We’ve been to Rhoscolyn a few times before, but never before have we bothered to look beyond the direct approach to Rhoscolyn’s Llawder crag from the parking near the church. However, a few minutes down a narrow lane is the most beautiful sandy beach. Surely it’s the coastal scenery, often with Snowdonia’s mountains as a backdrop, that make North Wales one of Britain’s most amazing destinations!
We enjoyed several of the steep routes, thankfully with surprisingly helpful and positive holds, at Llawder. It was lovely and sunny, but it was very windy – on top of the crag is was almost cold!
On Sunday in an attempt to discover more of Anglesey than we’d ever previously bothered to look at, having a single-minded climber’s point of view (and with a forecast for rain showers) we made a trip to Cemlyn Bay. There’s a lovely nature reserve here, with the interesting shingle drift beach (Esgair Gemlyn), the weird Bryn Aber, and a stunning colony of Sandwich Terns. Although it is a bit strange to have Wylfa Nuclear Power Station sitting on the headland to the north.
After having spent 9 months in beautiful Romania I finally arrived home a month ago to start in a new position with my old company. The original plan was I would stay a year but there were some changes and I was offered this new position and asked to come home earlier. No matter how much I loved Romania and Bucharest I was happy to return to my family and the doggy friends!!!
So after settling in and arranging this and that I’m finally back to “normal”, the time spent in Romania seems like a wonderful dream now. Sometimes I have the feeling that I never left home.
It was wonderful to spend the holidays with my family and be out again in the Hungarian Puszta and hills. We didn’t make too big fuss about it this year as the kids had to study hard for their exams. So we had a quiet Christmas time and an even quieter New Year’s Eve. But we had a wonderful guest!!! As we knew we couldn’t travel anywhere because of the exams, we took care of a baby Border Collie, Skipper, whose owners had left for a 3 weeks holiday. Though he is only 6 months old, he is already bigger than our two old doggy friends!
He has enormous energy so we took him along to our Christmas and New Year’s walks. Our Christmas Walk took us into the Hungarian Puszta in wonderful weather. Everyone enjoyed the walk but I think it was Skipper who enjoyed it the most! He was running up and down and I could hardly catch him with the camera, he was moving so fast! The Puszta was beautiful, fortunately we had some leftover of snow, I just love when it’s white, which was only part of the case now.
On our way I spotted a huge black bird sitting on the top of a tree in the distance. I just couldn’t believe how the thin branches could hold this huge bird!!! This picture was taken with full zoom.
Then at home I enlarged the picture and I realized it was not one but two birds!! One of them I could recognize myself, it was a magpie. For the other one, I had to ask for the help of Istvan: he told me it was a common buzzard! They are really common in Hungary, a lot of them can be seen sitting on poles along motorways.
But it wasn’t only Skipper who was a happy boy during the walk, Gulyas enjoyed it as well, only in a different way!
We took another walk to end the year in a nice way: we went to our favourite mountain area called Börzsöny to take a wonderful ridge walk in an equally wonderful weather. It was kind of hard for me in the beginning to get back into shape, I had to realize I got lazy in Romania! So while the kids and the dogs were having a great time, I was trying to keep up the pace, huffing like a steam engine! But it was worth it, I let the pictures tell the rest!
Despite the wonderful autumn sunshine it was easy to tell that the weather has consisted of pretty much endless rain for the past several months – the cracks of the main wall of Trowbarrow Quarry were running with water! So we decided to start off with the normally easier proposition of Jean Jeanie… This was a wise choice, for even this moderately graded line, with it’s occasionally polished holds, was greasy and the depths of the major crack that it follows were wet. A good work out on a classic and sustained pitch.
We also climbed a great pitch we hadn’t done before, Hollow Earth. This route had a wild move from the initial corner out on to the face. Thinking that would be the crux I was then shocked to find the real crux, a long section of strenuous jamming!
Leighton Moss Nature Reserve
After our time at Trowbarrow we made use of our proximity to the RSPB nature reserve at Leighton Moss, hoping to perhaps see part of the red deer rut. As it turned out the mega amounts of rain have had their impact here too, the paths to the various hides were flooded! At the car park a kind man warned us that without wellington boots we would get wet feet. Now, would that stop us, or would it be an open invite for extra adventure?
Sunday’s weather was perhaps even more lovely than Saturday. Although our muscles were tired and our heads were even more tired after a week of extremely stressful work. So we chose a relaxed day at Wallowbarrow in the Duddon Valley to enjoy the fantastic autumn sunshine…
The first pitch of Digitation ends at a massive dead oak tree. When we first visited Wallowbarrow this poor and ancient tree, whose dead branches are just visible at the top of the picture above, was alive and well. Sad perhaps that a tree maybe hundreds of years old has died – but I guess it comes to everything and everyone eventually. But even in death there is life, there were masses of mushrooms at the base.
As long as nice summer weather lasts I’m not wasting my time during the weekends. During my drive home from my previous weekend trip I noticed an interesting looking gorge and I decided to come back here to check it out. Then I found out that the area has several Orthodox monasteries worth visiting, one of them even part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
In fact, I’m not surprised about that as the country is full of monasteries! I don’t know how many altogether but you can look around and count if you visit this site.
The first monastery I visited is situated in the village of Polovragi, right at the entrance of the gorge that caught my interest the previous weekend: Cheile Oltetului.
The church of the monastery was unfortunately closed due to renovation works so I could see it only from the outside but it was nice. It was built in the 17th century although the original church dates back to 1505. You can find out more about it here.
Going into the gorge soon you get to a cave that can be visited by tourists. The cave itself is 10 km long but only an 800m part is open to visitors. Fortunately, as I can imagine the devastation that is caused by the hordes of visitors. All kinds of people, most of them in their lightest summer outfit, slippers, shorts and sleeveless shirts, carrying babies on their arms … and even the part open to the public was not that easy to walk through – sometimes really slippery surface -, not to mention how cold it was inside. From what I could see in this part, I can imagine how beautiful it can be further on.
There are a lot more caves in the area, some of them partly open to the public. I wanted to visit one more but when I could see the masses of people waiting for the entry already an hour before the next group I changed my mind. As rain was coming in, going for a hike was not an option either so I just drove off to see some other sights.
This is how I got to a nice road in the valley of the river Cerna (pronounced sg, like tcherna), surrounded by spectacular rocky mountains! This is the most beautiful route in Romania I’ve taken so far. I’m sure to come back here to explore it a bit more.
Baile Herculane is a really old bath town founded by the Romans as they discovered its natural hot springs. After the Romans had left the town was abandoned and its miraculous healing waters were rediscovered only in the late 18th century by a Viennese doctor. After that it was a popular resort but in the communist era it was neglected again. In the 70’s modern hotels were built but some of the old baroque buildings can still be seen.
The nature here is really breathtakingly beautiful.
On my way back to the hotel I had a nice view of the Godeanu Mountains I visited last weekend.
The next day I visited some more monasteries:
In Horezu, which is also known of its famous pottery, I met this very friendly cat.
Fortunately, these birdies (shame on me I don’t know what kind but I’m sure Istvan and Pete will know at a glance) were at a safe distance sitting on the wires. (And the cat didn’t look too active either)
And finally, I was lucky to get a nice shot of this night creature having its dinner on the balcony of my hotel room in Horezu.
Last weekend saw me exploring the Carpathian Mountains again. This time I went to Bucsecs, a mountain area just 2 hours drive from Bucharest, just at the border of Transylvania. This area is characteristic of its enormous rock faces but I saw some other friendly faces as well!
I planned some nice hikes, going up from the town of Busteni (at 900m) to the Babele hut (2200m) with the cable car and from there I wanted to go to the nearby Omu peak (2500m) and then down to Busteni again. Unfortunately bad weather came in and after taking some pictures of the unique sandstone formations of the Babele I quickly retreated using the cable car again.
At the top it was raining small iceballs – I’m sure there’s an English name for it, looks like my vocabulary of rain is still not extensive enough – but when I got down it changed to rain. So instead of hiking I went to see a beautiful little monastery.