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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  Just above the dam the old footpath has been replaced by a very posh cycle path.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

Glyn Ceiriog and a welcome return

view

Roughly the same view on Spring Hill: left on the recce by Peter, right on the walk by by Chris.

Peter SG has assured us that this was a grand walk with lots of distant views of the hills.  It was a grand walk but distant views there were few. Welcome back Richard Rees: Richard had his first outing with the walkers on Sunday 17th November , and very good it was to have him back.  2014 will see him leading a good selection of challenging walks again.

A good turn out enjoyed this localish walk in a very much unexplored and interesting area. We parked up in the Glyn Ceiriog  car park and set out though a cool and damp village and up to the west and the hills beyond. It was that time of year for the fungi to be seen in profusion – pics in the gallery. We turned at the top and came down the valley of the Afon Teirw and ended up in the picturesque village of Pandy. We leaned over the bridge for a while and didn’t see any grey wagtails or dippers so we crossed the river and hit the old tramway and headed up the delightful valley to Spring Hill. By now Peter was waxing lyrical about the views he had on the recce: all we saw was a few glimpses through the gloom. (see above)

The party split just after lunch, two taking the shorter route back to Glyn Ceiriog and the others stepping out on an eastely loop, but both getting back to the cars with 10 mins of each other. It was then back to The Oak – now reopened, refurbished and looking good once again.

Thanks to Peter for leading and all who came and all who drove. minibootprint

Vivod

Image3Annie led us on a short little gem on the south side of Llangollen that could be summed up as … warm and wet … Eight of us enjoyed this walk up through trees and damp lanes on the Vivod Estate. One of the highlights of the walk was the number of fungi showing well on the banks and trees along the trackways, the other was Annie’s vivid descriptions of the views we could not see but would be able to if the weather wasn’t so gloomy.  But we could see across the valley to Castell Dinas Bran and the Eglwyseg Escarpment and we tried a number of photographs without much success – the pics in the gallery.

The walk is described in the Kittiwake guide book “Llangollen and the Dee Valley.”  Thanks to Annie for leading and thanks to all who came and all who drove.  minibootprint

We were blown away by Cnicht

Sunday 29th September turned out to be a day of amazing contrast. Seven of us travelled to Tanygrisiau, just by Blaenau Ffestiniog, and parked up at the south end of the Cwmorthin valley by the waterfall: weather dry and cloudy, not too hot, not too cold, Goldilocks weather – just right. An easy walk in through the slate tips and along old tramways lead us to the incline that took us up to Rhosydd Quarry.  If you want to see a good account of the quarry and lots of great photographs, go here. Some of us had a bit of adventure here by crawling into the bottom of a water wheel pit and just marvelling at the size and construction of this stuff. Up onto the great open space of the dressing floor for an early elevenses and a bit more scratting around the old workings and bits of rusty metal.

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From here the ground changed from slate quarry trackways to nigh-on invisible paths across the very broken land dotted with numerous lakes and boggy bits. The sky now was starting to open and the visibility improving all the time, we could even see down Cwm Croesor to Porthmadog and the sea: a bit late in the year for pedalos.  We made the ridge cairn by Llyn yr Adar and paused for thought.  The view to the north was stunning: right round from Siabod in the east, via the Glyders and the bulk of Snowdon, through to Moel Hebog and down the length of the Lleyn Peninsular. We decided that it was a bit early for luch here so we would take it on the summit of Cnicht, so off we set up the long ridge that heads south west.

This is where the day became a bit more exhilarating: wind!  Wind like you’ve never felt before, tugging at everything, pushing us around, sending some of us on to hands-and-knees or bottom-shuffling, but not cold, just bracing.  We made the top and squashed down behind the rocks and had lunch with some of the best views this year. Then it was out into the wind again and more crawling and shuffling for some of us back to the cairn by Llyn yr Adar. Wow – we all felt suitable braced and headed back down the way we had come, well out of the wind.

The paths across the boggy bits came and went and we made it back down to the Rhosydd Quarry and the tracks back through Cwmorthin to Tanygrisiau and the cars.  A good walk in a very interesting, and at times, challenging area.

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

 

Rhobell Fawr – a baptism of fire: sorry – water!

Img_1435Welcome to Karen, who joined us for the first time on Sunday, and enjoyed a tough and wet baptism but came through smiling if a little damp at the end of the day. We hope to see you on many of our future mountain days.

For those who have never heard of Rhobell Fawr, it’s about 10k north east of Dolgellau, to the east of Coed y Brenin.  At 730 M (2395 ft) it’s not a whopper, but size isn’t everything. It’s not a mountain for strolling, as the underfoot conditions are a bit rocky and damp in places, but it’s a mountain that has many pleasures and, so they tell me, it has stunning views.

The walk starts in Llanfachreth next to the school and follows wooded paths up into the Goriwared drovers’ road and on to the Bwlch. Here we crossed the wall via a ladder stile and set off easterly with a tall sheltering wall on our right.  By now the cloud was decending and the thick drizzle started. It was on the way up the wall that we started hearing hounds barking and the tootling of a horn.  Then we saw, and met, a few wet and lolloping hounds on our side of the wall as the huntsman called them back down towards the empty valley of the Afon Meiau. We made it to the top and left the comfort of the wall to scramble up the last bit of rock to the summit cairn. And what should be sitting on top of the trig point? — a squirrel — of all things!  We scampered down to the wall, over the ladder stile and sheltered from some of the weather and had elevenses.  We now faced the scrambly bit of the walk: down another wall to a good track at the bottom. By now it was pretty wet and horrible and the underfoot conditions were awful and to cut a long story short – we all arrived at the bottom in one piece.

We splashed along the track, through the clear felled plantation, across more damp and squelchy hillsides to pick up an old and feint quarryman’s path back towards Llanfachreth. We stopped for lunch in a gap in the rain and by the time we made it into habitation the rain had stopped and the sun had come out.  Back to the cars with five of us steaming nicely.

In the words of my guide book … ‘Rhobell Fawr’s a bit too far off the beaten track to be popular, but for the connoisseur it offers great days out‘  … On my recce I saw not a soul and on Sunday’s walk only a couple of farmers running some fox hounds: but is does offer great days out and you can have the place to yourself. Thanks to all who came and all who drove. Pics here in the gallery. minibootprint