Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Wild in Wales Part 1 - "Having a relaxing day"

North Wales has a huge number of very special memories for me - I used to holiday here as a child and I went on to study Geology at Aberystwyth.  In between hangovers I seem to recall I had a pretty good time.  For some reason I'd never quite made it back here as an adult and, since we moved to Cumbria, I got too over excited about Scotland being on our doorstep to realise that Wales is also just a short drive away.  We planned to have a relaxing break with just one main adventure up Snowdon but it hasn't quite worked out that way....

Day 1 - Llandudno

This was just the drive in but we still managed to explore a good chunk of the North Wales Coast, including a trip to Llandudno Pier - really, you can't beat a good pier now can you?

Day 2 - Conwy & the Great Orme

"Let's go for a short spin on the bikes" we said.  "Doesn't have to be far" we said.  So we cycled to Conwy (5 miles).  Then on to Llandudno (5 miles).  Then around the Great Orme (5 miles and a blooming great hill). Then back to Conwy (5 miles) then back to the campsite (5 miles).  You get the idea...  Nice views though.  Steve was born in Bangor so is technically Welsh and he spent most of the walk around the town walls of Conwy plotting how to defend the place from the English.  This could be a long week....

Day 3 - Tal y Fan

We've been staying at Cefn Cae - an award winning Camping and Caravanning Club site near Rowen and it's absolutely stunning.  Beautiful big quiet field, lovely facilities and a barn full of essential bits and bobs with an honesty box for your pennies.  Plenty of sheep in the surrounding fields (well this *is* Wales) and we've noticed they're a lot more chatty than English sheep - I'm sure there must be a reason for that....

Anyway, they had 10 local walks for us to choose from that ranged in difficulty from a short 1.5 mile toddle to a 5.5 mile hike over the nearest big hill. Guess which one we chose?  On a really, REALLY, windy day.

We've found we translate mountain heights in much the same way as we do currency when we're abroad.  1 Tal y Fan = 1 Heron Pike at today's exchange rates.  (For the record 1 Ben Nevis = 1 Red Screes + 1 Harstop above How and 1 Snowdon = 2 x Great Mells)  So not a huge hike but certainly not the quiet day we had in mind - but much more was to come...

Day 4 - "We're just going to take a look at Cwm Idwal"

Never in the history of hiking has 1 short hike turned into quite such an adventure.  It all started with a plan to drive from the site, via the Nant Ffrancon valley, to Caernarfon, with a quick stop off along the way to look at Cwm Idwal.  Here we are parked in the layby ready for our short hike. 

First we took a short pootle to Cwm Idwal.  Very nice it was too.

Then came "Oh that looks like an interesting path around the tarn - let's explore".  Next thing we know we're looking at these views.

Then we noticed the path disappearing off up an interesting looking crag and an hour or so later we're on top of Y Garn scoffing the few biscuits we'd taken with us and admiring Crib Goch away in the distance.  (And in case you were wondering 1 Y Garn = 1 Helvellyn).  Which brings us to...

Day 5 - A mediaeval step class

We finally made it to Caernarfrom for a "quiet day ambling around the town and castle".  To be honest there wasn't tons in the town to keep us amused (we're not shoppers) so we headed for the castle.  If you're thinking it looks interesting with all those towers then let me tell you that it is, and I know it is because we climbed every single one of them.

The views really were stunning but I can now crack walnuts between my thighs.  At least I could if they didn't ache quite so much.

So, now we've arrived at our second site - the beautiful Camping and Caravanning Club Site near Criccieth (Llanystumdwy - I really need to brush up on my Welsh pronunciation) The site is small but pretty and very handy for the sight seeing in the area.  We've planned another quiet day tomorrow, but I wouldn't hold your breath....

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