Clwb Golff Brenhinol Dewi Sant (Royal St David’s Golf Club), Harlech, North Wales

I’ve mentioned a few times before that the main reason I don’t post as often these days is due to joining the above golf club when I came back to the UK and therefore playing a lot more golf than I did in Switzerland. Well, the weather has been glorious for the past week, so I thought it was about time I took my camera down to the club to show you why I’m so distracted…

Yesterday there was a regular “Monthly Stableford” competition and, although I didn’t play very well, I did manage to capture a few photos (if not birdies), including one of an orchid while searching for my lost ball! (Every cloud has a silver lining! 😊)

With thanks to my playing partners, Roy, John and Barry for putting up with me wandering off to take these pictures!

Please note that if you page through the gallery, each image has a caption, which explains each hole.

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).

Cadair Idris (descent) Walk, North Wales

Nearly 3 weeks ago now, we had a gloriously blue sky day forecast. So I decided to walk up to the top of Cadair Idris (which was a first for me). At 893m, or 2930ft, it’s the highest mountain in southern Snowdonia.

After parking near the Minffordd Hotel, I took the very steep Minffordd path to the top and had some amazing views of Llyn Cau and Cadair Idris itself. And I would have had some equally amazing photos to show you but, about half way round, as I started my descent from Mynydd Moel, I discovered that there was no SD card in the camera! (Doh! πŸ˜–) Thankfully I had my mobile phone with me and had already taken a panoramic photo from the summit (see pic 1), so I started to use that on the descent.

On the way down, I noticed a row of people with cameras. (See pics 8 & 9). I assumed they were twitchers looking for a rare bird, but they were obviously looking for a much faster ‘bird’, as there were some jets doing practice circuits along the valley and they came roaring through about 3 or 4 times. I managed to capture one reasonable photo, (pic 10), but I decided to take a video to give you a better flavour for what was happening. However, I suggest you turn down the volume for the video added at the end, as it’s rather loud!

If we ever get a blue sky day again (and I’m free of golf) I plan to return and take some photos of the ascent!

Footnote: For some reason I couldn’t transfer my photos to my laptop, so I downloaded the images and video using the Jetpack app on my phone (hence there’s no watermark nor image texts and the panorama pics are a bit wonky!) and I added this text on my laptop. πŸ˜€

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).

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! 🀞🀞

The Dee Way, Part 1, Day 4 (of 5), Corwen to Llangollen, N. Wales

Day 4 started brightly enough, but with snow or sleet forecast for later and almost 15.5 miles to cover, I cheated a little and took the easier road option for the first section. I soon arrived in Carrog where the information board told me that Paul McCartney’s brother, Mike, was married in the local church in 1968. Presumably Sir Paul was there, but it didn’t say. (See pics 10 – 12).

After that it was up into the hills and the deep snow, which was well over a foot deep in places. (See pics 17 and 20). Back down on the road I came upon a signpost indicating it was only half a mile to the Sun Inn. The pub wasn’t marked on the map and, as it was (last) Saturday, I hoped it would be open. Sure enough it was and I enjoyed a spot of lunch before setting off in the sleet…

The last section followed the canal towpath from the Horseshoe Falls (much prettier in sunshine) all the way into Llangollen.

The Dee Way, Part 1, Day 2 (of 5), Llanuwchllyn to Llandderfel, N. Wales

If you saw my ‘mobile’ post last week, you will have noticed that there was more overnight snow. And it was still snowing when I left the very nice Bwch yn Uchaf B&B. I therefore decided to skip the brief detour from the road up the hill (seen in pic 2) as it simply came back to the road about a kilometre further on. Not surprisingly, I didn’t see any cars come along the road at all.

However, in the hope of clearer weather to come, I did decide to go uphill to take in the panoramic viewpoints marked on the map. I was lucky in that the snow did come and go to give me one or two, albeit very dull, grey pictures of Bala Lake, or Llyn Tegid as it’s called in Welsh.

I rather jokingly said to a few people that it would be downhill to go from the source to the mouth of the river, but how wrong I was! There were several good climbs along the route, and the highest on this day (at 1050ft or 320m) can be seen in picture no. 13.

You may also notice certain recurring themes in these posts. One is the number of different way signs encountered. The Dee Way seems to take in sections of several different paths, including, on this leg, the Cross Britain Way and the Tegid Way. Churches are another feature, not because I’m a religious person, far from it, but they do provide a bit of occasional shelter (if open) and, for me, they hold a certain fascination. It could be their age or construction or the objects seen inside. On this particular occasion, I was touched by the relevance of the “Church Door” text, which was by the entrance to Llandderfel church. Have a read of pic 26 and see what you think.

Pubs or, more precisely, real ales are also a passion of mine, but more of that to come… 🍺😊