26 March 2022

Sunny walk

The forecast for the weekend was wall-to-wall sun. Proper sun from dusk to dawn. Not a quite sunny afternoon like the week before, which I had wanted to use for a walk but in which I had ended up punished by quite strong wind and rain. This looked like they were of certain of it. And the Friday already was gorgeous. So this looked like the real deal! This asked for a bigger walk. And I asked Martin if he would be up for that. I had asked him a while ago, after he had been walking on the ridge to the south of Nant Ffrancon, if he fancied doing that sort of thing together one day. And he did. So why not now. And I suggested the Nantlle Ridge. I think it's beautiful, and it's best done with more than one person is then you can have one car on the eastern side and one on the western side. He hadn't done it before! And he suggested the Sunday for that, as the Saturday was a bit windy for a ridge like that.  

That Saturday I went for my usual run, with my upcoming race in mind, but when I got to the top (which is only 400 m high) I was literally unable to stay upright. The wind was so strong I had to put my hands on the ground in order to not be blown away. I had to evacuate speedily. And I did find a somewhat sheltered incline on which I could do a few reps in order to train for the rather steep race, but when I got back I immediately first checked the weather forecast, which now had serious winds on the Sunday as well, got my maps out to think of some alternative routes, and then phoned Martin to suggest we might choose one of these. He agreed. And we picked a there-and-back starting on Crimea Pass. When I said it I realised the topicality of the location! 

He picked me up in the morning and we parked on the pass. It was a glorious day! I immediately took off several layers, and left one of them in the car. I could walk in a T-shirt with a longsleeve over the top. And we set off on the old rail track. I have done this route twice before; once running with Gordy and once as part of a Swamphike.

Near the start of the route

There wasn't very much wind; it was almost as if we could have done our original plan. But we were a bit sheltered by a ridge, so it could be deceptive. And it was a tramway, so very gentle slope. A very civilised stroll!

At some point the track comes past an old chapel on the other side of the river. When I had been there with Gordy we had decided to have a swim right there. But that hadn't been in March! It is a beautiful spot, though, and I suggested coffee and cake there. That proposal was accepted.

The view from the coffee break spot

We then walked on to Dolwyddelan, and towards Llyn Gwynant on the other side. There were parts of the route where the wind had free rein, and then we could feel there still was strength in it. This told us we had made the right call! You should never judge the weather on the ridge by the weather in the valley. And we were in the middle of nowhere and we barely saw a soul. There was one bloke on a mountain bike. And later we saw two pedestrians from a bit of a distance. Or maybe the same one twice?

I had wanted to have a look at the map and decide how to proceed, if at all, where the path crosses the county border, but that is on a high point, so it was a bit exposed. (Nantlle Ridge would be more exposed!) We decided to walk on a bit further and do the deciding in a sheltered spot. And Martin voted for turning back. I suggested we go a little bit further; there were some amazing views coming up. So we did, and then picked a spot for lunch. We had amazing views over Nant Gwynant. And it was sunny and sheltered and lovely. We didn't hurry lunch. And I introduced Martin to ontbijtkoek sandwiches! He had been surrounded by Dutch people since 20 years ago and still not ever tried ontbijtkoek. What were these Dutch people doing. I also decided to change into shorts. 

Snowdon comes into view

As lovely as it was to laze in the sun we did get at some point get up and turn back. And we saw the same landscape again, but now from the other side and with the sun coming from a different angle (in our faces; the sunscreen even had to come out!), so it didn't bore me at all. And at approximately 4 PM we were back at the car. A good day in the hills! Martin's watch told us we had walked 21.7 km. It didn't feel like that many! My feet were fine. I thought it had been a success! Hopefully, more trips like this will follow. Watch this space...

Walking back with the sun in our faces

No comments: