Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Saturday 24 September 2022

Saturday 24 September 2022 - Pwllheli parkrun and a railway journey to Blaenau Ffestiniog

Another lovely day in Porthmadog. Above, our breakfast view.

Then Sue and I went to the Hafan Pwllheli parkrun. 34 of us jogged up and down the beach composed of soft sand. Here we are, waiting for the 9am start.

Then we returned to Porthmadog and took the 10:30 train to Blaenau Ffestiniog. We were joined by my brother Dave, who's a member, so the price was relatively modest.

It was a lovely ride, and a great way to finish our holiday.

It's not easy to take pictures from the train. These are the best I could manage.

Back in Porthmadog, a half marathon race from near Blaenau was preparing a welcome for the finishers.

Then we packed up, cleaned up, and returned to Timperley, after a most enjoyable week, albeit lacking the pleasure of Isabella's company yesterday, as her mum had a day off.

Friday 23 September 2022

Friday 23 September 2022 - Cwm Cywarch

Today we drove to Dinas Mawddwy, an old settlement with Iron Age forts nearby. The row of houses pictured above probably date from more recent times (C19) when houses were needed for miners from the nearby slate quarry. 

Walk 23 in 'Snowdonia South' is a pretty straightforward stroll up Cwm Cywarch to the end of the valley, and back down the other side.

We took our time. Sue gave up on trying to identify flowers (no new ones) and switched her allegiance to fungi, successfully finding the following today:
Common Earthball
Common Milk Cap
Poor Man's Licorice 
Mica Cap
Pleated Ink Cap
Snowy Waxcap*
Field Mushrooms*
Red Cracking Bolete
Neofavolus alveolaris

A big bush of Harebells bulged in the hedgerow.

Buzzards mewed and a collared dove cowered, as we stopped in a grassy passing place on a section of road for elevenses with a view.

The track had become a little muddy after yesterday's rain. Not helped by three trial bikes.

As we approached the end of the valley a grassy meadow led towards a car park from which the hills beyond the Cwm can be ascended.

Sue posed for a picture at the head of the valley.

There were nice views back along the valley. The low flying aircraft were not captured in the next image, taken near a pretty lunch spot.

A shower near the end of the walk put paid to any more mushroom collecting.

Here's our route - about 13km with 250 metres ascent. It took us a very leisurely four hours.

* These were collected and converted into a tasty starter.

Thursday 22 September 2022

Borth-y-Gest and Y Sgwar restaurant

A wet day was forecast. The view from our breakfast table wasn't inspiring.

After a leisurely morning that included a visit to Dave in number 30, and our customary thrashing at cards, Sue and I donned our waterproofs and headed past the harbour. 

A peregrine falcon had flown beside the estuary, as we looked out from number 30, but we observed nothing special after that.

The path around the harbour leads to Borth-y-Gest, where it was raining quite hard.

Garreg-goch beach was passed, deserted, before we reached Porthmadog Golf Course and a caravan park.

After a bit of faffing amongst the static homes (we failed to find our intended path) we walked a short way along the main road before turning right opposite Pen Rhiw and making our way through woodland to our outgoing route and the easy return to base.

The next scene from our living room window, taken with mug of tea in hand and shortbread on the table, indicates why we spent the rest of the afternoon at home.

Later, the rain stopped in time for us to stay dry on our walk down to Tremadog for some 'fine dining' at Y Sgwar restaurant as part of our 20th wedding anniversary celebrations. 

What a contrast to the experience that Cary and I had in the Kings Head in Ravenstonedale a couple of weeks (is it really that long) ago in the Yorkshire Dales. Here, all the staff were smiling, for a period they were clearly working flat out, and the kitchen was so well prepared that it seemed to be performing miracles!

We'll be back...

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Wednesday 21 September 2022 - A 14km Ramble from Aberdyfi (Aberdovey)

This was one of the more distant (from our base in Porthmadog) walks in Alex Kendall's Cicerone guides, taking us over an hour to drive to Aberdyfi, where we parted with £5.50 for the privilege of parking in a convenient spot.

After coffees in 'The Fridge', we wandered along the sea-front (pictured above) then took a zigzag path up the hill heading north. 

The views grew, and looking back to the coast south of Aberdyfi brought memories of childhood visits to Ynyslas - a big adventure for our Austin Somerset MJW 770 armed with its useful AA badge.

I remember bringing a Bee Orchid home, found whilst playing in the dunes; it lasted for weeks in a vase in my bedroom. In those days - mid 1950s - it was not a sin to pick flowers or collect birds' eggs.

We followed the route of the Wales Coast Path up a hill past startled pheasants, derelict caravans, Mexican Fleabane, and overgrown private pathways.

At the top of the path a friendly message on some black silage bales encouraged us to 'Enjoy Your Walk'.

As we continued over the crest, we could admire the view ahead to Cwm Maethlon and beyond. This used to be the main route in these parts, until the coast road was built.

We continued down, with the sounds of distant farm machinery and mewing buzzards, alongside a wood of sessile oak trees, and into Cwm Maethlon, passing hazel trees, apple trees, sloes, blackberries, and most of the flowers recorded earlier this week, plus the yellow blooms of ragwort and gorse, shepherds purse, black bryony, red campion, chickweed and lesser stitchwort.

Chaffinches chattered in the hedgerows.

A row of martins on a power line suddenly became agitated. A red kite appeared above. To our surprise, some of the martins proceeded to mob the kite.

We continued along the road for a short way, before taking the track to Gwyddgwion and finding a nice spot for lunch in a field.

Alex's dire warnings about the poor condition of the next path proved unfounded, and we made our way uneventfully down to the main A493 road and thence to the beach.

Earlier, we had spotted some Sheathed Woodtuft mushrooms, thought to be edible, but rather soggy looking. In the fields before the dunes were lots of Parasol mushrooms. They seemed very dry so we thought they were past their best for eating. I'm not so sure now - they may have made another delicious starter.

The walk concluded with a 3.5km walk along firm sand, punctuated by my frequent stoops to collect more shells for Isabella.

That amounted to a 14km circuit with 300 metres ascent, taking us about 4.5 hours.

Another excellent day out in fine weather. No other walkers seen, though two trial bikes did briefly sour the atmosphere. 

Tuesday 20 September 2022

Tuesday 20 September 2022 - Plas Newydd and Aber Falls

Sue had never been to Plas Newydd, a National Trust property on Anglesey, next to the Menai Straits and one of the Menai bridges.

One of the main attractions is a 58 foot canvas mural by Rex Whistler. This alone is a good reason for a visit. The mural is a 'trompe de l'oeil', and we enjoyed a guided half hour during which some of its features were explained.

Can you spot Aber Falls?

These two pictures just provide a flavour of the huge mural.

After looking around the house, we visited the arboretum and other attractions. More pictures will follow when we get home to some wi-fi, but here's a lofty sycamore for starters.

Then, after lunch on a convenient picnic bench, we drove the short distance to Abergwyngregyn and embarked on a short walk to Aber Falls - number 3 in 'Snowdonia North'.

We headed away from the falls at first, then rose steeply to a contouring path with good views over the Menai Strait to Anglesey and Puffin Island.

Having gained all our height at the start, the walk to Aber Falls was basically a lovely amble along a grassy/bracken path strewn with flowers - Harebells, Autumn Hawkbit, Devilsbit Scabious, Tormentil, Water Mint, Common Dog Violet and loads of Soft Rush Grass, all with the rugged backdrop of the Carneddau peaks.

There were people bathing below the falls, just below a freshly deceased sheep.

We met more people now, including a heavily tattooed girl, being on the tourist trail from the car park, but nobody had cared to harvest a few mushrooms that Sue's 'Seek' app identified as Button Mushrooms. That seemed a rather stingy name, given their dimensions!

Here's our 7km route with 150 metres ascent, taking 2 hours.

Later, our planned starter was abandoned in favour of mushrooms sautéed in garlic and butter, washed down with a bottle of 2002 Seleccion de Plata Tempranillo - Vino de la Tierra de Castilla. Delicious.

I've no idea how we managed to find a 2002 bottle of wine to bring here!

Monday 19 September 2022

Monday 19 September 2022 - Cwm Llan and Snowdon

This was supposed to be walk number 20 in Alex Kendall's 'Snowdonia North' guide book. Somehow the 7km route with 270 metres ascent, taking 2 hours, morphed into a 15km outing with 1100 metres ascent, taking 6 hours.

We started gently enough from outside the café in Bethania, taking the steps up the start of the Watkin Path.

After some pleasant woodland walking we reached open country and rose gently into Cwm Llan, passing small waterfalls after diverging away from the Watkin path, and rising to a good track that must have been a tramway from the nearby mine and quarry workings - there was a slate quarry here from the 1840s to the 1880s.

Somewhere along this pleasant track, Sue took it upon herself to misinterpret Alex's route guidance and head up a vague path towards Bwlch Cwm Llan. I explained that the route should be to Cwm Llan, not Bwlch Cwm Llan, but Sue studiously ignored that theory and blasted on up the hill, past a couple who had parked behind us, pausing only for two minutes silence at 11:55, in respect of QE11's funeral.

Once up at the col ('Bwlch'), Sue looked up at the ridge to Snowdon and announced - "We're going up there, Alex would approve of this minor diversion."

The route was clear, the wind was negligible, and there was just a smidge of mist on the summit. We'd seen just a handful of people. A quiet day on Snowdon ?!

It turned out to be quite a long way to the summit, with increasing numbers of people. Actually, good to see loads of black, Asian and mixed race walkers in what used to be the domain of the white middle classes.

There was a queue to visit the summit, so we just went around the back and tapped the summit plinth rather than the trig point. We'd been there countless times, if not recently.

It took just a few minutes to descend from the misty summit and turn left down the steep start of the Watkin Path. The views to Moel Siabod and Y Lliwedd were excellent.

English Stonecrop was in flower here, with tormentil and ling/bell heather the commonest flowers lower down.

After the steep section we stopped for lunch on a grassy alp with fine views across to Crib Goch and the Miners and Pyg tracks. 

Here's our view back up to the summit. Somewhere in the foreground may be the sheep that seemed to be stuck on a precarious ledge.

Crows flew overhead, caring and audibly swishing their wings. Countless novice hikers asked "how far?" and "How long?" to the summit. Men pranced in fancy costumes and sparkling new trainers. Wheatears flitted from rock to rock. Drizzle briefly led to a dose of waterproof clothing. 

We continued on the Watkin path, eventually rejoining Alex's route around Cwm Llan, past rocks steeped in Maidenhair spleenwort. 

Gladstone Rock was reached.

This is where, in 1892, the 83 year old Prime Minister, William Gladstone, came to open the Watkin Path, which had been built by his friend and fellow Liberal MP, Edward Watkin. Gladstone spoke on 'Justice for Wales' to a large crowd. Hymns were sung. Gladstone and others then attempted to climb to the summit. They were defeated by cloud.

Below Gladstone Rock, bathers were enjoying the pools in Afon Cwm Llan, which we crossed after leaving the Watkin path to follow our esteemed guide's route.

Shortly before reaching the car, we paused for a while for a delightful conversation with two German ladies. 

The couple who had set off at the same time as us, and with whom we had had intermittent conversations on such matters as marathons and emergency shelters, arrived back at exactly the same time, after a 15km walk with 1100 metres ascent, over a period of 6 hours. Here's the route.

Then we went home.