the new Sheperdess

celebrating our Food Heroes

Family Firth rightly say they are living their dream at the foot of the Clwydian hills. It all started in 2019 when an opportunity to move to Denbighshire popped up they lived the phrase ‘Carpe Diem’ …..the rest is history!

A chance encounter with a neighbours small flock led the family to stumble upon the breed that would capture their hearts – the Black Welsh Mountain Sheep.

Lead shepherdess Ellen, aged 17, is now the driving force behind the family’s flock. At 7 years of age Ellen started helping her neighbour on his dairy farm – and she was hooked. Since then she went on to spend time helping out with dairy, cattle and sheep herds on friends and neighbours farms. 

When Ellen was diagnosed with autism aged 13 she knew there was one thing she just had to do and that was to continue farming. With three siblings keen to follow in her footsteps, one with an avid interest in conservation and wildlife, the Firth family have definitely made a shrewd move in establishing themselves in rural Wales. Autumn brings with it tupping season, donning their match maker hats the Family Firth have carefully considered their ewes and which rams would create the best offspring. This Spring they produced 40 lambs, which was their first lambing season, from 24 ewes. They’ve grown their flock into 32 chosen ewe’s for the 2022 lambing season. Ewes are only in season once a year so there’s only a small time scale for them to get in lamb, which is why autumn is as important as spring time on the farm.

Ask Ellen which season is her favourite  though and she immediately says ‘lambing season’- “It’s always hectic on the farm and lambing is tough and hard work but it’s simple. You just have to concentrate on the lambs – it makes life simple”.

Family Firth were always hoping their lambs wouldn’t be sold at market and traded just anywhere. They are passionate about authenticity and Welsh Lamb going onto Welsh menus and local plates. 

With the local circular economy being so close to their heart it was a perfect partnership when we approached them in the summer about using their lamb on our Sunday lunch menus – from field to plate – completely traceable , not a hoof out of Wales, supporting a micro business and ridiculously tasty – What’s not to love?

You can find the Firth Flock Black Welsh Mountain Lamb featured on our Sunday Lunch Menu

Local – Seasonal – Fresh, it’s what we’re all about!

March Giveaway

Win Dinner for Two!

To celebrate the fabulous re-decoration of The Llugwy River Restaurant we’re giving away a Dinner for Two Voucher, to include a bottle of wine and a pre-dinner drink!

It’s really easy to enter – just tell us who your dream dinner date would be on our Facebook page post by March 26th to win your voucher (worth up to £100 )

Bringing you a menu that celebrates seasonality and local produce. Our food ethos has been influenced over the years by the amazing producers and suppliers who have sprung up locally selling & growing Welsh produce and rearing ethically-bred livestock. Also check out our Gin-Ventory and our local Drinks lists celebrating the very best of local producers and artisan makers on our Food & Drink page.

Good Luck!

T&C’s

1- one comment per person. 2- comments must be made between 11/3/20 and midnight on the 26/3/20 to qualify. 3- participants must be 18years or older to enter. 4 – winner will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 27/3/20 at 4pm 5 – winner will be contacted via Facebook so please remember to like the page so we can message you or send us your contact details via messenger when you add your comment. 6 – Voucher is valid for 6months and cannot be exchanged for cash or other products. 7- employees of the company or close family members entries will be disqualified.

Flippin’ Lovely…

This year we’re adding our own Welsh twist to the traditional feast day of Shrove Tuesday…

What do you call yours a pancake, crepe, pikelet or a socca? Here in Wales we call them a Crempog (or Ffroes).

More like an American pancake than a thin wafery crepe and they would have traditionally been cooked on an iron bake-stone which was either heated in the oven or by the fire.

So we thought hang on….. we know how to cook over fire, our charcoal Josper has made us experts at that …. we also love a good crempog stack being Welsh …. and then we have Visit Wales’ Year of Outdoor 2020…..

Welcome – Croeso to the Big Crempog Cookout!

our OFYR fire-pit will be lighting up on the 25th February and we’ll be serving delicious Crempogs (wth some traditional and not so traditional toppings) from 3-6pm to celebrate Shrove Tuesday.

We can’t guarantee it’ll be all snowy – being the end of February (although you never know!) – but it’ll definitely be toasty around the OFYR and having taste tested our Crempog menu we can whole heartedly say they’re flippin’ lovely!

Love is in the air

book your table in the Llugwy River Restaurant or in the Grill Room on Friday the 14th or Saturday the 15th February 2020

choose to eat from our delicious seasonal menus or choose something sharing and shmoozy from our ‘For the Love of Food’ Valentines Specials Menu

Stay with us for Valentines 2020 and enjoy Chocolates and a bottle of ice cold Prosecco in your room on arrival…..

Followed by a deliciously romantic dinner for two – we just want you to love what you eat – it’s your special night so choose to dine in either of our two venues – our Love of Food specials are available in either restaurant!

packages available from £220

call us on 01690 710219 to book your room or your table

what happens after dinner is entirely up to you…..

new on the loom

We’ve always been passionate about working with local designers and makers.

Cefyn Burgess’ work has been influenced by his trips to Patagonia and Pompeii and by his love of Welsh Chapels. Bought up in Bethesda, he studied textiles in Manchester and completed his MA at the Royal College of Art. He now works from his studio in Ruthin which is where our interior designer first came across his exceptional textile range.

Following on from buying some of his stock items for our standard rooms last year, 2019 has seen the commission of a bespoke design for our newly refurbished Superior and Deluxe rooms.

Taking inspiration from our logo, Beth and Cefyn trialled various sizes and layouts with the image before deciding on the final design. The colour-ways were chosen alongside Beth’s room scheme and influenced by the heritage of the Royal Oak and the soft natural greens of the Snowdonia National Park.

Beth said ‘it never occurred to me how much there is to weaving, such an art it’s like magic to see it appear on the loom’

And as for the finish – well it had to be wool! As well as being a natural fibre choice, wool yarn is also flame resistant – eliminating the need for treating our new bedspreads with any nasty chemical substances. In turn making them a healthier and more sustainable choice for everyone. We can’t wait to see the finished item’s in pride of place in our new bedroom schemes

If you want to find out more about Cefyn’s work visit his website at www.cefynburgess.co.uk or visit his workshop at the Ruthin Cratfs Centre ruthincraftcentre.org.uk

Tasty Welsh Gifts

as the season of giving approaches here are five of our favourite Welsh flavours – perfect for giving, tasting and sharing!

One of the most prestigious craft producers in the UK, the Dyfi Distillery, has just released its first new gin for two years. Navigation Gin, bottled at 57% alcohol, which is traditionally the strength at which the Navy could test that their barrels hadn’t been tampered with! Navigation Gin is an alliance between seafaring tradition and maritime botany, brought together through the medium of umami. Strong and delicious…

This duo of Halen Môn Sea Salt in pretty seaside coloured branded ceramic jars come filled with their award-winning flakes. It’s been served at the London Olympics, political summits and royal weddings – enjoyed around the world by chefs, food lovers and even Barack Obama!  

The perfect gift set for the spiced rum lover in your life, or simply keep it all to yourself! Their gift sets include Barti Spiced with a lovely little tin cup perfect for a cheeky hot toddy or for taking with you when you’re out and about exploring – it’s always the right time for a glass of Barti Spiced!

Pure Snowdonia Shiitake, professionally dried by Ardd Fadarch/The Mushroom Garden – who grow organic mushrooms in the heart of Snowdonia. Wonderful in cassoulets & soups and you can use the liquor left from soaking for some wonderfully inspired Asian cooking – use it like soy sauce to add salty umami flavour.

When we were researching for a new bean we opened a bag of Espresso Beans roasted by Teifi Coffee and were bowled over by the rich chocolate flavours they have roasted to perfection. There was no going back, we now serve it at all our sites!. They also do a subscription service for domestic customers – for £6.99 a month it’s the gift that keeps on giving (they also donate 50p per kilo sold to charity). We love the way they do business ❤️

Cant decide?

Chose the gift that gives you a taste of everything – our new Plåt Bach/Tasting Plates Menu in the Llugwy River Restaurant lets you sample lots of flavours form Wales – chose a Restaurant Experiences Gift Voucher or include it in one of our Accommodation Stays Packages

gift vouchers from £20 upwards

Discover our Favourite Walks

For a low level stroll in Betws-y-Coed it has to be the Artist’s Walk…

From the Pont-Y-Pair Bridge follow the boardwalk along the river and through the trees until it terminates in a wooded dell. It’s a very pretty stroll suitable for pushchairs, wheelchairs, and those unable to walk far.

From the end of the boardwalk you can pick up the track down to the river and walk through the meadows towards the Miners’ Bridge where you can cross over the river and return to the village alongside the A5 . It’s about a three mile walk & is uneven in places.

Task a more strenuous walk and hike up to Llyn Elsi

This idyllic mountain lake is hidden amidst the mixed fir and broadleaf woodlands of the Gwydyr Forest and lies high above Betws-y-Coed. Head for the crescent around St Mary’s Church and take the forestry track at the back following the black/white foot way markers which are sporadically placed along the route. The walk climbs steeply through the woods until you reach the lake. If you turn right at the water towards the Ancaster Memorial you are rewarded with wide ranging mountain views of Snowdonia.

The Dramatic Mountainous Scenery One

Beautiful ice-sculpted Cwm Idwal – a bowl-shaped hollow filled with the crystal clear waters of Llyn Idwal. The site is world famous for its rock formations and its rare and fragile plant life.

Head on up the A5 for approx 8 miles – you’ll see Ogwen Lake on your right and parking is just at the head of the lake to the left. Snowdonia National Park Visitor Centre building marks the beginning of the trail with steps to the left of the building which ascends steeply at times for approximately 56 yd (50m) through verges of heather, towards the mountain gate.

Continue through the gate and over the oak bridge. The bridge provides an excellent opportunity to photograph the peak of Y Garn, with Afon Idwal in the foreground. Follow the footpath to arrive at Llyn Idwal where you can choose a clockwise or anti-clockwise route around the nature reserve.

Our favourite is clockwise – as you set off along the eastern lake shore, look left, a few yards above the footpath. Here you’ll see a collection of large fractured rocks known as Darwin Idwal Boulders.

Further on and you’ll approach the famous Idwal Slabs, a training ground for many pioneering mountaineers including Everest conqueror Edmund Hillary and his Welsh team mate Charles Evans. An alternative high level route can be taken at the junction – whichever you chose make sure to gaze up towards the sheer cliffs at the head of the Cwm – known as The Devils Kitchen .

As the trail manoeuvres around rock and heather clad hummocks you’ll eventually wind down again towards the lake and onto it’s shingle shores. Follow the lake shore until you arrive at a gate in the wall this i share the circular ends and you’ll join the path back on down to the Visitor Centre.

The Challenging One

which mountain to chose – with 87 official mountains in the Snowdonia National Park and 15 of those over 3,000 feet choosing our favourite hasn’t been easy!

so we chose two – Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr!
The walk starts at Llyn Ogwen on the A5 by Idwal Cottage where parking is available in al the lay-bys or in the car park at the Visitor Centre. You then climb towards the pretty Llyn Bochlywd and then on to Bwlch Tryfan. Continue to the peak of Glyder Fach, the second highest of the Glyderau range and the sixth highest in Wales. There is a challenging section over the spectacular Bristly Ridge where some scrambling is required. It’s a stunning ridge with truly awe inspiring views over Nant Ffrancon and Cwm Idwal. At the summit of Glyder Fach you will find the precariously positioned Cantilever Stone.
The climb then continues to the high point of the Glyderau range at the 1000m high Glyder Fawr. Passing the magnificent Castell y Gwynt with its series of tall spiky rocks on the way (it’s featured in Disney’s film Dragonslayer) the views towards Snowdon on this section are quite astonishing. 
The descent back passes by Llyn y Cwn and Llyn Idwal with wonderful views back over the Ogwen Valley.

For full details of this route from Mud and Routes Editor Dave Roberts – click on the link Glyderau

Gin O’Clock

on the 2nd of August Forager’s Gin launched their new gin liqueur exclusively available at the Royal Oak during Eisteddfod week.

Back in 2015 Forager’s Gin launched a small range of premium gin: the world’s first limited-release range. Founded on the premise that great quality can only be achieved in small quantities, Forager’s Gin is now synonymous with the pursuit of uncompromising quality over quantity. Flavours derived from the finest freshly foraged botanicals and cut with the purest waters that flow from the mountains to their copper distillery in the foothills of Snowdonia.

Forager’s have taken their time and been purposefully slow in launching a gin liqueur under the Forager’s brand. 
Following on from their mantra of good things take time, they spend months of each year foraging the finest, freshest botanicals that grow in the Snowdonia mountains and along coastline of North Wales, before being carefully and slowly craft distilled in copper stills.
There new addition had to be the epitome of what a rich, luxury spirit should be….

Introducing

FORAGER’S SUMMER HAZE 

A medley of apple, blackberries and elderflower on a backdrop of the ever-wonderful Foragers Black Label Gin. 

Our favourite ways to drink it are;

simply over ice topped up with soda 
Or 
a squeeze of fresh lime & topped with ginger ale 


try one out at the GinBox where it’s always gin o’clock….

Arts & Business Cymru

Congratulations to all the winners at the A&B Cymru Awards 2019 which was held at the Wales Millenium Centre last week.

Celebrating Creativity and Excellence in Partnership – for over a quarter of a century, A&B Cymru have encouraged, acknowledged and celebrated exemplary and innovative partnerships between the private sector and the arts that benefit communities across the country. 

The team works across Wales with a range of arts professionals, from individual practitioners to flagship organisations, and the private sector from micro businesses through to multi national corporations.

A&B Cymru’s work has proven value in the current economic climate of Wales. The impact it has can be felt on children, people in the workplace, communities large and small.

A&B Cymru role is to support business and the arts to work together in truly mutual partnership, both become stronger with the results benefiting our society in far reaching and tangible ways.

Back in 2003 our first project with A&B Cymru was sponsoring a young artist named Shelly Hocknell to establish her art practice and a gallery in Betws-y-Coed.

Over the years we’ve mentored and worked with a host of organisations and individuals through the A&B Cymru programmes, including the Ruthin Craft Centre, Pontio– Arts & Innovation Centre, The National Writing Centre of Wales – Tŷ Newydd, and the Snowdonia Arts Festival. Our Business Development Manager was also a guest judge for the 2017 awards

Coming up in 2020 very excited about a new arts project in the hotel itself develpoed via A&B’s CultureStep programme … watch this space!

The BespOAK Clog

what a day it was – a fabulous celebration of all things Welsh and Patagonian!

The community came together to support our joint venture with Ysgol Bro Gwydir’s Dance and Clog Team’s fundraising event called -The BespOAK Clog.

The team who have been invited to perform and teach dance skills to the local community and schools in Patagonia, were not only raising funds to support their trip but also wanted to showcase a slice of Welsh culture ahead of the National Eisteddfod, which takes place in Llanrwst, in the first week of August.

Ok so the weather turned a little drizzly in the afternoon and we had to decamp from the terrace into the drier atmosphere of Y Stable’s stage area. But the Gaucho Grill Chefs continued on under their smoky canopy dishing up authentic style asada cooking!

A fantastic response from visitors and locals alike to seeing an extravaganza of traditional dance and folk music. The dance teams even had a box of spare clogs available for anyone who wanted to have a go and join in!

The day raised just under £400 for the school fund and that was matched by a very benevolent donation a day later which doubled the total! We’re really looking forwards to seeing and hearing about the Team’s experiences in Patagonia – if you’d like to help them on their way you can donate via Just Giving ; Clocswyr Y Bont

Copyright 2023 Royal Oak Hotel Betws y Coed.