Sunday 20 September 2015

Yr Eifl

Garn Ganol, the highest of Yr Eifl's three summits
If you travel along the northern side of the Llyn Peninsula in Wales, the three peaks of Yr Eifl soon become a dominant feature ahead of you. In English it is known as The Rivals and the fact that one of the summits of this large hill contains a well-preserved Iron Age hill fort might lead one to think that its English moniker draws upon the history of the site; in fact, the truth is rather more prosaic - the translation of the Welsh name Yr Eifl is The Forks, for reasons that are clear when you view the hill's dramatic northern aspect, and the English merely an approximation of its pronunciation. The smaller of the three peaks, Garn For (1457 ft) is closest to the sea and has been heavily quarried over the years; its man-made and natural cliffs drop precipitously and we'd read that access to this section of Yr Eifl is prohibited for safety reasons. The remaining summits, however, are access land and provide invigorating walking and some spectacular views of Snowdonia, the coastline and even - on a good day - across to Ireland.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Dog Hill - a short walk in two parts

Part One:

Booth Wood Reservoir.
These two jaunts around Rishworth Moor, above Ripponden, started out as a short stroll on the moors for a summer's evening. That had been deliberately planned to come in at around the five mile mark for our elderly German Shepherd, who can't manage the full day walks or stiff climbs any longer. The idea was to head up to Blackwood Edge and follow the old Roman road to the west, with a yomp up to the trig point on Dog Hill, before circling back past Green Withens Reservoir to the car. 

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Cadair Idris

A stream in woodland with a path of stone steps leading uphill.
The start of the Minffordd Path
For some of the walks I have planned out I don't want to risk doing them unless the weather conditions are as near to perfect as possible; not necessarily for safety reasons - though that is a prime consideration in any trip, of course - but more because the location itself is special in some way or it involves a significant journey to get there. Cadair Idris is one of those places for me. It's a name that's lodged in my imagination since I read Susan Cooper's "The Dark Is Rising" series of novels as a teenager (and again, with equal pleasure, as an adult); and when looking at possible routes it became clear that not only is the mountain itself quite beautiful but that it affords some wonderful views, particularly down to the coast.

I was itching to get there and for several days had been keeping a close eye on weather forecasts. Various sites, both mountain specific and general, were pretty unequivocal that the outlook was due to be clear blue skies and sunshine towards the end of this week. I needed no second bidding to book a couple of last-minute leave days and we set off to Wales yesterday morning around 6:30am. It was a beautiful morning here in Manchester and in Cheshire too. Luminous mist lying low across the fields and the dazzling sunshine above that made sunglasses a necessity as we drove along the M6 and then the M56. When we hit Denbighshire, however, fog filled many of the valleys and the sunlight made little impact on its grey demeanour.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Moel Siabod

Living in Manchester means that Snowdonia is within just as easy reach for us as the Yorkshire Dales or the Peak District, particularly with the A55 coastal road offering a ready entry into north and central Wales from various points along its course. The Welsh national park is an area we've wanted to explore for a while and the advent of "The Glorious Twelfth" has prompted me to map out a few routes away from the moors during the shooting season. So it was that, with a day of unalloyed sunshine forecast, I settled on the relatively small peak of Moel Siabod as our first Welsh mountain of the season.

A lake and woodland, behind which stands the summit of Moel Siabod.
Moel Siabod from Llynau Mymbyr
We set off early and were lucky to find a space in a lay-by right at the start of our route. We parked next to Llynau Mymbyr. Originally one long lake this is now effectively a pair due to a build-up of sediment in the middle. Looking down from higher altitudes the effect is rather like observing a giant amoeba splitting in two. There remains a passable channel at the moment, it seems, as we later saw canoeists from the Plas y Brenin Mountain Centre at the south western end but no doubt in years to come they will have to carry their boats between the two expanses of water.