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Rhinog Fach

summitA small group, a clear day, a dry day and a rough tough mountain make for something special. And Brian led a special day in my favourite mountains – The Rhinog. Today it was Rhinog Fach, but a day on which I left my camera in the van – again!  So the pics in the gallery are all stolen from the WWW.

Five of us squeezed into Brian’s BM and headed up to the car park in the woods at Graigddu-isaf; off the Bronaber straight north of Dolgellau. Welcome to Dave from the village for his first outing with us – a good walk to start with – look forward to you coming again.

This is always a good way to start a walk and get you going – a couple of miles through the plantation on forestry tracks, but it stops dead about 10m from the fence over which you climb and jump the stream into the rough tussock grass on the other side.  From here the route follows a substantial wall nearly all the way to the top but it gets steeper and rockier the higher you go.  Good patches of sundew, common spotted orchid and bog asphodel showing well. We learnt from Dave that livestock are poisoned by eating bog asphodel.

We breasted the ridge and the whole of the North Wales coast spread out before us – from Harlech right rount to Bardsey and beyond – stunning, and not a pedalo in sight. A quick lunch and then down the rocky end of Rhinog Fach, past the tiny Llyn Cwmhosan and then we dropped down into Bwlch Drws-Ardudwy, which was not its usual sloppy boggy self, but dry.  We followed the track up to the cairn and over the top to look down on the wide land that stretches up to Trawsfynydd and picked our route back to the cars through the now partly felled forestry.

Thanks to Brian for a good day, not only did he lead the walk but he also drove – thanks Brian. minibootprint

Snowdon – 100,000 miles

summit viewWe  picked up Yvonne at the Little Chef and the four of us went on to the car park at Rhyd Ddu:  a 7.30  start  paid dividends as it was virtually empty on our arrival.  A ‘ just right’ day temperature wise, not too hot and not too cold but with a breeze – more of which later.  The early start meant that we were nearly the only ones on the Rhyd Ddu path.  This, in my opinion, is the best way up Snowdon, and easy start, a bit of a grind up the zig-zags, some exposure across Bwlch Main and an easy final approach to the summit.  And if you have clear weather, as we did, some extensive views of coast and mountain.  The butterwort was in bloom and looking great.

Just after the gate in the top wall we came across a struggling family – determined Dad and son out in front, a very unsure Mum pulling reluctant stout son in the rear and the wind now in buffetting mode.  Got talking and this was their first ever mountain and they had done nothing at all before. They came from Ipswich and mountains are not thick on the ground in Suffolk.  The wind increased and we even considered not going to the top but just turning sharply back along the South Ridge and down through the quarry.  We suggested to Mum and Dad that turning back was probably wise – NO WAY – Dad was going to the top.  So we decided to act as escorts to see them safely up.  Mum went across the narrow bit with her hands over her eyes being led by Annie. Stout son was pulled across and all gained the summit. I queued with them for the trig point and took a few family snaps for them -  they were going down by train and back to Rhyd Ddu by taxi! Bit of an expensive day out – but safely up and down.

Down the South Ridge with more stunning views and into the quarry with a long walk out to the carpark. Thanks to all who came and all who drove. The 100,000 mile bit was the excitement on the way home.  Just coming into Llanfair by Dick the Milk’s place the van’s milometer topped the 100K. Pics in the gallery.minibootprint

Rhayader – the perfect day!

Img_190big7Derek Brockway has to be thanked for this walk and Graham for picking it up and leading us – it’s a star of a walk and we did it on a star of a day. (Go here for the route map and details of what to see en route. Scroll down to Rhayader and click.)  If you get a chance, choose a good day and give it a go: you wont be disappointed.

The route starts in Rhayader town and heads north up the ridge on the west side of the A470 and crosses this road at Pont Marteg by the entrance to Gilfach Nature reserve. From here it follows the Afon Marteg up to the the nature reserve buildings, then turns south following part of the Wye Valley Walk back to Rhayader town.

Rather than write a description of the walk, have a look at the photos and read Derek’s account of the route: much better than I could do.

Thanks to all who came and all who drove. Pics in the gallery. minibootprint

 

 

 

LLanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog and beyond

http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1324096 Caption: View of Llanarmon from the south © Copyright Richard Green and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons BY-2A 2.0 License.

Llanarmon from the south

The rarely visited foothills of the east side of the Berwyns provided good walking for us on 27th April. Two cars set out up the Ceiriog valley to the suprisingly busy village at the top: The Hand and West Arms are obviously doing a good hotel trade in Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog.

Peter led us south from the village up steep lanes to Lidiart-cae-hir where we left the tarmac and onto the start of long ridge heading east – part of the Ceiriog Way. From here we headed generally east into the teeth of a stiff cool breeze – made your eyes water! Grand views all round, especially to the west, with views of the Berwyns and the very good farming country with fat lambs everywhere.  Weather bright and breezy with good visibility. After a coffee stop in the lee of some forestry we continued generally east down to the the river at Pontricket.  From here we turned back to the west and followed the river upstream back to Llanarmon DC.

Thanks to Peter for a grand walk – thanks to all who came and all who drove. Pics in the gallery. minibootprint

It rained and rained and rained and rained – and then it rained some more.

Img_1775A very special day for Mr Richard Rees: not only did he lead us on one of the wettest walks ever but he also became a Grandfather.  Congrats to his son Chris and wife Debbie on the birth of their daughter Arrya Lily Ann Rees in the early hours of Sunday morning.

It wasn’t actually raining when 6 of us parked up at Cae Adda on the south side of Llyn Trawsfynydd, but we had had a wet journey out and the day looked set for universal dampness. It was only after about 20 minutes that we decided to stop and delve into the depths of the rucksacs to drag out the overtrousers as it was now raining steadily. We were heading west over the shoulder of the north end of the Rhinog heading for the wonderful valley of Cwm Moch, underfoot is was very boggy and much wetter than the recce ten days earlier. We splashed on pausing only for drinks at the top under that well know Rhinog mountain called ‘Pile of Stones’.  Down the valley soggy and across the flooded valley bottom to that wonderful old house – Nant Pasgan-Mawr where we took an early lunch in a lean-to shelter at the rear much used by sheep.

From here we headed North-east along the Nant Ddu and picked up the conduit that leads round to the Trawsfynydd dam.  Just above the dam the old footpath has been replaced by a very posh cycle path. As we turned to the south-east to join the path the heavens decided to unleash some of the wettest rain available.  We all retreated into our own wet world, put our heads down, engaged auto pilot and started the trudge up and over the hill back to Cae Adda. By the top the rain was easing off and when we reached the road it had stopped and the world was a much nicer place.  On the road we played the good shepherd, re-uniting ewe 61 with her twin lambs, 61 and 61. We cornered them both and I managed to scoop 61 over the fence to a very relieved mum, but the other 61 didn’t want to be caught.  After much chasing and ushering we managed to get all three 61s together again with much suckling and tail wagging to prove all was OK.

Back to the cars and a splashy drive home in steamed up vehicles to wet the baby’s head in The Oak.  Thanks to Richard for leading after only 3 hours sleep and to all who came and all who drove.  Pictures in the gallery. minibootprint

Didn’t we have a love-erly day the day we went to Barmouth

Img_1729Wow!  Those tiny streets off the main street don’t half go up quickly, not even time to catch your breath, it was like walking up the side of a house! But we stopped very often to admire the view down onto Barmouth beach and beyond and soon made it out onto the top at Dinas Olau. From here we could see how the sand had been blown into the town after the storms and see the still very rough waves rolling in up the beach in the distance. Richard then led us north up through Cell-fechan and over the top towards Gellfawr and stopped out of the wind for an early elevenses. It is on the tops here that you can often see choughs wheeling on the updraughts or feeding on the short sheep cropped grass: we were unlucky and saw not one. Suitably refreshed, we walked on good paths further north, then headed east through Bwlch y Llan and out to the radio mast.  The views change here from those straight out into the Irish Sea to grand views of the Mawddach Estuary with the Barmouth Bridge showing well – it always makes a good photograph.

As we turned south heading back towards Barmouth the weather decided to have a go at us: very cold driving rain in our faces with bits of hail for good measure, the occasional hailstone  making your eyes water when they caught you on the cheek. It didn’t last long and we were soon back at the top of Dinas Olau looking down on the town.  From here we could see that the Lifeboat had been out and was being washed down at the top of the beach. Back down these very steep streets and into the town.  The arousal Cafe is still without a C. As we were parked at the rear of the Lifeboat Station we went to have a look at what was going on round the front.  The crew had taken the opportunity of some very rough seas for, in the words of the tractor driver, ” … a bit of a play out there … ” in the surf and swell. The team was washing everything in soapy water and making the boat shine again ready for a real ‘shout’.

Back to the cars and back to The Oak.  A trip to the seaside and not a pedalo in sight!  Welcome back to the group to Brian Price – good to see you out again.  Thanks to Richard for leading and thanks to all who came and all who drove. minibootprint

Guess where we went?

Img_1691Peter booked a jolly nice day for our walk – sunshine nearly all the way – with plenty of interest and excitement.  Two contrasting features of the landscape dominated the skyline all day – Chirk Castle and Kronospan – both providing interesting photo opportunities.

Seven of us headed down Chirk Bank and under the canal and railway – supposedly the railway is higher than the canal to emphasise its higher status – and set out west along the Afon Ceiriog, which was rushing and brown, much like the Vyrnwy on the last walk.   We crossed the river at Pont Faen and walked up to Bronygarth via Pentre Wood where we saw a profusion of Sarcoscypha Coccinea – the Scarlet Elf Cap fungi – and the first shoots of wild garlic which was perfuming the damp air;  then back down to the river and joined The Offa’s Dyke path.  Here were learned about the Battle of Crogen from a very impressive plaque on the bridge.

From the river we had the second climb of the day: up the side of the valley to the west of Chirk Castle through the woods, coming out on the tops with good views of both the castle and the Kronspan plume. We continued NW across sheep dotted fields and joined the lane past the old kennels and onwards through some rather sloppy gateways and down the bank to the canal at Pentre. By this time even Graham’s boots had lost their shine. We stopped on the canal bank for refreshments before tackling the challenges of the tunnels that lay ahead of us.

The first, the Whitehouse Tunnel at 174m, was an introduction to the very much longer Chirk Tunnel to come. The torches come into good use here and some of us found that they were not as good as we thought they were and were glad Graham was there with his searchlight. Tunnel two, Chirk Tunnel at 421m,  loomed, this is not quite straight and gets VERY dark in the middle. But all safely through and out onto the aqueduct.   We crossed and returned then it was back up into the village and to the cars.

Thanks to Peter for another Grand Day Out and thanks to all who came and all who drove.  minibootprint

 

First of the year

Sunday 12th January dawned very bright, cold and frosty, with everything down at Swn y Nant frozen hard and white. This turned out to be the making of the day, as on the previous Thursday the recce was damp and very sloppy underfoot – but Sunday was frozen solid – hurrah: for most of the walk anyway.

We drove over to Pont Llogel, parked up and seven of us set out down the banks of the Vyrnwy. We parked next to the old chapel – what a wonderful transformation the builders have made.

twin chapel

Picture on the left June 2010 – right January 2014

I had been out the night before celebrating my birthday so even the flat path along the bank seemed a bit of a struggle to begin with , but that soon went as we climbed out of the valley on Glyndwr’s Way heading east with the views unfolding. We paused for refreshments then left Glyndwr’s Way and headed due south to pick up The Ann Griffiths Way across Allt Dolanog on good grassy paths. (All about Ann Griffiths here.)   Dolanog was to be an early lunch stop, but because of the possibility of rain coming in we only paused to use the loos and pressed on. The return to Pont Llogel is a delightful walk at an time of the yeas as it follows the bank of the Vyrnwy nearly all the way and is mainly flat.  This gives grand opportunities for spotting the bird life in and around the river: we were rewarded with Kingfisher and Dipper and a Kite sliding lazily around the sky, plus lots of other less notable stuff.

We all returned safely to the cars and headed back to The Oak through the gathering gloom. It was in the pub that the girls revealed that according to their electronic equipment we had walked 9 miles rather than the 7.5 that the Kittiwake Guide said it was: it certainly felt more like 9 than 7.5.  A very enjoyable walk for the first of the year, just got to wash the mud out of my walking trousers.  Thanks to all who came and all who drove.  minibootprint

 

DETOX – all things bright and beautiful on December 29th.

Image1What a day! Hard overnight frost left the lanes from Chirbury through Priest Weston and onwards to The Bog a bit iffy in places, but all arrived safe and sound in the car park. The sky was brilliant blue, and the air was crisp as we left the car park to meet the most treacherous part of the walk – crossing the road on the harpin – it was like glass.  We headed up to Black Ditch and turned south and round the end of the Stiperstones ridge on good paths to the big car park below Cranberry Rock. It was then up the wide track to the ridge and the views from the ridge were terrific.  As somebody said – “… if it wasn’t for the heat haze we could have seen forever …”

The ridge path was as troublesome as ever, but made more so with the addition of a good layer of frost on the rocks.  We paused at Manstone Rock and then on to the Devil’s Chair.  It was along here that Julie nearly stepped on a Red Grouse that was feeding on the edge of the path.  It errupted in an explosion of wings and chattering calls and glided away into the heather – a real bonus for the day.  Elevenses was called at the Devil’s Chair and I offered to take folk up to sit in the chair.  But it was far too icy on the rocks to get into the chair but we had an adventure with stunning views.  Go here for the Legend of the Devil’s Chair.

After refuelling and more admiring the views we left the rocks and on down to the top of Perkins Beach, turning west down past the reservior and onto the good path heading south back to black Ditch.  And then just a short hop back to the cars in The Bog Visitor’s Centre Car Park.

Just long enough for a morning walk and we couldn’t have had better weather.  Thanks to all who came and all who drove. minibootprint

On the golf course

Img_1585Graham lead us on our annual tour of the bunkers and woods on Llanymynech Hill and we were not disappointed. A good turn out saw us depart from the Heritage Centre Car park, then up the and around the hill and onto the Golf Course. The men in the jumpers were out in force as we skirted the greens and avoided the balls – then down into the woods and out onto the views from the cliffs and from the Sam Clews Toposcope.  Pictures in the gallery.

Not a long walk but a good mix and good views.Thanks to all who came and all who drove.

Next walk THE DETOX 29th December