Farmer is accused of being abusive towards tourists he believes haven’t put full admission fee in ‘honesty box’
A secluded North Wales beauty spot popular with walkers is attracting visitors for more than just its scenery.
Described as a “secluded an enchanting gorge on the river Conwy” in tourist guidebooks, the Fairy Glen Gorge in Betws-y-Coed, Snowdonia , features idyllic waterfalls and is named after the “mythical sprites” which are said to live there.
But the protected wildlife site is now becoming known for more than just the stunning views, reports Wales Online.
Visitors have been taking to TripAdvisor to share their experiences with several taking to the review website to tell how their trip was ruined by who they have dubbed “the toll troll”.
Reviewers claim that an elderly man has been approaching them and launching into tirades accusing them of not paying the full admission fee.
They say they have been left “shell shocked” by the man who is said to “hurtle” towards tourists whenever he suspects the 50p admission fee per person and parking fee of £1 has not been paid into the unmanned honesty box near the entrance gate.
The farmer’s wife herself says the reviews on TripAdvisor are so distressing that they can’t bear to read them – and that the admission fee barely covers the cost of looking after the site.
She also claimed that some of the visitors are rude and aggressive when they are caught out for not paying.
But now she believes the beauty spot has become so infamous that people are deliberately visiting and failing to pay in order to antagonise her husband and spark a reaction.
“Sometimes we feel like shutting off all access. It gets you down at times,” she said.
The reviews on Tripadvisor have headings such as “BEWARE HE IS WATCHING” and “Lovely place, shame about the owner”.
“Avoid at all costs, watch out you’re being watched!” wrote Jessmayns from Sussex in October 2018.
“An old man watches from his house as you arrive on CCTV and then comes out to check if you’ve paid correctly, mumbling incoherently and angrily to himself as he approaches you. Quite scary actually and not a nice experience with children in tow.”
Ayrebearbunch added, “Experience utterly ruined by the miserable, yawping owner, screeching up the path at everyone to check they have paid. (Not quite grasping the concept of the honesty box.)”
“A living relative of Basil Fawlty,” is how 22dawnbir described him, while Rob A from York warned: “Woe betide anyone not putting the correct amount of money in the drop box (honest mistake), the owner will appear by magic like a screaming banshee and demand the correct fee.”
Hellojoe3 from London had is own encounter after going hiking in the area with friends back in the spring of 2014.
“Less than 50 meters into the property we had an old man running towards us like he was running from an atomic bomb waving his arms trying to get our attention screaming, ‘I recorded you, you haven’t paid, leave my property now’,” he wrote.
Others admit going to the site purely to see if the comments about the so-called ‘toll troll’ are true.
“Before going we read some of the Trip Advisor reviews. I saw some about the owner harassing visitors and thought yeah, yeah, yeah,” began Calypso12 from Peterborough.
“On arrival we were walking up to the gate in and someone started shouting – it was directed at us. All about the honestly box, just as the other reviews said. As we were leaving he was having a go at another couple.
“Harassment by the owner is an integral part of the visitor experience.”
Another commented: “Saw the reviews about the grumpy man, so under paid on purpose – well worth it to see the troll.”
Lancastrian85 called it, “A great place for troll hunting,” adding, “I would recommend this place to anyone that likes to be chased by angry old men.”
“Can I recommend underpaying by a few pence, to see if the troll can be lured out of his cave?”
Heather Hughes, who owns nearby Cwmanog Isaf Farm B&B with her husband John – AKA ‘the toll troll’, said the reviews were upsetting.
“We’ve had this place 27 years and the honesty box system has always been there,” she says, adding that the amount they charge barely covers the basic costs for the annual upkeep of the beauty spot in their care.
“The box is alarmed and monitored and people have to put the money in, or they can leave.
“Very often it’s them that get upset and offended at being caught not paying. They don’t like that and as a result it’s them who are rude and aggressive to us.”
“We don’t read the TripAdvisor reviews because they’re too upsetting, too stupid and to do so would just drive us mad.”
Asked if she thought some visitors were deliberately failing to pay in order to have their own run-in with her husband, she replies, “Yes, some people do that. That’s quite true.
“Sometimes we feel like shutting off all access. It gets you down at times.”
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