of the Third Age,
The Walking Group goes to places off the usual walking tracks, joining up footpaths found on the map but not necessarily described in books.
Walks are not chosen to be all uphill, through bogs, in torrential rain but there should be some degree of challenge and adventure leading through some of the area’s most spectacular scenery.
Organiser: Peter Leyden (01341 281172)
Time: The Group walks on the fourth Monday of each month.
Photos from some of the walks can be found here.
December - Monday 18th
Meet at 10.00am, St John's church for local walk up to Cerrig Arthur via Bwich y Llan and return by Panorama walk, finish with a drink in café.
November - Monday 27th.
Egryn estate about 8km. Meet in laybys to the north of Capel Egryn. The Gr for Capel is SH 594205.
9:30am start Monday 27th November.
I would like someone else to be the walk leader, so ensure maps and compass on hand.
October - Monday 23rd.
Meet Morfa Mawddach at 11.05am off the Bermo train in carpark GR SH 628141.
We have a choice of two walks,Arthog Falls & Llynnau Gregennan about Five miles or Craig Cwm Llwyd about the same distance.
Both are Moderate to Energetic.
September - Monday 25th.
10.30am National car park Fiddler's Elbow from Bermo just past Bontuddu GR SH 678189.
Part of the walk is through Coed Garth reserve that is RSPB land so any dogs will have to be on a lead.
July - Monday 27th.
10.30am Around Trawsfyndd lake. 8 miles anticlockwise. Meet at carpark by Lake café, there is also a visitors carpark on the right of entrance to power station. Gr 697383.
June - Monday 26th.
Meet 11:30am at Tonfanau rail station (GR 564036). This is a 5½ mile walk and is easy to moderate. It has some fine views of the Dysynni valley and Birds Rock. There is a train back at 15.30hrs to Bermo. Parking is 200 metres from station.
May - Monday 22nd.
Walk from Bala to Frongoch where the British interned 1800 Irish Republicans in 1916 after the Easter Rising. Meet at Pont-y Bala 11:00am SH 929362. There is a bus T3 from Bermo at 9:50am.We will be going up the back roads via Llanfor.
April - Monday 24th.
This will be around Moelfre, 10:30 am, meet at north side of Moelfre, SH 614258. Go through Dyffryn Ardudwy and turn right at sign Cwm Nancol. It is two and a half miles from village.
March - Monday 27th.
Meet at 10.30am at the same Carpark as last month National trust carpark GR SH 728244 off the A470 in Ganllwyd. The walk itself is five and half miles and we will walk mostly on forest tracks up to Dolgefeiliau farm and then cross the road to Coed y Brenin centre from there after a coffee return to Ganllwyd past Cefendeuddwr farm,then across Pont Caen footbridge.
February - Monday 27th.
Dolmelynllyn estate. Meet 10:30 am, at Ganllwyd car park, SH 727243.
Route is A470 from Dolgellau 5 miles to the village of Ganllwyd .Car park on right-side of road. There are a number of walks. We will try the Estate one,
About four hours, muddy in parts but the views compensate for this.
January Monday 23rd.
The next walk will be around Glyn Aran, which some of you may have walked in the last 18 months.
Monday January 23rd meet 10.30 am in the Co-op carpark in Dolgellau SH 731178. This is a nice wooded walk of four miles and some fine views over Dolgellau. Parking is an issue, if you can't get there by public transport: from Bermo T3 at 9.45am. There is some parking out of town that is free but otherwise use the long stay carpark past the Marion playing fields on the left near the Rugby club.
*** 2016 ***
December Monday 19th (NB 3rd Monday this month)
Capel Salem & Afon Artro Valley.
Start at minor road toward Cwn Nancol SH 601272 GR
Coming from Barmouth along the A496 north to Llanbedr, turn right at the Victoria Inn ,follow the road signed Cwn Bychan and Cwn Nantcol for one mile, turn right at sign Cwn Nancol over the river then first left. Cross the cattle grid and park alongside the river on the left.
The walk is easy at four and half miles,great countryside views and at the start there is the famous Capel Salem as represented in picture form in many Welsh homes.
November Monday 28th
Around Bryniau Glo, around five miles. Meet at National car park alongside Afon Mawddach, old bridge south of Llanelltyd, SH 719193, 10:30 am.
Off A470 see signpost for Cymer Abbey and car park on right of minor road near old bridge.
October Monday 26th
Bontddu to Barmouth OL 18 SH 669187,this is the start point in Bontddu,old bridge Afon Hirgwm.
There is a T3 bus at 09:50 hours from Barmouth.
The walk will pass some of the old gold mine workings and we will turn off at Pont Hirgwm and return via Cutia and the Panorama walk.
September Monday 26th - Cancelled due to weather.
On Monday 15th August walk around Harlech and a visit to Historic stiles, meet at Bron y Graig Uchaf car park at 11.20am for a 4 mile walk around the quiet and beautiful countryside.
The 39 bus leaves Barmouth at 10.48am. MR 582309
Then on Monday 22nd August Bala walk about Four half miles starting in front of cinema for 10.50 am.
There is a T3 bus leaving Barmouth at 9,50am.
Jenny and Jeff are doing this as a recci and it is quite an easy walk.
July Monday 25th - Ardudwy Way
The next walk will be on Monday 25th July starting from Bermo TIC.
People from the south can come on the train that comes in Bermo just before 10.00am.
The walk itself is Barmouth to Talybont and is 8 miles long and can take between 4 to 6 hours. The walk is called the Ardudwy Way.
Some people may have done part or all of this walk in past.
This walk covers all you need for a day out at the end there is even a pub.
Public transport back 16.45hrs from Talybont to Bermo on the train or a Express motors bus at 16.47hrs.
June Monday 27th - Cadair Idris
Some photos of the Cadair walk. Fourteen people and three dogs made the climb via the Pony track from Ty Nant.
May Monday 23rd - Llynnau Cregannan Lakes
The walk will start later than in the U3A diary to allow people to catch the 11.01 train from Barmouth to Morfa Mawddach station, arriving at 11.05. Please can people not coming by train arrive before then to allow a prompt start.
The station car park is at SH 629141 on a minor road north off the A493 at the Fairbourne end of Arthog. We will go round the estuary, up the Arthog waterfalls and on to the Cregennen lakes and back down to our house for tea and a chance to look round our garden. There is a return train at 15.45 back to Bermo and stations beyond.
It is a moderately strenuous walk encompassing estuary, streams, woodland, moorland and lakes, but with plenty of options to stop and admire the views.
April Monday 25th - Pen Y Dinas
The next walk is to Pen Y Dinas, a five half mile walk from Tal Y Bont carpark SH 589218. Meet at 10.30am in car park, if coming on train it is 10.01 am from Bermo and a 5 min walk from station.
The walk will past the hillfort of Pen Y Dinas in open up hill pasture. The height rises to 1200 feet to reach the ancient trackway of Bwlch y Rhiwgyr.
It will be about four hours in total.
For those going back by train, time is 14.43 and there is a Express bus going at 14.46 to Bermo.
March Monday 21st - Tonfanau
The March walk will be a week early due to the fourth Monday being a bank holiday.
So the walk will be on Monday 21st March, meet off the train at Tonfanau at 11.22am. Train from Barmouth at 11.01 am. If people are coming from further up the line please check timetables.
The walk itself is called the Beacon Round and is about four and half miles length ,Three hours on a moderate track ,only one up hill section. GR SH 565035.
Train back will be 15.29 pm from Tonfanau.
February Monday 22nd - Llangelynin and Llanegryn Churches.
A five and half mile walk that visits two old churches.
Meet at LLangelynin 10.30am, SH 572071.
Directions LLangelynin lies about two miles south-west of Llwyngwril along the A493 where there is a large layby on the seaward side.
Car share would help.
January Monday 25th - Craig Cwm-Llwyd
The next walk will be Craig Cwm-LLwyd.
Meet at the Morfa Mawddach carpark, Gr SH 628141 at 10.30am on Monday 25th January.
This five half mile walk in the foothills just south of Morfa Mawddach, it will be along the trail to start and then climb above Arthog. We will walk beneath the Craig Cwn-Llwyd and along some ancient trackway of Fford Ddu .
It will be a medium walk with height of 1100 feet.
The walk will take four hours or so.
Directions 1 mile south of Friog by the War Memorial turn off the A493 signposted to the railway halt.
*** 2015 ***
December Monday 28th - Tal Y Waen, Dolgellau
This walk saw a total of eighteen walkers and three dogs, Patch had a day off.
The walk was 4 mile hike to Tal Y Waen about a half mile from Dolgellau and was all on minor roads and was suitable for most walkers and even pushchairs.
There were some really good views of Cadair and the surrounding hills and the day was fine and dry.
We came across some metal structures just before Tal y Waen farm, it was thought by some it was to do with mining industry but Carolyn said it was Old War Department rifle range target holders. Read the walk guide and it was in small print upside down.
November Monday 23rd - Foel Senigl
This walk was the back of Harlech, a hill called Foel Senigl.
Nine of us and two dogs. This was a short walk of four miles about 1,000 feet up, Although I had been up before somehow we ended up going the reverse of the route but we all got to the top in the end.
The day was not all that good for views but we did get an outline of Snowdon 15 miles away.
Coming back down we went for a paned in the Harlech swimming pool cafe, which is run by the local community.
October Monday 26th - Trawsfynydd
Eight hardy souls and two dogs met on the Trawsfynydd Visitor carpark (including two new lady walkers, Beryl and Dorothy). The weather was fine but a bit windy and we set off towards the power station along the lakeside path. From there we continued along the road to the dam and had a quick drinks stop before taking the path downhill at the end of the dam. Here it became boggy in places and we all learned how to walk on bog and water from there on.
The path followed the wall for a while, over a stone wall stile and down to a stream which we all managed to ford without wet feet. After crossing the stream we turned right through a gate and followed the track for quite a way, a stop for lunch and then climbing until we reached open farmland, and headed towards Llenyrch farm. We turned right before the farm, passing pylons, walking on boggy bits and reached a stile before entering woodland. Keeping on this path in to the woods, where we took a right hand downward path and this brought us out at Cae'n y Coed, then down the track to take a path on the right. There had been some spectacular views in this first part of the walk.
The path continued a downwards trend along the valley, through woodland and emerged at the A496 near Maentwrog Power station. We turned right, crossing the bridge and turned up the little road beyond the PowerStation. This was a steep slog up for one and a half miles with a few stops to admire the views. We were joined along here by another member of the group who had started the walk later and done it in reverse to join us. Eventually the road takes a sharp left and we continued down a path from the bend, keeping left as the path branched and then continuing straight on to come out alongside Trawsfynydd Power Station.
It was only a short walk then to the carpark and cafe where we all enjoyed a good cuppa.
September Monday 28th - A Mystery
September was a lot better as 8 people turned up for Cwm Dwynant with a start at Coed Farchynys.
There was great views of Mawddach estuary and the Bridleway made it an easy walk of some six miles.
We looked down on Caerdeon church built in 1862.
Coming back we passed some of the Gold mines north of Bontuddu.
July Monday 22nd - Foel Senigl
In July only two of us turned up for the four mile walk up to Foel Senigl, the highest hill behind Harlech.
The day was a bit damp at first but coming back it did get brighter.
Next year we may repeat this 4 mile trek as it has both the train and the number 39 bus as an alterative to cars.
June Monday 22nd - Ganllwyd
June saw 12 of us with our two regular walking dogs go from Glanllwyd carpark by the river Gamlan up to Friog farm house and Penrhos Isaf. This was all forest and some pathways and took about three and half hours.
Penrhos Isaf is a bothy maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association for use by walkers. Two weeks before it had been quite dry and no problem entering the forest but due to recent rain within seconds of stopping for lunch at this house we sat down outside and were attacked by midges, so everyone moved very fast into the house.
We completed the walk but made the decision to avoid the gorge with a very steep drop to the right of the path.
May Monday 18th - Llanelltyd
In May we went on a more relaxed walk, the New Precipice Walk starting from the old bridge in Llanelltyd, it was mainly a forest track walk until we got to Foel Ispri where there is old mine tramways that were used to serve the long abandoned workings of Voel goldmine.
Although it was heavy underfoot the views at the top were worth it.
April Monday 27th - Diffwys
April saw 10 people and 2 dogs climb Diffwys the back way.
It had been agreed that the more direct route was better in terms of time and effort. The Recci a week before had been done in very poor weather conditions, low cloud and poor visibility, a seven and half mile walk took nearly 8 hours rather than the six and half stated, but we did it with the help of Brian and his tablet that had OS maps on it.
The Monday we went as a group started quite wet but improved as we ascended. The sun came out and we had wonderful views of the Rhinogs and crossing the Hirgwm valley which has the old stage coach road from Harlech to Dolgellau, on the top we had views not only the Llyns but could see the Arans and Cadair Idris to the south.
March Monday 23rd - Above Barmouth
The March walk was led by Brian and Eric. We met in the layby opposite the old harbour at Aberamffra, the site of one of the many lime kilns built during the 18th century. A pleasant start by the stream and through the woods to Panorama road, then back and up through Gorllwyn towards Gwastadagnes and towards the slabs. A right turn here took us towards the site of the television mast where there are fabulous views of the estuary. Sadly it was too misty to see much.
After lunch in the shelter of the TV mast building we made our way down towards Capel Cutiau, an old chapel which is now a holiday home.
Before the arrival of the coastal road, the main route north to Harlech lay further inland, leaving Cutiau an isolated hamlet. The new coastal road to Dolgellau, built in 1798, cut across the River Dwynant, blocking the main supply route for Cutiau village, and this meant that boats had to be unloaded and goods transported across the adjacent land opposite the old harbour, much to the distaste of the landowner. The parties fought it out in court, and the villagers won the right of access to supply the village, but it was all in vain. The embittered landowner could not bear being beaten by mere peasants, and had them all evicted. Eventually most of the houses fell into disrepair and little can now be seen of the original hamlet.
On our route behind Glan y Mawddach we passed a derelict tavern with connections to the 14th century poet, Dafydd ap Gwilym. Rumour says that he made arrangements to meet several young ladies individually at the tavern. They all turned up, but he didn't! Judging by some of his poems, he had more than just an eye for the ladies, so we can expect this to be true!
After a detour to the Panorama viewing point, we managed to get superb estuary views once the mist had cleared, before making our way back to Aberamffra.
February Monday 23rd - Pantyspydded
For February, Peter had arranged for us to walk in the Dyfi valley. We took the 8.52 train (an early start for us!) from Barmouth, arriving at Machynlleth at 9.55.
Our walk took us over the Dyfi bridge and along the Aberdyfi road for a short distance before beginning a very steep climb for what was only a couple of miles, but felt endless for some of us! Pretty soon the views opened out to overlook the lovely Dyfi Valley.
We traversed country lanes and fields, missed a turning and had to climb a fence to get back on course.
There were some interesting wet and muddy forest tracks to negotiate before we had to leg it back to catch the train. We caught the 14.56 with about ten minutes to spare.
An enjoyable and varied seven-mile walk, thanks Peter.
January Monday 26th - Coed y Brenin
Nine members and two dogs met at Coed y Brenin for the first walk of 2015. Following the ancient Roman road, Sarn Helen, the route passed mediaeval smelting works on forest roads and farm tracks with fine views of the Rhinog mountains.
A five-mile walk, crossing the Afon Eden brought us back to the Coed y Brenin Visitor Centre where Dave kindly treated us all to coffee!
*** 2014 ***
December Monday 15th - Note date - 3rd Monday rather than 4th.
This walk will start at 11am from Barmouth Railway Station.
It is to explore Cerrig Arthur and Bwlch Y Llan. Approximately 4 hours. One steep climb to 1200 feet.
November Monday 24th - Bryniau Glo.
Our November U3A walk will be around Bryniau Glo. Carolyn Evans will lead this walk, so we will not get lost!
It is a moderate walk of five miles. Uphill and through woodlands with some long distant views and river Mawddach on the right.
Meet 10.30am National carpark alongside the Afon Mawddach,close to old bridge south of Llanelltyd GR SH 719193. Take the minor road signed Cymer Abbey, in half mile you will see the old bridge, Carpark is on the right.
The walk will take around three hours or so.
Part of the route has been done before but this goes further north then west
October Monday 27th - Dolmelynllyn.
The next walk will be around the Dolmelynllyn Estate.
Meet at the Ganllwyd car park Grid ref SH727243 and will end back there.
By car take the A470 to Ganllwyd post code LL40 2TF.
The walk is 4 miles long and will take 4 hours. This is a moderate walk and will go through woodland, some tarmac tracks. Rhaeadr Ddu Falls and Cefn Coch gold mine.
Start Time 10.30am.
September Monday 22nd - Trawsfynydd.
Peter led the walk around Trawsfynydd Lake on the 22nd September. Thirteen members met at the café car park off the A470 on a fine, clear and sunny September day for a steady stroll around lake.
From the car park we meandered through a woodland track, passing a charming inlet with fishing boats and views of the power station reflected in the lake, before turning on to the tarmac road and on to the village of Trawsfynydd.
We stopped for a while opposite the statue of the famous Welsh poet Hedd Wyn, born in Trawsfynydd in 1887 and killed during the WW1 Battle of Passchendaele. He was posthumously awarded the bard's chair at the 1917 National Eisteddfod.
Editor's note: Hedd Wyn's poem, 'Rhyfel' (War),one of his most frequently quoted works, is as apt in our war-torn world today as it was when written one hundred years ago:
Why must I live in this grim age, When, to a far horizon, God Has ebbed away, and man, with rage, Now wields the sceptre and the rod? Man raised his sword, once God had gone, To slay his brother, and the roar Of battlefields now casts upon Our homes the shadow of the war. The harps to which we sang are hung, On willow boughs, and their refrain Drowned by the anguish of the young. Whose blood is mingled with the rain.
Leaving the village, we crossed the lake via a long narrow bridge to the south bank and stopped for lunch, with delightful views of the Moelwyns, Arenigs and Cader.
We continued to Maentwrog dam - which feeds the Maentwrog Hydro Electric Station. The lake was first created in 1922 to store water for the Hydro Electric power station lower down the valley. In the early 1960s, the dam was raised and the lake enlarged during the construction of the Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station, the extra water being used for cooling the reactors.
Our route then took us past the Trawsfynydd Power station buildings where Norma had her first job working for Nuclear Civil Constructors in 1962. In 1990 the power station was closed and decommissioning commenced.
We came back through natural woodlands of birch and oak (no fir trees!) to the café being run by Antur Stiniog where we enjoyed tea and cake with views of the lake before our return home.
July Monday 28th - Glyn Aran.
July was a short walk above the town of Dolgellau.
It was mostly around wooded areas of Glyn Aran and open countryside with fine views over Dolgellau and the surrounding hills.
We ended up in the local Milk bar in the town at the end of the walk.
June Monday 23rd - Cader Idris.
On what was forecast to be one of the hottest days this year, eleven intrepid U3A walkers met at the car park near Talyllyn to take the Minffordd path to the summit of Cader Idris.
Due to its less accessible location this path is much quieter than the more popular north route up the Pony Path from Ty Nant car park on the Dolgellau side. It is over ten years since I last climbed Cader via this route and I am convinced it has definitely got higher, steeper and the terrain much more difficult since then. The Snowdonia National Park website describes the route as a 'hard mountain walk of six miles ascending 2585 feet and taking an average of five hours'.
Because of the heat, we started at a slow and steady pace on the first leg of the walk up steps beneath the welcome shade of a woodland path past the tumbling waters of Nant Cader.
As we reached the lake, Llyn Cau, we came across fine examples of glacial moraine - huge pieces of debris left behind by the retreating glacier that once shaped the landscape in the last Ice Age. The largest of these had been described to me by a mountain guide many years ago as a 'roche moutonnée' because, I was told, its shape resembled a sheep's back. However, I have since discovered that a French Alpine explorer coined the term in 1786 because he thought they resembled the wavy wigs popular in that era and which were slicked down with mutton fat. Ugh! Thank goodness we have more fragrant alternatives to keep our hair in place now!
We stopped for lunch overlooking the beautiful waters of Llyn Cau, surrounded by a huge amphitheatre of rock. A tame seagull soon joined us and helped himself to Carolyn's lunch, happy to eat from her hand!
The weather was as warm as forecast, but we were grateful for the occasional cloud cover that made our ascent a little easier. The path towards the top has been badly eroded with large and small rocks scattered on the path to prevent further damage. The uneven surface made it hard going and we didn't reach the summit of Penygadair until 3 pm! We stopped again for a snack and to appreciate the stunning views down the Mawddach - and it was getting hotter!
Our descent took us along a ridge walk to Mynydd Moel from where we descended back to Minffordd to complete the horseshoe walk. This steep descent on rock and shale again made it hard and slow going, and we were glad to eventually reach the slate bridge over the stream where we joined the easier path down to the car park. We had said that we would take our time in the heat, and it was almost 6 pm by the time we got down; taking almost two hours longer than planned!
Nevertheless, it was a beautiful and challenging walk, and thanks Peter, Kevin and Ian for your patience, but next time, I'll opt for the easier path from Ty Nant!
May Monday 19th 10:30am (because of Bank Holiday - this is 3rd Monday) - Llanelltyd.
More than ten members gathered on a warm June day for a walk above Llanelltyd. The path took us on forest tracks up to Llyn Tan y Graig. The views from here of the Mawddach and Cadair Idris were spectacular. We did a bit of exploring and went off track once, but soon got back on the correct trail. It turned out that we had the best of the day as it started raining as we returned to Llanelltyd.
April Monday 28th - Llwyngwril.
As per Peter's instructions I set off to catch the 11.02 train from Barmouth to Llwyngwril. With plenty of time to spare, I chatted to the man in the ticket office, and took a leisurely stroll to the platform only to find myself waiting on the wrong platform! I knew there was something amiss when I spotted a group of walkers 'of a certain age' sitting in the train on the opposite station. 'That one looks a bit like Alan' I thought, and, of course, it was.
Hotfooting it out of the station, with rucksack on my back and sticks under my arm, I ran across the line (no bridge now) and arrived, breathless, but with just a minute to spare. Needless to say, I had my leg pulled that day.
We collected more U3A walkers at stations en route until there were 16 of us arriving at Llwyngwril. Peter led us through the village, past the Garthangharad pub and after a steepish ascent we were rewarded with lovely coastal views.
It was a very pleasant, easy walk of about six and a half miles along ancient tracks marked by standing stones before descending down into Arthog, past the cenotaph and crossing the road to Morfa Mawddach, finishing with a stroll across the bridge.
This was the last walk I had with Jack and I couldn't resist including a picture of him and Evelyn
March Monday 24th - Llanbedr
Ian had kindly said he would arrange our March walk and what a good turnout there was on Monday 24th when 16 of us turned up at his house.
Dolmygliw farm is tucked away in the woods behind Llanbedr and Ian and his wife were ready and waiting for us at 11 am. We set off on a gentle ascent through Coed Aber Artro in pleasant spring sunshine, passing the Afon Cwmnantcol reservoir dam and following part of the Taith Ardudwy before stopping at the stagecoach bridge Pont Penybont for lunch. Resuming our walk on country tracks, we came across a sheep semi-submerged in a bog. It appeared to be trying to free itself but seemed well and truly stuck. None of us could reach the animal so a couple went back to a nearby farmhouse where the farmer thanked us for letting him know. However, he seemed unperturbed, adding 'Oh she's always doing that, she does it every day, she'll get out by herself!'
We followed paths towards Wern Gron, and returned through the oak woodlands of Coed Llety Walter Nature Reserve. Otters are known to venture into the wood from nearby river Artro and both lesser and great spotted woodpeckers are sometimes seen here. The paths underfoot were surprisingly dry, making a change from our previous wet and soggy walks earlier this year. Plenty of snowdrops and primroses were spotted, but we were a little too early for the bluebells which will be glorious in a few weeks' time.
We made our way through Pentre Gwynfryn back to Dolmygliw where we were provided with a very welcome cup of tea and a chance to sample Ian's delicious home-baked biscuits.
Our walks are always enjoyable, and this was a delightful four and a half miles through the most glorious woodlands, in pleasant company. And all in dry weather! I managed to get back to Barmouth just before the first spots of rain arrived at 3 pm.
February Monday 24th - Mynydd Egryn.
This will be a walk of about 4 miles. Mynydd Egryn is between Llanaber and Tal-y-Bont.
Start is at Capel Egryn GR 594205 , meet at 11.00am.
There is a small carpark there. But people from the Barmouth area can get the 10.50am Express no 38 to the Sunnysands bus stop.
Directions from Barmouth take the A496 go through Llanaber,past The Wayside, the layby is on the right.
This will be a circular walk in the uplands of Mynydd Egryn passing some prehistoric sites at about 1000feet.
It will take about 3hours and ensure you have good footwear and waterproofs as it will be quite muddy in parts.
January Monday 27th - Precipice Walk- Llyn Cynwch.
Nine hardy members (and two very well-behaved dogs) met at the Nannau Estate Car Park on a cold Monday for our January walk. This walk replaced Peter's original plan to take the train to Llwyngwril and walk back to Barmouth, postponed because of the closure of the train line during the stormy weather earlier in the month.
The Precipice Walk does not follow a public footpath but a private walk over a particularly beautiful part of the Nannau estate, which dates back to the twelfth century. The public have been invited to use this walk by the estate since 1890 on the understanding that they observe the country code, follow the route indicated and use the proper access.
The forecast was for showers, getting colder, so we were all suitably dressed and set off on the circular walk, It was very wet and slippery in places (as of one or two walkers found to their cost) and we were denied the usually stunning views down the Mawddach, Snowdon, Cader Idris and surrounding mountains. We did see the smallest blue patch of sky, but this was only to last for a few seconds before the rain and (very painful) hail stones descended.
After following the narrow path of the precipice walk, we returned via the beautiful Llyn Cynwch where the weak winter sun tried to shine through the cloud and mist.
On the other side of the lake lies the ancient mansion of Nannau estate. I have since discovered that the present house, built in 1796 was the house of Vaughan family who owned most of the land in the area. It is at least the fifth house to be known as Nannau, one having been built by Owain Glyndwr in 1404.
This was a short 3.8 mile walk which, because it was too cold and wet to stop, took only 2 hours, but at least we all got out and enjoyed the good company!
*** 2013 ***
December Monday 30th - Walk cancelled because of weather
November Monday 25th
Ian arranged our November walk and it was a great day. After a cold start, the sun came out for a lovely 5 to 6 miles around Ynys. Ten members met at Talsarnau railway station (just down from the Ship Aground pub - so called, I have discovered, because it was once the house of a retired sailor - his 'ship aground'), and we set off over the railway crossing towards the marshland. We were soon rewarded with a view over the Dwyryd estuary to Ynys Gifftan. The island is now uninhabited, but was home to the Roberts farming family for much of the 20th century and can still be accessed at low water by wading through the estuary. The view across to Portmeirion was stunning in the winter sunshine.
We made our way to the old church, 'Llanfihangel-y-Traethau'. This translates as 'St Michael's on the Shores', because at the time it was founded, the church would have stood on a rocky islet, surrounded by marshes; and the name of the village, Ynys, translates as Island. It was not until the late Middle Ages that the tide receded, leaving Ynys church well inland.
The church is said to date back to the 12th century and a pillar in the church yard bears the Latin inscription - translated as: "Here is the grave of Wleder mother of Hoedliw who first built this church in the reign of King Owain Gwynedd."
Owain reigned from 1137-1170 so the churchyard is ancient and of the common more or less circular 'Llan' shape. The original meaning of llan in Welsh is 'an enclosed piece of land', but it later evolved to mean the parish surrounding a church. We were told that the large stones protruding over the top of the wall circling the church were put there to keep wolves at bay!! We didn't see any so it must work!
The churchyard has the graves of many local seafaring men, and amongst the others of note is that of the fifth Baron Harlech of Glyn Cywarch who was Ambassador to the USA during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Lord Harlech died in motor accident on the way back to his Oswestry estate and his funeral at this church was attended by Senator Edward Kennedy and Jacqueline Onassis.
This was a gentle walk with beautiful views and good company in the winter sunshine.
October Monday 28th - Walk cancelled because of weather
September Monday 30th
We will risk Llanbedr mountain and try for third time lucky! A circular walk along the ridge of Mynydd Llanbedr with great views, a good climb and a leg stretch. Weather permitting.
Meet at the view point overlooking Cwm Nantcol at 10.30 Monday 30th September.
Turn right off the A496 in Dyffryn towards Cwm Nantcol.(615258)
July Monday 29th
Seven U3A members met at Morfa Mawddach on the 29th July at the more convenient time, for those travelling by train, of 11 a.m. After the longest heatwave for 27 years the weather was, thankfully, a little cooler, with just a chance of a shower forecast.
We set off on the Mawddach trail, intending to leave at the bridge at Arthog and take the public footpath to St Catherine's Church where we could more easily cross the main road to join the footpath up to Arthog falls. However, (and Peter did warn me when we set off!) we found the footpath closed by Galliford Try - the contractors responsible for the flood defence work in the area.
They are building a wall around the stile to the footpath, which was barricaded off. The place was deserted, without a workman in sight, so I was tempted to scale the barrier and use the footpath anyway. But the more sensible members of our party thought this might not be a good idea as the stile en route was probably blocked, as would be the exit at St Catherine's. I bowed to their better judgement and we took the (pavement-less) road for 50 metres. (Note to self: 'Next time to you offer to lead a walk, do a recce first.')
We perspired our way up the steep path through the woods and were surprised to see so much water in the river. A stop at the Clapper bridge was required to rehydrate and air our damp clothing before continuing to Llys Branwen, over the fields and the stone stile to the Cregennan Lake for lunch.
Our later start meant that we did not have enough time to do Pared y Cefn Hir so, conscious of meeting train times, we took the road down, and who should we meet on our way but Jack Richardson. We think he may have come especially to meet up with us, but was unable to stop for long on the narrow single-track road, and we only had his company for a few minutes.
We continued past Pant Phylip taking a left towards Arthog Hall and David and Bronwen's house to join the road for our dice with the oncoming traffic again.
We parted company at Arthog Crescent (I was determined to use the right of way in front of the terrace). The train travellers took the route to the station at Morfa Mawddach while we Barmouthians opted for a stroll across the (very tired looking) Barmouth Bridge.
(Network Rail is to spend £5.5 million on it - and it looks as if it needs a little TLC.)
June Monday 24th
Meet at Farchynys car park/ picnic site just before Bontddu (coming from Barmouth), map ref 662186 at 10.30am.
The walk is 5 -6 miles (feels like more!) with a steep climb at the beginning. The good news is that the second half is nearly all downhill!
Farchynys - Gelli Rhudd - Figra mine - Cae Goronwy - Uwch Mynydd - Bwlch yr Ysgol and then along hillside above Farchynys Cottage Garden and down to main road and car park.
May Monday 20th - NB * Note change of date due to Bank Holiday
Let's not tempt fate and suggest the still un-walked Llanbedr mountain!
Estelle has kindly offered to lead a walk near Brithdir, taking in Foel Caerynwch, the torrent walk and St Marks Church.
Distance is 6 miles, ascent 1015 feet, walking time approx 4 hrs, no cafes in Brithdir, but we could go into Dolgellau maybe to Roberts' cafe after?
Details of where to meet will follow.
April Monday 29th
Carolyn Evans led this walk
Starting at Llanelltyd car park SH719193. Through Vanner Caravan site, along river, then about a mile along the road to mill, through forest to bridge. Crossed the A470 and up road just past Tyn Y Groes and back via Bryniau Glo to Bro Cymer and down to car park. About 8 miles. Photos here
March Monday 25th
So Mary, as promised, rearranged the walk for March, first with a viewing of Bron y Foel Isaf, the Snowdonia House described by Peter Thompson in his talk to the Monthly U3A meeting in Autumn 2012. Those who wanted to view the house were to meet at Bron y Foel Isaf at 10.am. They then planned to walk up to the Cwm Nantcol car park at 11.30 to meet those who just wanted to do the walk.
No rain this time, but a cold easterly wind and lots of snow on the tops. Five of us turned up to view the house. A typically Snowdonia House built in 1580, Bronyfoel was Nedw Gruffydd's childhood home, and he was there to meet us, as was Peter Thompson to show us around.
What a fascinating place it was, nestling under Moelfre, with its own waterwheel outside and a roaring log fire inside. It made us realise how self-sufficient they were in those days. Although it seems isolated and deserted now, Nedw reminded us that centuries ago there would have been plenty of passing traffic as it was built alongside the main drovers' road from Harlech to London.
We were so intrigued that we lost track of time until Mary reminded us that we were to meet other U3A walkers at 11.30. We walked briskly back over the fields, but were VERY late arriving at the parked cars (none of which we recognised). Thinking that no-one had turned up, we carried on with our walk around Moelfre above the snowline - it's surprising how many people you meet from the other side of the country in these remote areas. But they were all strangers, we met no-one we knew.
It was not until our return that we discovered that one or two of our fellow U3A walkers had turned up at the allotted time, waited over half an hour in the cold easterly wind for us, and then went on their own walk -obviously on a different route from us. So may we make a most humble and public apology to them now? We are so sorry to have missed you.
Those of us on our own walk went down into the valley behind Moelfre and walked a loop alongside Afon Cwmnantcol as far as Pont Cerrig.
February Monday 25th
We walked up to the Cregennan Lakes, and returned by the Arthog waterfalls to Bronwen's for soup and cakes, getting back in time to catch the 15.45 train to Barmouth and places north.
The walk was about 6 miles and had many points of interest, like sentry boxes, standing stones and a stone circle, a pack horse bridge and a pre-industrial revolution iron ore mine and a slate mine turned into a garden feature..
The walk was led by Estelle Patrick and David Dorling. The photos are by Alan.
January Monday 28th
For our January walk, Mary promised us a 'good eight-ish mile undulating leg stretch with one stiff ascent and descent following the Nantcol valley floor to Mynydd Llanbedr along the ridge and back along Cwm Nantcol to our start point.' She said it could be shorter, if the weather was inclement.'
Well, the weather was certainly inclement, with storm-force gales rocking the cars when we parked in the layby that serves as a car park. The forecast for the day was torrential rain and this, coupled with the wind, was enough to send us running for shelter in the Coffee Bar of Dyffryn's Community Centre. We drank our coffee and ate delicious cake while watching the rain stream down.
*** 2012 ***
December No walk in December - back again in January.
The weather forecast was not good - heavy rain. (What's new?) In spite of it, several hardy souls were waiting at the car park for the Precipice Walk.
But in fact, the weather was fine and we set off, hoping the rain would keep off long enough. We were not to be disappointed.
We had all done this walk before but were enlightened by one of our members as to the naming of the walk. It was originally named in Victorian times and we all imagined Victorian ladies from towns undertaking the thrills of the walk in their Victorian dresses and shoes, when it would appear as though they were indeed on the edge of a precipice. It was suggested that we did the walk again, in Victorian dress to get the 'proper experience'!
The path down to the copper mine is marked by a sign post, and is 'stepped' down the valley. In wet weather, care must be taken on the steps as they are edged with wood and can be slippery. The path was good all the way down to a surfaced track but with no indication which way to go, left or right. We turned right and followed the track round to Glasdir Copper Mine, where there is an information board and picnic table overlooking the site of the mine. On looking down at the site, it was remarked that it looked like Machu Pichu! We made this our morning break stop and found out about the flotation method of extracting copper.
Retracing our steps up the picturesque little valley, we continued on the Precipice Walk until we reached a sheltered spot out of the chill breeze for our lunch stop. After lunch we continued via the lakeside path, wondering how some of the trees survived with their feet in water most of the time.
On reaching the car park, everyone said they really enjoyed the walk and learnt a bit of its history at the same time. These photos will remind everybody of the day. Most had never visited the copper mine and never from the Precipice Walk so we did cover new ground as well.
As we got into our cars - it started to rain!!
The October walk was an old favourite to Pont-Scethin. As it was half term and I had family staying, I asked Mary if I could bring them along.
Grandchildren Charlie (8) and Anna (6) had done Cader in August so I thought they could manage an 8 mile walk. We all met at the car park at the top of Cors y Gedol Drive and set off at a brisk pace.
I love this walk to Pontscethin and the Janet Haigh path. There were one or two newish additions to the group and we had some enjoyable conversation interspersed with a bit of huffing and puffing on the steep ascent! The weather was good and the views were stunning across the Llyn Peninsula with the Irish Sea in the distant haze. I always find the Janet Haigh memorial an inspiration. It was placed here by her son, Mervyn, Bishop of Winchester between 1942 and 1952 and who retired to North Wales. In 1953 he erected the memorial to 'the enduring memory of Janet Haigh, who even as late as her 84th birthday, despite dim sight and stiffened joints, still loved to walk this way from Talybont to Penmaenpool'. What a remarkable woman! Little Anna had to be carried for part of the way by her mum but Charlie took it all in his stride. I doubt I'll be doing this in my 80s.
The path took us to the top of the Llawlech ridge and then down towards Bwlch y Rhiwgr, a crossing point used since Stone Age times. Once through the slippery Bwlch it was downhill all the way to Pont Fadog, another ancient bridge dated 1762. Then on past Llety Lloegr, the overnight stop for the old drovers on this road, and towards the standing stones (well, some of them are lying down) where Charlie was delighted to find a geocache.
For those uninitiated in the art of geocaching, it is a superb way to keep young children (and adults!) interested on a long walk. Geocaching is a sort of outdoor treasure hunting game using OS maps or GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Inside the container you will find a logbook, where you should enter your name and write about your find, and a few small items like keyrings and trinkets left by previous geocachers. If you take something from the geocache, you must leave something of equal or greater value. You can find out more at www.geocaching.com, it's great fun.
We were soon back at the cars and then on to coed Mawr where we all enjoyed Mary's delicious tea and cake before it was time to take a very tired Anna back for an early night. (Norma Stockford)
I had hoped to finish my stint as group leader with a repeat of the first walk we did, above Penmaenpool to the Gwernan lake, but the removal men were coming that day and I had to cancel it.
The walks have a large social element which I shall miss. Some of the present group were on that first walk and other, younger, members have replaced those who have dropped out.
Thank you all for your company.
The next loop of green foot paths on the map to attract me was near Llanelltyd on the route to Y Garn from the east (another lovely walk 705 231).
One half was straight forward on the path marked on the map. The other did have a path most of the way, visible to a tracker, but not the one on the map, well probably not, and there were no yellow arrows where they were needed. And although it was only a mile, while each section seemed very like the last, the path took a different course, so you had to remember where to go next. Happily Llanelltyd is very near home so I could pop back and have another recce (and another, and another...).
Photos from the walk here.
Some years ago I went to look at the Roman fort near Trawsfynydd with friends who were staying with me. I'm not sure how deeply impressed they were but enough to want to 'just' have a look at the amphitheatre. We looked under every blade of grass, but clearly not the right ones, and had to go home without seeing it.
We went up Moelwyn Mawr the next day in sunshine and that puts any disappointment into perspective. Incidentally if you haven't climbed MM, it is one of the great local walks (MR 658 449)
Anyway, looking at the ordnance survey map of the area, there seemed to be a potential walk near the amphitheatre and Tomen-y-mur, so it was a good opportunity to 'just' find the amphitheatre and plan a walk. Having failed twice to locate it, I was unable to help an American man who asked me where it was. Half a minute later he called over to me, pointing to what was obviously a Roman amphitheatre right next to the car park.
The whole planning of the walk was a bit like that: non-existent paths through bogs (how do you know if there isn't a path, or there is but you can't find it?); path intersections with no signs until you pick the right path and there a beautiful yellow arrow points where you are going; farm yards with 'Can I help you?' farmers; sheep in folds which you try to avoid but are shouted at to go through.
The rain held off on the day of the walk, until we stopped for lunch. Photos from the walk here.
The June walk, planned to take place in July on a Tuesday, co-incidentally with a Roman flavour, had to be postponed because I brought back an Italian bug and was not well - nothing to do with the rain. We'll do it another day.
Intrepid members of the walking group did a walk anyway over the hills at Barmouth.
May - Monday 28th
The May walk was close to Barmouth, a familiar area but the paths we took not known to everyone: indeed there is a jumble of green lines on the map, criss-crossing among the trees.
Starting at Glandwr Mill, we passed some lovely houses of all sizes, with views across to Cader and up and down the Mawddach estuary, south facing and sunny.
Our picnic was at a lake dug by the owner to encourage wildlife. We saw lots of tadpoles, birds and a small aquatic mammal. It was quiet and peaceful.
My previous visit had been different. When half a mile away I heard the cries of small boys, apparently rioting. Disgraceful, I thought with a tinge of envy, they did seem to be having a good time. When I got to the lake it was full of wild life, as the owner hoped: small boy males in canoes, finishing a game of canoe polo. When called to order by their instructor, they fell silent and lined up to receive instruction, still having a good time. It turned out that they were spending a week at Caerdeon Hall, outdoor adventure centre.
April - Monday 30th.
Feinting as if taking the Fox's path up Cader by parking in the Ty-nant car park, we made the circuit north of the Gwernan Lake (where there is a new short circular path round the lake, dry underfoot in case anyone would fancy that) to Gellilwyd Fawr, up the slope to what some think is the drovers road but others a double wall along a disputed boundary.
The path there seems to have had a small army of motor bikes conducting races or perhaps manoeuvres, recent rain making it impassable: we take a high moral attitude to such vandalism.
At Kings we enjoyed the Afon Gwynant ( the sight of it: we did not swim or drink) before linking up with the path back to the carpark. The paths here do not seem to conform to the map so it was good, during the reconnoitre, to find the way at the third attempt.
March - Sunny Day in March; Above Nantcaw Farm ,near Abergynolwyn
It is not often that pictures of the Walking Group have shadows in them. The steepness of the hill is not uncommon. Indeed the February walk, led by Mary, was almost as steep as the March one, but thanks to the swirling cloud we could then only see a few yards around us. On one of the frequent pauses to study the view, a suitably University type activity which has become more necessary as the years slip by, I reflected that instead of choosing the day of the walk by the calendar, it would be better to select the first sunny Monday in the month.
There would be something to be said for this, but on further consideration, the long range weather forecast is not yet that accurate and, more importantly, we should have missed that early Beddgelert walk, notable for heavy rain compensated by the river in superb flood. And those intrepid few who loyally came on the Bala walk, heavy rain turning to a deluge, water pouring into ones' wet weather clothes, would we have missed the experience and the joy of the bath later?
Over the years, many of the Group have led us on their favourite walks and ventured on to little known footpaths, panted up hills, slid down stony tracks, savoured our picnics with wonderful views. Aren't we lucky! (G. Mandow)
February - Llawlech
Mary again led and organised the February walk. We were to do 5 or so miles in the hills behind Bontddu, crossing the slopes of Llawlech, and seven of us met in the fog at the small car park at the end of the road at Hirgwm.
The walk is described in the Kittiwake book on Walks around Barmouth and the Mawddach Estuary as 'a walk in a delightful upland area utilising two old green mountain roads and enjoying panoramic views' but we were denied the panoramic views - we saw varying shades of grey.
For the previous week the weather forecast had been for clear warm weather everywhere ..... except for our area of Wales when we were shrouded in mist for days. Monday 27th was to be no exception but we plodded on. You don't realise how important the view is when walking until you don't have one. The mist was so low and dense that we had to constantly check our bearings - Mary making periodic compass checks on her map. Eric's GPS confirmed that we were on track, but there was just nothing to see - we even lost one of our members and began to turn back - and that's a first for this walking group. (He wasn't lost at all as it turned out - but walking ahead of us in the mist!)
Conversation lulled as we traversed the steep slopes of Llawlech and my suggestion that we play 'I Spy' wasn't very successful because we could only see as far as the next person's rucksack.
Again I could not find the 'superb high-level green highway' described in the guide book; neither could I ' .... follow a delightful green track enjoying views of Cadair Idris'. The cross-country motorcycles had gouged out huge troughs in the path. I know we are all entitled to use and enjoy the hills but it seems criminal that these ancient tracks should be vandalised in this way. We ploughed on through deep, ankle-breaking terrain (George was in his element!) stopping for a coffee in the swirling mist. It was more like an experience of the trenches than Wales' green and pleasant land, but, as we knew the view so well, we could imagine where we were. Seriously, it does make one realise how disoriented one can become in poor visibility and it is thanks to Mary's keen map-reading skills that we kept on track and found our way back to the cars.
Many thanks Mary, for arranging all the walks in George's absence. (N. Stockford)
January - A circuit of Moelfre
Snow greeted us (David Dorling, Meena, Norma, Dave Rowley and I) when we drove up the lanes behind Dyffryn; a complete surprise and a delight. Snow is always a surprise and a delight. The white world is stiller and quieter than you remember, the cold is colder and the sparkle still takes your (visible) breath away. Even if we were to go again, retracing our route and looking at our own footprints and the strange round holes made by David's walking stick, it would still be the same.
We blustered into more layers, scarves, hats or buffs or both and even all three, tense with the knowledge that snow also kills.
Wrapped up warmly we descended to Nantlle Valley and relaxed to the rhythm of walking and ceased to worry of the cold and the dangers of snow. We were cheery and chatty and glad to have decided at last on a walk that would satisfy all. Not the high ridge of Llanbedr Mountain, facing into the piercing south westerly, just the circuit of Moelfre, just in case!
The view was rosy - a superb floating of snow-covered mountains and hills. Dulux should try to market 'sunlight on snow' for our living room walls.
There was time to stand and stare, identify mountains and hills (could that be the Nantlle Ridge?) and remember other walks. Our eyes were truly lifted up to the hills.
The uphill stretch that, without snow takes forty five minutes, took double that and then some. The wind was so cold on our faces we did not stop for lunch. No, everyone was fine without a stop. But by the time we had descended towards Pont Scethin, slithering through inches of fresh snow and leaving the only foot prints for miles around, and found the Taith Ardudwy that would take us back to our start point, suddenly there was hunger and time allowed for a picnic taken propped against a sheltering wall. Fingers nipped without gloves.
When David looked at his GPS we found we had walked only five miles in three hours and for one of those we had been stationary, simply taking in the scenery.
And in the cafe afterwards with cheeks glowing and the need for something truly hot and then truly sweet satisfied (a surfeit of lamphreys from which we do not die), we congratulated ourselves on a rather nice day, all told. (M. Howell)
*** 2011 ***
December - Just Too Wet
Sadly, the proposed walk for December, up the back of Llawlech Ridge, was rained off and coffee in Davy Jones' Locker proved a far better option.
November - Foothills of the Rhinogs
A few stalwarts braved the winter wind in November to take a look at the Iron Age hill fort at Pen y Dinas just above Tal y Bont. The Bronze Age circle and signs of settlement were impressive too, though not as well known or as grand as the circle above Harlech.
The study day inspired the choice of walk: the most interesting talk about the dawn of history in Merioneth. The hills are strewn with remains that we can simply wonder at, and the mid stone of the circle lined up with Bardsey, inviting us to theorise about the Bronze Age mindset.
There is a wild walk along the Fford Ddu that must wait for longer days and better weather.
We followed the old green lane back to Dyffryn. with a splendid view of sea and mountain, looking forward to the well earned tea and cake.
Photos from the walk are here
October - Llyn Cwm Bychan and Gloyw Lyn
A circuit in the Rhinogs of hills and moor land, taking in Gloyw Lyn and Llyn Bychan. Some steep bits and very wet underfoot in places.
Photos from the walk are here, and at the end we celebrated George's birthday with some cake!
September - Dysynni Valley
At the end of the Dysynni valley, past Bird Rock and Castell y Bere, is the old church of Llanfihangel y Pennant, otherwise known as Mary Jones' church.
We met in the carpark opposite the church and followed the stream up a fairly gentle path. As the path got steeper the stream became a spectacular waterfall.
It was a gloriously sunny day, and as we walked across the moor at the top we were glad of hats and water bottles. After a brief rest with a view down into the Abergynolwyn valley our route led east through a long stretch of woodland ending in a climb to spectacular views down on to Talyllyn lake. Here we stopped for lunch.
After another short climb we started on the long walk back. Here the path goes across open moor-land. Did I say path? It is clearly marked on the map, and to start with it is obvious, but then boggy streams intervene.
Much rain had fallen during the past week, and George was often mentioned in our conversation… 'Wouldn't George have loved this?' we said as we squelched into yet another muddy, boggy bit up to our ankles! Luckily one of our select group had a GPS with him, and with his help we kept to the path.
As we came back towards the Dysynni valley we were rewarded with magnificent views of Bird Rock and the sea beyond. A bit of a slither down on to the track, and then a gravel path would have led us down to the road and back 'home'. But we opted for the fun way back and struck off on to a footpath. Against my better judgement I was persuaded to take a short cut and we ended up scrambling over fences, and tip-toeing across boggy fields. This was not a route for the faint hearted! But we all got back safely and it was certainly one of the most enjoyable walks I have done.
July - Foel Ispri
For the July walk we chose a fairly gentle circumnavigation of Foel Ispri, which includes the New Precipice Walk with its wonderful views of the Mawddach Estuary and the confluence of the Wnion and Mawddach.
We started above Llanelltyd, at a footbridge over the Afon Wnin, headed northwards through woods and meadows, then turned south west on moorland, through a mature forest which is not marked on the map, to the pretty lake below Mynydd Foel-uchaf.
Then on to the start of the New Precipice and back through the forest.
June - Three for the price of one!
The June walk was a 'three for the price of one' outing: Welsh Highland Railway, Ospreys and the walk from Beddgelert to Pont Croesor through the Aberglaslyn pass.
After the deluge at Bala the month before, we were due for some sun and that's what we got.
The Welsh Highland Railway runs from Porthmadog (or Pont Croesor, after the first train each day, until the station at Porthmadog is finished) to Caernarfon. It is a wonderful journey through the Snowdon National Park, taking about 2 hours, one way. If you want a shorter trip, you can get out at Rhyd Ddu and catch the train in the opposite direction, or get a bus back. The walking group started at Pont Croesor and got out at Beddgelert 25 minutes later. The path back follows the river downstream through meadows to the Pass where the path becomes rocky but spectacular, the cliffs on the left, the torrent on the right, the sun sparkling in the water.
We had our picnics by the river, some on rocks in it, conversation made difficult by the noise of the waterfalls. Jack & Evelyn's garden raspberries tasted pretty good. At Nantmor, where there is a train halt, we made a pretty diversion to avoid the main road and then followed the line of the railway until the footpath veers off to go close to the osprey nest. Here, despite having gained the approval of the RSPB at Pont Croesor for our safe passage, we were given a hard time by the footpath guards. We were allowed, however, to look through the telescope and could see the nearly fully grown young in the nest. As we walked on, one of the adult ospreys gave us a flying display.
A good day out! (Some photos here)
May - Hill walk from Bala lake at Llangower
Some of you will remember the Beddgelert walk years ago. I still maintain that it stopped raining as we started the steep climb from the lake, just after having to go round the flooded path.
I now maintain that the weather forecast for May 23rd was for light rain, and it was sort of lightish as the very few, intrepid walkers (thank you, thank you for coming) huddled by their cars to boot-up, the spray from the waves breaking on Bala lake just out of range.
In my defence, if the forecast was for heavy rain, I would have brought waterproof trousers (probably, well possibly). And that is what the rain became as we climbed - heavy. We could see it sweep across the lake in horizontal sheets, water seeking its own level under our waterproofs, the wind gusting round corners.
Why, you must wonder, did we not just go home. I did say once 'We don't have to do this.' (Yes, I did) but the group was probably too wet to think clearly and who was to be chicken? Maybe the rain would ease off, or it would be sheltered on the other side of the hill.
Anyway, we set a precedent by completing the walk at a ferocious rate, seeing none of the wonderful views that I had promised from my previous reconnoitres. I hope I didn't say what I was thinking as we forced our way into the wind and rain ...... that I was enjoying it!
Years ago in Greece with my 15 year old daughter, we walked three miles to a beach in the middle of the day. It was hot, hot, very hot. I said then that I was enjoying it and a look of pure hatred passed across her face.
And where did we stop for lunch? Nowhere. I had mine in a very hot bath with a glass of wine. It tasted wonderful.
April - To Bryn Cader Faner
There is something in the old saying 'If you want something done properly, get someone else to do it.' That doesn't sound quite right, but it came to mind during the April walk to Bryn Cader Faner, the Bronze Age stone circle in the hills above the toll bridge to Penrhyndeudraeth.
Estelle Patrick had appeared out of cyber space, offering to lead a walk as part of her training for a Mountain Leader qualification and when your fairy godmother appears offering to take you to the ball, you say please and thank you.
I seem to remember that the sun shone, but walking with Estelle makes you feel happy and cosseted so maybe it just felt like a sunny day. She led us at an unusually smart pace along roads, tracks and moorland, uphill (and no-one complained), naming the mountain ranges, and points of interest, until suddenly there was Bryn Cader Faner ahead and it was picnic time.
We ate in a circle, in the Circle, a perfect social arrangement.
Later we found our way (well, Estelle found our way) back to Llyn Tecwyn Isaf where we had left our cars to enjoy the view and went to have a coffee or beer at the local motel which Estelle had established was open for us even on a Monday or perhaps it, like the whole day, was a happy, fairy illusion.
Thank you Estelle and please come again.