Saturday, 31 May 2014

Day of the Tarns.

Looking down Easedale towards Grasmere.  
Well there isn't a Grasmere Horseshoe, or an Easedale Horseshoe.  But maybe there should be.

Peter was running one of his two day workshops in Grasmere, and I tagged along, so that he could work and I could play and enjoy a walk in the Fells.  Almost a tradition is for Peter to walk to the summit of Helm Crag on the Saturday evening of this workshop, and I wanted to join him.  Or as per today, meet him.

So the walk was worked out to end on Helm Crag at about 6.30pm.  I had all day, could take it as easy as I liked, and go where I pleased.  So I did.

I've put the map on first this time, cos that way it's probably easier to see what the photographs are about.  Start at Grasmere, clockwise round to High Raise, and meet Peter at Helm Crag.  I didn't work it out until I wrote this blog post, but for the Wainwright baggers amongst you, there are six on this route: Blea Rigg, High Raise, Sgt Man, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag.  But you could easily have made it seven with a little diversion onto Silver Howe at the start.

An it really was the day of the Tarns, they were everywhere, some of them quite beautiful.  Here are the pictures.
This is a little after the start of the walk.  That's Helm Crag on the left, then over on the opposite side of the valley you have Seat Sandal, Fairfield and Great Rigg.  Great Rigg isn't really higher than Fairfield, it's just closer. 
This little unnamed tarn just south under Lang Howe was so lovely I couldn't stop taking pictures.
They were so pretty.  They're called Bogbean, it doesn't seem right does it?
I wanted to find out what these flowers were called. 

From Lang Howe, there are a couple of castles: Little Castle How and Great Castle How.  And some fantastic views.
Looking down Langdale from Little Castle How.
This little tarn is one of two just southwest under Great Castle How
Meadow Pipit on Blea Rigg
Easedale Tarn from Blea Rigg
First sight of Stickle Tarn on my left as I'm walking. You can see Harrison Stickle dead centre and Pavey Ark to the right.
And on my right....  Codale Tarn and Easedale Tarn.
Sergeant Man.  I've always thought it an odd name.  I wonder how it got it?
Stickle Tarn sort of centre, and Thunacar Knott on the right.  Thunacar Knot is a brilliant name. 
High Raise next. This is the Trig Point and the highest point of the walk.
And this is why we like being up here.  You can see forever.  That's Skiddaw and chums in the distancei
From High Raise, down to Low White Stones and Greenup Edge is fairly uneventful. Then a right turn to follow the C2C for a little while past Birks.  Nice and boggy around there, I can tell you. Then I turned north and headed for Brownrigg Moss (another little tarn and the last one of the walk), and Calf Crag.

The path from Brownrigg Moss to Helm Crag just goes up and down, up and down. It was getting towards the end of the day and my legs were getting tired, but Helm Crag just never seemed to get any closer! 
Still a little way yet.  I've been taking my time, and now I'm wondering if Peter will get there before me?
Nearly there. When the sun's out, the green is greener, and the blue, bluer.  Just wonderful. 
Finally here.  This is The Howitzer, the summit of Helm Crag. 
I needn't have worried about Peter.  I arrived at six, and then had a wonderful half hour enjoying the views, the weather and chocolate until he got there.  Brilliant eh?
And now it's time to find our way down.  A wonderful day and a fantastic walk.  
So that worked out at about 12 miles (cos of me meandering) and about 3100ft of up and down.  A good walk because there are no really long steep climbs, it's more of a continuous and relatively gentle up as you make your way towards High Raise.  Just right for me. 

Finally, we enjoyed a lovely steak dinner at the Lamb Inn to end the day.  Nice. 

Peter has his second workshop day tomorrow and I'm just going to wander off for a little mooch around.  It's going to be lovely. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Welsh Gems

It's day three of our long Welsh Weekend, which should have been four days, but isn't.

Peter had some urgent stuff to sort out workwise, the weather forecast is poor, and we have to get home tonight, so we abandoned the planned short walk for a tourist day, starting with the first little gem, the lovely town of Beddgellert.

I left Peter working, and went off to see Gelert's Grave, something I'd wanted to visit since I'd seen it on the Walkersforum.

Walking through the town, I was delighted to see this.  So much better than a billboard or a neon sign.

And these fantastic carvings are outside Beddgelert Woodcraft, a brilliant shop capable of prising money out of anyone's purse, including mine.

It's just a short walk to Gelert's Grave:

A poignant story.  Beddgelert means "Gelert's Grave", so that's how the town got its name.

But it wasn't really the grave itself that I wanted to see.  It was this:
The bronze sculpture has been placed in the remains of this old building. You don't see it until you get to the doorway. 
I loved it. Look how his back and head have been polished by all those hands touching it.
Peter did get to join me as I walked around.  It's warm, and the hills and mountains are steaming in the rain. 
Don't the rhoddendrons look wonderful.  Unfortunately, they are considered an invasive species, as they crowd out all other plantlife.  The various environmental agencies are having to bring the plant under check.  Still looks pretty though. 
So after our potter around Beddgelert, we drove off to have a look at Harlech Castle.  You know how we like castles............

An impressive place, nearly as good as Caernarfon Castle. (Which we must go back to).

With three to four hour drive ahead of us, it was time to start thinking about going home.  Luckily we went the wrong way (my directions), and got to see Swallow Falls.

It's £1.50 to get in, and it uses one of those automated gates that you get in loos and the tube station.  You have to have the right change, but we thought it was worth it.


So that was the end of that weekend.  Next weekend, Peter has a workshop in Grasmere, I'm tagging along so I can go for a walk or two in the Lakes. I'm really looking forward to it.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Dinorwic Slate Mine and Mynydd Perfedd

This walk was a bit of a mistake. I say a bit of a mistake, but what I really mean it was a lot of mistakes. We didn't know the area, we didn't know about the unmapped paths that we could've taken and we didn't have the full OS Map with us. We started late, (after midday), and when I planned the walk I completely misunderstood the route of previous walkers.  And last but not least, I very much underestimated how quickly one of those nice steep Welsh slopes can devastate energy reserves and leave a person, (me), lying collapsed and exhausted in an undignified lump three quarters of the way up a mountain.......

But more of that later.

We'll start with the beginning, which is a WalkersForum post Dinorwic Slate Quarry and Elidir Fach & Elidir Fawr. I've just looked at it again as I write this blog entry, and knowing what I know now, I can see that I went seriously, absolutely, positively, disastrously, (well, maybe not quite), terribly, terribly wrong. And I don't even know how, or why I planned our route the way I did.

Never mind, on the plus side, we got to see the Dinorwic Slate Quarry and some magnificent views, I managed more miles and ascent than I've ever done on a walk, and we've learnt a little bit about Wales.

Anyway over to the photographs:

The walks starts very near to the entrance of the Llyn Peris Power Station.  A path from the main road leads up, up, up to the quarry.  It's steep and long, but the green and the shadows from the trees made it quite enchanting. This is one of Peter's photo's
As I said, it's steep, and just keeps going up and up.  The slate piled up alongside, and the occasional glimpse beyond the trees.  Lovely.
OK, so we've got so far.  But the path still keeps going up.  This is Llyn Peris, looking very blue.  The people who worked these mines must have had leg muscles of steel, walking up and down these hills all the time. 
Eventually we got to the mine buildings.  This is obviously a row of miners cottages.  Each one had two rooms, a cold shelf and a fireplace.  All made from slate of course. 
Looking around these places you wonder about it all. What was it like to live here?
 Peter took this picture, and the next one too.  Good aren't they?  Which is why I nicked them off him of course.

Now the terraced cottages are all just ruins, Nature's wriggling green fingers pushing through and taking over. 
There are so many old buildings up here, like this winch house.  The winch would have pulled rail carts up and down the hill.  It's a shame it's not working anymore, I could have done with it to get me up the hill. 
Nature always seems to win through.  These little trees have found a way to grow in the slate.  Amazing. 
An added bonus was getting to see these Welsh Mountain Goats taking it easy.  Those horns look so powerful.  

But we've not finished going up.  Oh no! We're going to carry on up followin that concrete track.  To the right is a quarry, which appears to be much loved by climbers, judging by the numbers making their way across.  Looking at the WalkersForum post, perhaps we should have had a looksee.  Maybe next time. 
Looking down on how far we've come.  Looking over the site, you want to go back in time.  Who worked here?  Where did they work and what did they do?  What was this building for, or that one. 
But even though we're a long way up, we've still quite a bit more up to go yet. 
Finally, we've got to the end of the mine.  Now.  If I'd have planned this properly, or we'd have had our wits about us, we'd have gone from here to the summit of Elidir Fach.  But from what I could see on the map, there is no path.  So we didn't
So we left the quarry, and the slopes of Elidir Fach, and followed the road North East towards the Marchlyn Bach Reservoir.   The flat road was welcome after the steep route up under the bright sky and hot sun. As we walked, we realised we could see the whole of the Isle of Anglesey and the Menai Strait
I couldn't fit the whole view onto one photo.  This is looking to the left, and Caernarfon
And to our right we could see Bangor 
We reached the reservoir, had a quick pit stop and then followed the road heading for the dam of the Marchlyn Mawr Reservoir.  Now we had another climb, this time to get to the summit of Carnedd y Filiast, we couldn't see a path on the map, so we chose to go straight up the very steep side.  And yes, very, very, VERY steep.  For me at least. The blasted hill just kept getting bigger.  Every time I looked up, there was more of it above.  I did collapse into the proverbial heap at one point, but once rested, it was time to keep going on up.
Marchlyn Mawr Reservoir and Elidir Fawr from the slopes of Canedd y Filliast
And then we were finally up.  My poor lungs and legs were so grateful.

But we weren't going to stop there.  From Carnedd y Filiast we were to make our way to Mynydd Perfedd, and then onto the high point of the walk, Elidir Fawr, the one in the photo above. 

I looked at Peter, who had waited patiently for my slow and weary climb up Carnedd y Filiast.  "There is no way we are going to be able to get me to the top of that today!" was my comment.  Peter agreed, especially as time was getting on. 

We carried on the planned route to Mynydd Perfedd though, which turned out to be a brilliant decision  Peter was ahead of me, (as usual), and reached a high stile over a stone wall.  As he took the steps I heard him say Ow! Ow! Ow! 
"What's up?" I'm asking as I reach the stile.  Then I realise.  It wasn't Ow! Ow! Ow!  It was WOW! WOW! WOW!
The view from Mynydd Perfedd.  It was just stunning. 
A little further round, looking over to Tryfan.  Credit for these two pictures goes to Peter again. 
Following the path from Mynydd Perfedd to Elidir Fawr. Majestic Snowdon is ahead, with the Crib Goch ridge on the left. 
And Marchlyn Mawr Reservoir to our right.
So now we had to work out how to get our tired legs back to the starting point. And this is where things started to go a bit awry.  The OS map shows a ROW going straight downhill into the valley below us, but Peter had spotted a path running along the side of Elidir Fawr. We decided to take that one.
There is a path running along the side of this mountain, honest.
The path was a bit hairy in parts, and hard work to be honest, climbing over rubble and scree in parts, but eventually it lead us to another path and another until we were in Nant Peris.  Which is not where we wanted to be, but at least we knew the way back from there.  (If we'd had a full version of the OS Map, we'd have seen the ROWs which would have saved us so much walking.  But Hey Ho, you live and learn)
Looking back at Llanberis Pass
Dinorwic Quarry in the evening light.  It looks almost pretty. 
The remains of Dolbardarn Castle, again looking wonderful in the evening light. 
Those last three pictures are only due to the fact that we got it wrong again.  A right wrong it seems. 

Anyway, tallying it all up at the end of the day, it turned out we'd done 12 miles and 3400 ft of up. Hard work. The thing is, now I've worked out where I went wrong, we have to go back to do it right. That'll be for another visit then. 

Tomorrow we're gonna take it easy.  Peter has some work stuff to sort out, and it's going to rain again, so we've decided to do some touristy visits.  After a good night's rest that is.