Snowdonia October 2019

Monday 14th

I booked this short break when Carol was still alive. Arrived at Craflwyn Hall mid afternoon, staying in the stables again, a different stall from the last time I was there. That time I sustained an injury to my elbow and Carol looked after me from a distance, sorted out a GP appointment for me. Dinner was tapas which I enjoyed but some of the other guests didn’t. Some people are so gobby! Entertainment was a word square game. The team I was in won.

Tuesday 15th

Drove to Trawsfynydd which is mostly known for its ex nuclear power station. It was opened in 1965 after 6 years of building. Remained in operation until 1991. It will take 100 years to decommission. Just above it is Tomen y Mur Roman fort and small amphitheatre which was built in the first century and in operation for at least a hundred years and is still very evident on the ground but a hell of a lot less poisonous. After climbing the Norman motte and bimbling about I drove south from Talsarnau up tiny roads with green down the middle and branches hitting the car, out and in for a gate, continuing until the road stopped. Walked roughly 3 km along a fairly good level path, soggy and squelchy in places, to reach Bryn Cader Faner stone circle which was a delight. Back the same way. This time I met a farm truck and a van coming up so I had to reverse quite a way. The evening entertainment was Benjie and Mev who are local birds of prey experts, not a C&W duo. They were knowledgeable and interesting.

Wednesday 16th

Car free day. Walked from the house straight up the hill behind, which is the lower slopes of Yr Aran, a sub peak of Snowdon. A nice mountain walk without going very high. Passed old mine. Some boggy bits. Eventually joined up with the Watkin path. Stopped in Caffi Gwynant for a coffee and a scone. Walked back to the house along the east side of Llyn Dinas on a very good well made path. Only one heavy shower early on. Sunny mostly. Unfortunately the best photos of the walk past Llyn Dinas were corrupted. Another very irritating woman staying here. I’m getting good at walking away. Entertainment was the quiz. My team came second. There are 31 guests in the house, some of whom are Brexiteers, some think it’s ok to make “jokes” about sexual violence, one thinks bereavement is the same as divorce and at least 7 who are decent human beings with respect for others and a developed sense of right and wrong. I have trouble with those who lack self awareness. I don’t expect everyone to be emotionally tip top all the time but I do think people could develop their interpersonal skills before letting themselves out of the house. My best shirt is wasted on them.

Thursday 17th

Leisurely breakfast. Heavy rain expected so I drove quite a way to a National Trust property, Plas yn Rhiw. I’ve really had my money’s worth out of the NT membership fee this year, at least twice over, if not more. Makes up for the years when all I did was park the car. It was a nice little house previously owned by the 3 Keating sisters who were an interesting bunch and rebuilt this house in a stunning location looking out across the bay. Then the rain came, on and off. Had my lunch in the car. Went and looked out over to Bardsey island. Through a torrential downpour to Betws y Coed to see if there were any outdoor kit bargains, there weren’t. The rain settled in heavily. The mental and emotional toll of grief is obvious but I hadn’t even considered the physical aspects, the sapping of energy, lethargy, continued poor sleep, fatigue, reduced muscle strength, low stamina. I am working on all of these. Feels like slow progress. At least my left leg muscles match the right leg, 6 months later.

Friday 18th

To Llannymawddwy through more downpours. However they more or less stopped as I parked up. This is a place Carol and I went to several times (misnamed by me as Pennant in that blog post) when we used to stay at Llanfechain. Carol liked it because we could be in the mountains without having to actually climb one. It’s a gentle walk up to a col, about 100m of up to 1 km of length. We never saw anyone else and I didn’t today. We last went there in March 2015, after getting our civil partnership upgrade. I buried some more of Carol’s ashes at the col overlooking the east valley. It’s such a lovely spot, with valleys east and west. Constant sound of tumbling waterfalls. Back at the car, the rain came on again. I decided it would be ok to do the mountain road and it was though I was cautious through the flooded bits. The really scary bit of road has had big new barriers put up which I was grateful for. Round Lake Vyrnwy and then to Oswestry to get some veg. On the spur of the moment I stopped at Chirk Castle, knocking up yet another National Trust property visited this year. I got wet because I’d failed to take my brolly. It took a long time to get home because of the terrible weather.

Welsh weekend

Friday 29th June

Managed to leave at a sensible time and avoid the worst of the traffic. Stopped at the Welsh food centre farm shop, lovely place, quiet. Had coffee and ice cream in the steamy heat. Arrived Craflwyn Hall at 2.30.

Room in the stables very comfortable with bath robe, slippers and tin of Kendal mint cake. Cut finger on door bolt. Tea and scones at 4, then local walk at 5 to Llyn Dinas. Got chatting to nice family from Canada and USA.

Lager. Listened to walks talk then dinner. More lager. I had roast beef with roast potatoes, veg and Yorkshire pudding. The spuds needed more roasting. Caramel cheesecake pudding was a bit odd but ice cream helped.

Early to bed.

Snowdon horseshoe

Llyn Dinas

At Craflwyn Hall

At Craflwyn Hall

Above the stables

Saturday 30th June

Woke early. I can’t sleep past 5.30 at the moment. Heat and light. Granola, yoghurt and berries, mini croissants, hash brown, beans and poached egg and toast.

Arrived Siabod cafe in Capel Curig to meet Paul, Chris and Rich. Basically out all day practicing navigation skills and Paul said I was fine which is good. He was my ML assessor. Lots of contours.

Near the end of the day I slipped while crossing a very small bit of stream only inches wider than me,  in addition to getting muddy and wet which was ok because so hot, I banged and cut my elbow which is very sore and needs sorting out a bit. Lucky that Rich was an A&E doctor. He and Paul were properly equipped with first aid. I need to update my kit a bit to cater for things of this nature requiring a large dressing.

After we finished I went to Betws y Coed and got ibuprofen from the Spar shop and various dressings from a nice woman in Cotswold Outdoor who raided their first aid kit. I drove straight back to Craflwyn and assembled my supplies including my quite big car first aid box.

Showered and tried to clean the cut which was still dropping blood on the floor fairly copiously but not done well with the cleaning so will need to see a nurse. It hurts and I was a bit in shock when it happened. It doesn’t look much but very sore.

Lager. Sea bass and veg, then ice cream. More lager. Watched people playing games. Elbow still leaking. Have nasty bruise on my hip. And no arnica.

This clumsiness and injury very unlike me. I am rattled by the compulsory redundancies announced by my employer on Thursday less than a year since I was last restructured. Angry too that they have allowed this to happen. Maybe my eye is off the ball.

 

Llynau Mymbyr

Craflwyn Hall

At Craflwyn Hall

Sunday 1st July

Not a great sleep, too hot and all one sided, no thrashing around. Went for a wee in the night and found no water in the taps. Same on waking, it turns out the whole village has no water. I got every bottle I had and it came to 2 litres. Staff managed breakfast and produced tea and coffee from bottled water. No tooth brushing this morning for anyone! Breakfast of granola, berries and yogurt, mini croissant and then haddock with a poached egg on toast.

I drove to Croesor, passed the man mending the water pump at Beddgelert. Set off up Cnicht. Stopped at about 540m as it was getting more scrambly, I was too hot and had lost a bit of confidence after yesterday, I also banged the elbow again and it was very sore . Happy with getting to where I did. Headed back down. Went to cafe in Croesor for ice cream and coffee. Drove off vaguely thinking of ibuprofen gel and arnica and passed a sign saying Minor Injuries Unit. There were about 6 cars in the car park and only 2 people waiting ahead of me. I got seen and puncture wound dressed in under an hour. Got told off for not going yesterday but hard to do that if you don’t know it’s there. Surely I must be too old now to be told off?!

Back to Craflwyn. All water back in action. Shower with cling film over new dressing. Lager x 2. Dinner of lamb kebab, a bit dry, then chicken with mashed spud and veg, ice cream. We had a music quiz in the garden and the team I was in won. We had to identify instruments, then song intros, then film themes and composers. Quite hard. Thunderflies attack. Talked to Henry and Damian about leading for HF over a glass of Penderyn.

Cnicht

View to the sea from Cnicht

Ow!

Monday 2nd July

After a light breakfast I said farewell to my new Canadian/American friends. Stopped a few times to take some photos and then again at Bodnant to pick up some goodies. Very slow journey back home. Straight to the GP which Carol had sorted for me. Got a new waterproof dressing and some strong antibiotics within half an hour. 4 days later I haven’t dared to inspect it….

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

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CCP Aberystwyth to Borth

26th August 2017

Early breakfast in Coffee 1. Drove to and parked up in Borth. Bus back to Aber. Whilst waiting for the bus, a young lad started talking to me and I am still wondering about him, I thought he was getting on the bus but when I looked back he had disappeared. I think he wanted something but he didn’t get it whatever it was.

In Aber, I went on the Cliff Railway because the last time I went on it was with Chris about 30 years ago, it was just the same, the newer cafe looked just as rubbish as the old one did.

Then I walked to Borth. After the Llanrhystud to Aberystwyth stretch being devoid of people, this was like being on a motorway. It’s a short walk but with a lot of up and downs per kilometre. It took me a bit over 2 hours.

I just walked as far as my car. I decided to finish my CCP at Borth. Drove to Ynyslas to eat my lunch because Chris loved it there, it was pretty busy in the bank holiday weekend sun.

Had a coffee at the community cafe, started for home and then called in at the Dyfi Osprey Project that Chris also loved. I never managed to make it there with her and wanted to see it, what a brilliant place, and I saw Monty the osprey who will shortly be setting off on his travels.

I’m raising money for amyloidosis research which is vitally needed, to help with early diagnoses, joined up care, more than one amyloidosis centre in the whole of the UK, and treatment that works. It’s a vile disease and it would be great if we can do something to relieve people’s suffering. Please visit my JustGiving page.

Some of the ups and downs

Possibly another lime kiln, near a huge house

What a location

Sunny Borth

Accidental photo

Llanerchaeron

25th August 2017

A day off from the CCP.

Met up with Hilary and Gerry and Bobby the dog. We went to Llanerchaeron because Chris, Gerry and I had a very happy day here just over a year ago. Chris did everything she wanted to do, ice cream, shopping, raffle tickets, sitting in the sun, wheeling around the lake and the walled garden. She was very happy that day. I’d also been here with her in slightly better days the previous year.

July 2016

July 2015

This day, Bobby wasn’t allowed to go around the lake or walled gardens so we went along an old railway track including old station remnants. Lovely walk and Bobby just about managed the stiles.

Lunch beset by wasps. What is the point of a wasp?

Back to Mwnt to say goodbye to Andy and Kaye and Charlie the dog. Then to Aber, staying in the Premier Inn. Medina for more excellent calming food and another good lager.

Bobby, Hilary and Gerry

Ye olde shed

Old station at Llanerchaeron

Ceredigion Coast Path Aberaeron to Llanrhystud

23rd August 2017

Andy and I both drove to Llanrhystud and then he taxied me back to Aberaeron. We had some lunch and then I finally dragged myself onto the path away from Kaye’s temptation of ice cream!

It took me just over 3 hours to walk back to my car, a little longer than I thought because I stopped and chatted to some very pleasant folk along the way. First a man with a huge beard who was clearing the path with a brush cutter. He plans to reach Cwm Tyddu by Friday, it looked hot heavy work. Next a woman walking the path in memory of someone who had died from sarcoma, then a young woman who was great and asked if I minded dogs, she had a very well behaved youthful husky.

It was gorgeous walking weather. I didn’t like the last bit where there was about a kilometre along the road. I managed to skip under fences where a great many cows were coming, I decided not to be scared of cows. That said, once I got on the road, there was a bull behind a little fence who gave me some very leery looks.

Checked into Penybont B&B in Clarach, clean, comfortable and welcoming. Into Aber for saucy meatballs at Little Italy on North Parade. Bottle of Peroni.

I’m finishing off my CCP which is from Cardigan to Borth. It does continue to Machynlleth but I’m stopping at Borth, don’t want to do the flat bit along the bog, and then drop in at Ynyslas because Chris liked it there.

I’m raising money for amyloidosis research which is vitally needed, to help with early diagnoses, joined up care, more than one amyloidosis centre in the whole of the UK, and treatment that works. It’s a vile disease and it would be great if we can do something to relieve people’s suffering. Please visit my JustGiving page.

Back to Aberaeron

Forward

One of 4 lime kilns

A dingly dell

Goodbye, darling Chris 

22nd August, what would have been her 64th birthday.

We gathered at Mwnt, some travelling across the world. There were people from all parts of Chris’s big shining life. It was good to reconnect after 30 years, with Roselle. The first place that Chris and I lived together was with Roselle and Pascale in Hinton Road in Bristol and I haven’t seen her since then. Beginnings and endings.

Marc Treanor rocked up with sticks, rope and rakes. Those who wanted to, joined in with creating the sand circle. It was Chris’s tattoo with her name at the top. It was amazing watching it take shape from above.

When it was done, we formed a human circle around the circumference with Chris’s family, friends and complete strangers from the beach. I had Andy in one hand and a very small sandy hand belonging to a skinny little boy in the other. We sang happy birthday to Chris.

As the tide came in those of us left gathered around Chris’s name. Andy scattered her ashes in the lettering. The tide came in and Chris took her last swim.

A beautiful day for my beautiful soulmate. Champagne as the sun went down. Let your love lift me up.

In Antwerp for a Bruce gig

Video of the sand creation, by Marc Treanor

Music: Lift me up by Bruce Springsteen

CCP Llanrhystud to Aberystwyth 

24th August 2017

I stayed in Penybont B&B in Clarach. John kindly drove me in to Aber. I had a coffee in Coffee #1. Hopped on the T5 I think. Anyway it took me to Llanrhystud. Carol rang just as I got off the bus, great relief as had been having no response to messages for 2 days. It turned out she had been sleeping a lot.

Back on the path. I felt like an old donkey all day and did it very slowly. There were a lot of ups, seemingly more than downs! Used my poles most of the day because the grass was slippery after the early heavy shower. No rain on me, sunny and windy. I only saw 2 people on the path all the way to Aber so it felt oddly remote. It took me about 5 and a half hours to get to Aber but then I felt pretty tired so had an ice cream in Pizza 25. John came and retrieved me.

There were signs where they weren’t really needed, e.g. Straight on or in the sea and also a lack of signage when it was. The path went through a field of cows but I coped.

I ate in Medina. Good food, good service. I had 3 salads and a Hell lager. Felt calmer.

I’m raising money for amyloidosis research which is vitally needed, to help with early diagnoses, joined up care, more than one amyloidosis centre in the whole of the UK, and treatment that works. It’s a vile disease and it would be great if we can do something to relieve people’s suffering. Please visit my JustGiving page.

Just loved this tunnel

These were massive, dinner plate size

I think it’s a chaffinch but please correct me if I’m wrong

Gateway to the sea

In Memoriam Chris Howarth November 2016

Weds 16th

How long has it been? The first time was maybe 28 or 29 years ago. The last time maybe 15 or more. The Royal Oak in Rhandirmwyn seems exactly the same. Even the furniture is in the same places. The village shop is now part of the pub and no longer part of the house next door. Same smells of woodsmoke, same dark darkness.

Beer was excellent, a very welcome surprise was that Sue and Rachel had left me the price of a pint behind the bar! I was sorry to miss seeing them. The food was ok, it was a veggie bake with salad and a bread roll. It didn’t have much in it and was mainly tomato and goat’s cheese. Tasted fine just not what I was thinking it would be. I followed it with a choc mousse which arrived with loads of cream on it. I don’t like cream. But the choc was good and dark and not too sweet. The room is ok, cold at first so I left the electric heater on. Still not madly hot so have wrapped myself in the car blankets.
Thurs 17th
I didn’t sleep very well. Lumpy bed although nowhere near as lumpy as the bed for visitors at Tregaron hospital which was worse than camping. At least not sleeping meant I read a lot of The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. I like her books but this one is boring me to sleep. Perfect.

Breakfast was horrible instant coffee pretending to be ground coffee. Laverbread mash with a poached egg and a grilled tomato. This was fine. Last time I ate laverbread was with Chris before we moved up north so fitting for this trip. This time it was edible because hidden in mashed potato.
I parked up in Pen-y-rhiw-Rhaiadr near the gate to the forestry track. It was raining heavily at this point so I put all the gear on. Up the track and onto a footpath through the forest eventually coming out onto a swathe of moorland. Across this then up the side of more forestry before reaching a long stretch of featureless moorland (Carol’s favourite – not, but have talked to Kate who does like it).

30 or so years ago Chris and I were looking for a standing stone which we failed to find. We reached the moorland, Chris was surprised that there were bogs on tops of mountains. The rain drove at us horizontally and we decided to retreat. Chris opined that the mountain didn’t want us there! We took a different path back down through the forest that day by the side of water dashing over cliffs of slate. I fell over and ripped the palm of my hand open. So a memorable walk.

When Chris and I started hill walking, she was always the one in front, huge amounts of stamina. She was a strong walker and swimmer, it’s entirely thanks to her that I can swim at all. Becks reminded me that she and I both learnt to swim in the pool at Bristol Royal Infirmary where Chris got us in. Chris was a life saver when I first met her.

On our last hill walk in the UK in November 2013, Chris was struggling. It’s so easy with hindsight to see things you just didn’t really take in at the time, other than I thought she was tired and perhaps a bit out of shape.
Today I’d worked out that we simply didn’t walk anything like far enough to see the stone. It was a good 40 minutes from the edge of the forest. We gave up after about 10 minutes if that! So I plodded on, the big wind kept the rain off. Plod plod plod. You don’t see the stone until the last possible moment. But it’s there, it does exist! On the top of Mynydd Mallaen.

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At long last

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Seriously in the middle of nowhere

I tucked my flower for Chris in between the rocks at the base of the stone and as out of the wind as possible. If today’s tornado in Aberystwyth comes up here it won’t be there for long.

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It took 1hr and 50 minutes to reach the stone. I retraced my steps and 1 hr and 20 minutes to get back down with the wind behind me.
On reaching the gate there was a blown down tree branch, fortunately a few metres away from my car.

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I drove to Pontrhydfendigaid via Llyn Brianne and the mountain road to Tregaron. Dining there was high quality. Quorn and veg in rich tomatoey sauce with baked potato followed by a profiterole. Thank you, Kate.

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Contours only navigation, Snowdonia July 2nd 2016

Friday
I drove straight from work to Garth Farm campsite near Capel Curig. Used Google sat nav on cousin S’s recommendation to get me to Garth Farm campsite just beyond Plas y Brenin at Capel Curig. Very good journey and whilst I was initially a bit surprised at 2 diversions I could see from the long queues I zipped past that it was in fact great! The journey was slow because of Friday rush hour but I still arrived at the time Google had said when I set off. Will continue to test out. The sign to the farm and the camping had nearly fallen off and I was a bit dubious but decided to bite the bullet and parked up with a couple of other cars. I selected a slightly sheltered dip in the field which was pretty much flat at the bottom.
Got my tent up quickly in a wild wind with some very dark clouds looming over the top of Snowdon and threatening to drop down. Promptly fell over the guy rope and broke the tent pole! Luckily it was still able to hold the tent up.
I went up to the farmhouse and gave Mr Jones my £5. He was busy watching Wales playing football so we didn’t chat. £5 was fine but if you are going there be warned that the bins need emptying and the loos and washbasins were not clean.
Cooked up my dinner of lime and coriander rice in the Jetboil and Sainsburys tinned veg curry on the MSR pocket rocket. The curry was surprisingly nice. Hot and tasty with a ring pull to open. Sainsbury are no longer doing Look what I found pouches. They were good because in a pouch, quick and hot.
I forgot a lot of things including a woolly hat, whisky, the porch mat (I looked at it last night and wondered very vaguely what it was, bugger) and the coffee and kit. More bugger but ok as will be going to Caffi Siabod first thing. Slept quite well through the lashings of rain and wind all night. And the tent held up more to the point and not a drop of rain got in. I love British summers!
Saturday
Up early to strike camp. Breakfast of fruit and yoghurt in the car. I’d also forgotten to bring any coffee so was keen to get to the cafe to remedy this. To Caffi Siabod for all their clean facilities. Paul turned up and we were a group of 6, 4 female and 2 male which is the first time that’s been the case on any of the mountain courses I’ve done.
Off to spend the day working the area around the back of the cafe (Clogwyns) which has lots of lumps and bumps, some of which are in between the 10m contours. We used 1:25K maps with only contours on them and heights. Although most of us had altimeters, we didn’t actually use them. The point of the course was to use the features in the landscape.
It was a great day and made me feel confident with my skills. I will look to see where we might be able to do this in our local area.

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Overlooking Llynnau Mymbyr

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Llynnau Mymbyr and sheep

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Blasted heather I can’t remember which one

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Llyn Crafnant

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Tryfan

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

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Cader Idris from the north side 30th May 2016

After leaving Borth I bought a salami, Emmenthal and coleslaw baguette from Matt’s (excellent) Deli in Bow Street. Had an espresso there too.

Got to Ty Nant car park near Dolgellau at about 10.30. I parked in the last space but was not happy as the vehicles either side had both parked really greedily. Then I saw there was an overflow car park so I took the motor in there. I went to buy a parking ticket. The machine took my money, failed to issue a ticket and failed to return my money. Cross! Went back to car and wrote a notice to this effect. All this buggering about meant I only started walking at 11.00.

Beautiful day, sunny and hot. Memo, must remember sun screen, P20. Managed ok with Bron’s sun screen on the way up and then I just covered up for the descent which was hot but better hot than burnt.

It’s a fairly steady and easy ascent most of the way. It took me 2.5 hours to reach the top. I had my lunch there once I’d got away from the crowds.

Descended using the same route and got back to the car just after 3.30 so only 1.5 hours down. About 750m of ascent.

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Llyn y Gader

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Towards Barmouth
Towards Barmouth

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Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

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