Vogue on the road: a Portmeirion getaway in a Range Rover
Eventually we drove over the bridge over the estuary, under the huge ancient ramparts of Conwy Castle, and into this curious town. Our dinner destination was another silver lining of the lockdown: jackdaw, supposedly because a jackdaw is a native born within the walls of Conwy – birds nest in the walls around the town. Restaurant owner and chef Nick Rudge operated as sous chef at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in Bray until Covid forced him to take leave. Seeing an opportunity to open up in his hometown instead, Rudge did just that, and The Jackdaw is now busy serving grilled scallops, brown butter-poached cod and wild wood pigeon to satisfied diners.
And if a Blumenthal-trained chef in this pretty town isn’t enough, there’s also possibly the best Italian gelateria in the UK, a fantastic friendly butcher and Plas MawrBritain’s finest Elizabethan townhouse, with rooms and garden restored to their original beauty.
Being the petrolhead geek that I am, the sweetest moment for me was parking the new Range Rover in the crowded castle car park. The SUV has a very clever trick, which is the four-wheel steering: the technology gives it the same turning radius as a Mini Countryman, which will be a great comfort for more nervous drivers. I just turned the steering wheel slightly and backed up smartly with no hassle or stress.
We went through more than one tank of fuel on our trip – we had the base diesel model which is still fast enough for most people. But if you’re (rightly) concerned about your carbon footprint or want to save money at the pump, two plug-in hybrids are offered with up to 62 miles of electric-only driving (I’d be surprised if anyone has seen that figure before) and, if you can wait until 2024, you can go all-electric with the first purely electric Range Rover. Having driven this gigantic SUV in electric mode as a plug-in hybrid, I can tell you that the quiet ride suits the car’s luxurious character. Line it up with one of the most durable interiors – woolen seats, ceramic frills, open-pore wood – and you have yourself a stylish and highly upgradable solution for luxury motoring.
After dropping my partner off at her sister’s house in Conwy, I drove the next morning along the coast to Portmeirion, the crazy Italian village open to visitors. It’s quite a sight, but better still is the stretch of road between this and Porthmadog, with sea on one side, hills and hills on the other, streams pouring through mystical valleys and gathering in a sandy delta over which steam trains puff. I did the stretch twice, just to stare in wonder, rub my eyes, and try to capture her majesty on my iPhone. It didn’t work: there’s no substitute for seeing it yourself, so get going now.
The car: Land Rover Range Rover
- Price: from £99,375
- Engine: D350 diesel (petrols and plug-in hybrids available now)
- Features: Amazon Alexa, Rear Seat Entertainment Screens, Wireless Smartphone Mirror, Seven Seats or Extended Wheelbase, Remote Parking, Meridian Sound System
- Design yours here.