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!
2022 has turned out to be a very dry year, which probably has helped with my explorations of parts of Ireland. While we could not imagine it at the time, it has come even drier than 2018, a year that then was being compared to 1976. One June evening, when I went around by Sutton Reservoir, I was stunned by how empty it looked. It may have meant that there was no fishing to be had, but that left its banks emptier for strollers like me.
This past summer also had oppressively warm spells. One in July was not only record-breaking, but also oppressive in the extreme for many of us. For others, it was life-threatening, and I was happy to see temperatures cool afterwards. If I was brave enough, this might have been a good time to try camping or bivvying outside somewhere if it was not too hot to walk; it certainly was virtually impossible to work inside. Another spell arrived in August during my holiday in Ireland and got much hotter after I came home, even if temperatures did stay cooler than they were during the July spell.
In the past, I have written that hot weather is not good hiking weather, yet I have gone out walking in higher temperatures. Much of 2018 was warm, sunny and dry until things got wetter at the end of July. Before that, there was a lot of hot weather. Near the start of the month, I headed to Edinburgh for a day spent around Cramond and the city centre. Shady places were well appreciated whenever I passed through them. Normally, I have mixed feelings about tree cover, but they were set aside in the heat.
The continuation of the heat did nothing to keep me from heading to Wales more than once. The first of these took me to Barmouth, from where I undertook a circular hike that combined a route that I did in May 2005 with one done in November 2014. You could see from the landscape that the warm, dry weather was taking its toll. Vegetation looked dessicated in places, and heat haze bedevilled any photography.
What I have needed to piece together is my route because it slipped from my memory. Even with photos, this has been challenging to work out, much like the places featured into the photos themselves. This is complex ground, with passes getting names instead of hill tops; you can see what was a priority for the locals in older times. One thing cannot be contested, though: the sea is near at hand and added to any views once the right vantage point was reached.
The Cambrian Way has made it onto modern OS maps, and my early wandering either followed or shadowed it, a major change from the days when publicity was curtailed by worries on the part of mountain rescue volunteers. This was the route that I used to ascend steep slopes before passing Dinas Oleu and Garn. The Cambrian Way was left after me for a while as I went around by Gellfawr, Ffridd y Craig and Bwlch y Llan. This was when the sea views opened up for me, though the hills of the Llŷn peninsula were lost in the haze.
Once over Bwlch y Llan and across the route of the Cambrian Way, different views opened before me. Some of these were just as compromised by heat haze as the aforementioned sea views. That included anything situated to the south of where I was, like Cadair Idris and its immediate surroundings. Other hills like Craig y Grut and Diffwys were not so affected, and also occupied my senses as I made my way towards the Cerrig Arthur Stone Circle. This was something that I wanted to visit again for photographic purposes, even if the time of year and the time of day were not the best for what I wanted to achieve. Another visit in May might not be such a bad idea.
My next staging post was the Panorama walk, and memory haze again affects my recollection of the route. There are a few things that stick for me, though. One was a meeting with overly intrusive dogs around Cutiau, while another was the effect the afternoon was having on my energy levels. At least the shade offered by tree cover helped with avoiding the sun as I continued along the lane, and arrival at the Panorama Walk easily punctuated the way back to Barmouth. There was time to dally in the presence of entrancing views before setting off again.
Leaving the environs of the Panorama Walk meant leaving tree cover behind as I went on via Gorllwyn. Barmouth was reached soon enough and with time to spare before my next train. That allowed for some strolling along the shore, taking in views of Barmouth Bridge and what lay beyond it to the east. It was a good end to a walk with its share of tests and delights; there were no regrets.
Return train journey from Macclesfield to Barmouth with a change in Wolverhampton.