Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Finding some sun on a bank holiday

30th May 2008

In weather terms, May has been anything but a bad month, apart maybe from those deluges down south. However, it did have a shaky beginning and its first bank holiday weekend was far being settled. After a dry day in Teesdale, I wasn’t expecting much for the Sunday but I seem to remember that it wasn’t as bad as was predicted. In any event, the day in question offered an opportunity for a useful rest and allowed my mind to turn towards ideas for the day after. A ridge of high pressure was trying to make inroads from the west and so it seemed that Wales was a good bet, particularly given my lack of attention to the principality in recent years.

The skies were grey and the landscaped sheathed in a primordial murkiness as I made my way from Macclesfield, changing trains at Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe as I went. There was no hint of anything else and a duvet day could have resulted for me, only for my decisiveness; I am not always thus. In fact, I was nearly halfway along the North Wales coast before things really started to cheer up. This was to be my first sight of the weather that was to pervade the rest of the month.

My arrival in Bangor was blessed by hot sunny weather and I appreciated the shade as I awaited the bus to Bethesda, the starting point for my day’s walk. That wait, lengthened by the observance of a Sunday timetable, allowed me a wee wander around the centre of the city in question. A pound was all that the final stretch of my outbound journey would cost me.

Once in Bethesda, I headed for the hills. OS maps aren’t much use for navigating streets but I made my way onto open hillside without a fuss. Finding myself on Open Access land, I got tempted by the prospect of mounting the 409 metres summit of Moel Faban. After that diversion, a spot of map inspection was needed to return me to the bridleway that I had been following; I rejoined it at the base of Bwlch ym Mhwlle-le. That was the first indication of a certain “devil may care” attitude that was to pervade the rest of the walk. Initially clear, the bridleway became less distinct as it crossed the moorland and I opted for a less precise course that still set me up for another path that led up the side of Moel Wnion, a far more distinct affair.

Up to the point where I reached the saddle between Moel Wnion and nearby Gyrn, I had in my head the idea of an out and back trot from Bethesda, possibly taking in the heights of Garnedd Uchaf. However, a bank of low cloud coming in from the sea aroused some concern and I got to wonder about my own abilities. So, while I descended to the cwm ahead of Drosgyl, I decided to change tack and head towards the coast along the side of Moel Wnion rather than go up the former hill.

Being on rough moorland means that paths can be indistinct and so it was for the first part of my now northbound hike. Higher up Moel Wnion, it all got much clearer and the sharp drop was as good a handrail as any in any event. The views of nearby hills were good too as I made my way towards the North Wales Path. Rather than sticking with the right of way all the time, I was eventually to take a clear, if unofficial, path over Crâs to reach the trail that was to take me onward.

View east from Moel Wnion, Bethesda, Gwynedd, Wales

Dropping down to the North Wales Path came with a price: I entered that sea fog that I had seen earlier. Still, even if waymarking was far from perfect, the course to be followed remained clear. The presence of stiles is often a good guide to the course of a right of way and so it was here, and the grassy track was far from unclear. In fact, visibility never became so poor that a map wasn’t helpful either. The mistiness had its pleasures too: a spot of cool on an otherwise warm day. It was a nicety that I was soon to lose and I also lost the clear track once I reached the road. After that, it was very much a question of careful navigation as the trail weaved its way along roads and through fields until I got near the A55.

From that point, it was largely a case of road walking until I reached Bangor train station. I might have caught an earlier train if I went from Tal-y-bont on a bus, but the spots of off-road progress and glimpses of Penrhyn castle were worthwhile too. Anyway, the extra time allowed me to compose myself before the journey home. It was a good day out.

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