Archive for the 'Great Escapes' Category

We’re expecting a storm tomorrow

Posted by on January 31st 2014 in Great Escapes

North Wales 2013 – Thursday/wildcamp/Friday mashup

51 today! Aarrr! A lie-in, vittles in bed, pressies an' cards - the perfect start t' another roastin'-hot day.

Outside the cottage the RAF did another low-level fly-by, I assumed that it weren't all in me honour but it were bein' impressive all the same:


Chinook #1


Chinook #2


Chinook #3


The resident Squadron Leader looks on, unimpressed by the thunderin' mechanical behemoth


We spent the day in Betws-y-Coed, sight-seein' an' gettin' some retail therapy, pass the grog, by Davy Jones' locker! As a birthday treat we dined at The Gwydyr Hotel, the vittles were bein' very good although fer some inexplicable reason, in a land that supports so many sheep, the kitchen 'ad run out o' lamb, an' dinna spare the whip, ye scurvey dog! Nay matter, the beef were bein' fine alternative. Ice-creams were 'ad from Cadwaladers Ice Cream Café, Chris got some walkin'-sandals from F*** & T***, an' we spent much time in many shops tryin' an' failin' t' get Anna some sunglasses that she'd be happy wi'.

After an evenin' meal back at the cottage me an' Ella packed our kit - we were off up me mountain t' introduce 'er gently t' the delights o' wildcampin'. We took the same route as we 'ad on Tuesday, eventually findin' a great spot in the gap at the base o' the Daear Ddu (a place that we christened "The Gap o' Rohan"). Ahoy! We be off the edge o' the chart, me hearties! We'd picked a fine night - clear, warm an' calm, wi' a gentle up-slope breeze that kept the midges at bay. Walk the plank! Ella went down t' Llyn y Foel t' get water while I pitched the tent:


The Banshee 300 pitched in the Gap o' Rohan


After a vittles o' discounted Wayfarer meals (found a few days afore in the bargain-bucket at Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports in Capel Curig) we settled fer the night an' slept well.

Friday mornin' were bein' warm an' clear, we were up at sunrise t' see a warm glow on the mountain an' misty haze in the Lledr Valley below. We wandered up onto the nearby ridge an' 'ad vittles (courtesy o' Decathlon's Aptonia range) al fresco on a suitable rock:


Moel Siabod cwm pano (the tent's on the left)


On the ridge just after sunrise


Lledr Valley - mist an' haze


 Dolwyddelan Castle #1


 Ella doesn't do mornin's...


but she does do vittles


Dolwyddelan Castle #2








Knobbly #1


Knobbly #2


Strikin' camp di'nae take long - we'd nae brought much. With the weather set fair an' wi' us bein' on familiar ground we'd figured that stuff like waterproofs, spare layers, rucksack liners, chart/compass/GPS weren't really necessary. Hell, I even eschewed the Scarpa SLs an' wore me tatty auld Trezetas instead! Yaarrr!! Nay shorts though - I di'nae want t' scare the wildlife 8-O


Holy Trezetas


We shouldered our packs an' completed the circuit o' Llyn y Foel, takin' a few etchins on the way:


Columnar jointin', Daear Ddu


Moel Siabod reflected in Llyn y Foel


Llyn y Foel an' "The Gap o' Rohan"


On the way back down we 'ad time fer a bit o' explorin' around the quarry. Ella kept findin' rocks shaped like footprints, I aced 'er wi' this one that bore an uncanny resemblance t' Brian Griffin:




Some o' the small quarry buildin's overlookin' the reservoir looked like they'd be fine places fer settin' up a bivvy:


Quarry buildin' 1 #1


Quarry buildin' 1 #2


Quarry buildin' 2 #1


That Lonesome Pine again




Reedy margins


Nearly back at the cottage the view were bein' extensive - here be a 180-degree pano:




Before long we were back at the cottage. Break out the biscuits 'n weevils! Chris did us a superb cooked vittles, partly t' refuel us an' partly t' use up the bacon, eggs, hash-browns an' other such stuff in the kitchen.

The afternoon proved t' be hotter than the mornin'. Break out the biscuits 'n weevils! Fire the cannons! Nobody were bein' up fer goin' out so we spent a leisurely afternoon gettin' a lot o' our stuff packed up in order t' make Saturday's 10 a.m. getaway a tad easier.

Outside the view down the Llugwy Valley were bein' bein' ruined by these festrous thin's:


Moel Maelogen wind farm


Soon afterwards the RAF provided more entertainment. We wondered if we'd been overflown by royalty:


Charlie's Angel?


Packin' almost done, I took a few partin'-shots o' the cottages:


Cottages #1


Cottages #2


The kitchen


The Boss


After that, an' after a third-an'-final hot meal, we 'ad an early night in preparation fer an early start on Saturday.

North Wales 2013 – Wednesday – To Hell and back

Posted by on July 29th 2013 in Great Escapes, Summer Holidays

Wednesday were bein' set t' be another roastin'-hot day, we'll keel-haul ye! Ready afore the others as usual, I grabbed some time wi' the camera:




Siabod Holiday Cottages


Inside the cottage #1


Inside the cottage #2


Typhoon etchin' #1


Typhoon etchin' #2


Typhoon etchin' #3


It were bein' a day fer somethin', well, different (fer us at least). Ella 'ad been textin' a matey an' 'ad discovered that said matey an' his family were holidayin' in Pwllheli, nae a million miles away from us. We were due fer a day at the seaside so I suggested a meet-up an' we got an invitation in return - if we made our way t' their caravan we could have a trip out on their boat. The minnows were understandable excited at the prospect so we accepted an' after several miles o' proper sailin' an' several more miles o' detours due t' roadworks we eventually found the site.

I were bein' expectin' a standard holiday-site rental-caravan an' a dinghy, what we found were bein' a plush residential static palace an' a huge Chaparral, nae dissimilar t' this thing, avast. We were duly impressed wi' the caravan, wi' the boat an' wi' Ella's choice o' maties! Aarrr! After intros an' cuppas we hatched a cunnin' plan acceptable t' all: the minnows would go out on the boat wi' the other family, me an' Chris would take our leave an' do a mini-tour o' some o' the Lleyn Peninsula's beaches, later we'd meet at the caravan fer a BBQ.

We waved goodbye t' the minnows an' made fer the beach north o' Abersoch. The weather were bein' scorchin' an' I expected the sands t' be alive wi' factor-50-lathered revellers but the beach were bein' hardly populated at all -  I 'ad forgotten that Leicestershire schools' summer holidays start a week afore than most o' the rest o' the country, by Blackbeard's sword. We spent a quiet hour or so catchin' some rays an' havin' a paddle.


Towards Abersoch


Towards Llanbedrog


From there we drove t' Pentowyn Dunes, moored up an' spent some time on Porth Neigwl (Hell's Mouth) beach, nae far from where Belly plays wi' an' tests the hand-made cedar sea-kayaks that he designs an' builds:


Towards Mynydd Gilan


Towards Mynydd Penarfynydd an' Mynydd y Graig


Some stones


 Bird 1 #1


 Bird 1 #2


Closer t' Mynydd y Graig


Bird 2 #1


Some more stones


Even more stones!


OK, 'tis gettin' a tad silly now


Bird 2 #2


After a stroll up an' down the beach it were bein' time t' get back t' the others t' reclaim our minnows. They'd been around the coast as far as we 'ad an' they'd really enjoyed their day. We 'ad a great evenin' wi' BBQ vittles, beers (fer the others) an' chat while the minnows went off t' explore the shore:


The minnows on Carreg yr Imbill (Gimblet Rock)


Eventually we 'ad t' thank our hosts, say our farewells an' sail back t' the cottage.

On the way, there were bein' fanciful talk o' gettin' a boat...

North Wales 2013 – Tuesday – The hill at the end of the garden

Posted by on July 26th 2013 in Great Escapes, Summer Holidays

Tuesday. The sharks'll eat well tonight! The sharks'll eat well tonight! Forecast: dry, hot an' sunny again. Early mornin' saw a fine inversion fillin' the valleys, usually a good sign in these parts. It were bein' a day t' get the boots on an' visit an auld matey.


Inversion below basecamp


A wider view


After a hearty vittles we were off up the track that passes the cottages. Break out the biscuits 'n weevils! Moel Siabod were bein' lookin' good under blue skies an' the occasional light cloud:


The track t' Moel Siabod


At the first reservoir one o' the subsidiary summits comes into view


At the first reservoir


 A bit further on


 Nearin' the first quarry, a lone shapely conifer clin's t' a spoil-fan.
Could this be the celebrated Lonesome Pine?


First quarry


Angles an' reflections


Plenty o' derelict quarry buildin's


Just past the quarry the Daear Ddu edge comes fully into view.
You can argue all ye like but it isn't a ridge, if ye dern't believe me, look at the contours on the chart.
And while I'm bein' pedantic, the geology charts/books say 'tis made o' dolerite (diabase) but there be gabbro an' microgabbro in there too.
Look, here be a bit that Ella brought home:


For them there nae familiar wi' pre-decimalisation coinage, the 1907 penny included fer scale be 1.22" (31mm) in diameter


Just o'er the rise there be a fine view o' the lie o' the land.
As an aside, dodgy photo-stitchin' seems t' have doubled me quota o' daughters  8-O


Private beach at Llyn y Foel - a perfect place t' stop fer vittles, an' the last water-source fer several hours


Walkers on the ridge edge


This critter were bein' busy collectin' grubs an' flies at the waterside.
It's some sort o' Pipit but we can't decide which flavour - Tree, Rock or Meadow.
Any ideas?


Ella & Anna enjoyin' a break


Another o' Anna's intriguin' etchins


On the way again after vittles


Proof that Aliens exist - Ella finds the remains o' a dead facehugger


Llyn y Foel from Daear Ddu


Chris an' Anna a bit further up the ridge edge


That's gabbro, that be. Note the characteristic weathered pitted/knobbly texture.
Child included fer scale.


About half-way up


The view o'er t' Dolwyddelan


Ella an' Chris on one o' the steeper bits


Anna an' Ella nearin' at the top o' the Daear Ddu


The trig point on Carnedd Moel Siabod be right at the top o' the Daear Ddu,
or a longish stone's throw away if ye keep t' the edge as we did.
Basically, t' miss the top ye'd have t' be a special kind o' idiot.


Pano from the top.
In theory 'tis possible t' see 13 o' the 14/15/16 Welsh 3000s on a clear day.


Ella an' Anna triumphant on Moel Siabod's top-most rock


Subsidiary summits from the shelter


Tryfan through the heat-haze


Birds o' a feather ...


... stuck together


The grass around the summit were bein' studded wi' vivid Harebells


A look o'er the edge o' the cwm


 Lookin' down the gully afore the rise t' the first subsidiary summit


 Lookin' back t' the main summit


Another gully, the one betwixt the two subsidiary summits


 Stitch that!


Rest & Rehydration on outcrops o' distinctive rhyolitic tuff


 Awkward ground - too steep t' walk down, nae steep enough t' go scree-slidin'


Back on the main the track, Ella took a shine t' this tree


Back at the cottage it were bein' boots off, feet-up an' rehydrate. Aarrr! Despite the mainly overcast skies after leavin' the ridge, the temperatures 'ad still been pushin' 30C an' there 'ad been hardly any breeze, so we were fairly dried-out, pass the grog! After baths/showers an' a cooked meal we ran aground out where we sat. The cider helped, o' course. It counts towards yer 5-a-day, allegedly.

It's a classic walk which provides varied terrain, a superb scramble, a fine ridge-walk an' a summit-view that be, arguably, the best in Wales. If ye've nae done it, do it. If ye've already done it, do it again!

North Wales 2013 – Monday – Zip it, Shrimpy!

So, what do ye arrange fer a thrill-seekin' lass's 18th-birthday treat? We be off the edge o' the chart, me hearties! That's an easy one... ye dress 'er up in red overalls, stick 'er in a harness an' chuck 'er off the side o' a mountain :mrgreen:

The venue fer the day were bein' Zip World near Bethesda. Here be the web-page blurb:

"Zip World has the longest zip line in Europe an' be NOW OPEN at Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda – “The Nearest Thin' t' Flyin'”!!

The Zip World site contains two specially constructed an' spectacular zip lines, the first will take ye down t' the bottom o' the quarry where ye will pick up yer specialised vehicle fer a magnificent quarry tour, afore zip linin' back fer a league t' the start.

You will be reachin' speeds o' up t' 100 mph an' ye will be travellin' 500ft above the mountain lake so be ready fer a ride o' a lifetime!"

Me an' Chris took the quarry tour an' stayed away from anythin' dangerous, Anna did the tour an' the Little Zipper, Ella got the full works. An' swab the deck! I'll let the etchins an' captions tell the story. Don't forget t' max the volume when playin' the movie.


Folk on the Little Zipper


Little Zipper end-zone




Suited an' booted


Waitin' fer the safety lecture


Concentratin' hard on nae lookin' nervous


Up at the Little Zipper end-zone we could see the Big Zipper launch area


Zoomin' in on the Big Zipper launch area


The RAF provided a fly-by


Ella an' Anna wired-up at the Little Zipper launch-pad


On the move


Approachin' the fastest bit


Ella approachin' the bungee-brake


Anna hittin' the bungee-brake


Just hangin' around


Happy Ella


Happy Anna


So alike an' yet so different


Ella lookin' apprehensive up at the Big Zipper launch area


Still tryin' t' keep it together


The launch pad, wi' a chest full o' booty. The end-zone be the light patch on the spoil-mound the other side o' the quarry.


Penrhyn Quarry from the Big Zipper launch area


Busy at the top - a Beeb crew were there filmin' Davina Wave o' CBBC's DNN fame


Anna playin' it cool.
Every time I see this etchin' it reminds me o' this.


Click here t' see the video in fullscreen HD on Vimeo


After the schooner-ride back down t' meet Ella the omnivores in our party filled up wi' excellent cholesterol-burgers from the van down at the site office. Sadly, the party's veggie 'ad t' go wi'out.

Verdict: Top day out. Yaaarrrrr! Fire the cannons! Highly recommended. Great burger-van.

North Wales 2013 – Sunday – Lazing in Llanberis

Posted by on July 23rd 2013 in Great Escapes, Summer Holidays

Sunday were bein' hot from the start. We weren't feelin' sufficiently energetic fer a mountain-walk an' it were bein' too hot fer a beach-trip, by Davy Jones' locker. We decided that we'd head fer Llanberis fer ice-creams an' a trip on the Llanberis Lake Railway. Break out the biscuits 'n weevils, by Davy Jones' locker! The prospect o' ice-cream were bein' sufficient incentive fer a cottage-evacuation an' we were soon on the sea, stoppin' only fer a quick etchin' o' Snowdon etc. from Llynnau Mymbyr:


Obligatory Snowdon etchin'


After much cursin' about many inconsiderately-moored (an' often apparently just dumped in the carriageway) boats around Pen-y-pass we hauled-up at the boat-park near Dolbadarn Castle. Ye'll be gettin' three lashes f' that, me lad! After buyin' the rail tickets we scoffed sarnies on the station platform until the train arrived. Lots o' etchins were taken durin' the journey, Anna shared me camera an' managed t' take some intriguin' images (I've credited 'er shots accordingly):


Mind the gap... twixt loco an' carriages


The other Tryfan


Dolbadarn Castle below Derlwyn


Snowdon group beyond Llyn Padarn


 Shaken, nae stirred
(Pic by Anna)


 The end really be nigh


Cliff an' Shadows nae singin' "Summer Holiday"
(Pic by Anna)


Those Ents can't half shift when they're angry
(Pic by Anna)


A fine display o' dodgy shorts
(Pic by Anna)


Totally barkin'


On track


Provisional driver




Footplate poser


Some o' us were a tad more reserved


Goin' round the bend


After the train journey we made fer the castle. The route o'er the river, through the trees an' up the small hill were bein' delightful:


A rise


A Brownie




Aligned. Mostly.


Dolbadarn Castle




Fair enough




Llyn Peris Power Station below Elidirs Fawr an' Fach


Hole in the wall


We broke the journey back t' the cottage wi' another short stop beside Llynnau Mymbyr:


Snowdon etc, again






We were back at the cottage quite early an' weren't ready fer a cooked meal. Shiver me timbers! Me an' Chris left the minnows in front o' the telly while we went fer a short stroll around nearby Rhôs Quarry. The buildin's have gone downhill (nae literally) since I were bein' last there (Summer 1983), pass the grog! Have ye seen the size o' the cabin-boy's hornpipe? I assume that the buildin's' materials be plundered recycled fer restoration projects (such as the cottages in which we were stayin'), as there were few o' the original roofin'-slates left. Nevertheless 'tis still an interestin' site wi' the quarry itself now hidden behind trees that weren't there 30 years ago:


More derelicts fer restoration?


The auld an' the new. Progress isn't always good.




Rhôs Quarry




Later that evenin' the skies above the cottage were interestin' - despite the low-level calm, high-level winds were whiskin' an' shearin' clouds an' contrails into fantastic shapes, an' the darkenin' background went through many colours afore settin' on a deep blue:












We turned in relatively early  - Monday were bein' goin' t' be interestin' - we'd set up the final instalment o' Ella's 18th birthday pressie :mrgreen:

North Wales 2013 – Friday/Saturday – The day we went to Bangor

Posted by on July 22nd 2013 in Great Escapes, Summer Holidays

Given the task o' findin' a place t' stay in Snowdonia looked like it were bein' goin' t' be a bit o' an ordeal. The remit were bein': cottage, quiet, remote yet close t' sufficient activities t' keep the minnows happy, close t' some interestin' mountain walks, within a couple o' hours' sail o' a beach, an' fairly close t' Bangor an' Menai Bridge where Chris were bein' a Maths undergrad.

In the end the task were bein' a doddle. Choose a mountain (Moel Siabod), use Google t' find a nearby cottage (Siabod Holiday Cottages near Pont Cyfyng), all sorted in ten minutes. I passed the details t' Chris an' let 'er do the rest.

Why Moel Siabod? Well, 'tis the best mountain in Wales, bar none. And I know it fairly well - I spent o'er eight weeks mappin' it in the minutest detail fer me B.Sc. Aarrr! Fetch me spyglass! Geology thesis.

Why Siabod Holiday Cottages? Fire the cannons! Apart from the fact that the price were bein' right, it looked like the place 'ad everythin' we'd e'er need. Oh, an' at about 850ft we'd have a significant altitude-advantage o'er the valley-starters when we got go up the mountain. An' hoist the mains'l! We chose Ty Llewelyn, the middle one o' three in a row that were bein' derelict the last time I walked past. Yaarrr!! Shiver me timbers! The recent restoration an' renovation o' these cottages has been done t' a very high standard an' the facilities an' welcome were second t' none, by Blackbeard's sword. I'd recommend the cottages t' anyone, the place be exceptional.

Rather than sit in a roastin' boat jammed in wi' all o' the other holiday traffic on the A5 on Saturday, we chose t' book an extra night an' execute our getaway plan straight after school-time on Friday. Fire the cannons! Fire the cannons! It turned out t' be a good notion, the traffic were bein' light an' sailin' in the evenin' were bein' much better than bravin' the midday weekend sun. Break out the biscuits 'n weevils! We were greeted by the owners on arrival, an' soon we were installed after makin' inroads into the welcome-pack (tea, coffee, chocolate, Bara Brith, Welsh Cakes, cookies, shortcakes, sweets...) We 'ad a chill-out night wi' much moderately-loud music, takin' advantage o' the fact that the other two cottages were unoccupied that night.

Saturday were bein' hot an' clear from the start. The others 'ad a lie-in, I went outside fer a mooch around the grounds an' a play wi' the camera:


360+ pano: cottage-t'-cottage via Carneddau an' Llugwy


The same view in a temperamental scrolly-thing


The track t' Moel Siabod


Hawthorn an' Foxgloves




A lonely cloud o'er Carnedd Llewelyn


 Dôl-gam campsite


 Between a rock an' a hard place?


Standin' stone


The cottages use renewable energy technology (but NOT wind-power!) Heat fer underfloor heatin', radiators an' all o' the hot water be generated by Air t' Water Heat Pumps. I soon learned that standin' in front o' the units' exhaust fans were bein' a good thing - the strong flow o' heat-depleted air were bein' better than any air-con unit.

When the others surfaced we decided t' have a sail out t' get some supplies. We headed off up the A5, stoppin' briefly t' take in the views:


Tryfan. I told the minnows that we would be goin' up the clearly-visible Heather Terrace. The sharks'll eat well tonight! Prepare t' be boarded! They weren't amused.


We pushed on through Bethesda an' Bangor an' o'er the Straits t' Menai Bridge. After parkin' up we went fer a snack followed by a stroll t' Church Island's St. Tysilio's Church where Luke were bein' christened:


St. Tysilio's Church





Up on the hill be the war-memorial from where there be fine views o' the bridges an' The Swellies:


Menai Suspension Bridge


Pont Britannia


Strong current in The Swellies


After doin' a supermarket-sweep in Bangor we got back t' the cottage just afore sundown. After the evenin' meal it were bein' camera-time again:


Carneddau evenin'


Moon an' Moel Siabod


After that we retired in good cheer, mainly due t' the lashin's o' cider that we'd brought back from Bangor  8-)

Pin the tail #7

Posted by on July 20th 2013 in Great Escapes, Just for fun

Friday's etchin':


Wildcamp walk-out - early-mornin' reflections in the Llyn.

Pin the tail #6

Posted by on July 19th 2013 in Great Escapes, Just for fun

Thursday's etchin':


Wildcamp - Moon o'er a distant Crimea Pass.


Just t' help out the strugglers, here be two supplementary etchins from Tuesday's walk up the mountain featured in Pin the tail #1:





Pin the tail #5

Posted by on July 19th 2013 in Great Escapes, Just for fun

Wednesday's etchin':



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