My good friend, Liam, decided to take a short break in the Snowdonia National Park and, last week, we met up to do a short walk (of approx. 4 miles) around the Gwydyr Forest, starting from Betws-y-Coed. As you will see from the route map and photo gallery, it was a circular walk, taking in the very tip of Llyn (lake) y Parc, lots of forest paths and several waterfalls.
I hope you enjoy your virtual visit to this small, but very beautiful, part of North Wales.
Technical note: I’d noticed that my photos were appearing quite small on the screen. I think this is because I was shrinking them to around 350kb, to save space and allow them to be loaded quickly. So this time, I’ve shrunk them to around 1Mb in the hope that the gallery ‘experience’ is much better. Please let me know if you have difficulty loading or seeing them and I’ll revert to the smaller format.
Yesterday my wife, Jude, had a crochet lesson from 1:30 to 4pm at the Village Hall in Llanbedr. So I worked out a route which would take me there, via a ‘scenic route’, from our home in Ynys. As you will see from the pics below, the day started brightly but the clouds eventually won over.
Once inland, I had a few options for getting to my destination and I thought I was doing the right thing by taking the ‘direct’ route via Ffridd Farm, along part of the Ardudwy Way… Wrong!! The map had the path heading directly south through 2 of the farm buildings… (see pic 22). All went well there and I found a gate on the other side but then I was stopped in my tracks as I peered over a sheer drop of about 30 feet! (See pic 23). I looked to the right then left and there was no obvious path, so I took the lesser of the two ‘drops’ on the right hand side.
After climbing and then scrambling down, I was faced with a maze of waist high bracken with only the odd signpost to guide me through the damp and squishy valley floor. My GPS and OS map had me several yards off the official route, but eventually I found a stile to take me onto a more obvious path.
I do wonder sometimes who makes up these official paths or “Ways” and it made me realise why I’m not so keen to go out walking in North Wales. Oh, what I’d give to be back on those delightful paths of Switzerland!!
I don’t have tick lists as such, but one of my goals is to walk up to the top of all of the mountains that we can see from our house. Moel Hebog is the one which is more or less in the centre of the banner picture at the top of my site and is 782m or 2,566ft high. I’m surprised it’s taken my this long to do it, but on Sunday, with the heatwave still going strong, I set off from the car park between Nantmor and the Aberglaslyn bridge. After 2 minutes, I realised that I was heading in the wrong direction, but I was glad in a way as otherwise I wouldn’t have captured the two butterflies in pics 1 and 2 below. 😀
The route follows the east side of the river (or afon) Glaslyn to the quaint little village of Beddgelert (which was packed with tourists) before heading almost directly up to the summit. From the top, with my binoculars, I could just about make out our house through the heat haze, but the views in all directions were fantastic. Not only that but, while I sat and ate my lunch, I was treated to a fly past by a red kite and several Wall Browns living up to their names on the dry stone wall leading up to the summit cairn.
On my return, I’d hoped to see one of the Welsh Highland Railway steam trains passing by, but I had to be content with a shot of one in the Beddgelert station. (See pic 31).
After 3 days on the Isle of Tiree we decamped (literally) to the adjacent island of Coll. Accommodation was in short supply, so we slept for 2 nights ‘under canvas’, at the lovely Garden House campsite, before spending 4 nights at the fabulous Coll Hotel*.
The campsite is surrounded by an RSPB reserve, where you will almost certainly hear, if never see, the elusive and endangered corncrake. We were treated to an all night chorus by at least two of them (& a cuckoo) on our first night there. If you’ve never heard the call of a corncrake, please listen to this recording on Wiki and you’ll get a feel for our experience. The campsite does provide free ear plugs!
Positioned as it was at the western end of the island, it was a no-brainer for me to do an 8 mile / 13km circuit along the coastal path to the far tip of the island, before returning across country to Crossapol Bay. One of my targets was to ‘bag’ what must be one of the lowest trig points in the whole of Scotland, if not the UK, at Calgary Point, which stands at the magnificent height of 59ft or 18 metres. (See pic 13).
*Note that I shamelessly give the Coll Hotel a plug (indeed 2 now) as it’s owned and run by some family member’s of my cousin, Ron. 👍👍 😊
A whale watching trip has been on Jude’s bucket list (and mine if I was honest and had a bucket list) for as long as I can remember. So, with whales, basking sharks and all sorts of dolphins and porpoises routinely spotted off the west coast of Scotland, it was no surprise then that we booked a seafari trip while we were on Tiree.
Our trip would take us all the way across to Tobermory on Mull, where we had lunch, before returning to Scarinish Harbour. Our day was not complete though, as we packed a picnic and headed off to one of the other beaches to watch the sun go down.
As you can maybe appreciate, capturing good photos of sea life from a boat is not easy and a lot can be trial and error, but the prize for the best shot of the day goes to Jude for picture no. 14. It sort of sums up our wonderful day.
Knowing that we would have a long, 8 hour drive to Jodie and Alex’s wedding, Jude and I decided to extend our stay in Scotland with a trip to two of the islands in the Inner Hebrides – Tiree and Coll.
Known as the Sunshine Isle, for having the most sunshine in all of the UK (I’m told), Tiree is noted for its stunning beaches (see also the detailed map below). In the few days that we were there we tried our best to get around them all and below are some of my best pics. I hope you enjoy.
Although Day 4 was perhaps the shortest, at around 11.5 miles or 19km, it certainly had more ascent and descent, as you will see from the pics below.
The logistics of this event were a little more complex than usual, but I’ll not bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that it would be very remiss of me not to mention a few people who supported us during our walk. So a very big THANKYOU to:
My wife, Jude, for ferrying me to the start and back from the finish, not to mention helping with our car in the middle.
Tim’s wife, Hayley, for similarly providing a taxi service for the boys to the start on Day 1 and for us all on days 3 and 4. And to both Tim and Hayley for accommodating us in their wonderful home, which included a fabulous celebratory meal at the end.
Three and a half year old London and her mom, Tiffany, for the welcome banner as we arrived back at Tim’s, (see pic 36). London was an endless source of fun and games. I shall forever be known to her as Grandpa Pig (of Peppa Pig fame), while Dave is “The Naughty Boy”, for not coming down from his bedroom when told.
And, lastly, to Pete, Liam, Tim and Dave for their excellent company over the 4 days. It never ceases to amaze me how we fill the days talking about anything and everything, most of which is absolute rubbish! 😉
While we were staying in Alnwick, Jude went off for the day to see her best friend Kate in Edinburgh. I therefore took the opportunity to do a long(ish) walk (of about 14 miles or 22.5 km) from Boulmer. OK, I admit it, my main motivation was to stop for a beer at the Ship Inn in Low Newton-by-the-Sea. 😋
As you will see from the gallery below, the weather was breezy, but quite kind until I set off for the return journey, when the winds dropped and the rain took over. I got so wet, my mobile phone screen decided to pack up and, despite my best efforts to revive it (by leaving it in a bag of dried rice for a week), it still doesn’t work.
Over the past few weeks, Jude and I have been in the habit of collecting bits of sea glass and washed up pottery from all the various beaches that we have visited. I therefore couldn’t stop myself picking up the handful in picture 2, which were all found in the small area seen just below my hand. Another load was safely put to one side until I returned, when I managed to completely fill my sandwich bag.
The route also took in Dunstanburgh Castle and Embleton beach which I’ve previously posted here. My apologies for the duplication, but I don’t think you can ever have too much of a good thing!
Firstly a very happy and hopefully very healthy new year to all my followers and a special thanks to all of you who have commented over the past 12 months, it is very much appreciated as I’m sure you all know.
So to the, well my, answers to all those images (repeated below in case you missed my original post), with a little explanation in case you don’t ‘see’ it:
Is obviously a fish – and many commented that it was an Angel fish, which is even more precise. I was pleased that the, albeit quite large, stone was in the right place, making it look a bit like one of those from the deep. The gaping mouth added to the drama!
A tricky one this, which some may have thought was a squirrel and I’d go with that, but I initially though it looked like a deer running away to the left, with its butt in the air. There are two small antlers too, to the top left, so that was my answer.
As soon as I saw this in the sand and maybe it was because we’re now living in Wales and I was hoping to find one, that I thought it was a dragon, breathing fire out of its mouth to the top right and a claw off to the left. But I can also see a lady’s dress.
Again, this ‘spoke’ to me immediately as a roadrunner. My thoughts went back to my youth and all of those wonderful Looney Tunes, with Bugs Bunny (my favourite) and the hapless, but very inventive, Wile E Coyote always failing to catch the Roadrunner. Beep, beep!
Another fairly obvious one which many people got – definitely a scorpion.
Less obvious was what I thought looked like a horse (one of two in this list). It reminded me of one of those sit-on horses on a merry-go-round at the fair, with it’s head in the air and feet never quite touching the ground.
Perhaps the easiest of them all, with it being a rather chic (perhaps Christian Dior?) dress. Maybe the beach is where they got some of their inspiration!
Not so clear is the jellyfish. Perhaps a little bit manufactured to get into this quiz, but at least one person spotted it. Well done Brian!
In the same vane, this horse was not so obvious – particularly with it’s tiny head. but it reminded me of one on those ancient cave paintings, where the perspective is not quite right.
A little clearer was the goose or duck or swan. Again the white ‘eye’ was already there…
…as it was in this image, which looks like a shark to me, but could be many sorts of fish I suppose.
Last but not least was what I thought was a squirrel, with its little legs running off to the right and bushy tail dragging behind.
I hope you enjoyed this little quiz. I think it’s amazing what nature conjures up!
Further to my post on Christmas Eve, my thanks to those who have already commented but, in case you are still trying to work them out, below are some possible answers to match up with the images. I’ve posted them all again below, so that you will have everything in one place. And, since I’ve just realised that I missed a couple pictures, there are now two more for you to puzzle over!!
However, be warned, I’ve only given you 11 possible answers to the 12 pictures – so one of the answers appears twice, but I’m not going to tell you which one. (I’m such a tease!)
Anyway, here are my ‘answers’ and I’ll publish which I think belongs to each image later in the week.
So, just let me know what you think images 1, 2, 3 etc, are… E.g. 1 Squirrel, 2 Scorpion, etc. etc.
Lastly, remember, there are no ‘right’ answers (and please do let me know if you are convinced one of them is something not in the above list) plus, of course, it’s only a bit of fun!