Posted by: travelrat | May 18, 2017

Portmeirion

Portmeirion 4

Portmeirion: 1st April 2017

If you rode down from Blaenau Ffestiniog on the Ffestiniog Railway, you could, instead of going to Porthmadog, get off at Minffordd Station. Or, of course, you could ride to Minffordd from Porthmadog. From there, it’s a walk of about a mile and a half to the entrance of the quirky village of Portmeirion.

You could arrive by car, and park right outside the entrance, but, that’s nothing like as off-beat … unless you drive a Caterham.

Portmeirion 8

Older readers may remember that a Caterham was the car driven by ‘No 6’, the hero of the TV series The Prisoner, which was filmed here in 1967. The viewing audience was, I think, hooked by the setting rather than the plot. And, probably to whet the appetite of the viewer, the architect of the village, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis stipulated that the location should not be disclosed until the credits rolled on the last episode.

Williams-Ellis was concerned with preservation and conservation, as well as sympathetic development. In the 1920s, he acquired some land near Porthmadog, and set out to prove that development of a beautiful site did not necessarily mean it was spoilt.

Some of the buildings were already on site when Williams-Ellis bought the land; others came from elsewhere; sometimes, saved from demolition and re-assembled here. He thought of Portmeirion as a ‘home for fallen buildings’. Some people claim that it was based on Portofino, in Italy. He always repeatedly denied this; I think I once read somewhere that he once said he’d never been there.

The architecture certainly suggests just about any town or village on the Italian Riviera. There are similar colours; bold and brash in some places; a pleasing pastel in others. There’s even an Italian style campanile.

There’s a lot more to do here than just wander round and look, although that is a satisfactory experience in itself. There’s a pottery, cafés, a spa, restaurants or you can stay at one the two hotels or the 14 self-catering cottages here. You can even get married here. And, of course, there are shops, selling everything from books to ‘Prisoner’ memorabilia.

The series gained a cult following, and, every year, ‘Festival No 6’ for the show’s affictionados is held here. This year, 2017, is the 50th Anniversary of the filming of the series … and our visit just happened to coincide with this year’s Festival.

Portmeirion 9

 

This post is a bit picture-poor, as I’m in a bit of a hurry, as we’re going away for a couple of days. But, there will be a slide show when the ‘Welsh Diary’ comes around again.

 

Disclosure: I visited Portmeirion as the guest of North Wales Tourism

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