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Wales 2004

During my summer holidays 2004, I visited Wales again. After my visit last year, I decided to spend more time in Snowdonia National Park. I stayed for ten days in the lovely Rhyd-y-Grô B&B, near the village of Penmachno, near Betws-y-Coed.

Instead of a chronological diary-style document, I have chosen to goup my activities by type, but I provided a chronological overview below.

Accomodation

Rhyd-y-Grô Bed & Breakfast

Rhyd-y-Grô is a beautiful house on the shore of Afon Machno (Machno river). Alan and Geraldine Tunstall maintain a lovely garden and rent out three rooms in their bed and breakfast.

It is about a quarter hour drive to Betws-y-Coed, which has plenty of restaurants, hotels and a large tourist information centre. As a consequence the town is usually very crowded and finding a free parking spot may prove difficult.

Walks

Geocaching also entails a good deal of walking, but this section deals with ‘normal’ walks.

Snowdon

GPS: N 53°04.106′ W 4°04.573′ (SH 60989 54372), height: 1087m (really 1085m), accuracy: ±7m

There are seven main routes to the summit of Snowdon. The easiest is by train from Llanberis. The easiest, though longest, walk (which I did last year) starts in Llanberis as well and follows the train tracks.

From the other side of the mountain, two paths start about a mile apart. This makes for a good round trip, walking up the one, and down the other. These paths are the Snowdon ranger path and the Rhyd Ddu path.

Two other paths that make for a good round trip are the Pyg track and the Miners track. Both start at Pen-y-Pass, the top of the pass near Llanberis. Due to their popularity and the limited parking space, you might consider parking near Llanberis and taking the bus to the pass.

Finally, the only path I haven't used yet is the Watkin path, which ascends from the south west.

Snowdon Ranger path

I think this is the best path I have taken. It is hard, but not too hard, and provides a nice view most of the way. I went up this path and down the Rhyd Ddu path.

According to the weather report, it would be clouded. After the heat wave last year, not having the sun beat down on me sounded fine. Well, forget it. Bright and sunny all day and I got sun-burned here and there.

Rhyd Ddu path

I went up the Snowdon Ranger path and down this path. Maybe I was too tired to enjoy it, but I didn't like this path. It was steep and rough, hardly any view worth mentioning and no fun at all.

Pyg track

Miners track

North Wales Walks & Legends

I bought a book called “North Wales Walks & Legends” and did several of the walks mentioned.

Llyn Idwal

Walk 11 from the book. Idwal, the son of Owain Gwynedd, was a very handsome and talented young man. During a war with Powys, Owain resolved to find a place of safety for his son and sent him to a distant relative named Nefydd. Nefydd was a bard and could teach his son poetry and the harp.

Nefydd was a very vain man and believed his own son Dunawt to be as handsome and talented as himself. Soon, however, it became painfully clear that Idwal was more beautiful than Dunawt and much more talented. Envy and jealousy of father and son grew until Nefydd suggested that his son show Idwal the lake, warning him not to fall in, because neither boy could swim and they would surely drown. Of course Dunawt was not so dull as to not understand his father's suggestion. He took Idwal to the lake and pushed him in.

In spite of the sad story behind its name, the lake is very beautiful and a good place for bird watching. Walking to the lake is easy. Walking around the lake is harder. On the far end is a rocky slope you have to make your way across.

Llyn Geirionydd

Walk 6 from the book. On the shores of this lake, the great bard Taliesin was born and there is a monument commemorating the event.

Beddgelert

Walk 16 from the book. Another sad story. Llewelyn, another prince of Wales, had a hunting lodge here. One day, while hunting, he found his favorite hunting dog Gelert missing. He returned home, where Gelert came out the house, his muzzle covered in blood. Llewelyn hurried inside, where he found his baby boy's crib overturned, the sheets covered in blood. He immediately assumed Gelert had killed his son, drew his sword and killed him. The dog's final yelp was answered by a baby's cry from inside the house. Again Llewelyn hurried inside and lifted the crib. Underneath and quite unharmed was his son, next to the body of a great wolf. Gelert had in fact killed the wolf and saved Llewelyn's son. Ever since, the place is nown as Bedd Gelert, or Gelert's Grave.

The basic walk takes you to Gelert's grave, but the extension into the pass of Aberglaslyn is well worth the effort.

Cwm Penmachno

Geraldine set out some walks around Cwm Penmachno. I decided to do one. At the end of the village is an abandoned quarry. You can go up there.

The path leads through a bit of forest. From the previous rain, part of the road was flooded. I tried to walk around, but got my feet wet anyway. After the forest is another quarry. Following the path leads you to two small lakes. I saw them, but since this path, too, was flooded I turned around early and continued to a third quarry. This one was most impressive, becuase you can go very near the excavations.

According to the description there should have been a path down to the valley. I couldn't find it and thus walked back cross-country.

Geocaching

For those unfamiliar with the term, there is a geocaching web site.

Folly Foot Castle

It was an easy walk. The folly is in a small park, so you can just stroll up to it. Finding the cache was easy. Getting to it unnoticed was not. People kept turning up and I had no time to log my visit in the logbook.

From the top of the folly I noticed a squirrel eating nuts in a tree. From the top, we were about level and I took lots of pictures. Now I knew where it was, I saw it from ground level as well.

Snowdon View

Beautiful road trip for a day full of rain. Several of the waypoints are near busy areas (picnic area, viewpoint, parking). Trying to remain inconspicuous was difficult.

At the first waypoint, a couple was having a picnic near the hiding spot. I read my book for an hour until they left and I could get at it. The second waypoint was near a popular viewpoint and I'm sure people saw me looking around. I just hope they didn't pay too much attention to what I was looking for. The third waypoint was on a praking lot and since it started raining, several people were waiting in their cars. After that I had little trouble finding the clues and the cache.

I had some great views of Snowdon along the way (when it wasn't raining).

Padarn Treasure Hunt & Put it on my Slate

I did not find these caches. You can find my exploits in the section on Llanberis.

Waterfalls Spectacular

Other

Llanberis

Penrhyn Castle

Conwy

Bodnant Garden