Pyrenees Grand Tour Day 2 – Snowy pass to the Refuge Wallon   16 comments

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We woke to a stunner. The previous gloom and clouds had been replaced by a deep and clear blue sky. The early morning views across the lake were magnificent

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Our usual routine of breakfast and packing but this time outside in glorious sunshine

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Our route took us back along the high path above the lake towards Campoplano. Today it was even better than the day before and a pleasure to walk it again under such stunning conditions

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Our plan was to traverse the high pass of the Col de La Fache and possibly climb the Grand Fache itself at over 3000m. The pass is the one just right of centre in the photo below with the Grand Fache to the right

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We needed to cross the major stream that issues from the col and we were preparing to wade it (bridges on the Spanish side seemed to be in short supply) . On a whim I climbed up to the top of a small ridge and spied a dam below that we could cross. Result!

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We stopped to fill water bottles, once again admiring the glorious scenery in the environs of Embalse de Campoplano

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As we began to climb to we saw lots of marmots on the surrounding rocks

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We’d not been climbing long before we started to reach the snow. The hut itself is pretty high at 2200m so it was hardly that surprising. It mainly filled the bottom of the valley with the roaring meltwater stream often hidden underneath. The going was easy until we had to cross a boulder. The footsteps went down and round it and so did I only to collapse into a large hole and then pitch forward and slide headfirst towards the torrent that was disappearing under another patch of snow. I stopped myself after a couple of metres but the thought did cross my mind as I plunged that if I fell in the river I’d be washed under the snow. Sobering thought.

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I emptied the snow out of my pockets and boots and we pressed on. As we climbed the snow became more extensive. I took a line above and to the right following some footsteps and thinking staying away from the chance of falling through a hole into the river was a good idea

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In the event the footsteps turned to crampon marks and the snow became a little harder and I had to kick steps for quite a while. No real danger but it felt a little precarious. TJS gave me another “you never told me about this sort of thing” look

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We headed up finding the snow hard work. We thought we’d reached the col but it was a cruel deception. It was still well above us as we walked into a perched corrie with a lake, completely frozen over. All the photos I’d seen when researching the route was of a rocky hollow with two deep blue lakes. Seeing it in pretty much full winter conditions was something of a surprise!

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To reach the col we had a long rising traverse around the lake followed by a short steep section. TBF managed to fall off the trail and slide down a few feet (you can see here making her way back up in the photo below). Again it felt a little precarious but a slip would only have ended in a wet slosh into the snow at the bottom. The steeper section was hard work but after what seemed like a long and tiresome toil we were at the col at 2664m. Only a climb of some 450m but with heavy packs its seemed much harder

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The views were immense and we settled in for a long leisurely soak in the sun

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The climb up to the Grand Fache sounded easy enough but we were quickly realising that we were walking with heavy packs in winter conditions and finding it much harder than we thought. We agreed that climbing cols was more than enough and abandoned the idea of the summit (and the extra descent it would entail) in favour of more time lazing about

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The way down, back into France, was over more snow but at a perfect angle for descending, at least for me. TJS was still nervous on snow despite my assertions that at this easy angle it makes for a rapid and easy descent. He seemed to hate the snow despite the fact he’s been down much steeper snow slopes in the Brecons near to home. Perhaps a little intimidated by the high mountains around us rather than just dealing with conditions underfoot

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We passed another beautiful frozen lake and then another snow filled gully before finally leaving the white stuff behind

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We descended into the Marcadau valley and the Refuge Wallon (just visible in the centre of the photo below)

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The surrounding scenery was majestic and the valley below green and verdant. A long descent as the refuge was much lower at 1800m

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One of the best features of the Pyrenees are the valley meadows and clear mountains streams. We added the Marcadau to the list of marvellous places.

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As we approached the hut there were several people sunning themselves and swimming although the water was likely to be icily cold being primarily snowmelt. I’d planned to take a dip at some point but we never really had time and the water was far too cold even for me

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The refuge was a much older traditional building. We drank a cold coke on the terrace before booking in and making ourselves at home (a dedicated and rather shabby 4 bed bunk-room with paper thin walls). We sat outside and watched the local cows, donkey and horse as the mingled with crowds, the hut was clearly very popular and busy. Our evening meal was hearty as always and after a long day we turned in relatively early as we had another long day ahead with two more passes to cross

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Weatherise the best day of the trip and a tough one. There was more hard work to follow, much more than we anticipated!

Pyrenees Grand Tour Day 1 – To the Respumuso Hut   10 comments

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After a leisurely break in an overnight hotel (and a dodgy beer and bout of sickness for me) we were up and off again the next day. The weather was still overcast but a little brighter so we were hopeful of clearer conditions. Alas as we approached the car park at Plan D’Aste we entered the ping pong ball again!

This was day one of a six day hut tour around the French and Spanish Pyrenees that I’d concocted over many nights poring over maps and guidebooks. Each day would take us over a high col or two and down to a hut with the possibility of some summits. Things didn’t quite work out as planned, as you’ll discover over the next few posts, but it turned out to be a superb trip

This day started as the previous one had ended. In thick gloomy fog for the long walk up the Val D’Arrens. I got the impression that it was a fine valley, rocky at first mixed with wide grassy pastures before a steep climb took us into the very heart of the Balaitous range. Just as we we began to lose hope that this dense fog would ever clear we caught a glimpse of blue and some faint outlines of craggy peaks

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After almost 12 hours walking in fog it was a relief just to see a few hundred metres and our spirits were raised

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As we climbed the weather cleared all the more and the skies became bluer and expansive views started to open up. We could see our path to the col on the border with Spain stretching in front of us. We also came across the first of what proved to be the tricky obstacle of snow patches across the path that had to be traversed. You can see it in the photo below.

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The paths tend to run across the valley sides rather than the bottom (where all the scree collects) so traversing across them feels quite airy and exposed. We should have been carrying axes and crampons but I really hadn’t thought there would be much snow at this time of year so I’d left them behind. The snow was deep and firm and I found it easy enough to kick steps across but this was the first time TJS had come across this sort of terrain and he naturally found it a bit edgy. He coped ok though and we were soon moving quickly again with tremendous views back down the valley partially above the cloud by the Lacs de Remoulis

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One steep snow section needed to be climbed as the path disappeared under a snow bank. I don’t think TJS fully appreciated my request to “smile” as he climbed (its nothing like as steep as it looks in the photo)

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We crossed more snow, quite extensive, and filled water bottles with cold clear snowmelt for lunch. Up to col the snow was pretty much continuous and were planning to go over much higher cols than this one.

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We reached the Col de St Martin in watery sunshine and stopped for a long late lunch at 2,295m, highest point of the trip so far

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The descent down the other side took us into Spain for the first time with the views clearing by the minute. An easy descent took us down to the the magnificent grassland and lake of the Embalse de Campoplano

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Take a look at these photos and tell me you don’t ache to throw a tent up here for a wild camp!

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It was a truly magnificent spot. Acres of close-cropped grass bisected by numerous clear streams, surrounded by dramatic craggy snow streaked mountains. My favourite spot of the trip and one of my all time favourite places now. Part of me regretted we weren’t camping but my pack with 6 days lunches and no tent/stove/mat/sleeping bag was heavy enough

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We forded a small stream and walked the short distance around the lake and crags to the hut

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It was a breathtaking section, high above the main Respumuso Reservoir with rocky outcrops and smaller tarns in the foreground. All the while Musales and Infiernos ranges cleared from the cloud

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We rounded a corner and found the hut, one of the more modern and larger variety with the added luxury of a hot shower (unheard of in Alpine Huts when I used them many years ago)

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We booked and settled in to our overnight home and spent the rest of the evening watching the views unfold and wandering about. Just enjoying being high in the mountains, watching the marmots at play before our evening meal of soup and chicken & chips. As with all the huts the food was excellent and the staff friendly and welcoming

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As the sun went down everything turned a deep golden brown and we marvelled at the dramatic change from gloomy murk to evening sunshine. The hut was very quiet and there was a sense of peace and solitude that was intoxicating. One of those evenings when you are reluctant to go to bed (even though your body is telling you its tired!)

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We went to bed happy and content and ready for the next leg of the journey

Pyrenees – A tour of the Pic du Midi D’Ossau   14 comments

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TJS has been working hard for his GCSE’s. As he effectively gets a month off after finishing we decided on a special post-exam treat of a walking holiday (minus TJF who still has schooling to complete). After much deliberation we decided on the Pyrenees as they have a real big mountain feel with none of the objective dangers of the high Alps. They are also great for long distance walking/touring so I planned a couple of expeditions into their majestic heart. Within 30 minutes or so of him finishing his last exam we were on the road. A channel crossing to St Malo which I have to say is by far the best way to reach France. 12 hours overnight giving time for a pretty good meal, a decent night’s sleep and a leisurely breakfast before hitting the road. Its a long way to the Pyrenees but midweek is an easy drive, including a stop for a cuppa in the forests just south of Bordeaux where it was brutally hot (around 34C).

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As we pulled into the Hotel L’Ayguelade (very nice it was too) for an overnight before hitting the trail we got our first glimpse of the Pyrenees proper and the dramatic Pic Du Midi D’Ossau. Anticipation was growing!

The morning however was dark and gloomy both weatherwise and politically. We woke to news that the UK had voted to leave the EU and we were stunned and dismayed. I was almost embarrassed to sit with the the rest of the guests having breakfast. With grey skies and a grey mood it was a quiet drive up into the mountains. We hoped that perhaps we could break through the cloud and as we climbed up towards the car park at Lac de Bious Artigues the cloud thinned and suddenly cleared and we were treated to some sensational views

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The dark mood that had overcome us in the morning evaporated as quickly as the clouds and we finished packing for our first trip

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The plan was a tour of the majestic Pic Du Midi D’Ossau. Its one of the most iconic of all the Pyrenean peaks. Not the highest or even over 3000m it has a profile that’s not dissimilar to the Matterhorn, standing alone rather than as a point on an extended ridge.

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Its a relatively easy summit to attain but prone to stone-fall. We therefore settled on a circuit that encircles it with a night in a hut to make a two day taster before a longer trip the following week

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We set off in glorious warm sunshine with tantalising glimpses of the towering Pic du Midi through the trees.

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After a steep pull through the trees we opened out into the Bious pastures. It looked wonderful with its clear mountain stream but our route was further upwards with another steep section through the forest

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We emerged into another open pasture and stopped for a break. It was a wonderful spot but we were plagued by flies but luckily for the only time on the trip

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A short climb led us up to the first of the the Lacs d’Ayous, Lac Roumassot. With the majestic Pic in full view it was a perfect lunch stop by the stream

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Winter has not long receded from the Pyrenees (as we found out later) so the wild flowers were in abundance and a delight for our whole stay

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After a lengthy feast another short climb past the waterfalls led us past the second small lake of Lac du Miey and then on to Lac Gentau above which sat our destination for the night, the Refuge D’Ayous

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The hut has been perfectly placed, above the lake with the classic view across to the Pic du Midi. On warm summer afternoon it was perfect

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We debated long and hard about whether to use huts or wild camp. I was in favour of the latter but the others were reluctant to carry the heavy packs in high mountain country. We decided on huts and they were very convivial and enjoyable. They fed us superbly with each hut delivering a four course meal and it does mean you can relax a little more at the end of the day and enjoy the surroundings. None of that cooking, washing up and lavatorial visits behind rocks and such like. In fact c couple of the hut even had a shower!

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We enjoyed our surroundings for a lazy couple of hours just lounging on the grass in the warm sunshine

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As we sat the clouds and mist from the valley’s below began to creep up creating some fine images of the Pic du Midi

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We were planning on a lazy stroll around the lake but left it a little too late. By the time we set off the mist was swirling around the lake and hut and we spent of most of the walk in the damp cloud

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The wild flowers were still absolutely stunning though

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Added attraction of these lakes are its resident toads and there were loads of them swimming in the shallows and several frogs hopping about in the grass

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This one was rearing up out of the muddy grass like some kind of monster!

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I also nearly trod on a snake! It was black and possibly had a diamond pattern on its back so I thought it might be an Adder but looking online the only variety is rare and not black. Not sure what variety it was but it was thrilling to see it anyway.

The hut was completely enveloped in cloud when we got back so we sat inside and chilled waiting for tea (a hearty soup, chilli and rice with cheese and apple to follow). While we were eating a massive thunderstorm raged outside with hail thrown in. We seemed to right in the middle of it with lightning flashing all around. When it finished the skies cleared a little and me and TBF went out for a walk. The views were completely different, all stormy clouds and shafts of sunlight

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We thought we’d missed the promised sunset on Pic du Midi but we lucked in as the sun came out just enough to turn its grey slopes a deep brown and the wind dropped to reveal at least some of its reflection in the lake

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A fantastic end to a superb first day in the Pyrenees

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Now I said this was a two day expedition and normally I’d write a post for each day. The next day we woke in swirling mist and stayed in it for the entire day. Every footstep from the hut back to the car which was still in the cloud. It was a long day and we were all pretty chuffed to complete it but we saw nothing all day. It was like walking inside a ping-pong ball. This was the only photo I managed to take so I didn’t think I could stretch this out to a whole post.

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The day wasn’t without incident. Were saw numerous Fire Salamander and we managed to to go over the wrong col. We saw some glimpses of blue sky way above us but it never cleared and ironically that was enough for both sherpas to get sunburnt! It didn’t spoil what had been a superb couple of days out and we warmed up for the more serious route I’d planned for the rest of the trip. A total of 20km and 1400m of ascent over the two days

A Shropshire Bimble   6 comments

Now here’s a rare treat. A blog post write up within a day of the actual event itself. Can I keep this up? Unlikely as I’m off to the Pyrenees next week for some walking so no doubt I’ll be way behind again for the rest of the summer. I’ll enjoy this moment of freshness of memory while I can.

Despite a promising forecast it was chucking it down when we met up with Uncle Fester and surprisingly (as they said they couldn’t make it) The Hard Man and his apprentice LAC. As luck would have it we’d planned a hearty breakfast at the excellent Lazy Trout cafe on the A49. We spent a happy hour looking at the rain outside while scoffing and it had stopped when we finally arrived in Cardington to begin the walk. Our route was to take in the splendid isolated ridge of The Lawley and finishing over Caer Caradoc and Hope Bowdler Hill

The first part of the walk required linking together several footpaths across the local fields

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As you can imagine this involved fields of long wet grass, overgrown stiles and herds of aggressive cows. What fun!

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The views made up for it as the weather began to brighten and we could see our three target hills in the distance

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The walk through Birch Coppice Wood in the dappled sunlight was particularly fine

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We emerged at the far end of the wood to some fine views of The Lawley

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Its a splendid grassy ridge. Not especially high but as it sits on its own, rising from the southern end of the Cheshire Plain its very dramatic. After another bout of field bashing including some electric fence malarky we were on our way to the summit

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Not for long though. We’d been walking non-stop for  3 hours so it was time for rest. A nice cuppa was well deserved and would have been thoroughly enjoyed if I’d managed to remember the stove😦

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Still the grass was comfortable and a chill out was enjoyed by all

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On to the summit where we enjoyed a lively debate about the pending EU Referendum

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Alas the EU regulations that have blighted our country also seem to have dictated that hills in Shropshire must conform to a minimum steepness of “bloody steep”. Those unelected bureaucrats from Brussels! (This is my attempt at political irony – I’m voting “Remain”)🙂

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Poor Uncle Fester was struggling with this steepness rating and we needed a stop halfway up Caer Caradoc.

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At the top the weather was exceedingly fine so we sat again. Its a real mountain in miniature as are many of the Shropshire Hills. Possessing rock tors, crags and brutally steep slopes on all sides. Diminutive in altitude it may be but everything else says “mountain”

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The way down was as you’d expect from a Shropshire Hill – steep. My knees were suffering with the long bouts of flat walking so having climbed back up to the col on Hope Bowdler Hill I decided to leave the out and back to its highest point for another day. The view from the top of Willstone Hill across to the Brown Clee and Titterstone Clee his (Shropshires highest points) was excellent.

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We had thought of extending the walk but time was pressing and the pub in Cardington had a beer with my name on it

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A very respectable 11 miles with an even more respectable 3000 feet of ascent. Not bad for these small hills in rural Shropshire. Very fine walking indeed

The Route Lazily Trodden   6 comments

Our last day in North Wales and the weather dawned even better than the previous one. More sun, more warmth, more abundant blue sky. The kids seemed tired and TJS was still suffering with his toe so we abandoned the plan for a big day in the Carneddau for a lazy day by the river. I’d read that the Afon Cwm Llan that drains the southern side of Snowdon was a fine place for a riverside picnic and a swim. Considering we were late and the car park is the start of the Watkin path up to the summit I was surprised to find a spot. Food packed we headed out. It was a truly glorious day

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I figured that the spot where all the swimming pools are would be busy so we based ourselves in a lovely spot lower down

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The water was crystal clear and icy cold but the weather just perfect. Warm enough to laze in the sun in comfort but not so hot as to be oppressive.

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We sat around for a while and then I went off for an explore

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The walk along by the falls was superb. I’m a real sucker for waterfalls and rivers

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The stretch above the main falls was just picture perfect. A wooded glade with warm flat rocks and the deepest of green pools. Perfect for swimming

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I want back down and dragged everyone up the hill for swim. Alas I was the only one brave enough to take a dip. Icy cold at first but wonderful clear and refreshing

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We watched a party of canyoners and followed them down. Me jumping in the deep pools behind them. No better way to spend a lazy Bank Holiday

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I used the think the Esk Gorge in the Lake District was the top of the list when it came to river swimming but this place runs it very close especially on day as good as this

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We returned to our base camp and scoffed a long and leisurely lunch and lazed about a bit more

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I even managed to sneak up on TJF and catch her unawares – she doesn’t like being photographed

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All too soon it was time to head back to the car and then the campsite to take the trailer down

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It was almost a pleasure to be taking it down on such a glorious afternoon on such a wonderful campsite.

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We finished off the weekend in style with a meal in the Royal Oak Hotel in Betws y Coed. Its much quieter than the well-known Stable Bar next door but the food is excellent and the staff very friendly. Highly recommended.

If Carlsberg did Bank Holiday camping weekends……

And with that I’m in the unusual position of being up to date having not been out much the past couple of weeks. TJS is mid exams so I don’t want to head out while he’s stuck at home. Weekends of domestic chores, garden BBQs and meals out have taken priority

The Route More Trodden   10 comments

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The next day was a revelation. Gloomy dark clouds were replaced by clear blue skies and warm sunshine. Breakfast outside to start the day albeit later than I wanted

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Having finally fulfilled my promises to take TJS up Snowdon and Scafell Pike it was time to fulfil another promise and take him on one of the UK’s finest mountain walks. The circuit of Tryfan and the Glyders.

We were accompanied by TJS new special friend, the lovely E.🙂

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The weather was looking worryingly similar to the previous day with bubbling clouds and it was already very warm when we set out from the car. The classic route up Tryfan is its North Ridge, a fine introduction to the art of scrambling for budding mountaineers. Its also good practice for the art of brutally steep climbs right at the start of a hike. Compensation provided by the superb views

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After the lung busting start you emerge onto the ridge and the fun begins. Its pretty much a hands on scramble right to the top. I was a little worried about how E might fare (and TJS for that matter) but she was a natural rock athlete. Many times I had to curb her enthusiasm for the harder options and stick to the well worn route which has more than enough steep pitches to keep everyone entertained

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I should have taken my small camera for some more action shots (my hefty DSLR has to be packed away on the steeper sections) but I got some pretty good shots

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Both TJS and E seemed to be loving the challenge of the scrambling and despite the BH weekend and sunny weather didn’t seem as busy as I expected

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As we’d climbed there had been a freshening breeze keeping us cool. This also seemed to have cleared the air and the darker clouds seemed to have vanished. The views were much more expansive and it was turning into a real cracker of day

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The final summit towers were just splendid in the warm sun. A great feeling to pull up on the warm rock. There is a sense of a real big mountain, almost alpine feel but with no real objective dangers with a little care. I’m a hell of a lot more cautious when I have the kids with me than when I’m on my own but they were equally cautious and responsible. It was almost a shame to arrive on the summit

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The main summit was crowded and E made an aborted attempted to climb onto Adam /Eve. I declined the offer having done that and the leap from one to other in my youth when I was leaner and fitter.

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We headed over to South Peak that was much quieter and sat down in the same spot me and THO had sat in a couple of months ago. Its a very nice grassy perch with a perfectly angled rock to recline against

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Time to move on and down the wider but no less rocky south ridge. TJS seemed to slow markedly and admitted having some discomfort in one of his toes. He seemed to be struggling so I asked if he wanted to go back down. To his credit he battled on, not wanting to spoil the day for the rest of us

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The classic route follows the North Ridge of Tryfan to ascend the Glyders via Bristly Ridge seen in the photo below. Its no harder than Tryfan but it is more exposed and feels a little more serious and committing. Being more circumspect and with TJS’s foot in mind, I suggested we leave it for another day although I wished we’d done it now as it was such a perfect day. Still, it will always be there

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We took the traversing path out to the ridge which is very fine in its own right and gives excellent views back to Tryfan and the eastern end of the Glyders

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As you approach the summit of Glyder Fach you get a splendid view of Bristly Ridge in profile

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The summit of Glyder Fach always makes me think that some almighty being has been building some huge edifice somewhere and dumped all the leftover bits on the summit. Its a huge area of piled boulders capped by the impressive Cantilever Stone that E obviously wanted to climb

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The perched rocks make for more fine scrambling but TJS was really struggling with his foot so we just avoided what we could and satisfied ourselves with the mighty views as the ever clearing weather just seemed to get better

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As you approach the summit of Glyder Fawr the view down Nant Ffrancon is one of classic glacial U-shaped valley

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The views of Snowdon were equally fine and my route from the day before perfectly outlined (follow the ridge in the shot below from right to left to the summit and then back across Crib Goch)

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The summit of Glyder Fawr is a mass of tors and rock piles. The view from the summit presenting the two faces of the ridge, grassy to the west, rocky to the east

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I’d decided that that descending via the path into Cwm Idwal was a better bet. TJS found the steep scree descent from the summit a tough one but you are reward with a visit to one of the UK finest spots seen here from the top of the Devils Kitchen. Under a blue sky and with vegetation still dressed in spring green next to deep blue water its a wonderful place

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From below the surrounding towers of rock add a majesty unequalled outside some of the wilder parts of Scotland

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The Idwal Slabs are a mecca for climbers and there were several people on its crags even at the late hour

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Only downside is its proximity to the A5 (about a 15 minute walk) so its always busy but it’s huge and away from the main path you can always find a quiet corner. Its a wonderful spot

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I’d left the other two behind so I could walk back to collect the car. The short off piste trip cuts a huge corner and affords a classic view of Tryfan with the North Ridge in profile on the left

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The walk back along the road was a pleasure despite the traffic with the sky now almost completely cloud free and a deep shade of blue

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I collected the waifs and strays and headed back to the campsite. We dined  on a truly excellent BBQ, washed down with ice cold beers,  amongst the happy convivial family atmosphere of the campsite where its seemed everyone was doing the same and waft of sizzling meat and wisps of smoke spread across the site

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An appropriate point to mention the fantastic Rynys Farm Campsite. A real find. Some of the campsites in Snowdonia can be a little rowdy and overcrowded. Carol, the lovely owner has this one just perfect. Set amongst rolling fields in the forest above Betws-y-Coed they don’t pack the tents in and even though it was full there was plenty of space. Facilities were perfect, simple but clean with lovely touches like spare BBQ’s and kitchen stuff for anything you forgot. Best of all Carol promotes a friendly family feel that’s irresistible. Its a treat to pitch up somewhere the owners main focus is making sure everyone has a great time rather than just a commercial exercise. And of course a view to die for as well.

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We watched the sun set to end a high quality day indeed

The Route Less Trodden   14 comments

Bank Holiday Weekend and a family trip to Snowdonia. I arrived a day early so had the Saturday to myself. Weather forecast was for a sunny day with “occasional” showers in the afternoon so I was up early and parked up just after eight.

I had route planned around Snowdon but even at this early hour spaces were at a premium. If you are ever planning a Snowdon walk from near Pen-y-Pass I have a few tips. Don’t bother trying to park at Pen-y-Pass itself. Your chances of finding a space are pretty much zero and even if you did its a whopping £10 a day! Much better to park down at Pen-y-Gwryd especially now that there is a rather nice path back up to Pen-y-Pass rather than the scary walk back up the busy road. They charge you now to park in the lay-bys here (£4 a day) however if you walk towards Capel Curig a few hundred yards, and into the Local Authority next door, the lay-bys are completely free – all for the sake of an extra 5-10 minutes walk. Don’t ever say my blog isn’t informative🙂

Anyway the gloomy conditions of earlier were replaced by extending patches of blue sky and sunshine

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The new path up to Pen-y-Pass is rather nice and a huge improvement over the road option. That is until you emerge into the rowdy chaos that is the car park and join the hundreds of other people looking to attempt the summit. The views were some compensation and it was exceedingly warm even at this early hour

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The path was a constant stream of people some of whom were already struggling within 30 minutes of leaving the car park. I don’t think they have any idea that even from the high start its a pretty long and tough trek to the summit. I had other ideas though and was planning a route taking in Crib Goch by its little used North Ridge. Its the one on the right in the photo below (the ridge on the left is the more common East Ridge)

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My guide book said there is a cairned path that leaves the PYG Track but I never found it. As soon as you branch off you are instantly in a different world of peace and quiet in amongst the wild hollows of Cwm Beudy Mawr. I was alone, save for the traffic in the Llanberis Pass far below me. It’s a very rough route that traverses this wild corrie, across the top of Dinas Mot and up towards Cwm Uchaf below Crib Goch. There were only a smattering of sheep tracks and no sign of the promised path. It was hot and humid and hard work but the rewards when reaching Cwm Uchaf were worthwhile

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Its a stunning spot. Crib Goch and Crib y Ddysgl tower above, Llanberis nestles beneath. This was one of the spots we’d hoped to camp on the aborted Easter trip a couple of months ago. I can now confirm that its perfect if you can find a dry pitch (it was pretty soggy). I found a large flat rock to sunbathe on and catch my breath

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I’d also wanted to look at the lake of Llyn Glas but I ended up far above it as its decidedly hard to find. It has a small island and someone was camped on it

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Getting onto the North Ridge involves a short tedious pull up a loose scree slope very reminiscent of Tenerife. The North Ridge is much narrower than the common East Ridge and actually pretty exposed in places. However having it all to myself made the extra effort to reach it all the more worthwhile

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On reaching the summit the views across Snowdonia were mighty fine although dark clouds were beginning to build

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Photos never quite do justice to just how narrow and exposed the main the ridge of Crib Goch actually is. I’ve done it many times and whilst technically its very easy with only a few places needing hands, you do need a head for heights. Several people turned back while I sat and took in the views, all bearing the look of people who hadn’t expected this sort of thing

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I enjoyed the scrambling and was quickly onto the less narrow but equally rocky and scrambly ridge of Crib y Ddysgl. However rain was now in the air and by the time I reached its summit it was heavy enough for waterproofs. Having said that, such was the humidity I was dripping wet with sweat anyway.

You are suddenly transported back into chaos as you reach the point where four of the main routes up Snowdon converge. There is little point walking the extra ten minutes to the summit to share a summit I’ve done many times, with no view and with five hundred strangers so I headed down. I passed through hundreds of people on the way up. Most were poorly equipped and most looked decidedly unhappy at the turn of weather. As I descended I came out of the cloud and the sun came out. Glaslyn looked like an ideal spot for a stop

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I found a quiet spot on the far side of the lake away from the crowds and lazed in the sunshine for an hour enjoying my lunch and a brew. Snowdon eventually peeped from its cap of cloud and suddenly all was very fine indeed

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Then I headed down and and everything went pear-shaped. It started to rain, light drizzle at first but within a few minutes it was a heavy downpour that lasted the best part of an hour until I squelched back into Pen-y-Pass car park. I was completely soaked through although I suppose one heavy shower, albeit an hour long classifies as “occasional”.

The sun came out on the way back to the car and I was pretty done in by the time I reached it. Not surprising as I’d done 11 miles and fair amount of ascent

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I was still soggy enough to need plastic bags on the seats to drive back to the campsite!

Then another “occasional” shower. Well cloud-burst would be more accurate. The A5 became a river as I drove past the Swallow Falls. For around ten minutes it all went dark and was like the end of world. Back at the campsite it wasn’t as bad but it rained pretty incessantly until around 8pm. In contrast to the heat and humidity of the morning, I was now cold enough to need the heater on in the camper.

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The rest of the family turned up later in the evening, their arrival seemingly forcing the rain to stop. The day finished with some fetching views across the campsite and we hoped for better weather the rest of the weekend

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