Featured post

Snowdonia Peaks

Friday, 15 June 2018

Snowdon Sunset 9-6-2018

One thing I have wanted to witness is the sunrise from the top of Snowdon. A couple of years ago I got thwarted by the clouds rolling in after a promising start where the moon and stars were out in force. A few times since, the weather wasn't up to much on the days I had free to try again, so for the time being, catching the sunrise will have to wait. The next best thing is seeing the sunset and with the driest and stillest spell of weather on offer for a good while, and also having a free weekend, I decided to take the plunge and head off to Snowdonia. I was also inspired by all the photo's doing the rounds on social media and thinking I had to do it now while in this settled period of weather. For a good few weeks it has been warm clear and relatively wind free, making it the ideal time. With it being a late evening/night walk, I didn't have to be up at the crack of dawn and it also gave me the opportunity to have a camp out at a great little site, relaxing in the afternoon sun. The plan was to go up and over the Horns, Crib Goch, Garnedd Ugain, Snowdon Summit and descend by the Pyg Track and hopefully be back down by around midnight. I was also hoping it was to be relatively quiet except for one or two "3 peakers" doing their challenge. It turned out to be one experience I won't forget in a hurry :-)
I arrived at the campsite and got settled overlooking the lake where people were enjoying a swim, relaxing on the beach area, a few people on kayaks and just generally relaxing to the sound of the cuckoos that seemed to be in every part of this valley. I decided to set off from Pen y Pass at 5.30pm, giving myself a good four hours to arrive at the top of Snowdon and with the warm and still conditions on offer, I knew it was going to be a great experience. The car park was full to bursting as the days walkers were getting back down after what must of been a hard and very warm day for them. There must of been hundreds knocking about as I made my way up the steep grass bank that takes you up and over the Horns, before coming down to meet the path junction of the Pyg and Crib Goch routes.
View of Snowdon from the Plas y Brenin Mountain Centre
Room with a view
Looking down on Pen y Pass from the Horns
Looking down on Pen y Pass from the Horns
View from the Horns
The Horn of the Horns
Crib Goch from the Horns

After the great clear conditions of the day, the atmosphere started to get a bit on the hazy side and a bit of light mist rolling in now and again that reflects in the photo's but certainly didn't distract from the enjoyment on offer. For the first time in my last few visits to Crib Goch, I opted to go straight up the East Ridge instead of my preferred route of the North Ridge. It was quieter than I expected and up to now I had only seen one other walker going up and he passed me at the bottom of the East Ridge while I was having a rest. The last of the days walkers were slowly making there way down the Pyg & Miners tracks as I started the climb up to the Crib Goch Ridge.
Llyn Lydaw from the ascent of the East Ridge
Ascent of the East Ridge
Looking down the East Ridge
Snowdon behind Grib Goch
Start of the Crib Goch Ridge
Llyn Llydaw far below Crib Goch
Apart from a few midges knocking about, I had the whole ridge to myself as the other walker that passed me was nowhere to be seen. It was also very warm and very still with hardly any wind, the most ideal conditions for dong this. It was a pleasure to be up here again and a pleasure to experience another quiet and clear crossing. Although I tried to take my time, the pinnacles soon came and went and it didn't seem like 5 minutes before I was making my way down off the final one and on to more flatter ground of Bwlch Goch. It was here that I came across the second other person and he was bivvying up here for the night taking advantage of the conditions while getting some photo's . Not a bad way to spend a Saturday evening. Another thing I came across and a first for me up here, was the mountain goats that frequent the mountain areas of Snowdonia. I have seen them on the rocky cliffs of the Glyderau but not on the Snowdon area before. Maybe because of the thousands of people who are usually up here earlier in the day they probably hide out in the more inaccessible areas of the mountain.
Crib Goch
Looking across to Y Lliwedd from Crib Goch
Y Lliwedd & Snowdon from Crib Goch
Crib Goch Pinnacles
Snowdon behind the Pinnacles
Snowdon behind the Pinnacles
Snowdon from Bwlch Goch
Looking back on Crib Goch
Mountain Goats
Mountain Goats
Looking back on Crib Goch & the North Ridge
Up and over "The Wall" making my way up the next ridge that leads to the summit of Garnedd Ugain, the second highest mountain in Snowdonia and also where I saw the third person of the day. He was staying up there for the sunset before making his way back down. The sun was making its way down as well, just as a bank of cloud seemed to be making its way over the coast in the distance. I was hoping it wasn't going to spoil things as I made my way off Garnedd Ugain. There was a few more goats knocking about on the grassy summit, no doubt enjoying the peace and quiet conditions.
The Wall
More Mountain Goats
Y Lliwedd & Snowdon
Y Lliwedd rises above Glaslyn & Llyn Llydaw
Garnedd Ugain summit trig with Snowdon Behind
Mountain Goats of Garnedd Ugain

A fairly quick descent to the junction of paths where I saw a group of seven making there way up to the summit a bit slower than me, that gave me time for a quick dash up, making sure that I had at least fifteen minutes of solitude for a few photo's before settling down for a bite to eat and the main attraction of the sunset. The party of seven arrived and duly opened a bottle of bubbly, which they offered me a glass but I turned them down as it goes straight to my head and I knew I'd want more and that wouldn't of been a good idea with the descent of the Pyg Track to come!! :-) They did have some chocolate covered strawberries, which I had two, to go with my pork pie and stuff, while they told me they were on a charity walk for a kids hospital in Liverpool. They did take all there empty bottles and things back with them, unlike some folk during the day who left it for someone else to clear up. Why folk do this is beyond me as it's more trouble carrying things up a 3000ft mountain than it is to take down!! Anyway, the sunset wasn't the most spectacular and the wind had picked up a bit making it feel very cool, enough for hat and gloves to go on, but a fantastic experience all the same. A great experience sitting on the trig steps watching the sun go down with half a dozen others isn't something you get to do very often and I can highly recommend it. It's something I'll do again, that's for sure.
Pyg Track marker stone with Snowdon behind
Crib Goch & Garnedd Ugain high above the Pyg Track
Snowdon summit & Cafe
Someone forgot to take there rubbish home!
An empty Snowdon summit
Sun going down
Sun going down
Snowdon summit trig with the sun going down
Sun gong down behind a bank of cloud
I made my way off the summit and back to Pen y Pass via the Pyg Track. The wind and coolness of the summit disappeared as I made my way down the Pyg and was replaced with much warmer conditions and less wind, so it was back to tee shirt, no hat and gloves :-) A bit eerie as I made my way down as there was no sounds, only the sound of water when passing the few streams that run into Glaslyn & Llyn Llydaw. I did see my last four people as they were making a very slow descent and in all, apart from the crowds in Pen y Pass car park at the start of my walk, I saw a total of 18 other walkers in the six and half hours I was on Snowdon, and not a 3 peaker insight, a far cry from the 1800 or more that I would of seen in the middle of the day. In fact, I saw more Mountain Goats than people tonight, more than I have ever seen in one day on the mountains and that certainly makes a change.
Heading for the Pyg Track far below Garnedd Ugain & Crib Goch
The start of the Pyg Track
The Pyg Track in the now fading light
The light was good on the way down, with head & hand torch coming out around 10.30pm as the light was fading. I got back to the car park around 11.45pm after one of the most satisfying and epic visits to this most iconic of mountains. Certainly wont be my last sunset walk :-)

Video of the sunset :-)

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Hartsop to Aria Force 17-3-2018

We had booked a weekend tucked away in the small hamlet of HARTSOP, near to ULLSWATER in the Lake District, hoping for a bit of good early Spring weather as we said goodbye to the so called "Beast from the East" that rolled in over the early part of the month. A few days before, I ventured in to Wales to do Snowdon in what was a good still warm day so was really looking forward to the improving weather continuing into the weekend. This however is the UK and mid March can be as brutal as mid December/January as the weather can turn in an instant!!. Roll on "Beast from the East" part 2!! Cold winds and snow showers were the order of the weekend but fortunately no big snow dumps or blocked roads that can happen in this neck of the woods quite often. In fact, over the course of the winter, the KIRKSTONE PASS has been closed on a few occasions and as our base was at the bottom of the pass, we were grateful for that. The one real walk that we did was a case of resorting to plan B, as plan A was to catch the Ullswater steamer from Glenriding across to Howtown and walking back to base via the ULLSWATER WAY. However, because of the strong winds the Steamers were cancelled for the day, in fact the whole weekend, so we decided to walk to ARIA FORCE for a look at the waterfalls before back tracking the same way, all along the Ullswater Way.
The walk was around 16 miles in just under 6 hours in all sorts of weather.  Hail, snow, strong cold winds and sun making for a good adventurous day straight from the front door. A very easy to follow path with only a very small section that goes on the road so a bit more care as there is no footpath on this section but the rest is all off road on easy paths along the shore line, though fields and wooded areas.
View from the lane with Arnison Crag as the backdrop
Angletarn Beck Waterfall
Past farm dwellings
Sort sharp snow shower
No Steamers this weekend
Good sunny views across Ullswater
Snow shower on the way
Blue skies again
The wind making waves on Ullswater
And yet another snow shower
And back to blue skies
Ullswater
Ullswater from Aria Force
Aria Force Bridge
Aria Force

After a walk round the woods and a hot drink from the cafe, we back tracked going back the same way, encountering more or less the same weather conditions and at one point taking shelter behind a wall as we were in direct fire of the wind and sleet blowing straight down Ullswater.
Snow shower blowing straight down Ullswater
Taking shleter from the elements
Tree icicles
Sun coming out again
On the way back along the track under Dubrow How & Fall Crag, near to our base, we spotted a herd of Red Deer that roam the area. Apart from when we stayed at Haweswater a few years back, this is the first time we have seen any deer in the Lakes, although they are quite common. There was around 20 and they hung about all weekend on the same slopes. Good to see :-)
Sun snow & green fields
Back through the woods
And the farm
Red Deer on Fall Crag
Red Deer on Fall Crag
Angletarn Beck Waterfalls
Angletarn Beck Waterfalls
A really good day in changeable but not difficult weather. It would be good to go back and walk the whole of the Ullswater way one day as it is quite straight forward and quite popular with great scenery and views.
On the Sunday, we woke up to a covering of snow that had us thinking we may get snowed in, but luckily by midafternoon it had all but melted. We had a drive up to Pooley Bridge where we had a short walk along the Ullswater way and it looked like this area had had a lot more snow than back in Hartsop. I also had a look round the village of Hartsop and the disused Myers Head Mine. It was earlier this year, in January, that I first visited this area, taking in the high fells of Hartsop Dodd, Stone Covey Pike and The Knott  (CLICK HERE ) and saw the lodges that gave me the idea of a long weekend in the area. A nice quiet place with plenty of varied walks from the front door
Sunday morning snowfall
Hartsop Dodd
Snowy Pooley Bridge
Alpacas @ Pooley Bridge
Snowdrift @ Pooley Bridge
Frozen Angletarn Beck waterfalls
Looking down on basecamp
Hartsop Dodd above Hartsop Village
Pasture Beck Valley
Part of Myers Head Lead Mine
Myers Head Lead Mine
CHEER'S
So yet another great weekend away seeing parts we've not seen before and defiantly worth another visit in the not too distant future