limestone was a high density cargo that had been effectively loaded as a single pile within the central section of the hold. As a result, significant stresses were generated in the vessel’s midships section.
• The stresses in the midships section were exacerbated by the rough seas in which the wavelength was similar to the length of the vessel.
• Swanland’s longitudinal strength had probably weakened significantly over the previous 2½ years through corrosion and wastage. The maintenance and repair of the vessel had lacked focus and oversight; no structural repairs had been undertaken since 2009.

Other contributing factors included: non-compliance with the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargo Code, insufficient loading information, a lack of effective safety management, poor quality of survey and audit, lack of oversight of the classification society by the Flag State and the financial pressures of operating this type of vessel in the current economic downturn. The investigation also identified several safety issues concerning the immersion suits and lifejackets available on board the vessel. Sadly, none of these factors are new. Swanland is one of 248 general cargo ships that are known to have foundered worldwide since 2002 with the loss of over 800 seafarers; 226 of the vessels were 15 years old or more, 139 of which were 27 years old or more.




Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Looking Back on Sacred Land


Our guest blog is written by Tim Higgins and opens up the experiences of the Sacred Land weekend we shared in October.

Etched into the natural landscape of the Llyn Peninsula is a story of human awe and wonder. Bridging the distance between bird life and our own life is what happened as Mary Colwell told a story of faithful devotion between mating pairs of birds. She made us both chuckle and charmed as we pictured the impetuous flapping of a late arriving male-mate from a long migration. The distance between us, twenty-five very different week-enders, was also bridged as we were drawn in by stories rising from this landscape.
Mary’s expert passion for the story of the earth and its creatures moved us. So we walked and talked, we moved from ‘head to heart to hand’ reflecting on what we eat, how we shop, care and share with the natural world.
The gaze from the tip of the peninsula with an eye on the holy Isle of Bardsey took our imaginations flying. Martin Palmer got us airbourne with images of the cosmos and how our ancestors, like us, built legacies with wells and monuments. He helped de-code such legacies as that point to Sun and stars like signposts to our home on the Earth.
Looking down, as well as up, the landscape revealed its secrets. Much for the ‘head’ to think upon; more the ‘heart’ to reflect upon.
Stories we tell about our place in the landscape often come from the heart. These same stories guide our hand in holding things we value. Our time at the Pen Llyn’s Earth Centre, Felin Uchaf, came alive in the Roundhouse with storyteller Dafydd Davies-Hughes. Enchanted and transported we felt how inherited stories can shape our life together. 
Walking the shoreline, the ‘in-between place’ between soil and sea, is life giving for waders. It is also an effective space to contemplate our place on a planet of wonder and fragility.
For some, the three days seemed busy with getting to places and listening, but time to contemplate, ‘still-time’ for reflection, mattered as much. The National Trust Centre in Aberdaron supported generously in letting us ‘do our own thing’ – after hours. ‘The Deep’, part of their Porth y Swnt imaginative, interactive space stimulated our reflection and still-time.
Dawn inside the Penllech Farmyard church building, now out of regular use, went deep for many. The stars saw us at the start, and then the sound of birds and the sun rising to light the east window lifted our soul A lone voice spontaneously sang in greeting chant. Everyone lingered lest we should loose the moment.


“Friendships were formed. Emails have followed. Friendships with the natural world, the ‘sacred land’, have taken a further step for a unique group who gathered to ‘take the mind into the heart’ and did so with big smiles and renewed energy for life back home.” 

– Tim Higgins, Franciscan Tertiary and Anglican priest, led the weekend in collaboration with Edge of Wales Walk in Aberdaron. [ tim.tssf@gmail.com ]