Ogwen & Tremadog

Work on the new Ogwen and Tremadog guidebooks continues at a pace… This weekend saw Don Sargeant doing a photo shoot in Ogwen for new action pictures, and the Tremadog team met at Eric’s cafe to check on script writing progress.

We got up too late (of course) to get involved in the Ogwen photo shoot, but we managed a long-ish day climbing on the Idwal Slabs, the Continuation Walls, and the Grey Arete. Finishing high on Glyder Fawr, on Y Gribin. Climbing three long routes stacked on top of each other with a pack made for an almost alpine style day. Even the weather was like summer in the Alps; hot and sunny!

10m of un-protected climbing off the belay on the 2nd pitch!
10m of un-protected climbing off the belay on the 2nd pitch!
Laetitia shows the extra effort required smearing on the thin slab with a heavy pack
Laetitia shows the extra effort required smearing on the thin slab with a heavy pack

Saturday evening we met up with Dave and Fiona for a BBQ at their camp site in Capel Curig.

Sunday morning the Tremadog team met at Eric’s cafe to check progress, and after that we dispersed to climb and check routes in various locations. Steve and I went to Craig y Llyn. What a lichenous and mossy place! :angry: This crag needs way more people to climb it and clean the routes up; they are probably all quite nice when clean. Preferring to stay alive (and not spend all day removing the dirt) we climbed Thirty-Nine Steps, supposedly E1 5a, more like 6a and certainly not E1…

Thirty-Nine Steps; it's a lot steeper than the picture makes it look, and several tufts of grass and heather and mint plants have been removed
Thirty-Nine Steps; it's a lot steeper than the picture makes it look, and several tufts of grass and heather and mint plants have been removed

Pontrhydfendigaid [Pontahydavendiguide]

We often forget about bank holidays … and then we can’t decide what to do… so Thursday night we planned a weekend of running … shock! We tried to locate an area that could take a three-day route and that nicely split up into three-day portions allowing the luxury(!!) of B+B’s en route. So we decided on a trip starting at Llangurig, leading to Pontrhydfendigaid, then onto Rhayader and finally back to Llangurig. I’d been to the Elan valley area many years ago and Richard had never been, so it gave us a chance to see what this area of the country is like.

We drove to Llangurig on Saturday morning and set off with packs full to the brim of … pub clothes … shoes (!!! – normally a luxury not required), cheese and fruit loaf. The journey to Pontrhydfendigaid was interesting. The area is surprisingly barren at times, but with lakes and the occassional ancient landmark (burial chamber/cairn) it kept our attention. We finally came down to the Pontrhydfendigaid valley and found puddles full of tadpoles, but also, one puddle containing little crayfish! A few more miles later (and past the ancient Florida Strata Abbey) and we came to the nice little village. The day was a good 27 km – mostly off-path. After jumping in between hummocks of grass all day I was done. We watched the snooker on a black and white TV and slept!

Day 2 from Pontrhydfendigaid to Rhayader started off slowly after the cooked breakfast, but gained speed during the day. We travelled up the lovely valleys past the Teifi Pools onto the fell and then descended to the shores of the Claerwen Reservoir until we got bored and went off the track over a few hills. Sometime later we came to the main dam and then descended to the Elan Village. It was effectively a short walk to Rhayader from here on the road … however that wasn’t in keeping with the trip, so we bypassed the road by going up a huge hill, then another hill, and then on a footpath along a river which stopped at a bridge which didn’t exist! – hence we headed through thorn bushes for the last section. Eventually we landed in Rhayader. I was shattered, and was not amused when we walked the length of the B+B road twice before we found the house (complete with Stena stairlift!). The lady was nice, but had never heard of Pontrhydfendigaid – not surprising as now we realise that we’d walked/ran 40 km! After tea we flopped on the bed and watched the snooker in colour (we’re not snooker fans, but it was all we could manage in terms of brain power).

Day 3 was the easy day. We walked back to Llangurig past a Roman camp, past a few standing stones and then towards the end of the day we climbed a huge hill just so that we could walk within the wonderful wind turbines. After another 23 km we were back at the car.

We had a really fun weekend and are now completely knackered! 90 km/56 miles…

Valley near Pontahydrfendigaid:
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Dam at the end of Lake Claerwen:
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Old machinery…
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Freshwater crayfish in a puddle?
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Red kite:
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Rainforest meets Reef

I had dreamed of visiting Daintree for years. It looked so idyllic, with tropical rainforest right next to the Great Barrier Reef. Of course, it’s far to hot and humid to climb, but it seemed like a great place to relax after a month on the road.

I wasn’t disappointed. Daintree Eco Lodge was luxurious. The rain forest was alive with bird and insect sounds. It was very hot and humid, bur that gave us a good excuse to do not much except relax and take it all in.

The reef trip on Poseidon was fantastic. We took an introductory diving course and did two dives as well as some snorkelling, seeing the most amazing fish and coral. Sorry no pictures of the diving, but there is a rather sexy picture of me in a stinger suit – it’s stinger season right now so better to look like a telly tubby and be safe. 😉

I would have liked to have seen more, but we were out of time… 🙁

Here is a collection of shots from the three days we had there.

Above & below Birkett Hill

A lazy start to the day meant I didn’t feel like doing much, but I needed to get out.

I opted for a short exploration of Birkett Hill (locally known as Hartley Birkett) just a mile or two from Kirkby Stephen. The weather wasn’t improving, infact it was raining and I didn’t fancy being out in it for long. A quick walk up to the Lord Stone and back to the hill. It’s quite interesting geologically as well as speleologically. It is situated on a major fault and the rocks are very shattered, some being lead and barytes bearing.

There is a short adit, but forgetting my torch I didn’t venture far. If I recall it’s not very long and this picture I think shows a blockage.

On the surface the flora is quite fine with a few orchids and pansies.

A short trip out, but Pippa at least got some exercise.

Kapiti Island

Kapiti Island, 5km off the coast just north of Wellington has been a nature reserve since the 1950’s, and has been free of all introduced mammals (cats, goats, rabbits, rats, mice, etc.) since the last possums were eradicated in 1996. As a result, it’s one of the few places you can see what the forest would be like without deer, goats and possums eating it, and where you can see many native birds that have been driven to extinction or close to it on the mainland. Kapiti is also a hard place to visit—you need a permit, and then you have to arrange a boat—it only sees 50 visitors per day at most. We were fortunate that Richard’s father had obtained a permit, and after a false start earlier when heavy rain had made the tracks too dangerous, we finally got to go across on the last day of our trip.

There is only really one destination on the island, to the summit. It’s only 690m, but you do start right at sea level, and it’s very steep. In fact, the west side of the island is an almost sheer cliff, and the East side, where the track is, isn’t much better. There and back took us 4 1/2 hours, although that was as much due to stopping to watch the birds as it was to the distance and climb.

The forest was very dense, so often we heard the birds rather than seeing them, but we did have some lovely encounters with New Zealand Robins (just like English ones, except with grey backs and white breasts), Kaka (large parrots, and Weka (flightless birds that tend to try to steal things out of your bag, or your lunch out of your hands), among many others. The view from the top was fabulous, with nothing but ocean to the west (there’s nothing until Australia, thousands of miles away), and the steep cliffs of the island below us. A lovely walk, and a chance to see how New Zealand might have been before the settlers arrived.

Ben Lawer National Nature Reserve

Pippa enjoying the snow

Pippa enjoying the snow

Great fun in the snow!

To finish off our few days away, Lindy had to do some work, so I took Cloggy and Pippa up to the Ben Lawer National Nature Reserve to play in the snow.

It was such a lovely day in between the blizzards!

Pippa and Cloggy take time out before the next blizzard

Pippa and Cloggy take time out before the next blizzard
Great views

Great views
Loch Tay

Loch Tay

Frosty Ridgeway Ramble

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The 85 mile Chilterns Ridgeway runs right past our backdoor so we decided we’d have a carbon free weekend and walk out to the nearest end at Invinghoe Beacon check into a B&B and walk back on the Sunday. Although the highest point on this walk is just 248m its a very up & down trail. The section we did was approx 37 miles with 900m of ascent & descent. We had perfect clear frosty weather and for long sections the trail to ourselves. It’s not an extreme adventure but definitely worth doing and the sore legs at the end suggested it was good exercise too!