|The Drum House and the Broken Fence - © Glyn Davies 2011|
The weather was stunning, sunshine everywhere, subtle clouds below summit levels and warmth for a change. I'd heard about a haunted slate quarrying village near Blaenau Ffestiniog so I thought I'd combine it with some summits first.
|Tywydd Dros Siabod - © Glyn Davies 2011|
By Capel Curig I knew I was en route to Blaenau because it was clouding rapidly, by the time I got to Dolwyddelan Castle it was just sheets of grey, not rain but dark heavy cloud. I should have turned around ages ago but I was fixated on this haunted village. As I ascended the first summit I could see sunshine beyond the Nantlle Ridge, beyond the Conwy Valley, and a blaze of light over Harlech and Cardigan Bay but I was under a huge grey blanket. As I muttered and cursed a few rays of sunlight burst over the huge slate quarries of Blaenau Ffestiniog below me, and the vast scarred landscape was spot-lit like a theatrical stage. The ominous nuclear power station of Trawsfynydd presided over a sunlit lake, the only truly bright patch in the whole biblical vista, or was it just glowing?
|Patchy Light Over Heavy Industry - © Glyn Davies 2011|
Two crows circled overhead and two figures appeared on the nearby hillside at the same time, which surprised me in such a remote place on a weekday. Paths were indistinct on these hills, and fences seemed to go on forever making passage between hill tops more than a little awkward. Everything seemed to conspire against my passage to the haunted village. It was a true slog up to the next summit, really steep, on slippery glass amongst loose rocks but the summit was suddenly there, unannounced, and I sat in solitude under my grey cloud watching for movement in the Llechwedd Quarries down below me.
|Soft Light Overlay - © Glyn Davies 2011|
Everything was still, even the sheep were barely moving. I was annoyed, stupidly, that I was stuck in dreary light when the rest of North Wales seemed bathed in gorgeous broken sunshine. I could see roughly where the haunted village lay, but it was miles away, and as it was already mid afternoon I was anxious about getting there, exploring it, fighting ghosts, and then still finding my way back across what seemed like acres of bog land !
|The Fathom Hut - © Glyn Davies 2011|
I found the first of a series of deserted and now derelict quarries, in what was a HUGE quarrying area and could see towards the now darkening village in the distance and having sunk up to my knees in very deep black bog on several occasions, I decided enough was enough and the Blaenau Spirits would have to wait for me another day. As I turned away, the sun came out, sporadic at first but gradually more and more constant until finally I was walking in glorious late afternoon sunshine. As I neared Blaenau once more I found increasing signs of quarrying infrastructure emerging through the thick grass and peat, now just industrial sculptures in a gradually naturalising landscape.
|Very Welsh Water - © Glyn Davies 2011|
The afternoon was shortening and the sun was lower in the sky. I knew I had to re-climb the first mountain to get back to the van and I was already tired. The official path would have taken me right down into Blaenau town followed by a huge walk back up over the shoulder towards the Crimea Pass beyond, so I decided to cut across open hillsides before ascending that final summit.
|A River Runs Throught It - © Glyn Davies 2011|
Even the sheep seemed surprised by my approach, as I dropped into green topped swamps in my effort to re-connect with the official path, which I did at a small reservoir which originally fed the quarry.
|Light Over Darkness at Blaenau - © Glyn Davies 2011|
The light was stunning now though, and very warm, which kept my spirits up for the final summit. The sun was dropping behind the Welsh Matterhorn peak of Cnicht and the whole hillside turned shadowy and cold, but a hope step and a jump and I was back in the warm van.
|The Darkness Receded - © Glyn Davies 2011|
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