Friday, 25 March 2011

Around Snowdonia in 80 Miles

A round or very elliptical trip from Porthmadog to Blaenau, to Beddgelert and Caernarfon then back to Port. This was the 4th such journey to date and was organised by and for the London Area Group of the Ffestiniog Railway. 80 miles, rattling through the mountains. Not mind numbing but something lower down. This is how it looked from Campbell’s Platform as filmed by the honorary stationmaster.  

Monday, 7 March 2011

Springwatch in the Vale of Ffestiniog

Sunday 6th March. In the foothills of Moelwyn Bach, on a sunny afternoon, Haydn was enjoying splashing through puddles on his bike when something caught his eye! A lively adder, woken from its siesta, wriggled away with ‘wheelspin’ as it struggled to find purchase on the long grass. Spring – watch out! 

Friday, 4 March 2011

Ffestiniog in the East!?

Yes, even Moelwyn Bach, just a few miles from Cardigan Bay, is in ‘The Eastern Peaks’.  This is the 3rd volume in the comprehensive quadrilogy describing ‘The Mountains of Snowdonia’.

Moelwyn Bach
The beauty of the series is the depth and choice. Unlike other books, that compromise and short-change you by squeezing into a single volume, this sprawls out like a range describing every significant peak and the many ways of linking them together. Not just a route up and down but full à la carte choice to plan the expedition you want.

What I like is the balance between interesting information and details of navigation. I think John Gillham has got it right.

I live in the top right hand corner of my ordnance survey sheet, within 30 minutes walk I can be on to the next sheet. To get round this I’ve bought a customised version centred on our house.  With ‘The Mountains of Snowdonia’ I live at the intersection of 3 volumes. To get round this I’ve bought the set.

Using volume 2, ‘The Western Peaks’, I tested out the day route covering the southern Rhinogydd. No amount of adjectives can ever bring to life quite how magical it can be but the author does it proud nevertheless. As for the guideline time of 5 hours, I don't think that included much opportunity for savouring the best bits. Bumping into the farmers and their dogs gathering sheep off the ridge between Y Llethyr and Diffwys is an occasion I will remember for ages, with an indignant column of wild goats marching out of the way.

I wish I'd consulted volume 1, ‘The Northern Peaks’, before my last effort on Tryfan. I know now exactly where I went wrong! The panoramic 3D maps, with a touch of artistic licence, make so much sense of the routes.

My home range, the Moelwynion, is covered in volume 3 and, even though I don’t feel I live in the eastern peaks, I am very glad that the Vale of Ffestiniog has been described so thoroughly. The Ffestiniog Railway gets a mention too – it’s a great way to start and even better way to end a long day’s walk, maybe with a bottle of Snowdonia Ale from the Purple Moose Brewery in Porthmadog.

All 4 volumes sit in pride of place on my shelf of walking books whilst others gather dust.

Country Tracks enjoys the Vale of Ffestiniog

Ellie on the rock cannon

BBC’s production team for Country Tracks has been filming in the Vale of Ffestiniog. Basing themselves in Maentwrog they sampled the hospitality of The Oakeley Arms and The Grapes.  The episode will include a Ffestiniog Railway journey from Blaenau taking in the story of Colonel Campbell, William Madocks, the 200 year old Cob and rock cannons. Broadcast date likely to be early summer. 

For more information about the area visit the Vale of Ffestiniog website.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

4 legs good, 2 legs better

The wild goats in Maentwrog nature reserve (Forest of the Wolves) have been enjoying the removal of the double height fence. This has provided an abundance of previously untouchable winter food. After a couple of months of feasting, the brambles are looking in a sorry state and ivy leaves can only be seen above the five foot mark. Maybe this was how the giraffe started off.