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Brian led us on a most enjoyable 5 day walking holiday, with glorious weather and outstanding scenery.
(For links to two more pages, see below)
by Pam, Hazel and Jim
We arrived in Llandudno at the start of our Spring holiday to find a beautiful warm and sunny day, in contrast to all expectations of Welsh weather and the Radio 4 weather forecast! Assembling at 2pm for the first afternoon walk, we took a tram up the Great Orme and descended by a circular route, drinking in the superb views of sea and mountains, and admiring the imposing waterfront homes. Returning to our very comfortable hotel we arranged to meet later in the bar before enjoying an excellent five course dinner. After dinner the more energetic members set off on a "Coast to Coast" walk, from one side of the Llandudno peninsula to the other, whilst others enjoyed a stroll along the front in the balmy summer temperature.
On Saturday morning we drove westwards along the coast to Llanfairfechan, where the road then turned up into the hills, becoming progressively narrower and more winding as we progressed towards an obscure car park. Once everyone had found the grid reference we set off up a steep path on to the moors. The path soon levelled out and we enjoyed a very pleasant walk across the moors in dry conditions. It was fortunate that it hadn't rained for a month because even on a dry day the going was boggy in places. The temperatures varied from hot at the beginning to misty and chilly when we gained height, but of course as experienced ramblers we were well equipped with a variety of layers of clothing. It was good to walk across the springy heather and to hear the song birds. We stopped to eat lunch on top of the moors, enjoying the clean fresh air and the sense of space. We could clearly hear pipits which delighted the bird-watchers among us. On the occasions when the haze cleared there were superb views of the coast, craggy mountains and open moorland. This was a direct contrast to the Cotswold landscape we are familiar with. On the way back some of the group took a slight detour to see an ancient stone circle silhouetted against the skyline. Legend has it that this was an ancient Druid sacred site. We also saw delightful, wild Welsh ponies and foals and of course hundreds of adorable new born lambs. The walk ended with a pleasant path through a nature reserve following a boulder strewn stream which we had to cross by stepping stones above a small, but beautiful waterfall. After nine and a half miles walking on rough terrain we were relieved to find the path emerging into our car park.
On Sunday we set out on a 'short' morning walk across the hills, parking at the side of a narrow lane. The path set off up a steep slope past horses, through a farmyard where we were pursued by an enthusiastic puppy and on through picturesque, gorse and boulder strewn countryside. We passed through the hamlet of Chwefffardd with views to the sea, and another farm where we had to walk through a sheep pen while the farmer and his family were trying to round up their sheep and lambs. Our timing could have been better, but they were really tolerant and understanding. Our coffee stop was pretty, but prickly amidst the beautiful yellow, scented flowers of the gorse. Between the bushes there were magnificent views over the river towards the mountains and out to sea. We then descended by a very steep path and along a very overgrown sheep track that would have been easy going if you were three foot high! As it was we fought our way past holly, blackthorn and hawthorn only to find ourselves lost in more gorse before finding our way past a docile bull and through another farmyard. The violets, wood anemones, celandines and early bluebells growing along the banks of the lanes were delightful, and helped ease our way as we toiled up a steep path back to the cars.
We then proceeded in our cars to Bodnant Gardens, where we had a late lunch and then spent the afternoon strolling around the beautiful gardens where the magnolias, camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons were in full flower making us all wish we gardened on acid soil at home.
On Monday, driving in convoy in shared cars because of limited parking, and to hopefully avoid anyone getting lost, our party headed past Conway Castle and then through Tal-y-bont to follow a narrow steep road up to the car park. From here we walked south to the Llyn Eigiau reservoir, now disused as the dam has been breached in two places. Turning east we passed behind Moel Eilio to have lunch overlooking the Llyn Cowlyd reservoir, which used to supply water along a six foot pipeline to a hydroelectric generator at Dolgarrog six kilometres away. This in turn serviced a smelting works on the banks of Afon Conwy, now sadly disused. Enjoying a welcome lunchtime break we could see the ridge of mountains running from Conway to Caredd Lleweln, along which runs the Cambrian Way. Members may be aware that this path was created by Tony Drake MBE, a longstanding active member of Gloucestershire Ramblers. Following the pipeline across the moors after lunch we descended about one thousand feet to view the spectacular waterfalls on the Afon Porth Llwyn, before traversing the hillside to join the road near Tal-y-Bont. We then climbed one thousand feet over about four kilometres to return to the car park. The total distance for the day was nine miles, but the ascents and descents made it seem somewhat longer as we headed back to welcome hot baths and another excellent dinner.
After dinner Peter Heaton assembled us together in one of the hotel's comfortable lounges, where he made a speech thanking the holiday's organiser, Brian Kirkman, and presented him with a token of our appreciation. The walks, the hotel and even the weather could not have been better organised, added to which we had outstanding value for money. Well done, Brian and thanks again. We look forward to another walking holiday under his leadership.
The last day of the holiday dawned even brighter and sunnier than previously, and quite a few members decided to forego the morning walk to take a more leisurely scenic route home. This left a small group to travel to Conway by car, the plan being to walk up Conway Hill and along part of the North Wales path. For some of us, the allotted car park in Conway proved the trickiest of a holiday full of hard-to-find car parks. It was difficult to decide, circumnavigating Conway's narrow roads for the third time, if it was a good or bad sign to discover that our leader was behind, following us around! Eventually we did all meet up and after a late start set off on the planned walk. It was a morning full of superb views, and many "water stops" to allow us to just sit and admire the beauty of the North Wales coastline on such a perfect clear sunny day. Returning reluctantly to Conway the party dispersed, some to begin the drive home, others to have a last lunch before their journey.
The beautiful weather stayed with us for the whole of the long journey home, culminating in a stunning sunset as we finally arrived home in Gloucestershire after yet another great Ramblers holiday.
|On the first afternoon we took the tram up the Great Orme's Head and explored this rocky outcrop on a 5 mile walk. Conwy is in the background.|
|The next day we climb up from Llanfairfechan and explore the moors.|
|Brian (left) watches as we cross stepping stones at the end of an excellent day out.|
|The next morning's walk where we get mixed up with a flock of sheep and lambs!|
|In the afternoon many of us enjoy looking round Bodnant Gardens.|
|Brian gets away from the other walkers for a few moments.|
|The group posing on a walk near Llyn Eigau.|
|The beautiful falls above Dolgarrog.|
2 - more people
Part 3 - more landscapes