Tag Archives: Trawsfynydd

Trawsfynydd, Toilets and Serendipity

Sometimes things just fall into place.

During our visit to Wales we dropped into Dolgellau looking for a toilet. We found one without too much trouble but, as described, they were locked and barred lest villainous visitors from afar should try and use them after 6pm.

That left us with two choices, one of which was to stroll across the  car park to a restaurant which offered steaks and, presumably, toilets. It also offered the sight of a man in chef’s whites standing outside smoking. We decided not to disturb him.

We therefore left Dolgellau and set off for Bangor with a sense of purpose. When the sign for Trawsfynydd cropped up, complete the WC on it,  I was so surprised that I missed the first turn. My excuse is that the sun was in my eyes. The same happened in the village as I missed the turn for the cat park. After turning round we saw a statue in the Chapel grounds, with the name Hedd Wynn on it.

We’d seen several statues during the day and every time Julia had asked if  I knew who the subject was. She didn’t ask this time. But I told her all the same.

Hedd Wynn was the bardic name of Ellis Evans, a shepherd. He won his first Eisteddfod at Bala in 1907 and ten years later after winning more local competitions he won the National Eisteddfod in 1917. Unfortunately the date, 1917, holds a clue as to why he won no more competitions.

I’ve only read one of his poems, though there are several transactions available on the net. I suppose that’s why he isn’t better known, and why I’ve never seen him an anthology.

He was killed during the 3rd Battle of Ypres, on the same day as Francis Ledwidge, an Irish war poet.

If you check the above links, you will find a fascinating story.

It’s tempting to suggest that if he’d been English, and an officer, people would have taken more notice of him. Of the 16 war poets listed on the plaque in Westminster Abbey, 12 are officers, and if memory serves, all 16 are English.

The Welsh Toilet Championships

It’s not an exhaustive list of toilets, and we didn’t have clipboards with us but it gives you some idea of the challenges the traveller faces.

Those of you under 40 will probably wonder why this sort of thing is important. I won’t explain it now, just give it a few years and all will become clear.

We used the facilities in two McDonald’s, at Llandudno and Mold. They were both bright and clean, though we did feel we had to buy drinks to justify using them, which was sort of counter-productive.

In Rhayader we used toilets in a car park by the town centre. They were very welcome after a long drive, though architecturally there was more than a suggestion of military bunker about them. However, they were clean and tidy, and that’s more important than being aesthetically pleasing.

The toilets at Gigrin Farm, were predictably excellent, as was the whole farm and Red Kite feeding experience.

In Trawsfynydd, just off the road as we travelled to Bangor in the evening, we were glad to find toilets as things were getting a bit urgent (see my comments on Dolgellau). As with Rhayader, the building is stark, but clean and tidy. There was a touch of serendipity about the visit, but that’s a story for a later post.

I think I may have mentioned the lack of decent food outlets at the Bangor Services. We had breakfast at Little Chef and, as you may have predicted, visited the facilities afterwards. I seem to be turning into a Victorian there, as “used the toilets” seemed suddenly unacceptable. They are nicely tiled, but badly maintained and not very clean. Judging by the dirt and graffiti the cleaner only inspects the cubicles with the doors open. That’s basic cleaning, close the door, turn round and look at things from the customer’s’ point of view. Literally. Then wipe the part of the wall that is covered by the open door and wash the graffiti off the back of the door.

RSPB South Stack, was excellent in many ways, which will be detailed in a later post. However, the gloomy, cramped and smelly toilets (sorry about that, but there was no nice way to put it) were a low point in the visit.


Tourist sign in Llandudno

So that’s it. Clearly South Stack and Bangor Services aren’t in the running.

McDonald’s and Gigrin are all commercial operations, so you expect a higher standard . This standard was met, as they were all excellent, but it seems unfair to compare them with council toilets.

That leaves Rhayader and Trawsfynydd. If I was standing on stage opening an envelope the award would go to Rhayader, as I don’t have a clue how to pronounce Trawsfynydd. To be fair I don’t have a clue how to spell it either, I’m relying on cut-and-paste.

Whilst I think of the final result I’ll mention the toilets at Dolgellau.

I can’t tell you how good they were because at just after six in the evening they were locked. And barred. Maybe they have gold fittings. Or maybe they just don’t like visitors. It’s not unusual to find toilets locked in the evening, but it is frustrating.

There’s a website listing the public toilets of Gwynedd, and if you follow a link on that site the are details of community toilets made available for public use by the owners.  If you are travelling in the area it might be useful.

And the winner is…

… Rhayader.

It’s just a little brighter than Trawsfynydd, which will be getting a mention in a later post.

So, give them a try and see the kites – it’s a good day out.