Our second holiday of the summer and just the family this time. We’d not been to Cornwall for a few years so time to re-aquaint ourselves and get some more use out of the camper. To beat the traffic of the Bank Holiday weekend we travelled down few days early and stayed a few nights near Bude as we’d never done that part of the coast. Bude was a bit down-market to be honest. Our impression not helped by a full tide and lots of scum floating in the water sea, washed from the farmers fields in recent heavy rains
We stayed just south of Widemouth Bay, itself a few miles south of the main town. Very nice it was too. We stayed on the very welcoming and friendly Penhalt Farm campsite, high above the sea with some fine views.
A quiet, uneventful yet very enjoyable stay. We took a stroll along the coast down to, and across, Widemouth Bay itself
We also took in some body boarding while TJS went for a solo stroll from Crackington Haven back to the campsite along the spectacular coast path. The cliffs here are some of the highest in the SW
In the afternoon we took a family stroll down to Boscastle (via an Ice Cream shop) and had a very fine early evening on the cliffs above the harbour after all the tourists had gone home
Crackington Haven was revisited. Another fine spot for an evening with a cafe doing freshly baked pizzas and a BBQ – perfect for an al-fresco meal if we’d not had a BBQ ourselves at lunchtime. Noted for a return visit
Our stay was completed with a magnificent sunset from the campsite
Short post for a short but enjoyable stay before we moved on further South and West for the rest of the week
Back into August again. With a day to myself I was off to try some new hills. Ive walked the Black Mountain extensively, its my favourite of my local hills but I’ve never been out to their extreme western fringes. It takes a bit of getting to but worth the effort as you can see. Unlike the dark stone of most of the South Wales mountains, the predominant rock is limestone (hence my attempt at humour in the title).
As they spread out east to west the summits are not easy to fashion into a circular day walk. Keen to avoid any ascent if I can. I parked up at the top of the mountain road from Brynamman to Llangadog and headed out east, eventually putting together a pretty fine ad hoc route that avoided any road walking
The limestone has been heavily quarried and the area near the road is a fascinating mix of old mine workings, quarries and levels. There is a historical trail around these features that would be a fine summer stroll. I pressed on past the Industrial Archeology theme park and out into the hills
I passed a few waterfalls and then it was into wild country along the Afon Clydach. A mix of tussocks, grass and bog but much easier to walk on than I thought. I spied a few potential wild camp sites but most of the area is a little soggy for such nonsense.
I’d brought supplies with me and managed to find a relatively sheltered spot to conjure up some bacon butties and cup of tea. The forecast had been good and up till I stopped reasonably sunny.
Of course as soon as I was set up the sun went in and wind picked up. For a few grumbling moments I thought it was going to rain such was the darkness of the clouds.
After some introspective moaning about fickle weather I ate heartily anyway and packed up. Within 10 minutes the sun was out again
I reached the top of Foel Fraith – well at least I think I did. Hard to tell on what was a very wide and featureless summit – and then followed the Beacons Way to Garreg Lwyd. It was marvellous, easy, high level strolling with these little known hills mostly all mine save for an old guy and his even older and blinder dog who took to following me instead of his owner for a while – bless him.
I wandered back to the road, crossed it and headed back up to the broad plateau to the west and the summits of Pen Rhiw Ddu and Pen y Clogau still following the Beacons Way.
Again the terrain was easy and untaxing allowing me clock up the distance pretty much without thinking. Views were expansive and a fine contrast between moorland and the green pastures of farming country to the north.
I passed through a lovely spread of heather in full purple bloom but I haven’t yet mastered the art of capturing such colours on camera.
To the west the magnificent castle of Carreg Cennen stood sentinel on its rocky outcrop. A castle well worth a visit when you are in the area.
I had thought that I’d have to walk back along the road to the car but I managed to string together a really rather fine selection of sheep tracks, traversing back to the top of the pass such that I didn’t walk on the road at all. Clearly the road is a playground for local boy racers who were busy trying to kill themselves and everyone else with some suicidal driving manoeuvres.
I was back at the car much earlier than I thought and the distance at just over 7 miles much shorter than I thought. A fine walk indeed at hills that reward a bit effort to reach them and explore
Nothing finer than a day lazing by the river during the long hot balmy days of summer. Summer, you remember don’t you, all that warm sunshine, endless blue skies, day after day. Well you would if you were somewhere else in the world! In the UK such days were few and far between but back in early August we got one that coincided with a weekend and we took off to mid Wales to investigate Wolf’s Leap
I found this place in the rather excellent Wild Swimming guide by Daniel Start. There are several in the series including one on beaches and one dedicated to the South West (more treats from that book in upcoming posts). Rather unfortunate that I picked the coolest summer for a while to buy it but I now have an endless list of new places to visit
It’s tucked away on the lonely roads that lead across the Welsh Mountains between Builth Wells and the Cardigan Bay coast. The valley approach is just superb and after a cool wet summer the hillsides were a deep verdant green with the bracken in full growth. The river is broad and shallow for the most part but halfway along it narrows, dramatically in one section, and tumbles over a series of small cascades into deep pools
After a little explore and some close-ups of the bog (the hillsides in this part are very soggy) we found the perfect spot. Flat expanse of cropped grass next to a huge deep pool where the river emerges from an extraordinarily narrow gorge.
A picnic rug was spread out and while TBF and TJF dithered I plunged in. The water was astonishingly cold but clear and refreshing in a brown, bog drained sort of way. The sun however was warm and the sky blue so it was great to be able climb out and warm up quickly. Eventually TJF and TBF got in the water (TJS is not really into this wild swimming thing) and enjoyed their very cold dip
All that exercise set us up for what we do best, eat. We gorged on a fantastic picnic lunch, fresh crusty bread, pate, chicken and cakes for afters. I can’t think of a finer way to spend a sunny day than lazing on the grass with a good feast in spectacular surroundings with the chance of cool swim thrown in
To keep TJS happy (he was getting itchy feet by this stage) we took off for a walk. The edge of the crags above the valley looked like a good route and so it proved. After a short steep scramble we were up on the edge where the view back down the valley were superb.
We followed a series of thin sheep tracks along the edge before scrambling steeply back down to the road to return to the Funsters. Memo to self: mid-Wales is not best suited to walking in sandals!
Time for another swim to cool down. This time I took my camera with me and this time the water seemed to have warmed up considerably. I swam into the heart of the narrow gorge for a subterranean adventure. It was amazing that a river 20 feet wide for the most part, here flows through a cleft only a couple of feet wide. My photos don’t really do it justice (I still had the settings wrong).
A cuppa in the sunshine before we had to pack up and head home.
A cracking place for a lazy day and so far from anywhere that we only saw two other groups enjoying the facilities on such a perfect day. One for the future if we get a summer next year
A bit of blog silence and now I’m behind all over again. A list of excuses, primarily I’ve been out and about on hols and suffered a major hardware failure with my Mac that needed a return to base to repair and a couple of weeks to rebuild the data as I’d been stupid enough not to take a full system backup :(
At the end of our week in Towyn we bade Mark and his merry band a fond farewell and had a day to ourselves before we headed home. As it was TJFs birthday we’d arranged a treat. An adventure in the trees at Treetop Adventures in Snowdonia
The usual mix of dangles, straddles and in my case struggles but its a favourite of ours and we had a great time as always, although the course is shorter than the ones we’ve done in France.
The course finishes with a leap off a platform to the ground about 30 feet below which made my heart flutter a little when I stepped off the edge.
For the real adventurers they have an extra big leap of 100 feet called the PowerFan Plummet. I was tempted but didn’t fancy the climb up. Both the Funsters gave it a go though. TJF was calmness personified, she really has no fear of these things. TBF was more animated although her language was disappointingly clean (she has been known to shout expletives during such events!)
It started to rain while we finished up and proceeded to dump it down while we drove to and walked around Conway. We sought refuge in a fine chip shop for a hearty lunch and when we came out the rain had stopped. We took a walk down by the harbour to watch people crabbing while the seagulls stole their chips. We then walked back via the Town Walls.
If you’ve never been to Conway it has its very famous castle but the Town Walls are superb. You can walk around 3/4 of the town and they rise to an impressive height at the back of town giving some fine views even on this grey and wet day
We declined the castle this time instead opting to return to the beach for a last stroll before we went home the following morning. Apologies for more poor quality images due to camera incompetence
A fine week and top holiday, very mixed weather, nothing that you could call truly summery but some fun times with the old gang and the usual collection of fond memories. Next year may be a little tricky as we have to squeeze in a visit before our main summer holiday and when TJS gets his exam results in mid August. Seems amazing that when we first came here he was still in early Primary years and here we are entering his GCSE final year – they grow up fast!
TJS is now an obsessive Hiker. I’m pretty proud that he’s really keen to get out and has now reached that sad point (for me anyway) where he is fitter, faster and stronger than me – not too tricky these days. Whilst I’m trying to educate him to the charms of lesser known mountains like all new starters there is always that need to climb the higher and more famous peaks. He’s been hassling me for years to take him up Snowdon but it’s not exactly on our doorstep. Whilst in the Llyn Peninsula a few weeks back, less than an hour away, I finally made good on my promise.
We chose a route up the western side, mainly as it’s the closest to where we were staying but it’s also quieter and a side I’ve not seen much of.
We set off from Rhydd Ddu under a grey sky with a promise of sunshine later and headed up through the mine workings to Bwlch Cwn Llan. The sun started to peep through the clouds but Snowdon was still capped by cloud. There was clearly sunshine out west and we hoped we’d see that later – we had a long day planned
The col is a fine place, a real atmosphere of industry long gone amongst great scenery. Rather than despoiling a mountain I find these old quarries fascinating. A glimpse into the past.
As an appetiser we climbed Yr Aran to the south of the col. A summit as good as Snowdon itself but much quieter (we had it all to ourselves). After a steep climb we crested the summit in watery sunshine to a panorama around the Snowdon Massif, across Cardigan Bay and to the western Snowdonia Mountains of Moel Heog, the Nantlle Ridge and Mynydd Mawr.
I often point out to TJS that smaller hills often give better views than the higher summits and this one is a great case in point
We still had our main summit to climb and we retraced our steps to the col and began the long ascent up the south ridge. I’ve read that this is a long and uninteresting route but I thought it was grand.
For a start it was pretty much deserted, a real blessing considering what was to come. The views across to Y Lliwedd and into Cwm Tregalan were fabulous and we took an early lunch before we ascended to the summit.
The Rhydd Ddu path came in and the numbers increased as we crossed the narrow ridge of Bwlch Main. Then the Watkin path joins and the crowds and noise increase further.
Nothing prepares you for the summit of Snowdon in summer. It was awful. There must have been 300 people or more on the summit. You had to queue to reach the very top. We managed a quick photo and then found a relatively quiet spot for a sit.
There was hundreds more people on the Pyg track and the train was disgorging hundreds more. The views from the summit are awesome. Snowdon is a truly magnificent mountain. Ridges radiating in all directions enclosing deep corries and lakes. Truly deserving of the highest summit in Wales.
Trouble is it’s very accessible and massive draw for walkers. I’d expected it to be bad but it was much, much worse. I couldn’t wait to get away. We’d had some reasonable views but the summit was still slipping in and out of the clouds so no sense hanging around with the rest of the UK population or so it seemed
As we tried to get away there was an absolute stream of people on their way up still. It was like being in a shopping centre such was the commotion and noise. I took a little solace from the fact that large numbers of people looked very unhappy and ill-equipped, clearly not expecting the summit to be so cold and so far from the car. I know this probably makes me a very bad person. Staggers me how many people have no idea of how conditions can change between a car park and a summit 3500 feet up in the clouds and just how much effort it takes to get there. I felt a little sad about it all.
When I could take no more we took off from the Llanberis path and went over to the edge that overlooks the pass. The change was instant and dramatic. Suddenly the noise had gone and all was silent, the views majestic
Now we’d got the mountain back we left the crowds behind for good and headed down to Llyn Du’r Arddu. What a magnificent spot. The massive and well renowned climbing crag of Clogwyn Du’r Arddu towers above. The lake deep and blue even under a grey sky. And the thing is it was completely deserted. A sensational spot just half a mile from the throngs above and it was all ours. Mountains can be an odd experience sometimes.
I’d planned a swim in the lake but the skies were still grey and the air just too chilly. We pressed on for our return to Rhydd Ddu, picking up an excellent climbers path that traversed easily back around to the Snowdon Ranger path over Bwlch Cwm Brwynog.
Suddenly the skies cleared and the sun came out in force and we were treated to a wonderful sunny afternoon stroll back to the car. Again ignoring the main paths we found a way across the moors and picked up a fine path through the quarries back to Rhydd Ddu.
A little boggy in places and much further than it looked but the views were now sensational. Moel Hebog really catches the eye, looking much higher than its modest 782m and very surprising that I’ve never climbed it. I’ll be correcting that soon.
As earlier Mynydd Mawr and the Nantlle Ridge were also magnificent and the walk back under clear skies away from the crowds was a total pleasure. A staggering contrast to the crowds on the summit that darkened my heart so much.
Tired and weary – it was 12 mile and 4000 feet of ascent sort of day – we exchanged happy grins at the car. The choice of route had been a good one, minimising our exposure to the crowds to just over a mile.
We both agreed that any future visits to Snowdon should be out of season and preferably a weekday. The Snowdon Horsehoe still beckons for TJS, one of the UKs best mountaineering routes, just not in the summer holidays
The end of July. The end of the school year. The annual trip to Towyn Farm. This year I got to stay for a week rather than the snatched few days I normally get. The weather stuck its two fingers up at this and delivered 10 days of winter/spring conditions with no two consecutive days the same. We had some sunshine, lots of wind and gales, a good helping of rain and it was cold every day. I had to keep telling myself and anyone willing to listen that it was July. Could have been worse though, we only had one complete wash out and the kids managed to go in the sea most days. The wind meant we had good waves and I even got some kayak surfing in. Would have been nice to sit around in warm sunshine but in this most fickle of summers you take what you can get.
A few photos of beach antics, and campsite lazing. Apologies for the poor quality and reduced size of the beach shots. I’d set my outdoor camera to take some low-res images for sending in an e-mail and forgot to change the settings back :(
It says a lot about the weather that the photos above were all taken on the same day. The ones below on one evening when the sun decided to put an overdue appearance in (it was much colder than it looked!)
We managed to get some walks in as well. A couple of short coastal excursions. This one around the impressive eminences of Mynydd Rhiw, Mynydd Penarfynydd and Mynydd y Graig. Obviously the austerity measures have even hit the vowels in this part of Wales
A walk enlivened by some prickly undergrowth and p1ss poor sigining through the fields. There was even a padlocked gate on the Wales Coastal Path route
Another short and wildly windy walk along the coast at the far southern tip of the peninsula
No trip to the area would be complete without a walk up Carn Fadryn
DB Junior calls it Birthday Hill but it had to wait a few days this time (his birthday was alas on the washout day but we did manage a fish and chip supper, and a ride on the dodgems and a play in the penny arcades in Pwllheli by way of compensation). Here’s the little rascal picking bilberries which were in abundance this year
It’s always teeming with insect life. DB Senior found this beetle and I got a decent shot of the local funnel web spider – I think they are actually called labyrinth spiders but they live in funnels made from web so I’m sticking with the scarier name. The beetle is crawling around on DBs sling. Yes a sling. DB has broken his arm bouncing on the trampoline. Dangerous by name, dangerous by nature
And of course to finish the obligatory sunset shots which Towyn Farm always delivers whatever the weather
A couple more posts to come but a fine trip making the best of the weather. I left out the photos of the rain and the videos of the wind trying to blow the camper over!
Well here’s a first, writing up a blog post the same day I did the walk. Never see the like of these days again once my summer hols kick in next week.
Another supermarket breakfast and another day in the hills to follow. This one a very similar trip to one we did with GM a couple of winters back. This time a more detailed exploration of Mynydd Llangorse and its far western ridge.
We parked up in Cwmdu and headed across the fields taking in the sights, sounds, smells, scratches and stings of the bracken
Small in height but large in area, Mynydd Llangorse is a wild upland heathland. Off the beaten track we had the whole mountain to ourselves save a few ponies and couple of cyclists
It’s a place to clock up long walks and we ticked off the miles as we strode on to its broad summit. The views across Llangorse Lake to the Beacons were very fine indeed.
After a brief rest on Cockit Hill we were off up Mynydd Troed, slightly higher but packing a mighty wallop of a steep slope to the top. The Bracken that clothes the lower slopes in these parts gives everything a stunning verdant hue. Much more pleasing on the eye from a distance than when you are bashing through it at close quarters
We headed off down the fine summit ridge before a session of the aforementioned bracken bashing on the lower slopes mixed in with a healthy smattering of nettles and head high thistles. Why I insist on wearing shorts round these parts in summer I’ll never know
We concluding the day with a long plod down the knee-jarringly hard minor lane that skirts the eastern slopes of Mynydd Llangorse but the sun was warm and the views stunning
An uneventful day of easy walking on two of the quietest mountains in this wonderful range I call home