|"A Warm Welcome Waiting" - Prints of this image may be bought HERE|
Anyway, I digress. Whilst watching two kayakers playing in the powerful current off the island of Ynys Gorad Goch in the centre of the Strait, I also happened to glance at the information board in front of me, and even though I know the hills anyway, started to play snap with the diagrams and the reality. Moel Eilio, a beautifully rounded foothill of Snowdon, sort of jumped out at me. I hadn't done it for a few years so with time ticking by, and afternoon already upon me, I found myself driving through Waunfawr in bright sunshine to wind my way up the narrow single track lane to the starting point. "Road Closed" it said, but I worked on the basis that if there WAS a blockage, I'd just reverse back - I'm glad I continued - some wonderful Gwynedd workmen simply moved a cone as I approached, and let me pass. I arrived at a deserted car park in the quarry.
|"A Plume From the Station" - Prints of this image may be bought HERE|
Ice glinted off the path before me, and there was a real chill to the air regardless of the sunshine. I donned my heavy winter boots this time, so that I could fit crampons if necessary. I also strapped my tripod to the rucksack and decided to take walking poles again - they are becoming my photographic kit essential !
I normally dread the start of this hill, not for fitness reasons but so many petrol-head imbeciles think it's cool to drive up this mountain that they have deeply scarred the rounded hillside, almost to the top, though fortunately fencing now stops them destroying the whole route. The fence must be having some effect as the slope seemed minimally less churned up than I remember. The diddy signs on posts warning of hefty fines don't really seem big enough to deter anyone unfortunately.
|"The Fragile Beauty of Anglesey" - Prints of this image may be bought HERE|
Snowdon to me left was looking dramatic and beautiful, with the last few hundred feet under deep white snow and therefore sitting comfortably with my need for visual perfectionism! The height of Snowdon meant that even on this clear day, it's summit was in and out of thick swirling cloud, wrapping itself around tiny figures on the summit ridge before exposing them to the huge void below. I was very envious of those on that ridge this day. I wanted to be in those cathedral like chambers of brilliant white cloud. I wanted to have my feet in the deep snow. I wanted to be lifted and turned by those beautiful vapours, but at least I was out, in the hills, in sunshine, surrounded by frost, silence and beautiful ice pools.
|"An Unusual Circle" - Prints of this image may be bought HERE|
The steep final slope was REALLY frozen, the grasses forming little friction under foot, and my poles used several times just to keep balance, but I didn't quite feel the need for crampons. I reached a bluff where sat the most surreal circle of plant life, incongruous, alone, surrounded by bare rock and a mossy looking carpet, glistening in the winter sunlight. The snow capped peak of Snowdon beyond drew a strange contrast of circle against triangle. I am sending the image to Bangor University botanical centre for an identification, has to be a foreign plant for sure :-)
|"Snowdon, a Perfect 10" - Prints of this image may be bought HERE|
I reached the summit and caught the wind ripping across the open peak. I wanted to sit in the lee of the cairn, but as usual, the lee was in shadow and held no decent view, so I headed to the West side of the hill and opened my triple pack of bacon & egg sandwiches and washed them down with hot sweet coffee whilst absorbing the beautiful hills and valleys of Foel Gron, Foel Goch and Moel Cynghorion in front of me, and the impressive final valley of Cwm Clogwyn below the summit of Snowdon itself. It was only 1.45 and I had only planned to do the summit and back but the rounded peaks of the Foel's before me were tantalisingly close. So I decided to do them anyway, and if time allowed even do Moel Cynghorion as well, but unlike my Bera Bach day, I was not going to push it today. I even rang my Dad, just in case something went wrong, so that he could pick me up in the climbers' village of Llanberis below, home of the famous Snowdon Railway. With my back-up plan in place, I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon sunshine all the way across to Foel Goch but amazingly, a few photo stops considering, it had become 3.00pm already with two hours of light left.
|"Floating Light Froze" - Prints of this image available HERE|
I met a man at a corner style, the only person on my whole journey. He was maybe mid 50s, grey haired, glasses and his daysack. I said hello and thank you, as he waited for me to cross the style. He could hardly muster a mumble to me as he launched himself onto the style I'd just stepped off. I found it quite bemusing that two people meeting in empty hills can have so little communication. It's not like the old days I hear myself thinking ! I poured myself another hot coffee and patched my little toe with a plaster as I could feel these winter boots really rubbing - it helped a little as I started the descent down the long shoulder to the dark lake of Llyn Dwythwch. I'd been so lucky with the relative warmth of the winter sun and the aspect of the walk meant that I'd felt it all the way, but I was now dropping into shadow as the sun dropped lower on the other side of Foel Gron. The lake was icy on the North side nearest the river exit, and I found myself taking a couple of shots at the lake edge.
|"Ice Green in Winter" - Prints of this image available HERE|
Here in the shadowy lee of Moel Eilio, it was feeling colder again, and darker, and even though only 4.00 ish, I felt the need to move on, as I'd never done this bit before and needed to get across the valley of Cwm Ty Dy before an uphill climb up Bryn Mawr to finally reach my van. The paths were suddenly indistinct, typically when I needed them, and I was pushing for time, but my maps and sense of direction got me so close that fortunately I found myself back on track and on a very definite path. The heavy rucksack and my sore toe were now taking their toll but daylight remained, the view from the shoulder of Bryn Mawr out over the Irish Sea was beautiful, and my warm van was within reach.
|Funny how so little can weigh so much !|
It's funny that runners could probably do the whole route in an hour or less but with all your walking kit, heavy boots, heavy camera rucksack, flasks, bottles, crampons and spare clothing, combined with a need to photograph, to sit, to absorb, and to mind-wander, the same walk took me around 4 hours ! I was excited, satisfied and exhilarated regardless, and I hope you have enjoyed some of the photos which slowed me down and made me stare.
|The view which changed my mind - "Energy Island No 01" - Prints available HERE|
All words and images are strictly copyright © Glyn Davies 2011 - All rights reserved
Glyn's landscapes are all available as 200 year archival prints on his website at www.glyndavies.com