As shown from my previous blog post, I’ve recently graduated from LSE and attended my departmental graduation reception on 5th July. Since my 3rd year final paper finished on 10th June, this left me with more than one month to travel around the UK as a graduation gift for myself.
The ongoing pandemic has put a stop to all of my travel plans in my second year (burnt two flight tickets to Germany and Croatia). However, that doesn’t mean we can’t get out and about at all and explore everything the UK has to offer. From the idyllic countryside villages to the scenic rolling hills, the summer of 2021 is all about British ROAD TRIPS. It’s time to give ourselves some travelling after the demanding summer term exam period (final year exam from 6th May to 10th June).
Where could be more beautiful for a British holiday than the scenic Snowdonia and lovely Cotswolds? In this blog post I’ll be sharing our road trip itineraries, which will hopefully give you…some domestic travelling inspirations.
5th July: Departmental Graduation Reception
Since this road trip was a graduation trip in nature, it started straight after we had our reception on the 5th. Late night packing for our week-long trip and off we go!
6th July : Thorpe Park Resort
8:55-9:22 London Waterloo to Staines (Bus from Staines to Thorpe Park)
Thorpe Park Resort is one of the UK’s most thrilling theme parks, which is the perfect destination for all thrill seekers. It made a perfect first stop for us given that it was only a half an hour train ride away from London Waterloo. Would definitely recommend some of the signature rides such as the Swarm (highest roller coaster in the park), Stealth (fastest roller coaster in the UK) and Nemesis Inferno. However, you always have rides such as Flying Fish and those in the Angrybird Land which are for everyone.
7th July: Bristol / Cotswolds – Snowshill Lavender Farm & Bourton-on-the-water
9:23-9:35 Bath to Bristol / 9:45 Bristol Car Collection
<START OF THE ROAD TRIP>
After approximately a 1 hr drive from Bristol, we arrived at the lovely Snowshill lavender farm in the Cotswolds region. Cotswolds Lavender is the third generation family farm set in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold Hills, featured in the top 40 things to do with your dog this summer of the Telegraph. We brought our picnic there and absolutely enjoyed the afternoon sunshine with the lavender. It might take around 2 ½ to 3 hours to take all your instagrammable photos and wander around the entire field.
Since Bourton-on-the-water is just a 17-minute drive away, we dropped by the lovely Cotswolds village which is arguably one of the prettiest villages in England. With gently flowing River Windrush running through the centre of the village, Bourton is crossed by attractive little bridges here and there. The village has plenty of charm throughout the year and is often called ‘the Venice of Cotswolds’. However, Bourton can get really busy, especially at the weekends and Bank Holidays during the summer.
<Accommodation: Airbnb at Gwynedd, Wales>
We chose to stay at an Airbnb at Gwynedd, which is an ideal base for exploring Snowdonia. It is a cosy town house located in the delightful seaside town of Criccieth. The beach and the hill top castle are all within a short driving distance.
8th July: Snowdonia – Mount Snowdon via Miner’s Track & Pyg Circular
10:00 Criccieth to Penn-y-pass
Snowdonia is one of the most iconic and popular National Parks in the UK, and is the epitome of the Welsh countryside. At the heart of it is the peak of Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. Boasting a varied terrain of mountains, lakes, and forest, the unspoiled scenery never failed to surprise us as we manoeuvre every twist and turn in the open road. Snowdonia was the one place which we all wanted to tick off from our bucket list during the road trip. And this was the day when we actually hiked up Mount Snowdon.
We opted to walk up the Pyg Track and down the Miners Track. The Pyg track walk starts from the Pen y Pass car park. The track is both the shortest walking trail up Mount Snowdon, and the one that involves the least amount of ascent. But it still was a challenging walk as it can be steep and rocky in places. The paths are generally very well-maintained and reasonably simple to follow. Short, scenic, steeped in history and with a tough final ascent, this is the perfect route for both beginners and more experienced walkers. Along the track, there are quite a lot of places to stop and have a rest, and the views on our way up were absolutely breath-taking.
The Pyg track gets quite steep when it connects to the Miners track near the top. Walking down the Miners track, which runs lower down and parallel to the Pyg Track, took us down to the impressive Snowdon lakes. However, it was steep during the descent to the first lake, thus required quite a lot of concentration and balance. It provided stunning views along the track and included a walk past the Glaslyn Lake, which was a nice place to sit to admire the view.
9th July: Llandudno / Bristol
21:15 Returned car in Bristol
After a tiring but rewarding day of hiking, we left Gwynedd around noon and headed towards Llandudno, the largest seaside resort in Wales. Being called ‘the Queen of the Welsh Watering Places’, the seaside gem is a beautiful and quaint seaside town on the shores of the Irish Sea. We enjoyed a nice afternoon stroll on the beach with the fresh ocean breeze. After a late lunch at a pizza place in town, we embarked on our return journey back to Bristol.
<END OF THE ROAD TRIP>
The graduation trip was a perfect end to my student life at LSE and left me with many good memories to last. I’m happy to say that I leave the UK with no regrets! Extremely grateful to all the friends who have gone through this road trip with me and supported me in this 3 year journey at the LSE. Once again, happy graduation to my friends and myself! 🙂