This and That

Random bits of my life

Posts Tagged ‘Wales’

Fairy Glen near Betws-y-Coed

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 20, 2014

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[May 16, 2014] Fairy Glen is a local beauty spot near Betys-Y-Coed. Admission is half a pound. A lot of people complain about the charge on TripAdvisor, but when you consider the size of the park and the cost of maintaining the paths and fences, you understand why it’s not free. Wear good hiking boots. The stones are wet and slippery and you have some steep steps to descent to reach the glen itself. When we were coming out of the gorge, we met a couple older English tourists waiting on a bench for a younger couple, who were climbing down. They were very grateful when I showed them my photos.

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The paths in the park lead to a confluence of two rivers, with a lot of fishing cottages.

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I love the chocolate sheep!

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Wandering around Conwy

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 12, 2014

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More photos from Conwy, Wales.

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The Aberconwy house is a 14th century merchant’s house that has been restored and is part of the National Trust. We didn’t go into the house itself, although I did check out the bookstore in the basement.

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The Smallest House in Great Britain is not on my list of things you must do in Wales, but it’s amusing if you are traveling with kids. It was actually inhabited until 1900. Now it’s a tourist trap.

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Conwy Castle in the Rain

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 12, 2014

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Conwy Castle, in Conwy, Wales, was built by Edward I between 1283 and 1289. It is considered one of the best preserved and finest examples of military architecture of this period. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good photos of the castle from the outside, because it was raining heavily that morning (we were lucky that during our 10 days in the UK, we had only a half hour of heavy rain). Many of the towers have been strengthened and you can climb to the top.

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Conwy Castle was an integral part of the city walls and fortifications.

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Mount Snowdon: “Miner Down”

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 12, 2014

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As the Welshmen in the bar said to my husband, “Pyg up, Miner down!,” so our descent from Mount Snowdon was along the Miners Track. It was a good choice. Even though both the Pyg and Miners tracks begin and end at Pen-y-Pass, they are very different. It’s much easier to do the more difficult stretch of climbing at the beginning of the day than at the end. These photos were taken last May. I got a bit behind because of all the events in Jerusalem, the Gaza war during the summer, the holidays….

In the first picture, above, you can see how lucky we were with the timing of our climb. The first half of the day was mainly sunny, with good visibility from the summit. By the time we reached the Llyn Llydaw (Brittany Lake) on the descent, the summit was covered with cloud. The weather in Snowdonia is very changeable and the extremes of wind and temperature make this mountain a challenge, although it’s not terribly high, as mountains go. An easy climb in good weather can be dangerous in high wind and fog. As the guidebooks say, it’s the weather and not the map that determines how difficult a climb is.

The descent from the summit to the lake was quite steep. I was very glad to have good hiking boots.

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The side of the mountain has abandoned mines snaking across the rock.

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This ruined building was the Britannia Copper Mine crushing mill.

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A view of the same building, from beyond the curve of Llyn Llydaw. The sun broke through the clouds briefly.

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Park services helicopters carry huge canvas bags of rocks for repairing the paths. You hear them constantly and see them more often than rescue helicopters, which are yellow. The park has miles of trails to maintain.

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These ruins were the foundations of miners’ barracks by the lake. It’s difficult to imagine living in such harsh conditions, in the middle of nowhere, with only horses and mules for transportation.

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Cool rock formations!

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Crib Goch

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 10, 2014

Before you ask, we did not go on Crib Goch, but I searched for a few YouTube videos to show why. 🙂 If you suffer from acrophobia or vertigo, you might want to skip these.

Crib Goch in fog (one of the most common weather conditions):

Crib Goch in good weather:

Crib Goch in winter (gets better after the intro because you can hardly hear anything over the wind). You can understand why Sir Hillary did his Mt. Everest practice runs on Mt. Snowdon.

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Snowdon Summit

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 10, 2014

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We were lucky that the clouds had cleared when we reached the top of Snowdon. If you arrive during a cloudy patch, you see nothing but fog and it’s very cold up there. Winds can reach 200 mph on the summit. Above, you can see both Llyn Glaslyn and LLyn Llydaw. The path on the left is part of the Miner’s Trail, which we took on the descent.

The ridge in the next photo is part of the Horseshoe Trail (one of the dangerous routes), which gives you an idea of Crib Goch. One walks along a knife-edge ridge, created by two parallel glaciers carving the valleys on either side, with drops of hundreds of meters on either side. There is no escape route–you go forward or back. When it’s windy and visibility is very poor, you can understand how people run into trouble. About 15 people a year die on Snowdon.

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Hikers eating lunch in the clouds. It looks safe, but you can go rolling over the cliffs if you slip. By the time we got to the top of Snowdon I didn’t feel like climbing down to the grassy areas, so we ate near the steps of the visitor center.

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Brass plaque on top of the cairn points out the landmarks surrounding Snowdon. On a clear day you can see Ireland and England’s peak district.

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This photo shows the ridge of Crib Goch, about a third of the way from the left. the path halfway up the slope is the Pyg Trail. The one winding around the lake is the Miner’s Trail.

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Mount Snowdon: “Pyg Up, Miner Down”

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 10, 2014

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“Pyg up, Miner down” was the advice some rather merry Welshmen in the hotel bar offered my husband. There are six main trails to Mount Snowdon: Llanberis and all the rest. Llanberis is not too challenging and roughly follows the railway line. All the other climbs are a bit more strenuous. One or two fall into the “not recommended unless you are an experienced mountaineer with paid-up life insurance” (that doesn’t stop people from trying). Although Mount Snowdon is only 1000 meters high (in other words, not high by world standards), it’s made more challenging by slippery rocks, high winds, very changeable weather, and poor visibility. If you are in good physical shape and allow enough time (3-4 hours each way is a realistic estimate) and choose good weather, you will have no problem. If you set out 2 hours before darkness or choose a rainy day to walk Crib Goch, your chances of injury or death are a lot higher.

The origin of the name “Pyg” (sometimes spelled “Pig”) is uncertain. It’s a good trail for ascending Mount Snowdon if you’re staying in Betws y Coed because it starts at Pen y Pass, which has the highest elevation of the various starting points (so less uphill climb) and is fairly close to Betws y Coed. We took Sherpa bus #2 to the Pen y Pass parking lot. There is a helicopter landing point at the beginning of the trail. The blue helicopters haul huge stones to repair the paths. The rescue helicopters are yellow.

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The beginning of the Pyg trail is an easy, occasionally steep climb. The peak just ahead is not Snowdon but Crib Goch, a dangerous knife edge with drops of 100s of meters on either side. That ridge also has the most changeable weather. Walking a knife edge in fog is not my idea of a good time.

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Assuming that you don’t turn right up Crib Goch, but turn left over the ridge, you see Llyn Llydaw (Lake Brittany), a large glacial lake with a causeway crossing it. The lakes are blue from the copper (these mountains were mined for copper and slate). The causeway was built in 1853 for the Brittania Copper Mine company, to allow horses and wagons of copper to cross. The lake had to be drained by 12 meters in order to build the causeway. Before that time, a raft was used to transport the horses and wagons.

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First view of Mount Snowden, the peak on the right side of the next photo. The lake is Llyn Glaslyn.

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View of Llyn Glaslyn on the ascent up Mount Snowdon itself. You might notice that the weather is constantly changing in these photos. We chose a partly cloudy day. When it’s sunny, you could walk around in a light shirt. When the clouds descend and the wind picks up, you need a hat and gloves. No joke. You really have to dress for a wider range of weather conditions and rockier paths than what we’re used to.

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Betws y Coed in the Evening

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 8, 2014

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These photos were taken our first evening in Betws y Coed. It’s hard to believe that the placid river in the first photo is the Conwy. By the time it reaches Llandudno, it’s much, much wider and has a strong current.

Suspension bridge over the Conwy river:

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Tombstones around St. Michael’s church, which dates from the fourteenth century:

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I Did Not Visit Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 3, 2014

Unfortunately, I never did get to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, although I did get a look at Anglesea from the Great Orme.

This is just an excuse to post a cute video. 🙂

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Lambs and Landscapes

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 2, 2014

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On our way back from Swallow Falls, we passed lambs everywhere (well, it is spring….).

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This is typical of the landscape–hills with sheep pens behind the houses at the bottom and trees above. It must look amazing in autumn.

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Most of the buildings in Betws y Coed were built as Victorian period hotels. The Pont y Pair Inn is a typical example.

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Staircase made of slate, leading up to a side entrance.

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This is a cultivated garden planted on a steep and narrow hillside between two stone houses. I was amazed at how many plants they managed to fit into the space.

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Typical old stone house built as a single family dwelling, with a stone wall in front and sheep pens at the back.

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