Wales May 2005

Helen Rose Hill Diary

Photo: Fence.

I am just back from a week in wonderful Wales. It was my first visit to Wales and long overdue. As regular readers will know I am still trying to bag all the Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet) in Scotland but I have climbed all those in Ireland and nearly all in England so it was time to do those in Wales. Technically, Munros only apply to Scotland but we sad people tend to also consider mountains of that height, Munros wherever they are in the British Isles. The only problem is that we are not sure how many there are in Wales as there should be a certain distance and drop between tops to qualify. Anyway, I think I climbed about eight in the week.

The weather was good and I put it down to David being there as we also had good weather last year when we went to Ireland. By the way, he is also a gem in the kitchen! For a change we stayed in a luxury holiday house at Abersoch complete with balcony and stunning view over the bay. Great to sit of an evening with a glass of wine in hand watching a spectacular sunset over the sea serenaded by Jim and Ian on guitars. Abersoch is on the Lleyn peninsula in north Wales. It is a very pretty seaside resort with good sailing and surfing.

Photo: Glyders. The mountains we climbed were in the Snowdonia National Park about an hour and a half drive away although we did spend a few days on the Peninsula visiting the Iron Age fort, Carnarvon Castle, Criccieth and Aberdare looking over to Bardsey Island. The bigger walks were on three ranges in the National Park and I will give you a brief description of these walks. In this area, Welsh is widely spoken and is the first language used as a teaching medium in schools. I was advised by the Tourist Office in Carnarvon that about eighty five per cent of the population in the area speak Welsh. I am sorry to say that we are nowhere near this figure in Scotland with Gaelic.

The first walk was from Bethesda to the High Carnedds. It was a pleasant walk on grassy farmland to the top of Carnedd Llywelyn. These peaks are named after the leaders of the Gwynedd, the greatest of the Welsh Kingdoms. The Celts were a tribal folk and the country was rarely united. Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Cornwall are all Celtic areas with England as Anglo Saxon. The walk to Carnedd Dafydd was on a pleasant ridge with good views over to Snowdon and the Ogwen Valley. It was then down to the start of the walk having completed a circle. One of the outstanding features we noticed was a fence made of upright slabs of slate.

Photo: Cantilever. We had a day on the Glyders but the more hardened scramblers included Tryfan in their walk. Tryfan is the most distinctive of the Welsh peaks and involves fairly serious scrambling. I decided to give the scrambling a miss as I am going to attempt the Skye Cuillin ridge soon with a guide. We set out from Pen Y Pass and climbed steeply to Glyder Fach passing interesting rock formations. These hills were busy as it was the weekend and they are popular. We walked on over the ridge to Glyder Fawr with sheer drops down to the Ogwen Valley and views of the side of Tryfan. The top of Glyder Fawr is interesting with rock formations and the Cantilever Rock which looks like a table. We continued on a long walk out to Capel Curig. This was a linear walk having using two cars.

The last big walking day was on Snowdon. We walked from the car park at Pen y Pass on the so called Pyg track, a very good made walking path. On the ascent, we had the helicopter noise constantly as it was dropping rocks higher up to remake the path. There is a train to the top of Snowdon. I have mixed feelings about this intrusion on the top of a mountain. It allows people to see the view from the top of a mountain who could not climb it but it leads to the top being very busy. From the top we followed the Watkins Path down to Bwlch y Saethau to complete the Snowdon Horseshoe. A word of warning, this path has almost disappeared on a very steep eroded hillside and could be very dangerous in wet weather conditions. There were few people on the horseshoe and we had exhilarating little scrambles over the tops of G Y Lliwedd above Llyn Llydaw where Sir Bedivere threw the Excalibur.

Photo: Snowdon. All of the area is steeped in history but there is not enough space to tell you more so go and find out for yourself. As there is so much more I want to see in Wales I hope to go back again.

Coming attractions; Water Aid challenge at Meall nan Teanga, Ben Alder and the Skye Cuillins. Can I do it all?

Contact me at [email protected]

Thanks to Frances Rickus for the photos.

Comments are now closed on this page