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Snowdonia Peaks

Friday, 22 August 2014

Old Quarries, Waterfalls And A Resevoir

The weekend of August 17th/18th, OK, Sunday & Monday, saw us spend a night glamping in a Camping Pod at Bryn Dinas, Snowdonia. A first for us and although we thought it was a bit on the expensive side, it was a good way to spend what was a very wet night. Dry during the day but wet and windy in the early hours made us glad we chose this to a soggy night in the tent!
The walk we did on the Sunday afternoon was straight from the front door and onto the WATKIN PATH that leads to the summit of Snowdon. As this was more of a relaxing couple of days we were only interested in seeing the waterfalls and old quarry buildings that are a feature of this area. A couple of other interesting features of the area is the old ruins of PLAS CWM LLAN, which used to be the home of the South Snowdon Slate Quarry manager. Later on, during the Second World War, soldiers used this building as a target when training for “D Day”. The other feature is a large random rock with a slate plaque on it which commemorates the opening of the path in 1892 by the 83 year old Liberal prime minister, William Gladstone.
Quote taken from Snowdonia National Park describing the Watkin Path & Gladstone Rock;
"This path was named after Sir Edward Watkin, Liberal Member of Parliament and railway entrepreneur who retired to a chalet in Cwm Llan on the foothills of Snowdon. A track to the South Snowdon Slate Quarry through Cwm Llan already existed, so to enable visitors to walk all the way up Snowdon, Edward Watkin created a path from the quarry to the summit. This was the first designated footpath in Britain, and the first step towards opening the countryside to walkers. The path was officially opened in 1892 by the Prime Minister William Gladstone, who was 83 years old at the time. He addressed a crowd of over 2000 people from a rock on the side of the path, which is known today as the Gladstone Rock."

Route for the afternoon
Our base for the night
Start of the Watkin Path
Through Parc Hafod-y-Llan
First of the waterfalls and a steep incline used to take slate from the quarry
Paths alongside the Afon Cwm Llan
Cwm Llan
Plas Cwn Llan
Plas Cwm Llan with old bullet holes on the lefthand side
Gladstone Rock
The plaque reads (in Welsh then English): "Sep 13th 1892: Upon this rock the Right Honourable W Gladstone MP when Prime Minister for the fourth time and 83 years old addressed the people of Eryri upon justice to Wales. The multitude sang Cymric hymns and The Land of My Fathers. Erected by Sir Edward and Lady Watkin, Jun 1893."
 We made our way round to the old quarry buildings and spoil heaps that make this such a fascinating place. Just quietly walking and looking round these places seem to bring them to life as you get a sense of the hard work and tough living conditions the quarrymen and women had. Very eerie when all you can hear breaking the silence is the call of the ravens as they swoop up and down and all round. Such a great place nowadays but I guess they didn't have much time to enjoy it back then.
Spoil heaps of the slate quarry
Old living quaters with Yr Aran as the backdrop
Enjoying the silence
Slate quarry pit
Hail shower moving in
A cloud capped Snowdon looms over the quarry's
Blue skies over y Lliwedd
Cloud capped Snowdon through the square window
Cloud lifting from Snowdon summit
We made our way back along an old tram track on the opposite side of the Afon Cwm Llan and back down past the waterfalls. The wind down the valley was quite strong and took the edge of any warmth the sun was making but overall the day had been bright and warm apart from one short sharp shower. Another great few hours exploring this great area.
On the way back along an old tram track

Coming off the old tramway with Plas Cwm Llan far below
Looking across to the distant summit of Cnicht
Waterfalls of the Afon Cwm Llan
Stone bridge and waterfalls of the Afon Cwm Llan

 On the Monday we made our way over towards BLAENAU FFESTINIOG for a walk round the TANYGRISIAU RESERVOIR  This is a place steeped in history and is known as the town that roofed the world, as much of the slate that was mined in Wales came from here and was shipped out worldwide. Lots of attractions in and around the town and of course, lots of walks from the mountains to the reservoir. The early morning rain had by now cleared up and the sun was shining, making it another pleasant few hours relaxing walk. This place is also home to the FFESTINIOG & WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAY The railway is roughly 13 12 miles (21.7 km) long and runs from the harbour at PORTHMADOG to Blaenau Ffestiniog, traveling through forested and mountainous scenery.
The walk starts at the cafe car park and takes a gentle ascent up above the power station before leveling out along the shoreline.  Up and through the heather banks below Moel Ystradau before rejoinging the road back to the car park. A pleasant few hours in this interesting area which I'll be back for a bit more exploring in the future.
Our route round the Reservoir
First of the steam trains
Up along the service road
 Tanygrisiau Power Station
Ffestiniog steam train

View back over the reservoir
Moel Ystradau
Pano of the reservoir, power station and the Moelwyn mountains
Reservoir dam wall
Tanygrisiau Reservoir from the road
Ffestiniog steam train
 Another brilliant weekend away with a couple of good relaxing walks in good weather. Perfect, again :-)

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