3ma 2016

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3ma15 in Llangollen, Wales - 27th to 30th May 2015

Having had a 3ma in Scotland in 2009 and England in 2011, we thought it was time to visit Wales and so 3ma15, the 9th annual meeting for Fiat 131s and their owners, will be based in Llangollen in North Wales.

Renowned for the surrounding hills and the River Dee, Llangollen has something for every visitor and we feel it is the ideal base for 3ma15 and for exploring North Wales. Llangollen has a reputation for welcoming people and has an astonishing range of cafés, bars, hotels and  restaurants. This small town also has a wealth of independent shops to browse and interesting places to visit. Llangollen is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site along eleven miles of canal from Gledrid to the Horseshoe Falls via the spectacular Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. The town was also awarded Cittaslow status in 2013.

Situated in Denbighshire on the River Dee and on the edge of the Berwyn mountains, Llangollen has a population of 3,412. The town takes its name from the Welsh llan meaning "a religious settlement" and Saint Collen, a 6th-century monk who founded a church beside the river. As there are no other churches in Wales dedicated to St Collen, it is possible that he may have had connections in Colan in Cornwall, and Langolen in Brittany.

Driving highlights will include The Horseshoe Pass (Welsh: Bwlch yr Oernant, "Pass of the Cold Stream"), a mountain pass that separates Llantysilio Mountain to the west from the 565 metre (1,854 feet) mountain and Marilyn Cyrn-y-Brain to the east. The A542 road from Llandegla to Llangollen runs through the pass, reaching a maximum height of 417 metres (1,368 ft). The road travels in a horseshoe shape around the sides of a valley, giving the pass its name.

This route dates from 1811, when a turnpike road was constructed across the area. As with the rest of the roads in the Clwydian Range, it is not uncommon for sheep to gather in the road, sometimes causing problems for drivers. The road is also frequently closed in winter due to snowfall or landslides.

Fans of the cult TV series "The Prisoner" will be delighted to know that we'll be visiting Portmeirion known as "The Village" in the TV series. It was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village. Sir Clough Williams-Ellis denied repeated claims that the design was based on the town of Portofino, Italy. He stated only that he wanted to pay tribute to the atmosphere of the Mediterranean. He did, however, draw from a love of the Italian village stating, "How should I not have fallen for Portofino? Indeed its image remained with me as an almost perfect example of the man-made adornment and use of an exquisite site." In building "The Village", Williams-Ellis incorporated fragments of demolished buildings, including works by a number of other architects. Portmeirion's architectural bricolage and deliberately fanciful nostalgia have been noted as an influence on the development of postmodernism in architecture in the late 20th century.

Probably more by accident or coincidence than by design, water in the form of lakes, rivers or sea has been a feature of all 3ma meetings.  And 3ma15 will be no exception with a drive round part of Lake Bala on one of the driving days. Bala Lake is a large lake in Gwynedd, Wales and it was the largest natural body of water in Wales prior to the level being raised by Thomas Telford to help support the flow of the Ellesmere Canal. It is 4 miles (6.4 km) long by 1 mile (1.6 km) wide, and is subject to sudden and dangerous floods. The River Dee runs through it and the waters of the lake are famously deep and clear. The town of Bala sits at its northern end and the narrow gauge Bala Lake Railway runs for several kilometres along the lake's southern shore.

Other notable places of interest we'll be visiting is the village with the longest name in the world: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch . This Welsh village actually exists and its name translates as "The church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio's of the red cave". For brevity, it is understandable that many of the locals simply refer to their village as "Llanfair" which, of course, makes for easier typing and is faster to pronounce. The long form of the name was invented for promotional purposes in the 1860s. It is a large village and community on the island of Anglesey in Wales, situated on the Menai Strait next to the Britannia Bridge and across the strait from Bangor. It is alternatively known as Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Llanfairpwll and Llanfair PG. It is the sixth largest settlement on the island by population.

Our chosen Hotel for 3ma15 is the Wild Pheasant Hotel in Llangollen. We have negotiated a special inclusive deal for dinner, bed and breakfast and full details of the hotel and our exclusive deal can be found in the Travel & Accommodation section of our website.                                

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