Featured post

Snowdonia Peaks

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

A Snowy Walk In The Lake District 26-11-2016

What a fantastic but tough day this was. I'd wanted to do this ridge walk after my one and only visit to FAIRFIELD about five years ago and looking down on Cofa Pike & St SUNDAY CRAG, thinking that looks a good ridge walk! Fast forward to this week and I knew I was going out over the weekend but where and what day wasn't decided until Thursday, last minute as usual. As I'd not been to the Lakes for a bit and with the fells looking like they had a bit of snow and very settled conditions, I decided that this may just be the day for a look at St Sunday & Cofa Pike and it didn't disappoint :-) As there's only about 10 hours daylight at this time of year, it was an early start and I was booted up and set off from PATTERDALE at just gone 8am with the car temperature showing a cool -5.5 and everywhere covered in a hard frost.
So out of Patterdale following the marked footpath that took me up and along a good well trodden path along the boundary wall of Glenamara Park, that offered some good views back down to a partly frozen ULLSWATER, and up on to ARNISON CRAG
My route for the day
A bit chilly to start with
View back down on a partly frozen Ullswater
Up up and away next to the boundary wall
I soon gained a bit of height and got to the rocky outcrop of Arnison Crag, which offered a great view back down to Ullswater and also of the way I was heading.
View back down on Ullswater from Arnison Crag
Looking good ahead
Following the path and then all other footprints in the snow I followed the line next to a wall going straight up the bank to get onto BIRKS and then followed the curved ridge of St Sunday. Hard going in the snow but well worth it for the views and the solitude as apart from one fell runner coming down, I was the only person going this way. I did see two others near to Cofa Pike who told me it was too difficult to go up so they turned round.
Footsteps in the snow
My way forward on to Birks and the curved ridge of St Sunday
View back down to Arnison Crag
Summit of Birks
Blue sky & white snow
Looking back down to Birks
His only way is down!
My only way is up to St Sunday summit
There was some great views over to the HELVELLYN range and it seemed that there was very little snow over there, especially on the summit plateau. Quite different to where I was with some big drifts towards the crags and indeed, I quite often found myself up to my knees aswell as on more solid compact snow. It had quite an alpine feel to the day and despite the hard going in places, I was loving it :-)
View over to the Helvellyn Range from St Sunday summit
Striding Edge
Deep snowdrift forming
The way forward to Cofa Pike
It was as I neared the start of the ascent up Cofa Pike that I came across the two other people I'd seen up to now. They told me that they didn't fancy the climb up as they couldn't see a distinct path, just as I pointed out there was two others and a dog making there way up. I said I'd take a look and make my mind up when I get there. As it was, there was a path of footsteps that zig zagged upwards that proved no trouble to me and found it hard to think that they had missed out. Caution, yes, but they seemed to have the right gear, crampons, map and of course exceptional weather conditions. Still, the mountain isn't going anywhere.
I made my way up following in the footsteps and topped out to a virtually snow free summit plateau which was quite a surprise and as I made my way across to find a place to rest, I couldn't help sensing the people looking at me wondering why I had crampons on struggling across all the rocks and boulders! No help up here but certainly helped lower down.
On the way to Cofa Pike
Cofa Pike
Looking back up St Sunday
Fairfield looms large from Cofa Pike
A big build up of snow with the Helvellyn Range as the backdrop
Looking back down on my route so far
Zoomed in on a virtually snow free Helvellyn
Summit view of Windermere & the Western Fells
snow free Fairfield summit
Summit view of St Sunday

After resting for about forty minutes I made my way down and up on to HART CRAG. Bit of a hard pull up here as there was quite a bit of hard snow and ice so the spikes went back on again and they certainly helped me stay upright, that's for sure. From there it was straight down HARTSTOP ABOVE HOW, which was quite straight forward but did have a sting in the tail just as my legs were feeling it!!
View down Rydal Head towards Windermere
Looking down onto Hartstop above How, my descent route
The way to Hart Crag
Hart Crag summit
Straight down Hartstop above How
The way down from here took a little longer than I expected as there are one or two ups and down as you make your way over rocky outcrops following a wall back down to the woods. I did stop a few times to admire the views of the sun setting that seemed to light up the sky like a fire. I also got chatting to a group who had a drone and was  making their way back down to Hartstop. In fact, they were the only other people I saw going down this way making it a very quiet day in the fells.
Looking back up to Hart Crag just as the sun goes down
Last of the sun on Hartstop Dood
Follow that wall
looking back as the sky catches fire
Looking back as the sky catches fire
 I got back to the car in darkness after a twenty minute road walk back into Patterdale about 5pm so a fantastic but hard nine hours in the most perfect weather conditions. Although the clouds rolled in mid afternoon it was sun, blue skies, warm with next to no wind for the most part. This is one walk that I'll definitely do again in the longer daylight hours of summer with a bit more thrown in for good measure. Great day :-)

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Hidden Cottage Weekend November 2016

Well it was that time of year again when we tucked ourselves out of the way in a lovely cottage in a hidden part of Snowdonia. Our third time at this retreat from heaven and again a very happy few days relaxing and enjoying the very peaceful and stress free surroundings on offer, where we walked, drove and BOUNCED our way round this part of Snowdonia. :-) We even had the luxury of a hot tub to soothe away the aches and pains of the days activities.
It all started on the Friday where we stopped off at CAERNARFON CASTLE to see the Weeping Window First World War memorial and to pay respects to all service men & women. A very sober and moving tribute.
The Weeping Window
Caernarfon Castle Weeping Window
After having a walk round the castle, exploring and seeing all the tributes we went into town for a bite to eat before heading off to our base for the weekend, BUARTHAU. 
The weather was quite cool but dry as we made our way down the near deserted roads and lanes and onto the single track lane that leads to the cottage. As it was still light enough, I went for a quick look round from the top ground above the cottage with views out towards Porthmadog and down the surrounding Valley.
Our base
Murky view towards Porthmadog
A walk on the wildside
View down to Buarthau with the crags of Yr Arddu as the backdrop
Nice way to end the day
On Saturday, we had decided to go for a walk and had a couple in mind that we have done before. One being what is known as the Beddgelert loop of about 10 miles and the other and shorter walk through Cwm Bychan and old mine workings. As there was heavy rain overnight and there was a bit of low cloud and drizzle first thing, a lot of the ground would of been very boggy so we opted for the shorter Cwm Bychan walk. CLICK HERE FOR THE LOOP WALKIt also gave us the chance to have a bite to eat in BEDDGELERT.
We started from the car park at Nantmor and followed the easy path climbing steadily upwards through the woods before coming out in the open with misty views over to Cnicht and the Moelwyn's and back towards Porthmadog. We were following a stream but with the amount of rain overnight, the path in places resembled a stream as we made steady progress to the first rest of the day at the memorial bench that offered great views back down the Cwm.
Our route for the day
Start of the walk
Nice waterfall :-)
View over to Cnicht & The Moelwyns
Memorial Bench
We moved onwards and upwards as we came to the old pulley system of the copper mines. There are small reminders along the path but it's not until you come in to view of the pylons that you get a real sense of the place and all the spoil heaps and stone walls of old sheepfolds. After a look round here it's a straight forward walk to the stile at the top of the Cwm which offered good misty views all the way back down.
Up past the old pylons
View down the pylons
Needs a bit of WD40 to get it working
Soggy way up
View down from the top of the Cwm
After another rest we made our descent to the shore of Llyn Dinas just as the misty drizzly weather moved in to make it a bit on the damp side. Great views when it's clear and thankfully the damp conditions didn't last long, about half an hour or so just as we got to the shoreline.
Looking down to Llyn Dinas & a distant Moel Siabod
Rainbow over the Snowdon Range
Sun lighting up Llyn Dinas
Rainbow watching over Llyn Dinas
From here its a straight forward walk back to BEDDGELERT where we decided to have a bite to eat and take it easy before following the Afon Glaslyn down the Aberglaslyn Pass and back to the car park. A great walk in it's own right especially after the overnight rain had made it  a raging river. There was also the added bonus of having a look down a tunnel halfway down the pass that I've been meaning to do everytime I pass it just for a nosy to see where it went. As it's not got any gate or warning signs on it I thought it couldn't go very far and it dosen't. You still need a good torch and boots though as there was a bit of water on the floor!!
Llyn Dinas outflow with Moel Hebog as the backdrop
Blue skies over Moel Hebog
Beddgelert Village Green
Nearly :-)
Aberglaslyn Pass
Steady as she goes
 A great short walk that's ideal for this time of year in the short daylight hours. There are various ways to make it longer if needed but for a walk at a leisurely pace for a few hours, with a stop off in the village, it's great.

The Sunday saw us have a bit of a lazy morning before our next adventure, bouncing below in the old slate mines at Blaenau Ffestiniog. We have done this before a couple of years ago when it first opened but it's had a bit of a make over since and it's got a bit bigger. Oh what fun we had for an hour, and very very tiring as you climb, slide and bounce your way round the big open caverns, brilliant :-)
Bounce Below

A quick walk up to Buarthau Summit at the end of the day rounded off another brilliant weekend tucked away in this hidden valley,
Buarthau Summit Panoramic