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North Wales holiday
September 2002

Pictures (not yet complete)

This year's trip to North Wales ran from the 8th to 21st September, and once again the British weather did its usual trick of 'glorious sunshine - but only once the summer's nearly over!'

I didn't do any cycling this time, preferring instead to concentrate on relaxing after a hectic period at work. The first few days were spent as they always are: stumbling about half-asleep and trying to get used to the change of pace. I did go swimming in the sea, but frankly the water wasn't as warm as I'd anticipated, so I didn't make a habit of it. The sun did show her face however, and I spent almost the whole break in shorts and a T-shirt as it was plenty warm enough.

In general, I found myself doing something I'd not done for ages - walking. With the various minor injuries I've managed to sustain over the years, I'd almost given up the idea of 'proper' walking (i.e. hiking / hillwalking), as I thought my creaking joints wouldn't be able to take it. Since starting Aikido however, I've found greater confidence in my physical capabilities, and after cycling to Lancaster for Cyclefest at the beginning of August I've decided that I'm going to mollycoddle myself a bit less, and just get on with things!

As always, returning to an activity after a long absence requires a little adjustment and a lot of patience. To give myself a gentle start, I walked from Trearddur Bay to Rhoscolyn via the coastal path. This is only a couple of miles really, but allowed me to find my natural pace on grassy and rocky ground. It's also a beautiful walk that takes you along the tops of some eroded cliff arches, and allows you to leave the path and explore the cliffs a little along the way. As always, getting near the edge can be dangerous as some of these cliffs are undermined, but in general it's an easy walk along a well marked path. After the coastguard lookout above Rhoscolyn Beacon a lane swings back inland through a gate and a farmyard and onto the road. A little tarmac pounding takes you back to Trearddur. I could have walked back the way I'd come, but as with cycling I seem to prefer a circular route to out-and-back.

An exception to this was the next walk, which sort of just happened. I went for a 'stroll' on Sunday afternoon, and rapidly found myself on the road that leads towards South Stack near Holyhead.
South Stack I called into the cafe near Ellen's Tower just short of South Stack (they also sell the tickets that allow you to go down the steps to the lighthouse) and had a coffee, and whilst there I decided that it was still early enough to go up Mynydd Twr (Holyhead Mountain). This isn't a real mountain being only 220m asl, but it can be a scramble. The paths are well marked, but somehow they just vanish into the heather and the boulders when you need them the most! One face of the hill is too steep for walking, and indeed there were climbers working their way up it. I went around the shoulder towards the north side, which has a made path (although it occasionally requires long strides!) and then turned SE to head to the top. On the way is Caer y Twr, the remains of a Roman fort. After a few minutes at the top I headed back - detouring only slightly to take a picture or two on the way down. Whilst much of this day was road walking, it reinforced my feeling that I've been missing out on something that I should be doing more often. The total distance for this walk was about 8 miles.

Taking a picture by Llyn Ogwen

A more serious test came with a day trip into the Ogwen Valley, with a walk round Llyn Ogwen itself (boggy and bouldery!) and then a walk up to (and round) Llyn Idwal. This was picked out as a gentle reintroduction to 'proper' walking, in the sense that it would add a little more height and some more rugged country, without it being too much. It also reintroduced the pathfinding skills that I'll need to resurrect if I'm ever going to do this on a more serious basis.

Pen Yr Ole Wen from above Llyn Idwal

The path up to Llyn Idwal is well made and crowded. We went around the NW side and up towards the Devil's Kitchen, although our intention was not to climb all the way up, but to turn aside and come back along the other side of the lake. This was ok in good weather. My boots were a more lightweight fell-boot type, and were I to tackle this kind of terrain in anything other than good summer (dry!) weather I'd need something more substantial. I've now invested in a stronger 3-4 season pair with better support!

Taking things easy like this has allowed me to learn what I need to do before tackling anything more serious. My knees in particular need re-educating - years of cycling have made them expect circles, rather than the impacts from descending a hill - and they're going to give trouble if I don't train them properly. Cue more walking then! Fortunately I'm well-placed for the Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales, and even the Lake District, so I'll be after some nursery slopes to learn on...

Whilst I was away I also indulged in my occasional need to satisfy the internal hunter-gatherer, resulting in several Pollack caught from the rocks near Porth Diana. Sadly, even shore fishing seems to have run into the general decline found in other fisheries - only one of these fish was of a legal size, and all the others had to be returned. The one keeper was taken home for supper. For the record, all of these fish were caught on light tackle using a Rapala Husky Jerk - the gold/orange one from the salmon fishing set. This is unusual for this area, as ever since I can remember the rocks around Trearddur have been bait marks, but I got more knocks to this one lure than I've had in years using either ragworm or sandeels. Conditions were good - high pressure for several days, flat calm and slightly hazy sunshine. All the fish were caught towards sunset over the last hour or so of the flooding tide.

So, a good holiday all round, and one which reminded me how much I like the Welsh Hills!