A fab few days in Snowdonia

Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) from Llynnau Mymbyr
Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) from Llynnau Mymbyr

This bloody awful weather we’ve had the displeasure of experiencing of late has wreaked absolute havoc with my work schedule. I don’t mind a bit of rain and cloud as it does create mean and moody landscapes but more often than not, what’s been out there on the hills is thick clag and not much else!

Even so, what trips I have made in the past few weeks have been productive where upon I’ve been fortunate enough to time them just right with decent weather windows. But they’ve been too few and far in-between.

Last weekend found me making a second attempt to get some filming done for a couple of features I’m doing for Vango in the Snowdonia National Park. Taking advantage of the relatively benign conditions I managed to cram quite a bit of work in but I’ve paid the price a little. Apart from being very tired I’ve also made my back injury somewhat more sore than it was before. Alas, I’m at home for a few days now so it will get a chance to recover.

I have to admit, Snowdonia is one of if not my favourite national park in the UK. I know such opinions are subjective but North Wales never ceases to amaze me with it’s rugged and raw beauty coupled with wide bleak valleys, lush green dales, mountains of great individual character and of course it’s fantastic beaches. I could quite happily spend the rest of my days round there.

After getting some much needed work done on Friday and Saturday, I decided to take a punt and spend most of the night on Mynydd Mawr. My plan was to set up a temporary camp and film some night sky timelapse of the area. I was hoping to frame Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) along with Y Aran and Yr Garn all in one scene with a starry night sky gliding up and over the landscape. I’ve purchased some new tools lately to enable to capture such scenes and with a bit of practice at home was confident I could pull off at least a couple of short sequences.

Alas, by the time I was comfortable in the tent and sat patiently waiting, it soon became apparent (to me at least) that the overcast sky above wan’t going to clear. I did film some scenes but even these I weren’t happy with because I wanted to capture the stars above. Initially, I did think “To hell with this!” and decided I ought as well spend the whole night up there, but I was mindful of my wife on her own at a campsite we were staying at in the valley below.

Besides, I didn’t take a sleeping mat or bag with me to keep warm (though she suggested I did initially) and catch a couple of hours sleep as I waited. It soon got quite chilly up there sitting around so in the end I decided to give up, pack up and head back down in the dark. Jake Lunniss made me chuckle in a private message calling me a ‘wimp’ for not making the effort to sit it out. Thing was, the ground was hard and cold and I was tired after a long day out on the hills walking, then nipping off to other places with the wife in the car and so on and on and on….

It was a little after 1am that I got the tent packed up and headed down in the dark making my way back to the campsite a few miles away. It was not long after leaving the summit that I wished I had stayed put and roughed it out on Mynydd Mawr.

I got myself lost in a dense conifer forest on the flanks of the hill. The right of way was practically non-existent, the vegetation was thick and my torch could hardly see a few metres ahead in the dark. I tumbled around on embankments, fell arse over tit into bogs, tripped on tree roots – it was a bit of a nightmare in truth. For the first time ever, I decided it was best to whip out the GPS on my phone and pin point my exact location. I was thankful I only recently uploaded some Memory Map mapping too. 

Half an hour or so later I found myself passing someone’s garden and late night BBQ party who were all shrieking “What’s that in the dark?!” It was argued I was a horse, then a cow and finally a monster by a screaming child! I must have looked a sight I have to admit. I didn’t realise I was covered in crap and had twigs and bracken stuck to me like the feather of a peacock spread out on full display.

Finally I reached the valley road to plod a few miles back to the campsite. It was while observing an owl’s eyes reflecting back at me in the dark with my headtorch when I paused to take a look back at my route off the fell and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The bloody sky had cleared of cloud!

Sod’s law to say the least. I was tempted to jump through a wall and film Llyn Cwellyn under the stars but figured my wife may be concerned as to my whereabouts. It was now not long after 2.30am. Grudgingly I thought the better of it and headed off down the lane but I did stop for a couple of minutes to take a couple of pictures while dodging some late night boy racers speeding through the valley.

I arrived back at the campsite just after 3am and come the next morning, learnt my wife was perfectly fine and didn’t expect me back til dawn! So, I was worried she might be worried but in fact she was perfectly fine sleeping in her bed!

Oh well, maybe next time….

Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon)
Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) from the viewing platform on the A498

Tryfan, Snowdonia National Park
My wife drove me around a few places to capture some familiar scenes of Snowdonia on video. Here we see Tryfan near Idwal Cottage.

Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) over Llynnau Mymbyr
Yr Wyddfa peeps over Llynnau Mymbyr. Another view I wanted to capture on video.

Y Garn, Snowdonia National Park
A nice walk up onto Mynydd Mawr afforded me this nice view of Y Garn.

Y Garn and Clogwynygarreg
Despite some nice sun for much of Saturday, the cloud came back. But some nice light was still to be had. Here the peeping sun gently kisses the rock outcrop of Clogwynygarreg.

Snowdonia National Park
And here’s the vantage point I sought hoping to capture on timelapse video at night – albeit without the cloud.

Yr Aran, wild camping, Snowdonia National Park
And so I relaxed in the tent waiting for sunset and nightfall.

Purple Moose Brewery
Some fine Welsh ale to quench amongst fine Welsh mountains.

Nantlle Ridge, Snowdonia National Park
A charming view of the Nantlle Ridge nearby.

Eden 10x42 binoculars
A pair of 10×42 binoculars from Eden who kindly sent them to me to try out a few months ago  http://www.edenwebshops.co.uk/en/ct/eden-quality-binoculars.htm

Eden 10x42 binoculars
They’re a really handy pair of binoculars. Light and small. An excellent pair of binoculars for those on a budget.
My only criticism would be there’s some minor chromatic aberration at times. Otherwise they’re fantastic value for money! Here’s a view of Yr Wyddfa’s (Snowdon) summit from where I was camped on Mynydd Mawr!

Eden 10x42 binoculars Snowdonia National Park
If you look carefully, you can just make out Ireland on the horizon in the picture through the Eden 10×42 binoculars. The sun was clearly now beginning to set.

Foel Gron, Moel Eilio, Snowdonia National Park wild camping
Foel Gron and Moel Eilio kissed gently by the golden glow of the setting sun.

Nantlle Ridge sunset, wild camping, Snowdonia National Park
And a look the other way, revealed the Nantlle Ridge now being smothered by the sun’s orange glow. Beautiful!

Milky Way over Mynydd Mawr
And here we go. The Milky Way looms over Mynydd Mawr.

Mynydd Mawr, Snowdonia National Park and Milky Way
And the last special scene I really enjoyed of the trip. The Milky Way stretching up and over Mynydd Mawr.
If only I stayed up there!!!


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