Saturday 11 August 2012

Welsh Wanderings (While Still Waiting for Visas)

We were still stuck in the UK, waiting for our passports to return to us after paying homage to the relevant consulates for visas. So a trip west was in order. Five of us packed into the little Audi A3, fully loaded again for a three night camping trip to Wales. It wasn't the longest road trip ever, but we stopped several times on the way to breathe in the beautiful scenery, and allow for the fact that our smallest one didn't appreciate long stints in the car.

Looking over Nant Gwryd - Snowdonia National Park, United Kingdom
Llyn Gwynant Campsite was a stunning spot to pitch a tent. It wasn't our usual small, reclusive patch in the wild - rather a large, established campsite with facilities shared with a number of camping families enjoying the Welsh summer. But this time we were a family, so a perfect nesting place was found where a gurgling mountain stream met the gently lapping Llyn Gwynant lake, where we played with the baby, relaxed around a fire, and gazed at the stars.

Foggy morning at Llyn Gwynant Campsite - Snowdonia National Park, United Kingdom
The original swing - Snowdonia National Park, United Kingdom
While Jimmy and Layla were in relaxed holiday mode, Ben and I had this unoffical "Training for Nepal" pact with ourselves that guilted us into undertaking any Stairmaster-like challenge that presented itself. So here we were camping inadvertently at the start of The Watkin Path, allegedly the most demanding route direct to the summit of Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. Drats. So we had no choice but to wake up early and tackle this Watkin Path. It was a challenging climb with the last few hundred meters encompassing a scramble up a steep shale ridge. But it was a rewarding route with very few other walkers and amazing rugged views.

There was one close call though. We had stopped for an apple-fuelled morning tea break to size up the steep last section, when we spotted a couple of guys coming down the face of the summit, rather than the proper path along the ridge. The thought That doesn't look entirely safe had barely registered in my mind when one of the guys gave a shout as he lost his footing and fell. Fear gripped us as we helplessly watched the guy tumble uncontrollably down a slope towards a cliff edge, while his mate screamed "Watch your head! Oh #^*%!". Miraculously the tumbler managed to stop his momentum just before toppling over the drop-off, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. They were bruised and battered but made their way down slowly after that, and we made sure to follow the well-worn ridge path ourselves.

We made it to the peak by late morning. Unexpectedly, wi-fi was available here. So we worked out the final details of out 2012 tax return, you know, like people normally do when at the top of Mount Snowdon.

The top of Mt. Snowdon, a long walk - Snowdonia National Park, United Kingdom
We generally prefer loop tracks, so we headed down the crowded but easy Miners' Track hoping to make it to an added bonus - a pub - for lunch. We walked down pretty quickly, only stopping for a few photos of the lakes and made it back to the road by 1:50pm.

Mt Snowdon climbs above Glaslyn - Snowdonia National Park, United Kingdom
Perfect, just in time for lunch. Now where was this pub? We looked around the little village at Pen Y Pass, but no pub could be found. Asking around we were directed another mile down the road, by which time it was after 2pm and the barmaid told us they were no longer serving food, even though a very conspicuous and tasty looking carrot cake sat between us. "Uh, can we have some cake?" we tried not to beg. So we lunched on two slices of carrot cake, two ginger ales and subsequently some soup and bread when the kitchen realised that we were hungry hikers.

Nothing tastes better than food when you are hungry - Pen Y Gwryd Hotel
Just as our legs were starting to sieze up we walked the last two miles back to the campsite, passing a hydro power station on the way, housed in a cool old-style stone building.

Micro Hydro power station - Snowdonia National Park, United Kingdom
It was a good night's sleep that night under the canvas before heading to Anglesey, a big island to the west.

A bike at Menai Bridge, Isle of Anglesey
We enjoyed the drive and ended up at Beaumaris for a mediocre lunch topped off with awesome ice-cream.

The definition of comfort - Isle of Anglesey
Judes first ice-cream, dangerously tasty - Beaumaris, Isle of Anglesey
From Anglesey it was a quick drive back to our campsite and the next day it was back to Birmingham, via a couple of nice coffee stops.

The view of Menai Bridge, Isle of Anglesey

No comments:

Post a Comment