We had started the year off with the intention to explore more and go on as many trips as we possibly could. We started off the New Year in Stirling, then headed down to Newcastle on the way home, we had explored Lumsdale Falls and Middle Black Clough Waterfall and finally was ready to start getting out camping as the weather had started to improve, until, Corona hit! As I am sat here now writing this blog whilst being confined to the house, I can’t help but think back to the last trip we went on before lockdown! It was the weekend right before Boris announced that we had to stay at home, we decided to go to Betws-y-Coed in Wales as the weather in the UK was finally picking up and it seemed like we would have a nice weekend to go and explore a few lanes.
We set off for Wales on Friday travelling to our first stop which was Llanddulas Beach, we spotted this beach when driving past on the motorway and knew we had to get down to it. For this time of year in England the beach really stood out it was covered in white stones which was really eye catching! I would recommend stopping off at this beach when the weather is nice, it was a great spot to take some photos and enjoy the scenery before continuing on our trip, we also whipped out the camera to start recording our trip.
We continued our journey to Wales with a few fuel stops along the way, the Jimny has a tiny tank and we didn’t want to run out of fuel when on the lanes we had planned. It was strange stopping off at the service stations as some corona preventions had already been put into place, drive-thrus’ were closed, as were public restrooms, you had to try and pay with card or contactless and you also had to wear gloves when filling up the car, this was as bad as we thought it would get, but little did we know when this weekend was over we would be told to stay inside for the next 2 months and counting!
After about a 2 hour drive we finally arrived at the first lane, we followed the first lane on ‘Wikiloc’ uploaded by Tents and Treads. This lane was fairly easy, the Jimny could definitely handle it but the main issue we had was that we was by ourselves. It was just us 2 in 1 Jimny, we did have some recovery gear but once you looked around and saw that there was nobody around for miles we knew we had to take it carefully. If we had been with other people then this lane wouldn’t have seemed too challenging and for the time of year the ground was quite dry in some places. The lane was fun and enjoyable to say it was our first attempt at a lane by ourselves, and at the end of the track was Llyn Alwen known as the Lost Lake. Llyn Alwen was a lot bigger than we expected and it was such a secluded quiet place to stop off, we had planned to eat dinner here however, it was incredibly windy so we decided to take a few photos of course and then make our way back, we still needed to get to camp and set up and start cooking some food!
We arrived at Dolgam campsite in Betws-y-Coed with no issues, it’s a great campsite we really like it and have been there a few times now. However, as we started to set up camp we realised there was a big problem! We had recently bought a new awning for the Jimny and had fitted it to the car before the trip, Denis had packed the awning room which we was going to sleep in but had forgotten to pack the zip which was still attached to the old awning at home….. 3 hours away from our current location! This zip attached the awning and awning room together, without It we just had a pile of material that was useless!
We saw the best of the situation and decided that we had no choice but to sleep in the car! I think Denis was secretly beating himself up about it but it was a fun experience to try out! We had never slept in the tiny Jimny before and hadn’t packed for this eventuality. This meant that we had to put the awning down low at night and put all of our gear outside the car overnight, this doesn’t sound too bad but in the UK the weather can change so quickly and it loves to rain, we didn’t want all our gear to get wet! Unfortunately, we didn’t have much choice, so we laid the front seats down flat and tried to make the interior as flat as possible, we stored some bags, clothes and our cameras in the footwells to keep them dry and safe and I slept on the driver’s side as I am the shortest and the steering wheel protruded into our sleeping area. We left the window ajar to have some air flow in the car and made sure that we didn’t kick the car out of gear or undo the handbrake in the night or we would have rolled off into the tiny river in front of us! That would have been funny but wasn’t part of the plan haha!
Overall, the Jimny is small and it was cold in the night but we actually quite enjoyed sleeping in the Jimny. We have even considered sleeping in it again but next time round being prepared, we would not use sleeping bags but put down our self-inflating mats and use pillows and a quilt, this will hopefully give us much more movement. The Jimny is small and being restricted to your tight sleeping bag is not very comfortable, a quilt may allow us to use all the space the Jimny has to offer. As of yet we still need to try out using a quilt instead of sleeping bags in the Jimny, so in future posts you will find out how this goes!
The next day we were abruptly awoken from the sun shining into the car, we decided to get up and we packed away our gear ready to take on the second lane of the trip. We headed to a lane that Robby Rubicon had posted on Wikiloc and again we followed this. We found Wikiloc to be very accurate and easy to follow and was worth using on this trip and we would definitely use it again on future trips! We didn’t do the complete trail that Robby had recorded on Wikiloc but it was enough for us seeing as we was still by ourselves.
The second lane started off from a farm, it was a bit odd at first because you feel like you are on someone’s property however you are going in the right direction. We went through the first set of gates after the farm and then we were on the trail which led towards Dolwyddelan Castle. This trail was a bit more difficult, we got out the Jimny and walked a bit of the track first just to see what was to come. There was a fairly steep incline which you couldn’t see what was to come after it dropped off so it was important to walk the route! Denis was driving the Jimny whilst I was in charge of videoing, therefore I was the one scaling this incline with my own two feet whilst Denis just casually drove up in comfort, warmth and ease haha! All was going well on the lane until we hit a slight problem…. there was a rather large rock on the right hand side of this quite narrow track blocking our path. At this point we did consider turning around, not being very experienced overlanders we didn’t want to get stranded or Denis’ main fear of rolling over the little boxy Jimny!!
We had edged towards turning around but it seemed a shame, we had only just started the trail and really wanted to get to the castle, so we made the decision to try and move the rock, me with my non-existent biceps attempted to help but basically Denis was doing all the work! We managed to roll the rock into a dip in the track creating a more manageable obstacle for the Jimny to overcome. This lane was fairly dry with some wet patches, it was rocky and fairly narrow and had a decent descent when approaching Dolwyddelan Castle. I would say this lane was a bit more challenging than the first lane on day 1 however, it was not as secluded. There was a few people walking near the castle and also we could see the road and village where we were moments before we knew if we got into any trouble we wouldn’t be far from help.
We approached the Castle and it was pretty impressive to see, it stood on top of a hill and was still fairly intact. We made our way up to the castle and we realised that we could actually go inside, we explored, took photos and videos and made our way back to the Jimny. It was a great lane and stop off at the castle and we would recommend this lane if you are starting out in the 4×4 world. Unfortunately, the fun was over for the weekend, we had accomplished making it to the castle so we made our way back down to the main road. We stopped off in a lay-by and made some dinner in the back of the Jimny and then prepared ourselves for the 3 hour drive back home.
Overall, it was a great trip that we both really enjoyed, the sleeping arrangements didn’t go to plan but we made the most of it! The two lanes were very enjoyable, of a decent difficulty to keep us entertained and on our feet but not too difficult that we gave up and didn’t get to do any overlanding. We would recommend you always go with someone else, never alone and preferably with another 4×4 vehicle too just in case there are any incidents, you never know what will happen on these trips. We can’t wait to get back out there and are itching to go on another trip especially with summer coming up! We did have Switzerland planned but Corona has well and truly put a stop to that for now. However, stay up to date with our social media and blog posts to see our latest adventures we will be going on when it is finally safe to do so!
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