Thursday, 3 May 2012

A house of dreams built for billionaires and it’s yours-go there!

Plas Tan y Bwlch is a magical place. It was built by the Oakley family who had made a fortune out of slate mines. The landscape was remodelled and gardens and woodland was laid out and stocked with rare species. It is now owned by the Snowdonia National Park and used as a study centre. It is open for you to visit most days. Just ask the receptionist to introduce the place to you. I recommend the Library if a study group is not in session. Parking is free.

Even the stables were built to the highest standard and is now a conference venue/lecture hall.

Azalea in bloom 

View down into the valley

The gardens are magnificent and retain many of the features of the Picturesque Movement-gardens which incorporated the wild. There are many exotic plants and also a scented garden for the blind.

The woodland walks are superb and open to all. There are terraced pathways with unrivalled views of the valley below.

The Oakleys even had their own railway station, part of the Ffestiniog Railway that carried slate down from Blennau Ffestiniog to the ships waiting at Portmadog to take the valuable export cargo to ports across the world. Originally it was gravity down and then horse power to drag the empty wagons back up. Steam power was introduced in 1863. It closed as a slate line in 1946 but reopened as a tourist attraction in 1953.

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