Outdoor Excursions

It's amazing how things develop. After all, this blog started out as a news section for the rest of the website. With encouragement from readers, it has become a place for relating my countryside wanderings and musings about the world of outdoor activity. Walking, cycling and photography all are part of what I do out-of-doors and, hopefully, they will continue to inspire me to keep adding entries on here. Of course, there needs to be something of interest to you, dear reader, too and I hope that's the case. Thanks for coming.

Category: Denbighshire

Two visits to Llangollen

Monday, April 25th, 2016

It feels like a different world now that I look back on it but 2014 had its share of hill country excursions and these have yet to be recalled on here. All this came before my father’s passing away near the start of 2015 and thoughts turned elsewhere afterwards. Naturally, there was grieving as I moved into an era with work to be done with my late father’s estate. In fact, some of that remains outstanding yet and that still weighs on my mind a little as does the fact that neither of my parents are there any more.

More cheerful distractions have occupied my mind too for I can begin to consider overseas explorations like those to Iceland and Switzerland last year. Associated mental meanderings still entertain me with recent explorations of the prospects of North American wilderness wandering still bringing their own learning episodes. While I am realistic about the chances of making those possibilities real, learning more more about other parts of the world is good too.

One of the risks of doing this is that far flung shores bedazzle me when similar delights are nearer to hand. In other words, they could have curtailed the motivation that once got me out and about the hill country of Britain and Ireland. Certainly, 2015 saw me doing less of such things and my main holiday breaks were spent overseas too. Still, you cannot journey among overseas mountains without doing so among home hills and I hope to rekindle those again.

A stormy winter has not helped that and the other topsy turviness of the past twelve months meant that I took to local cycling trips in a big way. That restored my cycling confidence after a break of around two years so I am not complaining. If it helps my going on cycling trips away from my home turf, it would be even better.

All remained ahead of me in 2014 and dared not to go foreseeing the future. There was enough on my plate with my keeping an eye on how my elderly father was doing back then. It was plain that he was not going be there forever so the focus was on what then was the present. It was a time where breaks were much needed so that got me out among hills on foot.

One might have thought that Christmas 2013 would been tough going after the passing away of mother earlier in the year but I was to find the one a year later much harder for a variety of reasons. My father must have gotten to thinking that Christmas 2014 was his last and it sure enough was. It may have meant that he had a dream for it that could not be made real so that did not help. That a neighbour began talk about plans for Christmas 2015 was no help either and became another obstacle to overcome as if grief itself was not enough.

Maybe it is now that those are behind me that I can begin to write these words because ever Christmas is becoming something to surmount with a breather afterwards. Forgetting the next one until it comes now is my way and it could have been that way for a while since I relished the peace of January and February even when my parents still were there.

After the ups and downs of early 2013, 2014 got a steady start and things were settling into a rhythm with my father though his fragile health meant that nursing home care was his lot even if never was one that he wanted. This semi-steadiness where a new set of circumstances had become familiar meant that my mind could to hill wandering and the middle of January 2014 saw a weekend visit to Llangollen.

2014-01-19

To make sure that I actually did make it to North Wales, I booked an overnight stay in Llangollen. It helped that it would not mean an early start of Saturday to get there and I also broke any rut into which I had fallen by spending a night away from home. It was an uneventful stay too and the quiet of the dining room next morning was a reminder of how early in the year it was.

Castell Dinas Bran, Langollen, Denbighshire, Wales

It was a frosty morning too as I dawdled around Llangollen. Though  I had a day of walking ahead of me, it would have been rude to leave the place in haste with the sun out like it was. There was some clag about too and it circled the ruins of Castell Dinas Brân but that was to burn off.

Soon enough, I found my way to the canal whose banks I was to follow out into the countryside. It also was the start of my shadowing the River Dee, a trend that was to follow for much of the day. That way out from Llangollen is familiar to me from many walks around there so it was a case of following the towpath, enjoying what lay about me and keep an eye on progress. Helping with the last of these were landmarks like the Royal International Pavilion and the train sheds of the Llangollen Railway.

The canal ends near the Horseshoe Falls, an attraction for many a stroller. Beyond this, I had a little bit of navigating to do but a clear path was on hand to get me onto the road near Llantysilio’s church, where I stayed a while to see if the sun would return from behind a cloud again to light it for a photo. It was not so willing so I got going again.

Road walking was my lot for a short while until I found the path that was to take me around by  Llandynan. This was to take me through forestry where I was not so sure of where the path was. After some deliberation, I made my way out the other side to reach the collection of houses that I was seeking and where I was surprised by the course from there to Rhewl.

Pen-y-bryn, Llandynan, Denbighshire, Wales

Rhewl too is a small place and I dallied there to make sure of where I was headed next. Once I was decided, the course was plain: follow a tarmacked byway uphill. This took me along part of the Clwydian Way and I found it steeper than anything I had met before that day so stops were needed on the way. The scenery on view beyond the trees provided ample excuses, especially given that the sun was out again. One of those was where the road ended so I could take stock of what lay ahead of me. Though I though it them a series of rocky outcrops at the time, I also got to gaze at quarry spoil heaps that I was to pass later on.

On the other side of the gate, a gravel track awaited and initial progress was across gentler gradients. Around the next corner, the way that the track was cut into the hillside became clear to me and it took an enticing line. Some height was lost so that had to be regained again on the way up to the pass between Moel y Gaer and Moel y Gamelin. With what surrounded me, it was a minor chore.

Once at the pass, I had a decision to make. Did I want to take in Moel Morfydd and Moel y Gaer before visiting Moel y Gamelin? Looking at the time, I made straight for the latter and it was to be the November visit when I trotted over the other two, not that I foresaw that at the time.

There is no right of way over Moel y Gamelin so it is just as well that this was access land and more folk were around there than elsewhere. Quite where they started was not clear to me but the day’s weather had drawn them just like me. There still was no crowding though and occasional friendly greetings accompanied the much needed episodes of soothing solitude.

Eglwyseg Mountain, Llangollen, Denbighshire, Wales

All the heat generated by the height gain resulted in the shedding of layers such that one might have thought that I’d thought it a spring day. There had been one last heave needed to get to the top of Moel y Gamelin and open up views over the Horseshoe Pass in all directions, including the distinctive Eglwyseg Mountain to the east. Though it was well into the afternoon, I was drawn as far as the top of neighbouring Moel y Faen before retracing my steps to pick up a public footpath that was to be the first leg of my return to Llangollen.

That hugged the steep hillside much like the Offa’s Dyke Path crosses the aforementioned Eglwyseg Mountain. Along with the Horseshoe Pass below me, Berwyn Quarry came into view and acted as a reminded that I was in a working landscape. Later, I was to pass behind some of its spoil heaps before moving onto less industrial surroundings. There, paths looked less clear and I went around by Pen-y-Bryn because that was clearest and it usefully dropped me onto the Dee Valley Way near Llandynan so I could retrace my steps to Llangollen along the outbound route, a useful thing in declining light.

Travel arrangements:

Return train journey from Macclesfield to Wrexham. Bus service 5 from Wrexham to Llangollen and bus service 5A for the way back.

2014-11-22

Given the vagaries of the weekend weather forecast, I must have been in need of the getaway that took me to Llangollen on that Saturday before continuing to Barmouth the next day. The tale of the second part of the weekend has been moved to another post but it revisited places that I had not seen since 2005.

Moel y Gamelin, Llandynan, Denbighshire, Wales

For the Llangollen portion of the escapade, I saw to unfinished business earlier in the year when Moel y Gamelin took my fancy. My hilltop objectives then became Moel y Gaer and Moel Morfydd and an early morning departure landed me in Llangollen. The initial stages of the walk even retraced much of the January route apart from sticking with the road as far as Rhewl because the wood near Llandynan did not inspire me when I was last there. The part of the Clwydian Way from there to the gap between Moel y Gamelin and Moel y Gaer was followed more faithfully. There seemed to be more pheasants than people for poor field-craft on my part was causing them to take flight in their usual noisy manner. The theme of unpeopled hills pervaded as good as all of the walk for whatever reason; it might have been the weather but that only can be a guess at best.

While I had started under sunny skies, clouds had staged a coup to show me why the weather predictions had been so variable. As I gained height to reach the the top of Moel y Gaer, rain began to move in to dispel any hopes of much in the way of photos. Though it came and went, the wet theme continued until I was losing height again on the other side of Moel Morfydd, when things dried up for me.

Then, the question of deciding when to turn off the the track I was following came to the fore. This was not a right of way so it helped that I was on access land. Though the track would have taken me to a road that could have made for easier route finding, I decided that it would have gone the long way around and went so far along it for views before turning back to find a public footpath that would get me down part of the way. On open moorland, finding such things without signs takes a certain amount of deduction so a navigational puzzle had been set. The further down I went, the more tricky it got until I finally got myself on the route of the Dee Valley Way as planned. From then on, route finding was more straightforward and became even more so after Rhewl when I merely retraced my steps, albeit in declining light. A night’s rest was to follow before the rest of the weekend took shape.

Though I have yet to go back to see more of Llangollen’s nearby hills, there are excuses for returning. Walking over Moel y Gaer and Moel Morfydd in better weather would be one and following the whole Dee Valley Way is another option. The latter would be a long day walk starting from Corwen and then continuing east as far as Llangollen. Then, there are those ups and downs of which I suspect it has many. It only goes to show that you never can say that an area is done since there always is something new to see.

Travel arrangements:

Return train journey from Macclesfield to Wrexham. Bus service 5 from Wrexham to Llangollen and bus service X94 from there to Barmouth.

Released?

Monday, February 9th, 2015

As anyone with elderly parents should know, life can be a roller coaster ride when their health declines. It certainly has felt that way over the last few years for my family and I. However, escaping out into the countryside has helped in its own way when dealing with life’s rougher moments. Getting through December 2012 certainly called for those head clearing escapes, be they into Tatton Park near Knutsford in Cheshire or along Irish country lanes. Both of my parents were frail then with my mother having been shook up by a hospital visit and my father’s strength in free fall since the summer. By Christmas, he really needed to be in a nursing home but mentioning the subject only resulted in angry exchanges. It took a brush with death due to a kidney infection for the matter to be forced and the issue to get resolved as it needed to be. He still was not intent on staying where he needed to be, and it was a nice place too, so no one could relax and a walk along the Macclesfield Canal between Congleton and Macclesfield as well as a shorter stroll around Buxton were well needed.

What really changed everything was my mother’s passing away not so long before what would have been her eighty first birthday and the loss was a raw one that not only resulted in next to daily evening walks by the River Bollin but also had me venturing further afield is search of a spot of solace. April 2013 saw me make two trips to Derbyshire and the area was to see me more than any other in that year. The of those April visits had me encountering banks of snow left over from a late winter as I hiked from Hayfield to Glossop, rounding Kinder Scout from below as I did so. The weather was much milder later in the month when I embarked on a circular yomp from Bakewell that took in both Ashford-in-the-Water and Monsal Dale. These were followed in June by a walk from Bamford to Edale that took in the southern edge of the Kinder Scout plateau and a walk from Monyash to Bakewell via Lathkill Dale. That last big walk of the year had me passing swollen rivers too; it had been a month of heavy rain and much flooding. A July escape to Fort William that took in Glen Coe and Glenfinnan could not have been more different with its sweltering temperatures and dry sunny weather. There also were sunlit walks from the Cat and Fiddle Inn back to my home that took in Shining Tor and Lamaload Reservoir. The first of these took me onto Rainow and Bollington while I passed close to Shutlingsloe on the second.

The combination of the scare that began 2013 and the loss of our mother meant that I tended to be more precious about my father and I suspect that my brother probably felt the same. The sense was that we could lose him sooner rather than later and it pervaded most of 2013. It sounds churlish to say it now but I started to wonder in the light of my father living longer than we might have expected if it was not before time to abandon any putting of my life on hold that there might have been. That is not to say that there was any sense of abandonment because, if anything, my visits to Ireland became more frequent. For much of 2014, I crossed the Irish Sea on a monthly basis.

In between those though, I began to get out and about again and last summer saw me make three visits to the Lake District. The first was to Buttermere when I crossed the top of Haystacks while the second facilitated a walk from Patterdale to Grasmere that went over the top of St. Sunday Crag and the last revisited Orrest Head and Loughrigg Fell. January and November saw me spend time around Llantysilio Mountain near Llangollen with the first trip enjoying bright sunshine all day and the weather disintegrating to spells of rain while I was up high. That makes an excuse for another return sometime though I did get more than a little compensation from spending some time by the Mawddach estuary near Barmouth the next day. There were more Welsh visits though with a summer solstice one that visited Sgyryd Fawr and Sugar Loaf near Abergavenny and a September retracing of steps between Rhossili and Port-Eynon in glorious weather. Yorkshire too saw a visit before the Tour de France did and that took in Pateley Bridge and Brimham Rocks in Nidderdale on a largely grey day. Northumberland was paid a visit during October with the delights of the coastline around Bamburgh being sampled on a day that felt more like it belonged to summer. Local trots around Macclesfield were not neglected either with Alderley Edge and Hare Hill seeing two visits. A pesky Jack Russell terrier took a set on my left leg the first time around so a hospital visit was advised and no such intrusion was experienced the second time around though I could have done with more sun.

There was more to my normalisation with a bike trainer being put to good use to see if my fitness could be bettered. The second half of 2014 also had my father see a good run of health that lasted until last month. There was a smaller scare in February 2014 but things steadied after that and I felt in the need of all that walking. Still, he was growing weaker as I found during last Christmas and I returned to Britain before New Year sensing that we might be on the cusp of a big change of some sort. In fact, I also wondered to myself how he would fare if he caught an infection. That question was about to get an answer only weeks later. A heavy chest infection was to confine him to bed after a traumatic experience when the nursing home thought him strong enough to sit up in a chair for a while. With that in mind, I made what I thought was a flying weekend visit in case there were to any further developments. Much of Saturday was spent with him and my brother was there too. When we left, he was comfortable and we thought that a peaceful night was in store. That changed after midnight and we dashed to the home. By the time that we got there, he had breathed his last only minutes before. Some would find that heartbreaking but the final peace is what I recall. His suffering was over and that nearly was more important than we might have felt.

A word said during one of the many conversations we had with others over the ensuing days remains with me: release. My brother and I felt it while nearby neighbours were stunned by our father’s departure; they surely felt it more than we did and some were crying on the phone to us. There may be another factor: we both had our homes and our lives while they see breakage in a continuity that they held dear. Also, the period with our father allowed us to come to terms with where things were going and have a partial glimpse of where things would go after he went. Of course, there are ups and downs as well as twists and turns of which we know nothing yet. The turbulence within me after my mother’s passing has not come after my father’s and there are times when I wonder why though that is not to see that there was no weeping or no jabs of the heartstrings. Maybe it’s that sense of release again.

There are matters that need attending yet but my mind also is starting to explore possibilities too. Visits to Ireland are sure to continue but not at the same frequency and certainly not with the same purposes as before though you hardly can abandon your relatives or former neighbours. There may be opportunities to visit places in Connemara, Mayo, Donegal or Wicklow that I have yet to see. That would be continuing something that they did after their own parents were deceased and there was many trip to Kerry and West Cork. Some of those gave me the love of hill country scenery that has taken me around so much of Britain and the Isle of Man. Over the past weekend, I was strolling around old haunts in Edinburgh like Blackford Hill, Bruntsfield Links and The Meadows before crossing over to newer haunts like Dean Village and Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens. Except for the occasional incursion of rogue clouds, there was sun shining on me throughout and I pondered the possibility of spending a week in the city sometime. Even in a place like Edinburgh, there was much opportunity to wander down memory lane (I graduated from one of the city’s universities) and have time and space to yourself if you needed it. Nearer destinations will remain attractive in a new life situation.

Speaking of memories, there is one that returns to my mind when I mention Edinburgh for I gained a research degree in a science subject while there. My parents were hoping that I would find a job in Ireland afterwards but the world of science is an international one, especially if you fancy a career in academic research. Some of my contemporaries gained post-doctoral jobs in the U.S. and that option did appeal to me not a little. The phrase “seeing the world” came to my notice and sharing it while on a trip back to Ireland must have tugged rather too strongly on parental heartstrings for I was asked to leave such designs until after they were gone. Now, youthful naivety has been displaced by realism so I now am amazed at the sorts of thoughts that went through my mind back then, especially when after experiencing more of the delights of Britain and Ireland.

Even so, that is not to say that I am not tempted by foreign destinations. The likes of the mountains of Canada or New Zealand or the American Rockies may not be what I have in mind but other spots in Europe have a certain allure. For instance, business trips to Sweden appear to cultivated a soft spot from Scandinavian destinations such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark or Iceland. There are areas of hill country in three of those and any photos of Norwegian fjords that I have seen look stunning. The Faroe Islands also have detained my attention and it helps that they are compact too. Going there would build on a 2008 escapade that to Scotland’s Western Isles and the islands of Orkney and Shetland have not missed my attention either. To return to the European theme though, you cannot overlook the Alps or the Pyrenees and they are but some of the mountainous regions on the continent that get mentioned in walking magazines from time to time.

None of this means that responsibilities are about to be overlooked and it can feel that you are able to make new obstacles for yourself too. The ones that appear of their own accord are enough for anyone and a life after my parents will bring its ups and downs will come soon enough. In between, pondering those other destinations may bring its own comfort while realising that short visits only uncover so much. After all, I lived in Edinburgh for over four years and still have parts of it to see anew along with those nooks and crannies that I continue to revisit. As ever, only time will reveal what comes to pass and what adventures may be had yet.

An eighth birthday

Monday, May 5th, 2014

This bank holiday weekend is being a quiet affair for me. With a cold to weather, it certainly has not been one for grand designs and the weather has not been sunny all the while either. Saturday was sunny around Macclesfield though and I got out for a local evening walk around by Prestbury.

Yesterday saw me head to Alderley Edge for a walk around by Hare Hill. I may have followed the course in an anticlockwise direction instead of the intended clockwise one but I was not along in doing so and I left the best for the return section from Hare Hill. It really is very pleasant with a multitude of bluebells putting on a pretty display. A cantankerous Jack Russell terrier slightly spoilt things by giving me a nip around my left ankle but that will fade in the fullness of time. A stop at the Wizard Tea Rooms for a bacon barm and a pot of tea made amends and I chose a more off-road course back to the village to catch my bus home.

This blog is entering its ninth year and things have changed over the years. When I started it, hill wandering was something for which I had more time than I do today. Nevertheless, I still enjoy getting out and about so there are trip reports to file. My last hill outing was near Llangollen in January so it’s well after time for another. If only life events offered a clearance, who knows where my mind may roam.

Currently, I am catching up with unread issues of The Great Outdoors and Outdoor Photography so the ideas shelf could get to see more on there. There are places like the Yorkshire Dales where I have not been for a while and Cumbria’s Lake District calls too. Summoning the energy to devise a scheme ahead of some alluring weather could produce results so there are rewards for any display of courage regarding an immediate future.

Never the best to go rushing time

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

When I was looking for my first step into the world of work after university, the quietness of some months were frustrating. January and September appear to fall into this category but I now see them differently. The sense of stasis has not gone but I now prize it because so much of a year can go in a frenzy. A working life will do that with its many deadlines and the events of family life can do the same as I found last year. Then, there can be the chasing of good weather from the start of year until summer. The whole mix can leave one so exhausted before autumn comes that hibernation looks attractive. It quite possibly explains my energy profile over the course of a year.

One matter that makes me wonder is when I start hearing about events towards the end of year being advertised right at the beginning. Concerts given by famous artists may be very desirable but why go wishing away the present? The same trick is used by marketing folk in the world of digital technology too and the risk is that you never appreciate what you have. Sections of the technology media do not help matters by speculating over what might be in the next iPhone or iPad but does it matter? Much of the time, the hubbub needs ignoring so we can enjoy any other delights that come our way in this life.

Another thing that amazes me is long term planning. Some plan their holidays a year in advance and I ask myself how on earth do you know how things will be then. Life’s twists and turns bring the unexpected and that may be the comfortable situation that you expect either. Laying out your life before you just sounds like hubris to me and recent years have enforced that thinking with the progressive frailties of elderly parents. Parents of young children may feel the same. Your life may feel like it is being put hold but the present can bring joys too.

There is no doubt that January can feel too quiet for some and minds go racing ahead to designs on summertime holiday bliss. With days like Blue Monday and the current long run of stormy weather, such escapism is understandable. However, Blue Monday actually came up sunny this year so you could cheer yourself with a walk away from our more built up areas. That may not cure money worries or people trouble but the past year has reinforced for me how essential a good walk can be for easing a troubled mind and thinking over things. Even venting stress through footsteps often is what is needed and is all the better so no one else gets hurt by what is going on within you. Complaints from knees and feet are better than those from others with injured minds.

The real use of a quiet January is to take stock before the year’s distractions get cracking. The month wasn’t so quiet in 2013 but 2014 brought what was needed and my mind could wander elsewhere. On digital maps, I have ranged over the hills of mid Wales and along the courses of the Wye and Severn rivers that rise in Pumlumon. The Black Mountain in the Brecon Beacons National Park has been perused too while a general survey of transport possibilities have been ongoing. Any bus service that looks useful was noted with Sundays being better to avoid until the summertime Beacons Bus network recommences. While a little stay to sample what is in those places sounds promising, no dates are set as the course of life remains largely unknown and the uncertainties and vagaries of the weather lie among those.

It was the same sort of metal wandering that led to my visiting the Western Isles in August 2008. Quieter times allowed the formulation of an escapade that I am loathe to consider at the moment. Then, the playing with different configurations actually led to one that fitted in a week when other parts of the U.K. and Éire were getting a soaking. However, I pulled a cracker that I never will forget.

Another thing that I relished last month is a sense of steadiness that was so different from how much of 2013 felt. It so felt like bliss that it was tempting to procrastinate and leave some less pleasant and necessary tasks for later. Those now need listing and tackling because procrastination is not the way to go either. It’s as bad as wishing away time ahead of summer holidays or the launch of an attractive gadget. Moments need seizing even if the freedom to relax a little is all the more appealing; no one can relax all the time.

January is not only for contemplating and designing escapades because it can have some of its own too. 2011 saw me head to Wales, Scotland and Ireland on successive weekends before I was swamped with work. Being in the off season does mean cheaper deals and lured me to Edinburgh and Llangollen one weekend after another. The first allowed me to recall times from my student days in a wonderful city and the second had me threading new ground with views of spots seen and sampled on previous outings.

February can be less frantic too though it was filled with angst in 2011 and weighed down on me in 2013. In 2012, it was so different with a weekend trip to savour a section of Northumberland’s coastline that I had walked under cloudier skies. Last weekend, I got as far as Lincoln to visit its cathedral and its castle. The latter is under restoration ahead of the octocentenary of the signing of the Magna Carta next year. Currently, all the scaffolding is restricting what you can see so I didn’t get the photo of Lincoln Cathedral that I had fancied. Another visit when it’s all done sounds a possibility though the entry prices surely will have gone up from £2 for an adult by then. English Heritage look after the old Bishop’s Palace and charge £4.60 for adult entry so that maybe what the entry charge for Lincoln Castle should be. Even with a reduced charge, the lady issuing my ticket took pains to tell me how little there was to see though a free tour was available if I fancied that. In the event, what was there satisfied me and I rather fancy the idea of seeing more should the occasion arise. What I saw around Lincoln’s Cathedral Quarter looked very attractive on a sunny Sunday and I’d venture that the actual cathedral itself is more ornate than York Minster too. I left for home with a sense of satisfaction.

Whatever others may say or think, I have a certain affection for the months of January and February. They can be the calm before a frenzy and escapes from the everyday are a possibility. While having a breather appeals to me at the moment, there is no harm clearing niggling tasks out of the way too and the post-Christmas clearance often allows the space for doing exactly that. Then, it is a matter of taking the rest of the year as it comes. After all, long term planning often gets derailed by life itself.

A month for slipping and sliding?

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Over the weekend, I got to spend some time around Llangollen. For a while, I have been having designs on exploring the hills of Llantysilio Mountain and Sunday finally saw me reach the top of Moel y Gamelin. Though time constraints meant that was the only hilltop of the bunch that I sampled, the views from there were in all directions and had me savouring sights that I had seen before, albeit from different angles. With all the value that was given, I was happy to save the hill’s neighbours for other days. Having not been around Llangollen for the most of three years, some concrete reasons are in order if I am to return sooner.

After the area has found its way into the enlarged Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Natural Beauty. That happened during the second half of 2011 when other things were eating up my time. The visit that I paid around Easter of that year still remains as fresh in my mind as if it happened only a few weeks ago. What happened longer ago was a visit to Denbigh and Ruthin that skirted the Clwydian Range and an abortive attempt to reach them from Llangollen by way of the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail that was halted in Llandegla before a return to Wrexham was made. Continuing north from there would be good (a visit to Moel Famau could be nice) and bus services around those parts seem to be more useful than they were then. Let’s hope austerity never affects them quite like what is happening in the north of England.

It was during the first months of 2004  when I first embarked on day trips to Llangollen as a compensation for a failed attempt to get to Dolgellau. Then unruly housemates didn’t help with the realisation of that ambition with an all night party accompanied by loud music until the small hours of the morning. That was enough to make me seek a place for myself that resulted in an Eastertide move. Now, it either is the ups and downs of life or my own fatigue and laziness that is to blame for such failures these days.

Those day trips to Llangollen saw me wander around by Castell Dinas Bran, along the Panorama Walk that is part of the Offa’s Dyke Path north of Trefor, around by Valle Crucis Abbey. Due to the lateness of my arrival and the shorter days, the walks weren’t so long apart from the aforementioned abortive trot from Llangollen to Ruthin. A preceding overnight stay would have helped that effort with an earlier start and my last two visits to Llangollen have benefited from that with the 2011 trip seeing me enjoy an evening walk around those day tripping haunts before I stayed among the flatter tops to the south of the Dee Valley where the North Berwyn Way goes as it connects Llangollen to Corwen. There also is the Dee Valley Way is you want a long circular walk between the two towns and along both sides of the valley.

Many of those visits to Llangollen were the cause of getting me muddy and last Sunday’s was no different thanks to the early point in the year at which we currently find ourselves. In fact, one flawed footstep resulted in a slide and a short tumble into gorse. The resulting pricks left their marks on my legs but there otherwise is no consequence from the mishap. In fact, it reminded me of a similar one around Craigmillar Castle got me muddy when it really wasn’t needed. Hopefully, these are not signs of my becoming accident prone but I am reminded of previous January skids.

In previous years, it was frozen and not greasy ground that was to blame. One slip happened while descending from Grinlow Tower, or Solomon’s Temple, near Buxton. That was in January 2012 after a walk through three counties from the Cat and Fiddle Inn. The same month in 2006 had me trying out a possible route to the top of Cader Idris from Dollgellau and similar unreliable ground played its party trick on me too.

Foolish steps on branches can end stupidly too as I found in a wood near Dolwyddelan when an attempt to avoid soft ground landed me on my side on it. The day wasn’t  a warm one so I could have done without that wetting though I came to no harm because of it. While none of these episodes is flattering, they seem to be the sum total of such misadventures apart maybe from what a rogue stone did one one summer visit to Floddigarry on the Isle of Skye. It all makes wonder if more concentration on foot placement is in order and that does happen on steeper slopes. Maybe it’s time for extra footing practice to avoid foolishness or anything more serious on downhill slopes.