Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Once more to the beach!

Ross Back Sands is a regular haunt of Mike and myself in the warmer months. As sometimes we do, we began with a spot of walking. These were three tops that Mike had on his wee list.  Where they they were, I am unclear. You will have to check out Mike's blog (northernpies.blogspot.co.uk).Here too you will find his account of his heroic endeavour to bag one of the tops!
Goat Crag.
Rolling Northumberland countryside. In the distance combine harvesters work to bring in the harvest.
An exuberant dog, hot but happy.
Thick bracken and rocky outcrops.
Later in the afternoon we headed east, negotiating across country to Ross Back Sands. Here we set up our 'beach shelter', drank tea, ate a humungous supper provided by Mike and were lulled to sleep by the haunting cries of seal song. They can sound so sad, no wonder those in the northern isles called them Selkies, shape shifters, seals that could shed there skin and become women, but always they had to return to there true habitat, the sea. Often luring there mortal husbands to their doom. Ancient mariners thought their cries were those of souls lost at sea.
Small blue jellyfish.
early morning light and an incoming tide.
A new day on the beach.
A quiet, still, early morning.
Early morning cloud formations.
The new day dawns.
In the still of the early morning.
Ringed plovers feeding on the tide line.
Calm seas lapping gently on the shore.

Gradually, slowly, the tide edges ever further up the shore.
Sand ripples.
 There was a light smattering of rain during the night and we had a brief shower during the morning. It did not dampen our enthusiasm. Mike and I had a delightful time swimming in a sea that was flat calm and  oh so clear. A rare experience for these northern shores

Monday, 23 July 2018

North Wales

This was a trip proposed by Mike. There were a few smaller tops on his wee list he wished to tick off! To save time and miles, I travelled down to Knipe Towers on the Friday. Thankfully Mike picked me up from Durham station. The week had been busy. On that particular day I had done a pre swim jog, a swim and then back to the flat for a telephone consultation. By the end of the day I was somewhat tired!
The run down to North Wales is a long one. All went fairly well except when we spent some time sweltering in a traffic jam. That, I admit, was down to me having a navigational faff. The NantCol campsite was quite busy when we arrived. Having found a spot for the tents, our problem was actually getting the tent pegs in the hard baked stony earth. It was not easy, every time I hit the peg with a lump of rock, I winced, fearing broken or mangled tent pegs. Decent tent pegs do not come cheap.
Sunday saw us heading for one of the more out of the way tops. Access is via narrow B roads and one has to concentrate on the navigation a little more, to get there. Thus from the Vale of Conwy, we headed inland on minor roads. The actual road we required clawed its way ever upward out of the valley. Narrow, twisting, with zigzag bends. Mike swears the car was almost vertical at times? To increase the driving difficulties someone had added speed bumps and no ordinary ones at that! They appeared to have a twist in them that threw the car off balance, interesting?
It was a relief to get out of the car and start walking.
Our actual goal was the high point of Cefn Tal-Llyn Eigiau. A good track led us up by Clogwyn Y Reryr. Soon though we turned of the main track to follow a footpath leading up the hill.
Mike walks a tad faster than me and on the uphill stretches his better fitness shows. The day was hot but a breeze helped keep the temperature down a bit.
Dulyn reservoir way below us.
A lovely rock scarp. Fun to pick ones way upward.
Mike trying his rock moves, and yes, he is wearing a kilt, a lightweight, hiking version.
LTD, (Lucky the dog) is not impressed by his dad's behaviour!
A wee bit more route finding up through the rocks saw us at the top.
It was a fine place to stop for a spot of lunch. The surrounding views were quite panoramic.

View over toward Conwy.
Rock hound!
From our rocky perch we headed across to a small grassy hillock that is actually marked slightly higher than the rock outcrop. It was strange to be walking across what would normally be bog and pools of murky water. The drought is hitting hard. It raises the question of what has happened to the wildlife that normally inhabit these boggy places? Frogs, toads, insects and and all manner of tiny creatures. In turn, moorland birds would normally frequent these places as a food source! There are many specialized bog plants that normally inhabit these upland bogs too. Hopefully they will survive?
Our way on meant a steep descent down toward the disused Melynllyn quarry building. It was a case of cutting back and forth across the slope and picking one's way down.
The old quarry building, ruined but it still has a substantial wheel pit and wheel.

A rocky path led us down to the Dulyn reservoir.
Mike and Lucky heading down a stony staircase.
A mangled propellor  on the shore of the reservoir caught our attention. Later research by Mike revealed that divers had brought it ashore. The propellor is from an American plane on diversion during the second world war. It crashed high up on the rock wall.
A mute, poignant, reminder of a tragedy.
An intermittent path,  that at times was difficult to spot, followed the Pant y Griafolen stream down the valley.
Mixed terrain.
A track led us on by the ruins of Maeneira and uphill to the track we had followed earlier in the day. A good day out, but I was tired.
It actually rained Sunday night in to Monday morning. Dark, thick, brooding clouds swathed the hills tops. Mike headed off to bag a local hill and I went for a potter in the surrounding woodlands.
Native woodlands.

Storm damage. No fancy tidying up here, the woodland left in a more natural state.
With the afternoon brightening up we nipped over to the beach which is part of the Morfa Dyffryn nature reserve. The reserve encompasses a vast area of dunes and wide open beach.
Big sky wide open vista.
The sea was at low tide and it was a long, long walk to reach the water. A taxi would have been handy! No matter, I was going to have a swim come what may. The sea was flat calm and even after entering the water it took a lot of paddling to even get up to my chest. Looking back toward the shore it was a strange experience trying to ascertain were the actual shoreline was. What did surprise me was how warm the water was. It felt almost tropical.
Now that is what I call a beach!
Tuesday saw us returning to the beach for a lazy day of swimming, dipping, paddling and generally lounging about.
A pause for thought, were did this tree originate from, what raging river brought it to the sea to land it storm tossed, high on the beach?
Despite the rain on Monday the fields are parched, the vegetation withered. Listless cattle and sheep nibble on dried grass stems that offer no nutritional value. At a time when livestock ought to be fattening up on lush grass, farmers are having to feed them. This can be costly for the farmer. It is going to take a lot of rain to restore the dried out ground.
Wednesday saw us heading off a little earlier. We were heading for Llanberis. Mike had his eye on Llechog, an outlying top off the main path. It actually rained as we started out. This though soon gave way to sunshine and the return of the heat. It was amazing to see the thronging hoards heading up the track. Their one goal, the summit of Snowdon. Their dress ranged from shorts and t shirt and no spare kit, to sandals, trainers and boots of every type, some would have been at home on Everest! Every age group seemed to be on the hill. Very young children, teenagers to older folk and every age in between. Folk appeared to come from every corner of the globe. Such a confusion of languages, amazing.
  Once again my pace was slower than Mike's and rather than hold him back I encouraged him to push on while I strolled on up the main path.. We would link up again somewhere on the main route as Mike headed back down.
A group of ladies, arms akimbo, trekking poles flailing the air, stopped me. They were desperate to know how I used my trekking poles correctly. Thus a stop for an impromptu lesson on the correct usage of trekking poles. One gent, red in the face, puffing and blowing and moving even slower than me, was aghast that I was not bothered about reaching the summit. Both Mike and myself have been up and down the hill on several occasions over the years. For myself, I can recall visiting with basic, rudimentary equipment one winter back in the seventies.
Reaching Clogwyn station, I was content to sit for a while and enjoy the sun and views as the streams of humanity plodded on, ever upward.


It was not that long before I could discern the figure of Mike heading back from the summit. Having succeeded in bagging three tops, he was pleased with his achievement. Soon we were heading for Llanberis where we enjoyed a cup of tea and chips.
Thursday would see us heading east once more as we began our return journey. A pleasant time had by all.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Ross Back Sands

It is once more, that time of the year when Mike and I begin our annual visits to Ross Back Sands. The one downside to these visits is the need to carry water in. The sea fret was quite thick on the Friday, not clearing until the evening. Setting up our beach hut, come bird hide was a little tricky with a bad back!
An enjoyable afternoon dip was most welcome. Shortly after, the evening sun came out to give us a most pleasant end of day. Later that evening we were paid a visit by a national trust warden. A colony of terns were nesting at the far end of the beach and his main concern was dogs disturbing the birds.
Early morning at Ross back Sands. Miles of deserted beach.
Sunrise.
The suggestion of a beautiful day to come.
Early morning light.
Haze in the early hours.
Mist in the early hours drifting over the dunes.
Saturday was largely spent dipping and sun bathing. A lazy day just chilling out.
The three quarter of a mile walk in, means that Ross Back Sands never becomes busy. It is highly likely that the 'beach pavillion' will soon be called upon for it services once again!