#221 – Moel Ysgyfarnogod in the Rhinogs.

Moel Ysgyfarnogod (left click all images for expanded view, use browser return arrow to go back)

The Rhinogydd (Rhinog) mountains present some of the toughest walking in North Wales.    They may not have the highest summits but what the hills lack in height they make up for with miles of rough, stony, bouldery, heathery wilderness, with few tracks or paths – a good place to escape from the 21st Century then!    We hadn’t been out this way for over four years (see posts #95 and #96), so a return trip was long overdue.

The route, shown in blue

The mountains of the Rhinogydd (The Rhinogs) to the left of the A470 road (Route shown here in red)

The name Rhinog comes from the word Rhiniog meaning threshold, and the Rhinogydd are just that, forming a barrier between the sea and the A470 road between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Dolgellau.    It’s gnarly terrain, not visited by the masses of tourists who head for Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) and Tryfan, but there are ways through this challenging country, which is why Chris and I, plus Border Collie ‘Mist’, were heading towards Moel Ysgyfarnogod.

Setting out from the road head above Eisingrug

The first view of Llyn Eiddew Mawr, which translates as ‘Big Unchanged Lake’ ….

…. and Llyn Eiddew Bach – ‘Small Unchanged Lake’

Looking back to the two ‘Eiddew’ lakes

The lane from Eisingrug to the start point is one of the narrowest lanes you could possibly take a vehicle, but with careful driving we arrived without any damage to the car or to my driver’s pride.    We then had a walk in of almost 5 kms to reach Moel Ysgyfarnogod, but the going was good on an old miners’ track.    Along the way we passed the two Eiddew lakes before heading uphill to meet a terrace path running along the hillside.

The start of the terrace path

Old mine workings ….

…. abandoned long ago

The terrace path continues ….

…. with Chris just visible dead centre to give a sense of scale

Passing below the rocks seen in the previous view ….

…. and looking back along the terrace

Local residents, looking very clean – probably due to the rainfall!

The path is yet another old miners’ track (there must have been a lot of old miners hereabouts!) that takes advantage of a natural rising line which sits between rock walls above and a steep slope below – in places you could almost imagine being in the Dolomites.     The remains of old mines were obvious at the start, and the views opened out as we gradually gained height.


Border Collie ‘Mist’ at Llyn Du (Black Lake) ….

…. but no time to loiter!

‘Mist’ admiring the view

The first view of Moel Ysgyfarnogod (left) and Foel Penolau (right)

The terrace comes to an end where it bumps into the tiny lake of Llyn Du (Black Lake).    It would make a brilliant campsite, but we were on a mission and didn’t loiter there too long.  As we turned the corner of the ridge we had just traversed on the terrace path, the panorama opened up to the east and a little further on we had our first view of Moel Ysgyfarnogod and Foel Penolau.

The last steep, bit to the summit ….

…. then things become level again

The author at the summit with Moel Hebog (centre) and Snowdon (right) in the background

Looking towards Tremadog Bay with the Llŷn Peninsula left of centre in the haze

Up to now it had been an easy day, with gradually rising paths, but on the slopes of Moel Ysgyfarnogod (Bare Hill of Hares) we had to start doing a bit of work on the first steep bit of the route.     The summit gave great views to the north, including Snowdon and the hills around Moel Hebog, and to the west we could see the sea at Tremadog Bay.    To the east was the edge of the lake of Llyn Trawsfynydd but looming up to the northeast was the neighbouring peak of Foel Penolau.

Foel Penolau seen from the descent path off Moel Ysgyfarnogod

Closer view of Foel Penolau – the tiny figure on the centre skyline gives an idea of scale

Foel Penolau (Bare Hill with a Light Top) is one of those mountains that demands a bit of commitment, as the sides are comprised of rocky crags with few breaks in their defences.  This is definitely not what Chris would regard as a fun way to spend an afternoon, but it made a good recce for a return trip by me in the near future.    The photo shows a tiny figure on the skyline, giving an idea of the scale – I’ll be back for that one!

Heading northwest on the way back ….

…. with quite a bit of height to lose

Llyn Dywarchen on the way back

Last view of Llyn Dywarchen

The descent was a bit of a trackless ‘mooch around’, where the ability to read the ground was more important than reading a map, but before long we were at yet another lake, Llyn Dywarchen (Turf Lake or Sod Lake) – from here it was an easy job to re-join the miners’ track we had taken on the way out.    These remote, rough hills may be ignored by the masses, but for lovers of solitude and quiet they are hard to beat.

Time to head for home

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

Posted in 5. North Wales, Border Collies | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

#220 – Foel Fras – Things don’t go as planned!

The summit of Foel Fras looking north

As Chris and I finished our bimble around Llyn Anafon and Drum (see post #219) we were followed most of the way back by big glowering clouds, and it started to pour down just as we arrived back at the car.   Looking back towards the Carneddau on the drive home, it seemed that Mr Snow had paid a visit to the hills – a return trip three days later seemed like a good idea, but things don’t always go as planned ….

The route – original planned route in red, actual route in blue

The mountains of the Carneddau

The initial plan was simple – I would head up to Aber Falls, take the path to the left of the falls as seen from below, then head up Llwytmor and continue to Foel Fras.   From there I would head south-west to Carnedd Gwenllian then take the path south of Bera Bach and Drosgl before heading back down towards Aber.   A cheeky little 17 kms distance with 1010 metres of height gain was almost Scottish in proportion – six hours was a reasonable estimate.    But, things don’t always go as planned ….

Heading towards Aber Falls ….

…. with much more water than usual!

As we finished our walk three days earlier, it looked as though I could expect a fair amount of snow on high ground on this trip, but the amount of green showing as I set off suggested otherwise.   One thing that soon became apparent, however, was the amount of water in the Afon Rhaeadr Fawr, and as the falls came into view I saw there was much more water than usual.    River crossings were probably off the day’s menu then.

The path to the top of Aber Falls

View of the falls from the path across the scree

I set off on the rising path towards the top of the falls, trailing behind Border Collie ‘Mist’ as usual.   The path crosses a scree slope, before following an entertaining route along rock ledges, followed beyond there by a small rock step.   This requires a bit of care when it wet as it can get greasy, and the ground below drops off towards the waterfall.   Once across the step, the planned route was a long, height-gaining slog up Llwytmor, but things don’t always go as planned ….

Approaching the rock step ….

…. or in this case the greasy, slimy, wet rock step! (Note the drop-off below)

The rock step usually has a damp patch except in a drought, but today it was a small stream!   Wet rock in itself isn’t a problem – the problem here was that three or four metres of ascending rock slab were covered in slime which had the consistency (and friction level) of liquid soap.   I tried the usual crossing point but was forced to retreat.   Other options were tried, including traversing on the grass below the step.  Things were definitely not going as planned.

“Woof! What do you think Boss? Not looking good is it? Woof, Woof!”

A slip or a fall would probably not have been terminal, but one thing was certain – it would hurt, probably a lot!    I’ve been doing this ‘mountain thing’ for most of my life without getting injured, and I wasn’t about to break that record.   Equally, I wasn’t ready to head home.   A change of plan was looking likely.

The solution – planned route in red, actual route in yellow (Photo – October 2014)

Above the screes I had crossed, there was a line of grotty, greasy crags that looked even less appealing than the three or four metres of soapy slab.   The map showed the crags running out as they reached the Coedydd Aber forest.   I didn’t fancy flogging up or across the loose scree, but quite often it’s possible to find solid ground at the foot of crags, so that became the plan.   Sure enough, it was possible to pick a way below the rocks following sheep paths, and I gradually drew nearer to the forest.

At the end of the screes, time to head upwards

Heading towards Llwytmor Bach

Looking towards Bera Mawr and Bera Bach (intended return route is on the other side of the ridge)

Llwytmor ahead, seen from Llwytmor Bach

At the end of the screes, a better path headed straight up following the edge of the forest, followed by a slightly less-steep pull up to the summit of Llwytmor Bach.  The faffing about at the slab, plus the detour, had cost me an extra 2 kms and an extra 100 metres of height gain – I had also taken an extra hour, and was about to add more distance and time in visiting one of the many aircraft crash sites found in the Carneddau.

*     *     *     *     *

Heinkel He111 bomber

On the night of 12/13 April 1941, the crew of Heinkel He-111 F4801 had spotted the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious at the docks at Barrow-in-Furness while on a reconnaissance flight.   On the following night, the bomber took off again from its base at Nantes, the crew tasked with bombing the ship.   The attack failed when the crew found that the ship had been moved, and under some intense anti-aircraft fire they released their bombs on the dock and made for home.

Looking down towards the crash site

The anti-aircraft fire had damaged the compass, radio and one engine, and the aircraft headed back to Nantes over the Irish Sea, avoiding the defences around Liverpool.   At 0300hrs the aircraft struck the plateau at Llwytmor Bach.  The aircraft appears to have careered over the ground before coming to a halt on the slopes of Llwytmor before catching fire and burning out.

Weird shaped glacial erratic perched on rocks near to the crash sit

The initial impact killed engineer ‘Gefreiter’ Josef Brüninghausen but the remainder of the crew survived, and the least injured of them, ‘Gefreiter’ Kurt Schlender, made his way across the plateau and down the valley of the Afon Anafon, where he sought help from a farm on the road down to Abergwyngregyn.   The three survivors spent the remainder of the war as prisoners.

*     *     *     *     *

The summit of Llwytmor, looking towards Foel Fras

Snow and boulders on the ascent of Foel Fras

Between Llwytmor and Foel Fras, I met a party of two heading the opposite way.   The older of the two men mentioned the nearby Heinkel crash site, and I told him I had just come from there.    He went on to say that his uncle had visited the site some years earlier and had found a signet ring belonging to one of the crew of the aircraft, and had been able to pass it on to relatives in Germany.

Walkers at Foel Fras summit

At Foel Fras I had another decision to make.    I still had about 10 kms of my original route (red dashes on the map) back to the car, but it had taken me 5 hours to get to Foel Fras instead of about 3½ hours, due to the delays caused by the diversion, and the state of the snow patches on the route – the snow was extremely soft in places, and each patch resulted in a delay, either through sinking knee-deep or in detouring around it.

The view to Foel Fras (left) and Llwytmor, as seen at Bwlch y Gwryd on Monday 6 March ….

…. and the same view just three days later

I had no way of knowing how much snow there might be on the planned route via Carnedd Gwenllian, but most of that way back was high level, and more snow patches on the route would cost more time and energy.    However, I could see that the route down to Llyn Anafon had lost much of the snow that had been present three days earlier, and a return that way would also be about 2 kms shorter – it didn’t take long to decide which option .

Bwlch y Gwryd, looking towards Drum

Drum (right) and the start of the descent to Llyn Anafon

Llyn Anafon just below

The same ground three days earlier

Sure enough, when I reached Bwlch y Gwryd between Foel Fras and Drum, I could see that the rest of the descent was all on grass.   ‘Mist’ and I made short work of that, and the track above the Afon Anafon gave even faster progress.    Two hours after leaving the summit of Foel Fras I was back at the car, having to explain to the dog that her overdue dinner time would have to wait another hour until we arrived home.

Time to head for home

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

Posted in 5. North Wales, Aircrash Sites, Border Collies, General Interest | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

#219 – Llyn Anafon and Drum in the Northern Carneddau

Looking down towards Llyn Anafon from the slopes of Drum

The route – Anti-clockwise to Llyn Anafon then on to Drum

The Northern Hills of the Carneddau

Although I’m usually up for a long mountain day, me missus enjoys her days in the hills when she isn’t being scared out of her wits or setting off on a long ‘yomp’ into the backwoods in crappy weather.   So, that’s a nice easy brief then!

Setting out up the track above Afon Anafon

The early weeks of 2017 had the usual storms in from the sea, with high winds and loads of rain rather than snow, so a calm day with a sprinkling of snow on the tops was enough reason to get out.  In fact, it would have been hard to come up with an excuse not to, so with all the boxes ticked, a trip to the hills of the Northern Carneddau was in order.

Looking back towards Abergwyngregyn and the coast

Old sheep folds below the track

The last time Chris and I (plus Border Collie ‘Mist’ of course!) came up this way was late autumn 2014 (see post #167).   There is a good track heading up from the road-head beyond the village of Abergwyngregyn on the coast and this gives quick and easy access to a lovely hidden corner of the Carneddau.

Still heading up the track ….

…. with lots of water in the stream below

Drum comes into view ahead

It’s about 4.3 Kms from the carpark to the shoreline of Llyn Anafon with a height gain of about 330 metres, so it’s hardly what you would regard as extreme.   The track follows the stream of the Afon Anafon in a deep valley, with the views beyond restricted, so it was some time before our objective, the 770 metres (2525 ft) summit of Drum, came into view.

The ‘picnic site’ and the view across the lake of Llyn Anafon ….

…. with the picnic on the go ….

…. including the favourite mug!

We weren’t in a rush and we can please ourselves nowadays as to how the day goes, so when we got to Llyn Anafon it was picnic time.   Out came the trusty ‘Jetboil’ stove and instead of an indifferent cup of coffee from a flask we had a fresh brew.   There might even have been a small nip of spiced rum (‘Sailor Jerry’ if you must know) from a different sort of flask, but as I said, we can please ourselves nowadays.

Leaving Llyn Anafon behind and heading up into the snow


The view across to Llwytmor

Having had a bit of a dawdle up from the car park, it was now time to put some effort in (Not TOO much, though – did I mention that we can please ourselves nowadays?)   We had a total height gain of almost 250 metres over 1.25 kms in front of us, which works out (roughly) as a 1-in-5 (20%) slope.

Things start to get steeper ….

…. but as usual, Border Collie ‘Mist’ is ahead and waiting

Things get steeper towards the top though, and there was a height gain of about 150 metres over the last 440 metres of distance, which comes out at about a 1-in-3 (33%) slope.  Added to that was an accumulation of soft, wet snow, so there much slithering about on the steeper stuff – things remained good humoured, but I’m sure I caught the dog laughing at us!

On the bwlch (col) at last – Foel Fras behind

The ancient cairn on the summit of Drum

From the bwlch (col) above the slope, it was an easy stroll to the summit of Drum.   I had intended to get some pics of the what remains of the site of the radar station that had been located here in the mid 1950’s, and which I mentioned in post #217, but all was covered in snow.

*    *    *    *    *

An AEC Matador truck hauling the radar cabins up the narrow lane from Abergwyngregyn

The system was code-named ‘Blue Joker’ and was designed to test radar signal processing from as high a point as was reasonably practical, in order to minimise sea wave interference.  The setup included two mobile cabins, of which one was a modified ‘Type 4 Mk 7 Mobile Radar Unit’ to house the equipment and the other a domestic unit for use by the staff.  In addition, there was a large diesel electric generator.

The convoy at the start of the mountain track

The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) built the access road from Aber to the site assisted by local council employees, and contemporary photos show that the stone walls alongside the road near to the village were comprehensively trashed!  A heavy ‘AEC Matador’ truck was used to haul the radar cabin, with the domestic unit sitting on the back of an American ‘Diamond T’ tank transporter tractor unit.

'Diamond T' truck carrying the domestic unit and towing the Matador and one of the radar cabins

‘Diamond T’ truck carrying the domestic unit and towing the Matador and one of the radar cabins

It was during the radar trials that the ‘Canberra’ bomber was lost in December 1957 (post # 217).  Although the trials were a success, the Blue Joker project was wound up in the mid-1960’s when the perceived threat changed from manned Soviet bombers to Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, which this type of radar could not track.

The mobile radar site at the summit of Drum

All that remains now is an area of hardcore that looks immediately out of place at an altitude of 750 metres on a Welsh mountain top – a bit more careful searching will reveal a couple of concrete blocks and a few heavy-duty steel stakes used to anchor the equipment down in the high winds – they had a lot of those!

*    *    *    *    *

The way down ….

…. with the track well ‘snowed in’

One legacy of the huge amount of work that was put in to build the access road is a good track down from the summit of Drum, which since then must have been trod by thousands of weary walkers heading down from the Carneddau – being easy and downhill, it may even have saved a few lives over the years, though the upper part was completely snowed in for our descent.   We still made good speed though – we had a hungry Border Collie to feed!

A last view of Llyn Anafon from the track heading down

As often happens on a day out in the mountains, I was already plotting the next trip out, but I wasn’t expecting to be back out here three days later on a very different mountain day – you can read about it here in a couple of weeks.

Time to head for home

Text and images © Paul Shorrock with the exception of the ‘Blue Joker’ images.

p.s. The ‘Blue Joker’ pics are especially for fellow blogger Mountain Coward, who may know much more about the radar equipment shown from her days in the Army, though the setup in the photos was probably well obsolete before her time.

Posted in 5. North Wales, Aircrash Sites, General Interest | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

#218 – Dulyn and Melynllyn in winter and summer (From the archives)

Early March 2016 – snow on the Carneddau, on the way out to Dulyn

Early March 2016 – snow on the Carneddau, on the way out to Dulyn

Winter this year in North Wales has been fairly mild, with high winds and rain but less snow than usual.    Most people would find that good news, but outdoors types aren’t ‘most people’, and my ice axe and crampons haven’t been getting much use lately.    There’s still time though – the above photo was taken on an outing in March 2016, and the day after that I was out on skis in the same area.

Return trip in July 2016 (look closely and Border Collie 'Mist' is in the same place in both shots!)

Return trip in July 2016 (look closely and Border Collie ‘Mist’ is in the same place in both shots!)

On that outing in March 2016, Chris and I, plus Border Collie ‘Mist’, had taken a route out to the bothy at Dulyn in the mountains of the Carneddau (see post #197), the first time that Chris had been out this way.    Four months later (July 2016) it was T-shirt weather in the mountains, and a great opportunity for Chris to see what had been underneath all that white stuff.

Setting out from the car parking area at Cwm Eigiau

Setting out from the car parking area at Cwm Eigiau

Big open spaces ….

Big open spaces ….

…. and wide panoramas

…. and wide panoramas

Dulyn Bothy comes into view

Dulyn Bothy comes into view

For those not familiar with the Carneddau, it’s a lovely semi-wilderness in the mountains of North Wales.    There are traces of human activity, but the big open spaces and wide panoramas can hide most of the mess that we humans inflict on the landscape.  For mountain enthusiasts, one of the more welcome human intrusions in this landscape is the remote bothy near the lake of Dulyn.

The author and 'Mist' at the bothy in July 2016 ….

The author and ‘Mist’ at the bothy in July 2016 ….

…. but a bit colder four months earlier

…. but a bit colder four months earlier

The lake at Dulyn in winter ….

The lake at Dulyn in winter ….

…. and summer (Note the aircraft propeller in the front centre)

…. and summer (Note the aircraft propeller in the front centre)

Although I’ve visited the location several times, I’ve still not spent a night at the bothy, something I must try to rectify this year, though I’ll probably aim for a summer trip to save carrying in wood and coal for the stove.    Slightly higher than the bothy is the small lake of Dulyn, which had looked bleak and gloomy in winter – the July photo shows a warmer scene in every sense.  (The propeller assembly is from a wartime air-crash whose story I told in post #197)

Some of the remains of the old quarry workings

Some of the remains of the old quarry workings

Heading up towards Melynllyn (the path can be made out just right of centre)

Heading up towards Melynllyn (the path can be made out just right of centre)

Border Collie ‘Mist’ herding the humans along ….

Border Collie ‘Mist’ herding the humans along ….

…. but for Chris, it seems there’s a lot of uphill ….

…. but for Chris, it seems there’s a lot of uphill ….

…. just as there had been a lot of uphill four months earlier

…. just as there had been a lot of uphill four months earlier

Nearly at the high point, with Dulyn behind

Nearly at the high point, with Dulyn behind

Looking back down the valley we walked to the Dulyn Bothy

Looking back down the valley we walked to the Dulyn Bothy

From Dulyn it was time for a bit of height gain, starting by old quarry workings near the lake.    We headed up towards the higher lake of Melynllyn, assisted by ‘Mist’ who, coming from a line of good herding dogs, likes to make sure that the humans stay on the right track.   It was warmer work on the July walk than it had been in March, but the height gain was just as steep – it’s fairly short though, and we were soon at the second lake.

Melynllyn in summer ….

Melynllyn in summer ….

…. and in winter

…. and in winter

The route out, with the track just visible in the distance

The route out, with the track just visible in the distance

Melynllyn is another beautiful spot, and it’s sometimes easy to forget that both Dulyn and Melynllyn are reservoirs – the two lakes have blended in to the surrounding countryside so well that they seem to have been there for ever.   In this case, humans may well have made a positive impact on the scenery for once.

Time to head for home ….

Time to head for home ….

…. with Cwm Eigiau coming into view

…. with Cwm Eigiau coming into view

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

p.s.   Winter 2017 has been such a washout (literally) up to now that quality mountain days worthy of a blog post have been few and far between – hopefully, this trip back to the archives will fill the gap for now!

Posted in 5. North Wales, Aircrash Sites, Border Collies | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

#217 – The Carneddau and Llyn Llyffant

The remote lake of Llyn Llyffant, the highest lake in Wales (820 metres above sea level)

The remote lake of Llyn Llyffant, the highest lake in Wales (820 metres above sea level)

Since moving to North Wales five years ago, I’ve become a big fan of the mountains of the Carneddau, and I’m still having fun exploring hidden corners where I haven’t been yet.   One place on my ‘to do’ list for some time was the highest lake in Wales – sitting at 820 metres (2690 ft) above sea level, Llyn Llyffant (‘Frog Lake’) is also one of the smallest lakes in Wales.    A trip there was long overdue, so last July I set out for a visit.

The route, clockwise from the car park

The route, clockwise from the car park

The Carneddau

The Carneddau

Setting out towards Cwm Eigiau

Setting out towards Cwm Eigiau

Cwm Eigiau and the crags of Craig yr Ysfa

Cwm Eigiau and the crags of Craig yr Ysfa

The tiny lake is located just below Carnedd Llewelyn, the highest peak of the Carneddau, but the most logical way in seemed to be via one of my favourite Carneddau spots, Cwm Eigiau.    The views on the walk-in are constantly changing, with the highlight being the magnificent climbers’ crag of Craig yr Ysfa.

Craig yr Ysfa

Craig yr Ysfa

Legend has it that the crag was spotted by telescope in the late 19th Century by one of the famous rock-climbing Abraham Brothers – this would have quite a feat, as the telescope and user were in the Lake District at the time, about 150 kms away (90 miles or so), but there is a clear line of sight from Scafell Pike to Craig yr Ysfa, so the story may well be true.

Small waterfall on the Afon Eigiau

Small waterfall on the Afon Eigiau

The upper reaches of the Afon Eigiau, not far from its source

The upper reaches of the Afon Eigiau, not far from its source

From the Cwm I followed the small Afon Eigiau stream up to the lake.    The area is hardly ever visited, being off the beaten track, but in December 1957 it suddenly became the focus of much attention following a tragic aircraft crash.

*     *    *    *    *

English Electric Canberra

English Electric Canberra

The English Electric Canberra came into service with the Royal Air Force in 1951 as the first British jet-powered bomber, and for the rest of the decade the Canberra could fly higher than any other aircraft in the world, holding the world altitude record of 70,310 ft (21,430 metres).   Designed originally as an unarmed, high-altitude bomber the type became a versatile workhorse in service in the UK and beyond.

The initial impact point of the Canberra on Carnedd Llewelyn (Photo Sept 2014)

The initial impact point of the Canberra on Carnedd Llewelyn (Photo Sept 2014)

On 9th December 1957 Canberra WK129 was taking part in secret radar tests.    The aircraft had flown from RAF Pershore in Worcestershire to the Carneddau, where it carried out trials with a radar station on the summit of Drum (traces of the radar station can still be found there).    The Canberra continued out to Puffin Island near Anglesey before turning to travel back to base.

Aircraft wreckage in the Afon Eigiau

Aircraft wreckage in the Afon Eigiau

Looking up towards the lake of Llyn Llyffant

Looking up towards the lake of Llyn Llyffant

The aircraft was flying in patchy low cloud when it struck Carnedd Llewelyn on the ridge connecting the mountain to Foel Grach.   The forward end of the aircraft broke up,  leaving fragments of the forward fuselage on western side of the ridge. The centre section, wings and rear fuselage crashed to earth near Llyn Llyffant, though other pieces did travel some distance beyond here.    The destruction of the aircraft was such that the crew of two must have died instantly.

More wreckage from the Canberra

More wreckage from the Canberra

The reason for the crash remains a mystery, though the aircraft was below its safety height at the time of the accident.    A possible explanation is engine failure due to icing – icing conditions on the day of the flight were forecast above 3000 ft, and the initial impact point is at around 3280 ft (1000 metres)

*     *    *    *    *

Border Collie ‘Mist’ at Llyn Llyffant

Border Collie ‘Mist’ at Llyn Llyffant

Llyn Llyffant is now remote and quiet and would make a great wild camp site.    I stopped for a coffee and sandwich break, ably assisted (with the sandwiches anyway) by Border Collie ‘Mist’.

Next to the lake

Next to the lake

Looking back towards Llyn Llyffant

Looking back towards Llyn Llyffant

Left to right - Pen Llithrig y Wrach, Pen yr Helgi Du and Craig yr Ysfa

Left to right – Pen Llithrig y Wrach, Pen yr Helgi Du and Craig yr Ysfa

Small group of Carneddau ponies and the only humans I saw all day

Small group of Carneddau ponies and the only humans I saw all day

When it came time to leave I set off for another air-crash site nearby.  Although overcast, the visibility was great with great views back to the mountains surrounding upper Cwm Eigiau (Pen Llithrig y Wrach, Pen yr Helgi Du and Craig yr Ysfa) and despite the fair conditions, I saw just four other humans all day.

The crash site of Avro Anson EG110

The crash site of Avro Anson EG110

On 14th January 1943, an Avro Anson on a training flight struck the side of Foel Grach.  There are several Anson crash-sites near to here, not because the Anson was an unsafe aircraft, but because there were many more flights over this part of Wales in WW2.    The crew survived the impact, and the pilot managed to walk to a farm in the valley below.    The RAF Mountain Rescue Team from Llandwrog (now Caernarfon Airport) set out and searched into the night, but had to take shelter in deteriorating weather.   The aircraft was found the next day with one survivor, the other two crew members having died of exposure.    There is now no trace of the crash.

‘Mist’ with Melynllyn (reservoir) below

‘Mist’ with Melynllyn (reservoir) below

Heading back along the ridge of Cefn Tal Llyn Eigiau

Heading back along the ridge of Cefn Tal Llyn Eigiau

The mountains of the UK are steeped in history, and the air-crash sites I had visited are part of that ongoing story, and make a fitting memorial to those who died, but I now had another important task lined up – ‘Mist’ was just about overdue for her dinner time, so it was time to head back home.

Back on the track – time to head for home

Back on the track – time to head for home

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

Posted in 5. North Wales, Aircrash Sites, Border Collies | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

#216 – “I’ve sunbathed on Kinder, been burned to a cinder…” (from ‘The Manchester Rambler’ by Ewan McColl)

The view down to Kinder Reservoir from Kinder Plateau

The view down to Kinder Reservoir from Kinder Plateau

Regular readers of this blog will know that every January I disappear for a week to work with my old mate John Bamber on one of the Safety Teams on the Spine Race (click here for the back-story of ‘The Most Brutal Race in Britain’).

Two men and a dog (l to r John Bamber, the author and Border Collie ‘Mist’)

Two men and a dog (l to r John Bamber, the author and Border Collie ‘Mist’)

Despite the race passing through one of the most remote wilderness areas in England on Cross Fell, we don’t get much chance to go swanning around on the hills, and even less chance to take a bit of R&R on other sections of the route, so a couple of weeks before the 2017 race I decided on an outing over Kinder in the Peak District, just round the corner from the race start-point at Edale.

The route, starting from Hayfield

The route, starting from Hayfield

I don’t get to the Peak District all that often, but one of my favourite rounds in this part of the world is the Kinder Plateau starting from Hayfield and going via Kinder Downfall (waterfall).  On the first Spine Race in 2012, John Bamber and I had walked out to the Downfall in freezing conditions to photograph the 15 racers as they passed – since then the Race has grown massively with around 250 athletes from all over the world taking part in three different events.

The ‘Mass Trespass’ commemorative plaque at Hayfield

The ‘Mass Trespass’ commemorative plaque at Hayfield

As well as being the start point for my walk, Hayfield was also the start point of the ‘Mass Trespass’ in April 1932, where over 400 walkers walked over closed moors that were ‘off-limits’ to the public.  The immediate aftermath was the jailing of five of the protesters, but it was the start of a movement that could not be halted and which finally led to the establishment of National Parks 1n 1949 and general ‘open-access’ to all upland areas in 2000.

Kinder Reservoir with Kinder Scout in the distance

Kinder Reservoir with Kinder Scout in the distance

Looking up towards Kinder Downfall

Looking up towards Kinder Downfall

My route – the high ground looming ahead

My route – the high ground looming ahead

I had ideal weather conditions for the day; the temperature was just below zero and the air was as clear as a bell – two weeks later on the first day of the Spine Challenger event (108 miles instead of the full 268 miles of the Spine Race) the hills above here were enveloped in a snow storm that made things ‘interesting’ for the racers to say the least!

The uphill bit starts

The uphill bit starts

Looking back towards Kinder Reservoir

Looking back towards Kinder Reservoir

On the Pennine Way at last

On the Pennine Way at last

My route passed above Kinder Reservoir before heading upwards to the Plateau – for a change I didn’t follow the small valley of William Clough, and instead went via the ascending brow up to Sandy Heys, giving me great views in all directions.  Before long I was on the Pennine Way National Trail, which is also the route for the Spine Race.

Looking back (west) ….

Looking back (west) ….

…. and looking forward towards the Downfall

…. and looking forward towards the Downfall

The stream above the Downfall ….

The stream above the Downfall ….

…. well frozen ….

…. well frozen ….

…. and not much of a waterfall today!

…. and not much of a waterfall today!

The highlight of this part of the Pennine Way is Kinder Downfall.  Sometimes the wind blows so strongly here that the water is blown back up the cliff and in severe winters the waterfall freezes making a steep but interesting ice-wall for local climbers and mountaineers.  Today the water level was very low, and most of what there was had frozen, reducing the stream to a trickle.

The view back to Kinder Downfall, barely a trickle

The view back to Kinder Downfall, barely a trickle

Kinder Reservoir in the distance and the ‘Mermaid’s Pool’ just right of centre

Kinder Reservoir in the distance and the ‘Mermaid’s Pool’ just right of centre

The frozen stream became a barrier to progress, and I slithered about 100 metres upstream rather than go skidding off a frozen rock.  The view back to the Downfall was an anti-climax, with just a trickle of water going over the edge, but there were compensations in the great view to the west, looking down to the ‘Mermaid’s Pool’ and Kinder Reservoir.

Kinder Scout trig point (633 metres) ….

Kinder Scout trig point (633 metres) ….

…. with Border Collie ‘Mist’ posing as usual

…. with Border Collie ‘Mist’ posing as usual

Heading south on the Pennine Way

Heading south on the Pennine Way

The dog and I carried on south along the Pennine Way, visiting the trig point at Kinder Scout on the way.  Near Edale Cross it was time to leave the Pennine Way and to head back to Hayfield.  All the paths I had followed had been well frozen, making a great change from the mud that is usually found along the route, but blue skies and sunshine on top of that had been an unexpected bonus.

Time to head for home

Time to head for home

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

Posted in 4. Northern England, Border Collies | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

#215 – A dogs life! (in 2016)

1

1a

“Woof – Every now and then the Boss goes out of the room and then it’s my chance to take over his blog.  He’ll never learn!  So, here’s what I’ve been doing all year.”

2

“We had the usual nonsense back in January, where the Boss and some of his other daft friends go on this thing called the Spine Race – one thing is sure, there’s always lots of snow for me to play in.”

Spine Race 2016

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“As if that wasn’t enough running around in the snow, one of the guys on the Spine called Javed decided he hadn’t had enough, so he ran back to the start – funny old business, I just don’t understand humans.”

Javed does the double Spine Race

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“Woof-woof  –  There was still lots of snow around back home in Wales in March – I’m not sure that the Missus likes playing in the snow as much as I do though!”

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“Still, I can always rely on her to remember the dog biscuits!”

Late winter in the Carneddau

6

“In April the Boss took me out on another hill in Wales called Tryfan – say what you like, but these hills all look the same to me”

Heather Terrace on Tryfan

7

“We had some fun in May though – we went up to Scotland, and I’ll tell you what, those hills make our hills look a bit small!”

8

“I think the Boss called it Quinag, but I got a decent walk out that day.”

Quinag in the North West Highlands

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“On the way back we went to somewhere called Skye – that was fun as well”

A day on the Quiraing

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“I still like the hills back home though, and in July we had a great dog walk in the Berwyn Mountains – and the Missus brought dog biscuits again.”

Berwyns day

11

“August was fun, ‘cos we went to the seaside in Pembrokeshire, lots more walking and the Boss even found dog-friendly pubs as well – I should think so!”

The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path

12

“In September the Boss and me had a day out in the Carneddau Mountains – now they are proper hills I can tell you.”

Back in the Carneddau

13

“In October we went to somewhere the Boss called ‘The Lakes’ – huh, we didn’t see even one lake, but at least I got a good walk.”

Skiddaw and t’back o’ Skidda

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“In November we ended up in Derbyshire – I’ve got to say, they don’t half get a lot of misty weather there.”

Bleaklow

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“And to round off, we had proper snow back home – Woof, ready for some more of that!”

Snowdon in the snow

16

“Well, I’ve had a great year, and it looks like the Boss and the Missus have as well – I just hope that he can remember how to get her back to her real size, after all she carries the buscuits.  Woof Woof!!”

Text and images © Paul Shorrock (With a little help from Border Collie ‘Mist’)

Posted in 1. Scotland, 2. Lake District, 4. Northern England, 5. North Wales, 6. Mid and South Wales, 7. Everywhere Else!, Border Collies | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments