Snowdonia Tour, Day 4 (of 4), The Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel to Beddgelert, North Wales

The forecast for day 4 was for light rain from mid-day. This was not great news when we were planning to go over Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales at 1085m or 3,560ft. It had to be done though, as Pete and I had been to the top of the other 4 highest peaks in the UK and Ireland on previous walks – the first being Ben Nevis (@1,345m or 4,413ft) in 1997 when Pete, Tim, Liam, Colin & I did the West Highland Way. That was in the clouds too!

For the record, Dave joined Pete and I on a trip to the English Lake District the following year and we did Scafell Pike (@978m or 3,209ft). A trip to southern Ireland followed in 2000 and another friend, Paul, joined Liam, Dave, Pete and I on a 4 day walk, which included Carrauntoohil (@1,038m or 3,407ft). And it would be 14 years later that Tim, Liam, Pete and I completed most of the 19 mile Mourne Wall Walk in Northern Ireland, which included an ascent of Slieve Donard (@850m or 2,790ft). So Snowdon was long overdue…

Although low cloud covered the top 250m or so of the summit, we didn’t actually get rained on once all day. Indeed we had no rain on all 4 days – which must be some sort of record for North Wales!

My thanks go to all the boys for making the effort to come over to ‘my’ little corner of the country and for all the usual banter and fantastic memories (& beers) that we have shared. 😊

Snowdonia Tour, Day 3 (of 4), Betws-y-Coed to the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel, North Wales

After a hearty breakfast at the Glan Aber Hotel, we set off on what would be the most climbing of any of the days, at nearly 4,000ft (or 1,200m). Our route was initially along yet another section of the Snowdonia Slate Trail, alongside of the Afon Llugwy (river) and past the Swallow Falls. From there we wandered through the woods and across the moor to Capel Curig. That’s where we parted from the Slate Trail and the ‘serious’ climbing started, up to Y Foel Goch (@ 2,640ft or 805m) and, from there, slightly down to the Miner’s track.

Eager to ‘bag’ Glyder Fach (@3,262ft or 994m), Dave, Pete and I carried on to the top, leaving Tim and Liam to meander down to the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel. The summit was a mass of random boulders, which took some navigating to get onto the actual top but, with Dave’s ‘perfectly safe’ assistance, we managed it. (See pics 29P and 30). We scrambled back down and returned to the Miner’s track to reach the hotel in good time for dinner. πŸ˜‹

The Pen-y-Gwryd hotel has quite a history, it’s famous for being the training headquarters of the first successful Everest expedition in 1953. Several well known climbers and celebrities have signed their names on one of the ceilings, including Sir Edmund Hilary, George Mallory, Alan Hinkes, Don Willans and Sir Roger Bannister. The Beatles once visited the hotel, but they were not deemed famous enough (at the time no doubt) to be invited to sign the ceiling!
For more information on this rather amazing place, please click or touch here.

With thanks to Pete for the use of some of his photos (suitably watermarked) and the ‘loan’ of his camera to take the summit selfie, (pic 30).

Snowdonia Tour, Day 2 (of 4), Blaenau Ffestiniog to Betws-y-Coed, North Wales

After a steep climb up from Blaenau Ffestiniog, our route would take us across moorland, past several small lakes and yet another disused quarry. It had the rather delightful name of Cwt-y-bugail (pronounced Coot-uh-beegisle, if I’m not mistaken), which Google translates as The Shepherd’s Hut.

We then dropped down into and along the Penmachno valley, before turning north through the Fairy Glen to Betws-y-coed. It was rather appropriate then that Liam would spot a ‘face’ in the wall, which he immediately announced was a Wall Goblin, keeping a watchful eye on us! (See pic 18).

I was also very pleased to discover another member of the dead-nettle family, called Yellow Archangel (Lamium galeobdolon), which I don’t recall ever seeing, or at least noticing, before. It has the most wonderful, orchid like, ‘hooded’ and hairy flowers with variegated leaves. (See pic 23). πŸ‘πŸ˜Š

Snowdonia Tour, Day 1 (of 4), Beddgelert to Blaenau Ffestiniog, North Wales

Regular readers will know that I often go on walks with my old (and getting older) running mates. Last year it was a section of the South West Coast Path in Cornwall. This year, it was my turn to ‘host’ something in North Wales and I planned a 4 day circular walk from Beddgelert to Blaenau Ffestiniog, from there to Betws-y-Coed, thence to the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel and, finally, back to Beddgelert. Each day was between 11 and 12 miles (18 & 20km) long.

Unfortunately, Colin couldn’t make it, but Tim, Pete, Dave and Liam were all up for the challenge, which included taking on the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon, on our last day. Day 1 was no walk in the park either with an ascent of Cnicht – The Matterhorn of Wales!

The forecast for our trip wasn’t good, with light rain expected sometime on 3 of the 4 days, but we were actually very lucky and didn’t get wet once! We even had some sunshine!

I hope you enjoy this stroll around the hills and valleys of Snowdonia (which we finished yesterday btw).

Alnmouth to Warkworth Walk, Northumberland, England

For my last walk while we were on holiday, I left Jude pottering around Alnwick and drove down to Alnmouth railway station, (where, most unusually, there’s free parking πŸ‘) to do an out and back walk along a section of the England Coast Path. As you will see the weather wasn’t great, though it didn’t rain and there was a small incentive to get to Warkworth (other than the golf course – pic 16 in case you hadn’t guessed). πŸ˜‹

I was equally puzzled and amused by the signpost in picture 11, indicating north and south, and I wondered how anyone walking the path would not know which way they were going when they got to that point. πŸ€”

The Royal Yacht, Britannia, Edinburgh, Scotland

As mentioned in my previous post, our main reason for going to Edinburgh was to see the Royal Yacht, Britannia. The ship was ordered in 1952 and launched by Queen Elizabeth II herself on April 16th 1953. It was decommissioned in 1997 and is now moored as a visitor attraction in the port of Leith in Edinburgh.

As you will see it was a pretty wet and grey day for, certainly external, photography, but hopefully the images give you a flavour for what life must have been like for not only the Queen and Prince Phillip (& their family, when on board) but also the officers and crew.

Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland

While we were in Northumberland, Jude and I went for a day trip to Edinburgh on the train. Our main aim was to see the Royal Yacht, Britannia, but our appointment wasn’t until the afternoon. So with drizzle in the air, we opted for a wander around the Scottish National Gallery (at least one part of which is free to enter btw).

I’m always amazed by the skill of any artist, but some of the paintings (shown below) just blew me away – particularly the level of detail on some of the larger works. You’ve got to love the look on the dog’s face in the last image.

Note: For the best ‘gallery’ experience, please click on the first (or any) image and page through… (The title of each piece and artist is noted underneath each image, though I’m afraid WP doesn’t like to include capitals and apostrophe’s, etc).

Holy Island of Lindisfarne Walk, Northumberland, England

Jude and I spent last week on holiday in Northumberland. We went for a number of walks along the fabulous beaches along the coast and this was the first, around (most of) the island of Lindisfarne or Holy Island – so called because, in 635AD, St Aidan travelled there from Iona to set up a monastery.

The island is cut off from the mainland twice a day due to the tides, so you have to time your arrival and departure carefully. Luckily we were able cross around 10am and drive back again before 5:30pm. Just enough time to make the most of the glorious sunshine! 😊

The Dee Way, Part 1, Day 5 (of 5), Llangollen, N.Β Wales to Chirk, England

Overnight the temperature rose by around 10 degrees and my last day promised to be warm and dry. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ˜Š Though this did mean, of course, that the snow would be melting fast and some sections could be wet and boggy or slippery. However, for 4 days I’d been walking in my waterproof jacket and trousers (see first pic of day 1), so it was a relief and almost liberating, to be able to wear just my normal walking trousers, a tee shirt and a jumper.

I had planned 2 routes for this day, each with its own merits; one was flat, along the canal, while the other went up and down Dinas Bran (where there’s the ruins of a medieval castle) and then along a section of Offa’s Dyke path, called the Panorama walk (which I’d done some years previously with my old mate, Tim). Since it was going to be fine, I chose the latter and extended it a little by doing the second half of the other route.

It was quite slippery on the ascent of Dinas Bran and, as any regular walker will testify, descents can often be more difficult. And so it proved, as I reached the last section… Two young ladies were picking their way, very carefully, up what was probably the normal path, but I decided to avoid them and go off to the right where there seemed to be less, smooth wet grass and more snow. I expected to get a better grip, but very soon I realised that I had very little traction at all. In an instant, I started taking very quick, little steps, which turned into a mini shuffle and then run down the hill. While trying to stop, I slid on two feet for a short distance and feared I was going to topple head first down the hill. So the only solution was to fall backwards to come to a more controlled stop!

As you’ll see in pic 7, I slid quite a way, but the worst part was that I was absolutely soaked through to the skin. My jumper and trousers and almost everything underneath were drenched. Apart from the presence of the 2 ladies, (who obviously had a good laugh at my expense), all my dry gear was packed away, deep in my rucksack and there was no way that I could get it all out and get changed with all the snow and slush about. So, a little further on, I found a dry(ish) patch and quickly replaced my wet gear with my waterproof jacket and trousers! All was not lost though as, about a mile further on, when the coast was clear along the dry road, I dug out another pair of trousers and jumper etc. and finished the walk in a dry set of normal clothes.

Let’s hope Part 2, later this year, from Chirk to Hoylake, will have better weather! 🀞🀞