#131 – Night (and day) time wanderings in the Clwydian Hills – Moel y Plas

Looking north from Moel y Plas – typical Clwydian country

Looking north from Moel y Plas – typical Clwydian country

Saying that life has been busy over the past couple of months isn’t the half of it!  In January my Border Collie ‘Mist’ passed her obedience and stock (sheep) tests, and began her training as a Search And Rescue (SAR) dog, and a month later I was accepted as a probationary member of my local mountain rescue team, NEWSAR (North East Wales Search And Rescue).

Moel y Plas in the Clwydian Hills

Moel y Plas in the Clwydian Hills

The first outings with NEWSAR were designed to assess our navigational skills.  The hills of the Clwydian Range are ideal for this, being rolling upland with subtle rather than obvious features.  Mind you, for probationary mountain rescue team members, a featureless hillside does not constitute a difficult enough test, so part of our preliminary wanderings were in the dark to add a bit more interest.

The Clwydian Hills of North East Wales (the Moel y Plas map above is the area included in the red box)

The Clwydian Hills of North East Wales (the Moel y Plas map above is the area included in the red box)

So it came to pass that my first ever visit to Moel y Plas was mostly in the dark.  I had seen photos of the area some weeks earlier in ‘Mrs B’s’ excellent blog, though photos aren’t a lot of use in the dark!  As an extra bit of serendipity my companion on the assessment was none other than Mrs B’s husband, a new recruit to NEWSAR like me – at least if we had got lost I would have been in good company.

Looking south on the Offa’s Dyke Path towards Moel y Plas

Looking south on the Offa’s Dyke Path towards Moel y Plas

We didn’t get lost, though there were a couple of tricky locations to find, one of mine being a tiny kink in a contour line on the map that I had to use a magnifying glass to see properly, and Rich had a similarly awkward one on a completely bare hillside.  In comparison, fences that had been moved and paths that had been re-routed were a doddle.

Chris and I out a few days after the night navigation exercise - Some uphill to start with ….

Chris and I out a few days after the night navigation exercise – Some uphill to start with ….

…. before a little more uphill

…. before a little more uphill

Chris with Moel y Plas behind

Chris with Moel y Plas behind

The Offa’s Dyke Path below Moel y Plas

The Offa’s Dyke Path below Moel y Plas

 The view west towards Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd

The view west towards Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd

One thing we didn’t get that night were the views, so a return trip was called for, this time in the daylight with Chris and ‘Mist’.  Initially we followed the same route that Rich and I had followed on our assessment walk, but we decided to include Moel y Plas summit as well – like many of the Clwydian Hills, there are the remains of a burial cairn at the top (possibly Bronze Age, which would make it around 4000 years old).

Some of the locals out for a walk

Some of the locals out for a walk

Possibly the calmest hill sheep I have seen

Possibly the calmest hill sheep I have seen

Stile on the Offa’s Dyke Path ....

Stile on the Offa’s Dyke Path ….

.... but Border Collie’s don’t use stiles

…. but Border Collie’s don’t use stiles

Looking back down the final rise to the summit of Moel y Plas

Looking back down the final rise to the summit of Moel y Plas

Chris and Mist on the summit

Chris and Mist on the summit

After a short wander round the top we carried on south along the Offa’s Dyke Path to include the smaller top of Moel y Gelli.  Then it was time to head back, passing around the sides of Moel y Plas this time, our route passing above the small fishing lake of Llyn Gweryd.

The view south towards Llantysilio Mountain (see post  #122)

The view south towards Llantysilio Mountain (see post #122)

Heading south on the descent from Moel y Plas

Heading south on the descent from Moel y Plas

Looking back at the same point

Looking back at the same point

Llyn Gweryd

Llyn Gweryd

Beyond the lake we saw a sad reminder of the March blizzards – several sheep carcasses were laid out along the edge of a wood, lying where they would have been buried by the snow.  Thankfully the survivors seem to be none the worse, and the lambs are possibly the calmest and boldest hill sheep I have seen.

Casualties of the March blizzards

Casualties of the March blizzards

Some of the survivors

Some of the survivors

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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15 Responses to #131 – Night (and day) time wanderings in the Clwydian Hills – Moel y Plas

  1. franzfuls says:

    Hi Paul! I just love these kind of ramblings. Its refreshing to also see some navigational skills put to good use! Since you are a professional guide, please help me with my research on this link, and please ask your friends to help too!
    http://trailblazerguide.com/2013/05/20/calling-all-adventure-guides/

  2. LensScaper says:

    This looks to be very attractive gentle walking country. A shame that someone has stuck a rather ugly pylon up there – mobile phone related?

    • It’s taken me years to discover the Clwydian Hills Andy – before I came to live here in Wales, they were an inconvenience on the way to Snowdonia!

      I’m not sure of the provenance of the mast, but it looked old enough to pre-date mobile phones – we have a similar one disfiguring our local Iron Age hillfort of Moel Hiraddug. I wonder if earlier communities had similar issues – ” ‘ere, Bert, ‘ave you seen that new standin’ stone they’ve put on our hill – proper eyesore it is!”

  3. Superb action shot of Mist leaping the whole fence and stile! They can jump can’t they. Didn’t know they had to pass a ‘stock’ test as well as all the other stuff. I’m getting really bad at navigation as I can barely read the maps any more as my eyesight is getting so poor. I won’t take glasses on the hill though – think it’s put me off seeing how much Richard struggles when it rains and we’re out – there a mist anyway and then he has extra mist in front of his eyes on his damn glasses!

    • I started using reading glasses about 15 years ago, but my long sight was perfect until about 7 years ago. Like you, I couldn’t face the thought of wearing glasses on the hill, so I opted for contact lenses, and they suit me fine. Trouble is, I still need the reading glasses for map reading.

      An alternative well worth trying is a map-reading magnifying glass – I’ve got one by a company called ‘I-Sight’, it’s smaller than a credit card and hangs round my neck on a thin lanyard. I bought it in one of the outdoor shops in Ambleside, but there are lots of cheaper alternatives on ebay, Amazon, etc. The non-glass ones scratch eventually, but you can buy them for around £3 or so – at that price it’s worth buying two or three.

      OK, you may look a bit silly peering at a map with a magnifying glass, but you would look a lot sillier finishing the day in the wrong valley due to a navigation error 🙂

      • I think the magnifying glass is a great idea, especially on a lanyard around the neck along with my compass – I’ll have a look out for one of those – thanks 🙂

        I can generally tell which valley is which but can’t read heights, see 1:25000 (orange) contours and generally any of the small writing. I can read 1:50000s better though as the legend is much darker on those.

  4. MrsBoardwell says:

    What a nice read to wake up to, thanks for the link-up Paul ^_^ Heard all about your night & weekend ventures and looking forward to seeing more NEWSAR in action over Woodfest (sadly you’re not going I hear?). On a slightly different note, perhaps you have some doggie advice for us. Henry is now suffering badly from what looks to me like hip dysplasia and it’s heartbreaking. I have bought *traction socks* for him to help him get up on slippery surfaces in the house but they are not strong enough and keep slipping down. Currently in the process of sticking silicone onto socks to make them more *slip resistant* which isn’t the best, any other suggestions? I have read about some motion massages which he is now getting and hates but they do seem to work and after a visit to the vet he is now also on Metacam. I daren’t take him out as his back legs are pretty bad but he does seem to pick up a little when he wanders around the garden. I’ve not had a dog with bad legs before and am trying to help but not sure how. Any ideas/suggestions/advice?

  5. Hi Babs, and sorry to hear about Henry – like you, I’ve never had to cope with this sort of problem with my dogs.

    In addition to the treatment from the vet, I would aim for keeping him warm and dry where possible, not too difficult in summer but harder work in winter – cold joints ache more in animals as well as humans. I would also make sure that he doesn’t start putting on weight – less exercise could lead to weight gain and more wear and tear on the joints.

    I don’t know how old Henry is, but if you are offered surgery as an option I would seriously consider it – there is a surgical procedure where part of the displaced bone is removed completely, and the muscle develops in that area to do the same job as the ball and socket. Apparently there is a high success rate.

    Finally, you might check on the internet for natural or alternative remedies. There is a possible line of enquiry that I will follow up with a friend who is more knowledgeable about this sort of thing than I am – I’ll get back to you on that.

    • MrsBoardwell says:

      Henry is 10 so surgery isn’t really something we’re looking into, it’s more how to manage his condition from now on. Smothering his socks in silicone did work, he has more grip and his confidence is returning so that’s good. I have ordered a full set of ruffwear booties for him, they should arrive Saturday. I have also discovered that one of my work colleagues (with 2 collies) has had the same happen to a much younger dog and she is really clued up; her dog had hydrotherapy @ http://www.camddwrcanine.co.uk (in Llanormon Yn Llan funnily enough, the place I took a picture of in the post you linked to!?). She also suggested Paw Wax (available from Pets @ Home) and a spray treatment for laminate flooring (considered the devil now…..).We’ve put stair gates up so stairs are a no no and although both our dogs have been on Glucomanine supplements for a while I’ve now ordered a Yumove product which sounds much better. Going forward I might discuss Cartrophen injections but I have always approached medication with caution and so am definitely very interested to hear if anything comes off the alternative/natural line of enquiry you mentioned above.
      I don’t think Henry will be able to do a proper walk any more but if he can be happily joining us on future trips and lounge around in the van while we hike then that’ll have to do I guess.

  6. I used to love night navigation exercises – great fun!

    Regards Babs’ comment, like you, I don’t know how old Henry is, but just thought I’d say that since being on a daily dose of Metacam, it has turned my Dixie back into a sprightly puppy. Without it, she’s got so she could only do 3 or 4 miles, and would then spend the evening limping badly on both rear legs. Now, she can do a 10 mile walk every day without any trouble. (Dixie is 11.)

    Now Tilly is only 4, but was diagnosed with quite bad elbow dysplasia in her left front leg, just before Christmas, and was by that time permanently limping on it. She had an operation for it in January at a specialist place at Frodsham, near Chester, and now there’s no holding her back either!

    Hope you can find him something that will help him 🙂

  7. Better late than never with a comment..
    Super photo of Mist jumping the stile – can we see you doing the same please?

  8. Pingback: #147 – Ring out the old … 2013 hill memories | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

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