Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Blown Off the Carneddau Mountains, North Wales

It has become a bit of a family tradition to have a winter hill walking expedition with my brother, various of our children and friends.  This year, again, we opted for Snowdonia and booked in at excellent rates to the Royal Victoria Hotel in Llanberis.  We drove over on Monday 24th unsure what the weather was going to deliver us.  The forecast for today was dire in the extreme with gale force winds gusting to 70mph predicted.  Knowing that the forecasters often get it wrong, we decided to carry on with our plan to walk the Carneddau range.  We had been over here twice before in recent months, last year in a blizzard, and seen nothing, so we were hoping for good views.  Although breezy in the valley, it was a bright morning and we set off full of optimism parking above Bethesda.  Once on the open fell side the breezy conditions gradually deteriorated and very soon we were experience a full scale gale.  The light was brilliant, however, with clearing snow-covered summits and, as were were to be on very safe ground for some time, we decided to carry on in the hope that it would ease.  As we climbed higher and, on occasions, been virtually blown off our feet, it became patently obvious that it was going to be dangerous to go on the the more technical terrain and ridges of the summits, so we opted to retreat and do battle again in better conditions.
To view large, click on an image.

Having decided to turn tail, we headed straight for the valley to seek out a more sheltered route back to the car.  This we did, coming across a group of welsh mountain ponies on the way.  We even found a patch of frog spawn on top of the grass; we could only assume that it had been blown out of some nearby water.
After having lunch back at the car, the decision was made to head for Anglesey and more temperate conditions at South Stack.  When we arrived, it was like being in a different world: much less windy, sunny and relatively warm.  We enjoyed wandering along the cliffs with spectacular views of the lighthouse and across to the Llyn Peninsular.  Although there were noticeably fewer birds back on the cliffs than there had been over at Bempton a few days previously we enjoyed good views of herring and black backed gulls, a single rock pipit, raven, rook, jackdaw, magpie and best of all choughs feeding on the grass by the RSPB cafe, where we enjoyed a welcome cup of tea.

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