Monday, 2 June 2014

Journey to the Centre of Wales Part 2

On Saturday - my last full day in Wales - I paid a visit to Erwood Station, an arts colony founded in 1984 and based within the now disused train station.

There was lots of lovely ironwork and pottery and prints by local artists. But my favourite work was the beautiful turned wood of James Smith; I especially liked his reclaimed fencepost vases.

From Erwood I drove to Dan yr Ogof to visit the National Showcaves of Wales. Now, I have a confession to make here ... my actual reason for going was seeing this photo online:

I am a sucker for piss-poor dinosaur models and these looked a bit ropey - especially the iguanodon in the foreground who has neither of the distinctive thumb 'horns' that make his/her species unique. I expected lots of such crappiness ... but was delighted to be completely surprised by what I found.

You arrive at the showcase site and are immediately greeted by a life-sized diplodocus that, actually, was pretty well sculpted. Behind this behemoth an equally well-rendered brachiosaurus rose above the trees. These were great models!

 You actually have to walk under the diplodocus to get inside the park where there's lots to do - for free! How many venues can say that? There are lots of dinos around (even on the roof of the cafĂ©), you can pan for gold, and there's a farm with shire horses, emus, alpacas and other creatures.

But should you decide to spend some money on the caves, you get much more to see. For a start, lots more dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasties. I read somewhere that there are around 200 life-sized models, which is pretty cool for the kids. And big kids like me.

Then there are the caves themselves, which are stunning. Cathedral Cave in particular, with its high stalactite peppered ceiling and waterfalls, is magnificent. The only let down was the Bone Cave, which entailed popping on a hard hat and stooping along a low roofed walkway just to see a rather poor audio-visual display with mannequins about the human habitation of the caves.

'But Steve! What about the crappy dinosaurs?' I hear you cry. Well, I'm delighted to report that they are still there. However, the people who run the place are pretty shrewd; as newer, more accurate and better made dinos have been installed, they've moved the older ones deep into the bushes or set them at a distance so that they still provide some spectacle but don't stand out. That said, I did go dino-hunting and found myself a crop of brilliant bad ones. 

I can't leave Wales without mentioning the countryside through which I drove - often having to avoid sheep with no concept of the Green Cross Code - to visit these places. Late Saturday and my drive home on Sunday was wonderfully sunny and showed the landscape off beautifully. I just had to keep stopping the car to get out and snap a few pics. Sadly, no photo can capture the sheer scale of my surroundings. Glorious.



  1. Stumbled across your blog, really like it. I like the look of these caves / dinosaurs, certainly seems worth a visit, the caves look quite Wookey Hole ish to me. I assume you didn't see a Witch?

  2. Great pictures! I do so love a dodgy dinosaur. :)