Ynys Llanddwyn,Ynys Môn, Cymru (aka Llanddwyn Island, Anglesey, Wales)

One thing you notice when you come to Wales is that all the road and most shop signs are written in both Welsh and English. So it only seems right that I should do my best to follow suit here. (Though why I didn’t write many of my other post titles in French or German or Italian I’m not sure… Perhaps I did sometimes. 🤔)

Anyhow, it was only last week that I realised I’d not posted these pictures of our trip to the aforementioned Ynys Llanddwyn (island), which lies off the southern edge of Anglesey. It’s not really an island so much as an isthmus which is cut off at high tide.

So the following gallery harks back to 23rd March 2022, when Jude and I went for a drive around to one of our favourite places. And, my apologies for yet more beaches, but I shall be returning to the mountains very soon I’m sure…

Some (approximate) pronunciation notes:

  • The letter ‘w’ in Welsh is frequently pronounced ‘oo’ as in ‘look’ (more or less like a double u sound), but at other times like a ‘w’ as in water.
  • A double d, ‘dd’, is pronounced ‘th’ as in ‘the’.
  • A ‘u’ is pronounced like an ‘i’, sometimes short, like ‘tin’ and sometimes long, as in ‘been’.
  • The ‘y’ is perhaps the most confusing, (to non-Welsh speakers that is), as it is sometimes pronounced like ‘uh’ as in ‘cut’, but at other times like an ‘i’ as in ‘bin’ and others like ‘ee’ as in ‘been’.
  • There is no English equivalent to the double L. ‘Ll’, is best described by putting your tongue to the top of your mouth and blowing out!

Hence Cymru = Cumree, Ynys = Unis, Llanddwyn = Llan-th-oo-in. (Hope this helps!)

Moelwyn Mawr and Moelwyn Bach Walk, Gwynedd, North Wales

Although we’ve experienced some gale force winds this weekend, the skies have been perfectly blue. So my new golfing buddy, Ian, and I decided to do a walk rather than attempt to whack an all too small round object into an only slightly larger hole. 🏌️‍♂️

The choice of walk was quite easy, for me anyway, as I stare at these “Moelwyns” every day – when it’s not raining of course. (You can see them to the far right of my banner picture). And what a treat we had…

Setting off from the small village of Croesor, the track gradually ascends to some disused slate quarry buildings and then turns sharply upwards to the back of Moelwyn Mawr (mawr meaning big) at 770m or 2,526ft. The 360 degree views were so impressive that I decided to take a video, which I’ve added after the usual photo gallery below, (though I’ve muted the sound as the noise of the wind was almost deafening!)

From there we dropped down and across Craigysgafn to the path, visible in pic 18, to the left, and then up to the top, of Moelwyn Bach (bach meaning small) at 710m or 2,329ft. It was then a case of retracing our steps to Bwlch Stwlan (bwlch meaning col or pass) and descending back to Croesor along Pant Mawr (meaning Big Hollow).

I hope you enjoy this walk as much as we did. 😊

Unusual Sightings at Benar Beach, Gwynedd, N. Wales

Just before Christmas, Judith and I were slightly alarmed to hear a whirring noise outside the house. We looked out of the kitchen window and saw not one, but two, powered paragliders (or paramotorists) flying up and down and then across the estuary. This was a first in nearly 4 months of living here.

It turned out to be a nice day, so we did our usual thing and went for a walk along Benar beach (which is about 9.5 miles or 15km further down the coast). And, hey presto, another came whizzing along! At least this time I had my camera ready. 😊

As we walked along, Judith spotted some small lumps or bubbles emerging from the sand. Neither of us had ever seen anything like it before and I’d be interested to know if anyone else has….(?) They were filled with air because, as soon as you touched the top of them, they deflated. But how on earth they were formed, given that we’re talking, albeit wet, sand here, I don’t think I’ll ever know.

They only appeared, near to the sea, over a stretch of no more than 30 yards (of a very long beach) and, as you can see from the pics below, there were quite a few of them. Their size varied from maybe an inch or 2cm across, up to 8 inches or 20 cm. Very strange (and we’ve not seen any since)!

Moel Ysgyfarnogod Walk, Gwynedd, North Wales (Part 2 of 2)

We left our walk yesterday overlooking Llyn Eiddew Mawr. Just a few steps further on, to the left, is it’s smaller sibling Llyn Eiddew Bach, which had THE most perfect reflection. (Llyn means Lake, Mawr means Big or Large and Bach means Small btw). From this you can guess that the landscape is littered (or maybe that should be flooded) with lakes or ponds of various sizes and from there I ascended slightly off the route to have a look at Llyn Dywarchen, (pic 31), simply because it looked a nice shape. As it turned out, I could also see it from the secondary hump next to the Ysgyfarnogod summit, (pics 40 & 41) but it was worth the short detour.

I thought I’d have the summit to myself (after only seeing the one cyclist in yesterday’s post), but I was surprised to see a couple leant against the trig point. They were having their lunch after walking up from their home in LLandecwyn. (It was a regular walk of theirs apparently).

I had hoped or thought about walking back down via Cwm Bychan, but the route back home from there was along a long narrow road and, in the event, the path on the ground to Cwm Bychan wasn’t very clear. So, to save retracing my steps completely, I took the direct route down via the very Tolkien sounding village of Eisingrug. (I didn’t know it existed either until I walked through it – and there were no Hobbits to be found! 🤔)

Moel Ysgyfarnogod Walk, Gwynedd, North Wales (Part 1 of 2)

On the 19th December last year (which seems quite a long time ago now) the weather forecast was set to be blue skies all around – and you can’t say that too often in North Wales! I therefore decided to do a walk from our new home to one of the smaller summits nearby. Moel Ysgyfarnogod* is only 623 metres (2,044 ft) high, but it provides fabulous views all around and especially across the Glaslyn-Dwyryd* estuary.

Despite the glorious weather, I hardly saw a soul all day, but I was a little taken aback to be stood face-to-face with the animals in pic no. 24.

The first few photos below were taken about an hour before I set off, but I thought I’d include them as they sort of set the scene for what’s to come… (and there’s more tomorrow. 😊)

* I plan to do a post on the Welsh alphabet some time (soon, I promise) to help you to at least try to read and pronounce these words correctly. Many of you may be surprised to learn that there are 29 letters in the Welsh alphabet (despite there being no k, q, v, x or z). Certainly I was!

Christmas Quiz – My Answers

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. Another fairly obvious one which many people got – definitely a scorpion.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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!
  9. 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.
  10. A little clearer was the goose or duck or swan. Again the white ‘eye’ was already there…
  11. …as it was in this image, which looks like a shark to me, but could be many sorts of fish I suppose.
  12. 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!

Christmas Quiz – 2 new images and some answers to help you…

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.

  • Scorpion
  • Horse
  • Goose
  • Dress
  • Shark
  • Dragon
  • Deer
  • Squirrel
  • Fish
  • Roadrunner
  • Jellyfish

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!

Coedydd Maentwrog National Nature Reserve and Ffestiniog Mountain Railway Walk, Gwynedd, North Wales

If you like nature and/or steam railways, this is a post for you. 😊 Please read on…

Many people, in the UK at least, will be aware of the narrow gauge railways which were once used to ferry slate from the mines and quarries in North Wales to Porthmadog for onward shipment around the world. Some of those historic steam trains are now being used by the Ffestiniog and Welsh Mountain Railways to take holidaymakers from Porthmadog to either Caernarfon or the old mines themselves at Blaenau Ffestiniog. However, not many, including me before I went on this walk, will know that the area is also noted for some of the last Atlantic oak woods in Europe.

The Coedydd Maentwrog Nature Reserve is described as one of Wales’s “rainforests” and, like all rainforests, is considered of global importance. Conditions here are perfect for the growth of 200 (yes, that’s two hundred) species of mosses and liverworts and 120 sorts of lichen. (Who knew that there were that many on the planet, let alone in one small wood in the corner of North Wales and how do the experts distinguish the difference? 🤔) In addition the woods are home to over 286 different kinds of small moth and the area is the UK stronghold of the rare Lesser Horseshoe bat.
(The numbers are truly amazing, don’t you think?!)

In the gallery below, I’ve captured a few images of some moss and lichen as well as some flowers but I’ll leave you to work out what sort they might be. 🤔

As for the route, Judith and I set off from the car park next to Llyn (lake) Mair and walked up a path which runs, for the most part, alongside the railway track, until we reached Dduallt station, where the track does a complete 360 degree loop. We waited there until the next train arrived and we watched the happy, waving passengers go by! (We were just like The Railway Children!! 😊)

We walked back the same way and, on the way, as a special treat for you steam train enthusiasts, I took a video of one of the trains passing by. 🚂 Note that the first two carriages are two of the first ever (and possibly last remaining) fixed wheel carriages built in the UK. At the time, the engineers were worried about the carriages toppling over on the narrow gauge. So, firstly, the carriages are very short (so that they could go around the bends – it was only later that bogies were added at either end to allow the carriages to be longer and the wheels to ‘turn’ independently) and secondly, the passengers sit with their backs in the centre facing directly outwards, (to keep the centre of gravity over the centre of the tracks). You live and learn. I hope you enjoy!

Footnote: All of these images were captured on 11th October 2021.

Let me tell you a story…

I hope you’re sitting comfortably, as this a little bit different to my usual posts… There are several ‘points’ to this story, as you will see at the end, though I’ll be as brief as I can. 😊

It’s been snowing off and on for the past week or so. The garden was completely clear of the white stuff before it came. So just when we thought Spring was on its way, we were back to square one.

But when the sun comes out, everything looks beautiful…

Though it does mean some work is necessary if you want to go anywhere and not be up to your knees in it all the time. Note: It’s around 60 to 70 metres/yards to get to the parking area (which makes for good training! 💪)

Consequently, some of the bird feeders came out again and we had a visitor on the balcony, sheltering from the snow… an Alpine Accentor. (It was a friendly little thing – even allowing me to open the window to get this uncropped shot from about 2m / 6 feet away).

But this also meant we had some other, bigger visitors…

So I decided to put up the Trail cam again and two nights ago, amongst several others, it captured this video:

And then again last night, this one (of around 10 clips) at 10:45pm. Regular readers may note that it’s the same stag (with 3 prongs and 2 prongs) as my previous posts in December and January.

Then, around 2:45am, the trail cam captured another series, including this one nearer to the camera…

Hopefully you’ve viewed the last video, to see the ‘point’ of this story… (or lack of them). If not, shame on you, go back and watch!

The stag must have shed its antlers sometime between 10:45pm last night and 2:45am today. And below is what we found this morning… How kind of him, after using those antlers to destroy our bird feeders over the past 3 months to leave them behind for us as a souvenir! They each weigh 1.4kg (just over 3 lbs) and measure 70 cm (or 2ft 3.5″) in length.

Also, who knew that the ‘bottom end’ of the antler is called the corona or burr and the area on the stag’s head where it attaches (or detaches in this case) is called the pedicle? You learn something new every day! 😊

Bisse Neuf and Bisse de Varen Walk, Rhone valley, Switzerland

I can always rely on a Bisse (i.e. ancient watercourse and irrigation channel) as an option whenever there’s snow at the higher levels here in Evolène. This walk started and finished in the village of Venthône, in the French speaking part of Switzerland and, around half way, crossed the ‘border’ into the German speaking part. Many of he towns and villages in the area reflect this ‘split’ personality by having dual names – like Sierre/Siders, Salgesch/Salquenen and Loèche-les-Bains/Leukerbad.

Like many people I prefer to do circular routes so, to make the walk slightly more interesting, I made it into a sort of figure of 8, by returning along what the map says is the Mengis Wasserleitu. This appears to be a much smaller and lower version of the Grossi Wasserleitu (which is also called the Bisse de Varen).

Sadly though, apart from the last kilometre or so, the Bisses were devoid of ‘wasser’ and there were no precipitous drops or chains to hang onto to get the pulse racing. 🙁 Despite that, I did very much enjoy the walk and wandering around Venthône, where I especially liked the bronze statue outside the Chateau. (See pic 26).