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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Hay-On-Wye Weekend May 2014

The weekend of May 16th-19th saw us go on another long weekend camping trip, this time down on the border of England & Wales to a little place called Hay-on-Wye. We stayed on a small quiet campsite just outside Hay in a place called Clifford, a very small country hamlet with a spattering of cottages, very very nice & quiet. We were there celebrating our 28th Wedding Anniversary and what a great relaxing weekend it was. The Friday saw us set off mid morning for a good leisurely drive down to a place in Rhayader in mid Wales where they feed the Red Kites at Gigin Farm This was a first for us as I had wanted to see this for a few years and a great spectacle it was as well as a few hundred Red Kites came in from all directions for a feast. they were joined by many Crows, Ravens, a couple of Hen Harriers and a fox! Well worth the short detour and a great way to spend a good couple of hours as there is a short walk round the farmland and a cafe and other things to do. We then had a good quiet drive to Clifford, our home for the next three nights :-)
View down to Rhayader
Red Kites circling above
Feeding Time
Female fox joining in
Two Hen Harriers and a few Crows enjoying the banquet
Home for the weekend
A good relaxing evening with a BBQ and a few beers around the camp fire made for a great relaxing end to the day.
The Saturday was our Anniversary and we decided to take it easy in the warm sunny weather and have a wonder into Hay for a look round. Now this little town is famous for its bookshops, lots of them and it also has quite a few festivals on throughout the year and can get really busy. Fortunately for us, this weekend was very quiet so we had a good look round before making our way back to camp along part of the Wye Valley Way long distance path The part we were on took us through quite a few fileds, along country lanes, footpaths and through an old golf course. A good relaxing few hours walk in good warm sunny weather and yet another BBQ and a few beers to finish off the day. Perfect :-)
Now in our 29th year :-)
Country Lane into Hay-On-Wye
First of many bookshops
Hay-On-Wye Castle
Bookshops from the Castle
River Wye
On the Wye Valley Way
Through fields
Cheers :-)
A favourite camping tipple :-)
Glowing :-)
On the Sunday, I had sort of planned on going for a big walk in the Black Mountains, which is part of the Brecon Beacons National Park but on the Saturday while walking along the river we decided to have a lazy Sunday afternoon in a canoe! We had talked about it in the week leading upto the weekend as something to think about and as with quite a lot of our weekends out, we don't really have too much of a big plan in place, just sort of make it up as we go along which adds to the fun. So after another relaxing long breakfast, we made our way into Hay again where we had booked an afternoon canoeing trip  along the River Wye with Paddles and Peddles. A relaxing 6 mile trip along the tranquil river, stopping off a couple of times and finishing with a refreshing beer before being driven back to the starting point. Another first for us as the only other time we had been in a paddle boat of sorts was on a couple of boating lake's. Great day :-)
Aye Aye Captain
Time for a rest

A nice refreshing pint at the end

A great way to spend a relaxing weekend which turned out to be the warmest weekend of the year so far and a great way to celebrate our anniversary :-)

Monday, 5 May 2014

Snowdon Horseshoe Again 3rd May 2014

Well this walk was planned for the Bank Holiday Monday, May 5th, but as usual a twist of fate meant that I could go Friday afternoon and make a weekend of it instead. I love it when that happens :-) It also meant that Jill could come down on the Saturday evening after her shift and have a beer and a curry at the campsite while having a day out round a coulpe of Llyn's on the Sunday, marvelous :-)
I set up camp at the Gwern Gof Isaf Campsite that offers great views of the mighty Tryfan and is a good base to explore the area. A bit of a wander high above the site and a relaxing evening was a great way to relax before the long day ahead of me.
My home for the weekend
The mighty Tryfan
View of the campsite from above
 After a good nite I got packed and was ready to go about 8.30am for the short drive around to the parking spot about a mile or so from the main Pen y Pass car park. There was very little wind and a quick stop off at Plas y Brenin for the first photo of the day shows how calm it all was
My route for the day
Snowdon Horseshoe from Plas y Brenin
It was a cloudy but very still morning with only Garnedd Ugain & Snowdon shrouded in mist, for the most part that is how it stayed all day. Luckily, the mist lifted when I reached Snowdon and the breeze picked up on the way down but all in all another great day to be out doing this excellent route.
After parking and a 40 minute road walk up hill I had reached the very busy main car park where I duly put a couple of pound in the collection bucket for the Llanberis Mountain Rescue hoping that I won't need to call them any time soon. A very good cause for anyone walking the mountains and I hope they made a bob or two.
My route would be straight up the grass bank from the car park as I was going up the Horn instead of the Pyg Track. I have done this before on quite a different day a couple of years back but then I came back down the miners track as opposed to doing the full Horseshoe. Blog Post Here I find this way much more interesting than the Pyg Track, and very quiet away from the crowds. The views are quite good as well
On the approach to the busy car park with the Horn & Crib Goch as a backdrop
View back down to the car park
View down the valley towards Llanberis
Llanberis Valley & the Pyg Track from the Horn
View of my route with Snowdon in the clouds
View down to Llyn Lydaw

Coming off the Horn to the junction of paths for the Pyg Track left & Crib Goch straight ahead
Warning notice on the stile
After a five minute rest I joined the crowds, most going along the Pyg Track but a fair few heading upwards to Crib Goch where I made my way up the path and some scrambling sections to the point where I was to turn off and follow the faint path that takes you round and below the North Ridge to the scree path that heads up to the start of the North Ridge. Although the East Face is a very good scramble up to Crib Goch, the north Ridge is a very satisfying alternative and a bit less scrambling apart from the last knife edge section. It is also a very quiet route and again I was the only one taking this way up so up to now I had seen no one else apart from at the car park and the start of the East Ridge.
Quite busy going up the East Face
The faint goat track
looking back towards the more popular east face
passing underneath the North Ridge with a line of people on the East Ridge
A busy Crib Goch crossing
The start of the North Ridge with the main Crib Goch Ridge looming large

Nearing the top of the North Ridge with the East face & Crib Goch looking busy
View down on my route so far
Start of Crib Goch
I had a rest for about ten minutes before I set off along the ridge of Crib Goch. there was quite a lot of people up here and I wanted to find a gap as to not get caught in a jam. I don't mind hanging about when in a group but on my own I like to enjoy a bit of space and take it all in. Luckily there was enough gaps between the parties to feel safe in my own enviroment. I love this and will never forget the first time I did it with a group of friends off a walking forum a few years back. A great experience and ever grateful for the helping hand. I know how daunting it can be for the first time and also how incredibly exciting it can be and still is. With no wind up here it really does make a difference but you do need a head for heights and not to get over confident. A very dangerous place but a thrilling experience all the same. It seems all over in a flash but Crib Goch is after all, only a smallpart the the Snowdon Horseshoe with more challenges ahead.
Crib Goch
Crib Goch
Crib Goch & the North Ridge
My route along the North Ridge & Crib Goch
the next port of call is up through the wall and along the ridge of Garnedd Ugain where the mist was still down so no views from there. This is a ridge where you can stay close to the edge or there is a path of sorts for the less adventurous. I liked the adventure :-)
The Wall leading upto the ridge along to Garnedd Ugain
Enjoying another fine scramble
In to the mist
The misty summit of Garnedd Ugain
A short walk down now to join the crowds making their way to the summit of Snowdon. The main paths of the Pyg Track, Llanberis Path and my way all join together and along with the people on the train, it makes it feel more like a typical Saturday afternoon on the local high street and then at the summit itself on a day like today and with the over paths converging, well, it's hard to find a quiet place. The summit comes in for some stick off a few people but for me it's a great place. When it's busy you can people watch and see all sorts of different folk enjoying their challenge day out. There are people there who have done it a hundred times or more and each time it's different. People with a look on their face that says "never again". The train passengers, some of who may may not be able to walk up for whatever reason and some who don't want to walk up, it's all up here. I first came up here via the train, with the kids about 20 years ago and then a bout 5 years ago getting off at the Clogwyn stop and walking the rest of the way in cloud then walking back down and it was that day that really got me wanting more so I'll never call people for getting to the summit that way as long as folk enjoy it that's the main thing.
On the approach to the path junction
the line of people on the zig-zag section of the Pyg Track
Pyg Track, Llanberis Path and Garnedd Ugain paths all join
Choo Choo
Steps leading to the summit
Summit trig point
Summit Cafe
The next leg of the horseshoe is the horrible path down the Watkins Path. I have never been up this way but I believe it's a very good way up, apart from the last bit which I am heading down. A really rocky, scree path that must be torture to go up, but each to there own. Once off this part, the way forward is more enjoyable and another exciting scramble, this time up the imposing Y Lliwedd. Again, there is a path of sorts away from the edge but as I said before, this was a day for adventure for me so again with little wind it was the excitement of the ridge.
On to the Watkin Path
Straight down the rocky path and toward the curved Y Lliwedd
Look back up the Watkin Path
Along the rocky ridge of Y Lliwedd
Y Lliwedd
Up we go

Great views from the top
Look back to Y Lliwedd

All that was left now was to follow the ridge over Lliwedd Bach and then down another steep rocky path that leads to a more laid out path before joining the Miners track back to the car park before the 30 minute descent down the road to the car to get back at 6pm. Nine hours in good still weather on this classic scrambly ridge walk that has just about everything you could want from solitude, great views, talking to other people and the excitement of the ridges, epic :-)
On the approach to Lliwedd Bach
Start of the descent path
View over to Crib Goch & a mist covered Snowdon
View back to Y Lliwedd
A last look back at the Horseshoe
Just time for a quick shower and change before I picked Jill up from Bangor train station to get back to the campsite for a curry and a pint :-)