#79 – The Clwydian Hills (Bryniau Clwyd) – Gateway to North Wales

The summit of Moel Famau

Those of you who have read #73 will remember that Chris and I have recently bought a house in the Clwydian Hills in North Wales, but on our recent trips over there we’ve been ‘flat-packing’  instead of ‘back-packing’  – IKEA has a lot to answer for!  When the recent spell of good weather arrived it didn’t take much to find an excuse to escape, and as we will soon be living amongst the Bryniau Clwyd it seemed a good idea to keep it local.

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Posted in 5. North Wales | Tagged , , , | 31 Comments

#78 – Witches, hitches and follies

Wainman’s Pinnacle and Earl Crag from Cowling

The Aire Gap has been an important travel route over the Pennines since Neolithic times, with the Aire and Ribble Valleys allowing a sheltered crossing of the Pennine Hills that doesn’t rise higher than 170 metres – the nearest crossing at a lower altitude is in the Midlands.  One of the most familiar landmarks with travellers heading down the Aire into West Yorkshire is the escarpment of Earl Crag, with its two follies decorating the skyline.  It’s just begging to be walked – So we did.

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Posted in 4. Northern England | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

#77 – A Witch, a Slippery Peak and a Black Dog!

Pen Llithrig y Wrach from the south

When I first visited Wales, many years ago, I found the Welsh language to be confusing to say the least, with most of the words looking like a bad game of scrabble.   It started to make more sense when I started walking with Chris, who grew up in North Wales, and she soon started to correct my typically bad ‘English’ pronunciation of Welsh words.

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Posted in 5. North Wales | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

#76 – “Are you playing on the computer AGAIN?!!

The author having a good time in a ‘snowy’ Snowdonia

A few months back a friend asked me about my outdoor writing, along the lines of “But what do you DO?”  I explained it something like this – “I go for a walk, I write about it, people throw money at me”.   (Only in my dreams, that last bit!)  In reality it’s nothing like as simple as that, and the walking part takes only a fraction of the total time.

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Posted in 1. Scotland, 2. Lake District, 3. Yorkshire Dales, 4. Northern England, 5. North Wales, 6. Mid and South Wales, 7. Everywhere Else!, General Interest | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

#75 – Access to the hills and The Mass Trespass of 1932

The plaque at Bowden Bridge Quarry, commemorating the Mass Trespass

 For those who missed it, 24th April was the 80th anniversary of the Mass Trespass on Kinder Scout in 1932.  The Trespass was part of a working class movement in the first half of the 20th Century to secure the right for the public to walk on the hills and moors of Northern England (This right has always existed in Scotland).  These areas were used by the landowners for shooting game birds, and anyone attempting to walk there would be turned back by aggressive gamekeepers.  It was a situation that could not continue without being challenged

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Posted in 4. Northern England, General Interest | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

#74 – A challenging day? Or a piece of pie!

Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) above the frozen lake of Glaslyn

Sometimes a day in the mountains turns out to be more challenging than expected.  The weather changes unexpectedly or the rock on a scramble turns out to be wet and greasy.  The mist is more of a problem than expected, and the GPS that could have saved time is in the wrong rucksack, 250 miles away.  The path that is usually ice-free this time of year isn’t (ice-free, that is!)  Etc.

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Posted in 3. Yorkshire Dales | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

#73 – “I bought a mountain”

Glyder Fach (on the left) – The mountain bought by Thomas Firbank, with Tryfan on the right

Only a madman would buy a Welsh hill-farm on a whim, to become a sheep farmer without having any previous farming experience – that madman was called Thomas Firbank, and his fascinating book “I bought a mountain” was published in 1940.  One reason that the book remains compulsive reading is that Firbank wrote about real people and real places, and it is still possible to identify the locations he wrote about.

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Posted in 5. North Wales | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments