|Excitement Beyond The Dark Hills, Yr Eifl - Click pic for purchase info|
Anglesey was under a blanket of heavy cloud but surprisingly, and thankfully, there was light on the hills, okay two of them, but light nevertheless. Stepping out of the warm van after parking at Rhosgadfan we were bathed in sunlight, but were also pierced by bitterly cold 25mph North Easterly winds. Base layers, mid layer, wind layer and shell jacket, hats & gloves were all required from the outset.
|The Doorway Opened, Yr Eifl - Click pic for purchase info|
As we rounded the slate quarries to the South West we were in the lee of the wind and the sunshine almost felt warm. Anglesey remained dark and the Carneddau mountains in the North were heavily clouded with no summits visible. The Nantlle Ridge on the other hand, was clear, sharp and defined with a bright sky above and beyond. Sunshine sparkled off the Irish Sea just to the right of the unmistakable Yr Eifl.
|Surge of Excitement, Elidir Fawr - Click pic for purchase info|
What are normally wet, boggy slopes leading down to the start of superbly rounded Mynydd Mawr, were firm and crunchy. The severe cold and surprisingly dry weather had meant much of the water on the hills was either frozen or had dropped into a low water table. It was refreshing to not have to worry about foot placement. The summit looked clear and close but as we started the ascent, clouds were already forming rapidly over the Irish Sea and the Llyn Peninsula, and the sun was now forming hundreds of rays of light which moved quickly, torch-lighting the landscape below. The weather was obviously going to remain unstable and unpredictable for our walk.
|Bright Light Under the Darkness - Foel Goch - Click pic for purchase info|
The North East wind was now ripping across the face and the two little figures ascending alongside the edge of the ominous dark cwm to the North, but the Rabs, North Faces & Paramos were brilliantly retaining warmth and shielding against the bitter cold. Sunlight was now in short supply. At the summit in the 25mph winds, according to Met Office figures, we were feeling -9º temperatures on any exposed skin, and within maybe one minute of removing my gloves to shoot some dramatic light over Foel Goch, my fingers became like dead talons, able to punch and point but hardly grip. I put my fingers in my mouth to warm them and the burning tingling sensation just didn’t go away. Everything else was shot WITH gloves!
|Reaching Out, Snowdonia - Click pic for purchase info|
The summits of Moel Eilio and Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) never made an appearance, but the light on their adjacent peaks such as Yr Aran, Foel Goch and Moel Cynghorion was fast changing and theatrical. Clouds built and evaporated rapidly, small vortices peeled over the ridges like ocean waves and as we sat there, sheltered on the lee sides of summit cairns, we were suddenly in cloud ourselves. Weirdly, the wind dropped at this moment and a sense of warmth returned as our views disappeared.
|A Ridge Beauty, Nantlle Ridge - Click pic for purchase info|
From that moment on we experienced a continual variation in cloud cover around us and consequently the most fabulous light performance I have witnessed in years. Multiple curtains of fog and cloud alternately revealed and obscured rich colourful skies and landscapes, bearing hues from different ends of the spectrum all in one moment. It was ‘son et la lumière’ sans le son! No matter how beautiful and mesmerizing the conditions were at the summit, we were both getting cold and it was approaching 5.15pm already.
|An Opposite Attraction, Yr Aran, Snowdonia - Click pic for purchase info|
As we descended I was forced to stop at regular moments to try and absorb the sheer beauty of what was happening about us, and just before 5.30 I spent maybe 10 minutes half way down the mountain, taking images of the strangest and most captivating sunset I’ve seen for years. It was as if a sunset was taking place somewhere else and we were just being treated to a view of it from a cathedral window. The burning red ball of flame on the horizon warmed my heart, but nothing else and the afternoon remained freezing.
|Burning the Cold, Irish Sea - Click pic for purchase info|
Camera away now, the after-burn of dusk darkened noticeably as we navigated towards the silhouetted quarries, and in this half light what I thought were obvious paths through the tips and levels were almost impossible to discern but literally at the point where my night vision failed, we were just 50 feet from the van and we trod carefully until the key fired the interior light.
|Before a Dark Walk, Llyn Peninsula & the Irish Sea - Click pic for purchase info|
NB. This was one of those days when the light just worked. People will swear that filters were used but they were not, this was simply the most amazing and spectacular show of natural light and colour, straight from heaven.
Copyright © Glyn Davies 2013 - All Rights Reserved