Friday, 27 January 2017

Dolgellau Precipice Walk

Whether we were going to do another hike the day after Moel Eilio was the subject of some earnest debate on our overnight trip to Wales. Eventually, over dinner, we compromised on the Precipice Walk just outside Dolgellau. It was a short walk and on a managed trail but it was high up enough, it seemed, for us to get some good views of the surrounding hills, weather permitting.

We were staying in Caernarfon and tucked into a breakfast at the hotel that wasn't much less hearty than the one we'd eaten in Llanberis the morning before. Fortunately, we had an hour's drive to get to the Precipice Walk and by the time we got to our starting point the it didn't feel like we were walking in lead, diving boots as it had done the previous day.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Moel Eilio

Sitting in the mist that swirled around Snowdon's summit last July, I nursed my steaming coffee with gloved hands and resigned myself to a cold, view-free experience during my first time at the top of the iconic mountain. I was cursing the stiff breeze that'd forced me to don an extra layer and various other bits of winter paraphernalia when the wind did something uncharacteristically useful and blew some of the clag away. There below me lay the Moel Eilio ridge, its green slopes made all the more vibrant by contrast with the murky cloud I'd been sitting in. I resolved there and then that I'd return to walk those inviting and - from this vantage point at least - modest and gently rolling hills as soon as possible.

Moel Eilio from Snowdon summit, July 2016.


Friday, 13 January 2017

Howden Moors - Crow Stones, Outer Edge and Margery Hill

The long trail that winds around the Derwent and Howden reservoirs from the visitor centre at Fairholmes is a popular one. Even on a weekday you're likely to pass friends out for a stroll, hikers with poles and backpacks, families on foot and families on bikes, their giddy children and still giddier dogs in tow; and then there are the fitness enthusiasts - friendly joggers that nod and smile, and focused runners, to whom you're just a blur on the periphery of vision. Write them all down on a postcard and most days perhaps you'd be able to tick them off and call "House!" in a game of Reservoir Bingo. You'd scarcely believe that just a few hundred feet above this busy spot lies some of the least-visited moorland in the Dark Peak.

Derwent Reservoir Dam.
That swathe of undulating heather and peat, its high edges crumpled by deep cloughs, is Howden Moor. I decided to head here a few days after my last visit to Bleaklow, which had ended on a dispiriting note with the crossing of Harrop Moss. I felt certain that it would restore my faith in the moorland landscapes of the Peak District and I wasn't to be disappointed.

Fairholmes was my starting point and I passed the impressive Derwent Reservoir Dam to join the trail on the eastern side of the reservoir. I'd managed to connive a lift here, as I don't drive, and was setting off around lunch time. It was a warm autumn day and though the incline of the path is barely perceptible it didn't take long for my outer shell to come off in the heat.  The sunshine had drawn people out - I exchanged greetings with them as we passed each other and had to disappoint one runner who called back over her shoulder with an air of sudden, delighted recognition, "Oh, are you Roy?"