Sunday 29 April 2018. Today’s walk was arranged to view the Bluebells in Mossymere Wood, however, planning some 6 months in advance means that this can be a bit hit and miss with the flowering of the bluebells being subject to seasonal variations. The prolonged winter and late spring meant that the bluebells hadn’t fully flowered yet and were far from being at their best.
It is a long drive to Mannington Hall, which is on the edge of our patch, but at least I had the company on Michael and Amanda to pass the time. We were joined by Karen, Moira and Betty. Our little group of 6 was dwarfed by the Norfolk Wayfarers and Hike Norfolk, both of whom had organised walks from the same starting point.
Underfoot conditions were slippery due to recent rains and made for difficult walking at times. We stopped briefly for coffee at Barningham Green where we were passed by the Hike Norfolk group on their longer route. Our next destination was Mossymere Wood. Unfortunately by the time that we got there it had started to rain and the bluebells were being a little shy. We had the choice of stopping for lunch in the rain or taking the shortest route back to the cars. The latter won out. It was good decision as the heavy drizzle, the sort that gets you thoroughly wet, became worse and made for a miserable end to the walk which was only 5.7 miles with just 300ft of ascent.
Mannington – walk route
The bluebells today:
The bluebells on 5 May 2014:
Friday 20 April 2018. After a hard walk yesterday, I decided on something a little easier with a walk directly from my caravan site. There are numerous paths up through the woods and abandoned slate quarries. I’d only been going for a few minutes when I spotted several small birds with black tops on their heads. As the description suggests, these were Blackcaps, a species that I don’t remember seeing before. I also saw a couple of Jays. A little later on I heard the call of two separate Cuckoos, a clear indication that spring has arrived and the first of the year for me.
About a mile into the walk, beside a stile, I saw an odd sign warning of danger and to keep out. There are many of these beside the old quarries but it was a little off-putting next to the footpath. Needless to say I took no notice of it. It was a steep pull of almost 1,000ft to the top of my walk requiring many stops to take in the views in glorious spring sunshine. I topped out at Bwlch-y-groes. I doubt that Karen will remember it but we passed here in June 2012 on our way to the top of Moel Eilio. I will never forget the drive to the start of that walk which took us up an extremely narrow track leading out of Llanberis. I doubted if I would ever be able to turn the car around for the return journey.
My route back followed this narrow track downhill to the outskirts of Llanberis and back to the caravan site. The walk was just 3.5 miles but still had a total ascent of 966ft. I think that this will be the last walk for this holiday as the weather is due to change and sport on TV may take priority.
Bwlch-y-groes – walk route
Thursday 20 April 2018. I’ve met up with Linda for the last couple of days but, as we then went on our own separate walks and her campsite doesn’t have a phone signal, further morning meet-ups seemed to serve no real purpose. We agreed that we would each do our own thing and meet up on Friday evening before she travels home. Oddly, as I was driving back after today’s walk I came upon Linda walking down the road from her campsite. I stopped and we had a chat about our respective walks. She had done Tryfan which is a hair-raising scramble. The site of many mountain rescue calls out and numerous fatalities. This wasn’t for me. Her plan for tomorrow was to do Snowdon up the Watkin Path, down the Clogwyn path and taking in Yr Aran on the way back.
My walk today was rather less ambitious in tackling Yr Aran on its own. I’d tried this walk last May but had to call a halt at about half way due to my sore knee. I now know that this was a wise decision. Seeing the profile of Yr Aran from yesterday’s walk spurred me to give it another go. I made an early start which ensured that I had time for the obligatory “holiday” bacon bap and a pot of tea before setting off. I was passed by 7 walkers as I made my way up the Watkin Path and by a couple of guys as I turned off for Yr Aran. Other than these, I didn’t see anyone else until 3pm on my way down.
My walk was only 6 miles with a total ascent of 2,450ft but it took me more than 6 hours to complete. Yr Aran isn’t much higher than Ingleborough but the paths are less well-defined and therefore progress is slow (or is it just me?). I used my walking poles but these had to be put to one side at times as I climbed up or down small rock faces. The summit of Yr Aran is a little disappointing as there isn’t a trig point or cairn to indicate that you have reached the top. The last 500ft of the climb up was undertaken in swirling mist and cloud which obscured any views from the top.
The mists only started to clear at about 3pm which was the time when I met a couple who were walking Yr Aran with the assistance of a guide-book. They had already missed one turning and thought that they could complete their walk in a further 2.5 hours. I suggested that they needed to add at least another hour to their estimate. This was probably the most physically demanding walk of my holiday proving that the body is capable if at sometimes the will is missing.
Yr Aran – walk route
Wednesday 18 April 2018. I met Linda at 10am near her campsite. The weather hadn’t improved much and low cloud obscured the hill tops. It was forecast to improve so we stopped for coffee in Beddgelert to kill some time. I had thought of doing the Nantile Ridge, which is a very challenging walk, but I felt that it would be too much for me and opted for an easier low-level route. Linda stuck with the original plan and, when I’d finished my walk at 4:30pm, I got a text from her letting me know that she’d reached the Obelisk on Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd (2,142ft). I’d had my phone switched off to save battery for most of the day so don’t really know what time she sent me her text.
My route, which was devised on the hoof, took me through the northern part of Beddgelert Forest before circuiting Y Gyrn. I took the wrong path for a short while but soon realised that I was heading in the wrong direction. The bonus was a better view of the Nantile Ridge. I had thought of crossing the southern edge of Beddgelert Forest (path marked in purple on my map) but found that this path had been closed for more than a year to allow for the felling of trees. I continued on the closed path for a short while before detouring north on forestry access tracks to pick up my intended route near Pont Cae Gors. I don’t think that it added very much to the overall distance of my walk which turned out to be 7.4 miles with a total ascent of 1,400ft.
The weather improved considerably in the early afternoon and I was glad that I’d applied sunscreen and had my sun hat with me. The section of my route in the old quarries near Y Gyrn was most enjoyable. I didn’t see another walker until I was within sight of the car park.
I tried and failed to do Yr Aran last year because of my sore knee. Having now seen it from a different perspective, I feel that I must summon up the energy to give it another go.
Y Gyrn circuit – walk route
Tuesday 17 April 2018. What a wild 24 hours it has been. The weather forecast was for strong winds and heavy rain. They weren’t wrong. At about 5pm yesterday the wind was gusting so strongly that I thought it would rip the awning off the side of my caravan. I had no option but to take it down. Doing so in the middle of a gale was something of a challenge and, rather than neatly packing it away, I threw it on the back seat of my car until the weather calmed down a little.
The gales continued into the early hours of this morning and I spent a restless night with the caravan rocking as if it was on a storm-tossed sea. I woke at about 2am and decided to listen to the radio through my satellite linked TV. There was no signal. It was easy to see why so I got dressed and went outside to right my satellite dish which had been blown over by the wind. Soon after, the heavens opened up with torrential rain that didn’t stop until after lunch today.
I had anticipated the bad weather and, taking pity on Linda, had invited her to join me in my caravan rather than sitting in a soggy tent all day. She arrived just about noon and we then went off for a pub lunch in nearby Caernarfon. We then had a quick walk around the town. Whilst it remained dry, the wind was still strong so we did no more than a circuit around the Castle. The weather forecast is much better for the rest of the week so it should be back to walking for the two of us.
Monday 16 April 2018. Linda has joined me for a few days and this morning I picked her up from her campsite with the intention of doing a walk from Nant Gwynant. My idea was to try Yr Aran again having failed due to a sore knee last May. Linda had thought about doing Snowdon but it was shrouded in cloud and there was a strong wind blowing in the valley which would no doubt be worse at 3,600ft.
We both decided to change plans and to tackle Cnicht (2,260ft) instead. I had reached the top of Cnicht in June 2012 when accompanied by Bea and thought that it would still be within my capabilities. I couldn’t really remember too much about the previous ascent although some details were to come back to me as the walk progressed.
We started at Bethania (240ft) and followed a narrow winding lane for almost 2 miles. The lane seemed steep at times but we had only climbed 300ft by the time that we picked up the mountain track at Blaen Nanmor/Gelli-lago. Part way along this lane we saw what we took to be a dead lamb in one of the fields. Thankfully, it was only resting. We assumed that it was very newly born as it was still very wobbly on its legs as it tried to suckle from its mother.
The lane wasn’t the best for driving and I remarked that “I wouldn’t like to bring my car up here”. It only became apparent to me when we reached a small car park that I’d driven up here when doing the Cnicht walk with Bea. Had I done the same today, it would have saved me from 3.5 miles of road walking.
I can just about keep up with Linda on the flat but as soon as any hills are encountered then our difference in fitness and capability is cruelly exposed. I was only slowing Linda down and suggested that she should go ahead and I would plod on at my own pace. Linda was going to do a 10 mile or longer route and I was only doing a quick (do I mean slow?) up and down.
By the time that I’d reached 1,000ft above sea level I was only at the half way point and still had another 2.5 miles and 1,400ft to go to reach the summit of Cnicht. It was here that my willpower/determination gave out and I decided that was enough. In my current poor state of fitness I don’t mind admitting defeat and perhaps avoiding further risk to my health. My curtailed walk turned out to be 4.8 miles with a total ascent of 1,000ft. Had I done the full route then this would have been 9.6 miles with 2,400ft of ascent. Perhaps I need to do more modest walks for the remainder of this holiday??
Cnicht – walk route