Wednesday, 30 March 2011


This weekend just gone I did mountain walking, scrambling, camping, star gazing, running and gardening. All very enjoyable outdoor activities. One I hadn't planned on and I need to do more of, is beach-combing! (Wasn't there a 1980s kids TV prog called Beachcombers? With a fly-by camera shot over a log filled Canadian Estuary? Yes - just googled it!)
Anyway, beach-combing. We regularly visit Merthyr Mawr on the South wales coast near Porthcawl. To get to the beach you either wade through the mouth of the river Ogwr at low tide (a bit dangerous and a bit wet!) or you walk a mile through the dunes from Candleston castle. The walk is very scenic so it's no great chore, and it means that the beach is always very quiet, even in good weather. And it's a very good beach for beach combing. At the high tide line there is a 3 metre wide line of 'flotsam and jetsam' stretching as far as the eye can see...well, almost! I built a crappy sculpture and took a crappy photo of it.

It's a fantastic beach that I never get bored of. Just how beaches should be.

And it's in Wales of course. And as if to mark the fact, someone had seemingly planted 2 clumps of Dafs in the middle of the dunes, standing out a like a sore thumb amidst the natives.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Nantlle Ridge

After the cracking walk up Cnicht, we set up the tent in the campsite in Beddgelert and made our way to the village for some grub. Having had a mediocre meal in one of the two pubs last year, we opted to try the Royal Goat Hotel and found the food to be excellent. Dave had a TBone steak - well done (neanderthal) and I went for their lamb casserole with veg. Sounds bog standard but it was absolutely delicious! Recommended highly.
Whilst having a couple of pints in the Tanronnen Inn, there was a power cut at 9pm. The barstaff informed us that power would be off for the whole village until midnight and wouldn't serve us anymore. The only upside to this (apart from the health benefits of course) was finding the most amazing star filled sky when we ventured otuside for the walk back to camp. I have never seen a more vivid nightsky. I wish I'd taken a photo with the SLR when we got to the tent but I forgot. The lack of any artificial light really does show off the cosmos in amazing detail.

Anyway, next morning, a brief detour to Pete's eats (why does the cafe in Beddgelert not open until 10am!?! Whats the point of serving a breakfast?) and then back to Rhydd Ddu for a partial traverse of the Nantlle ridge.
Firstly though, we just had to pull over and photograph Llyn Cwellyn which was as still as roadkill.

Rotate your monitor or your head 90 degrees to see an African Mask!

The Nantlle Ridge was another first for me and the initial ascent of Y Garn was very steep. But great views of Snowdon were afforded.

We were then surprised by the small scramble on Mynydd Drws y Coed - short but sharp. We quickly ate up the distance on the ridge and got to the Obelisk on Mynydd Tal-y-Mignedd. How impressive is that!? Snowdonia's equivalent of Carn Pica, or vice versa!

We then backtracked and headed down to Beddgelert forest for the low level walk back to the car.

A great two days in glorious early spring weather. That'll be summer over then!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Cnicht? Ja! Ist Gut.

Did a few days in Snowdonia this weekend, taking in two walks. First up on Friday was Cnicht - meaning Knight in Welsh. It is know as the Welsh Matterhorn because it has such an appearance when viewed from Croesor to the south. This was our walk starting point

Cnicht is visible poking above the land to the rear

We left the carpark but made a mistake in taking the path that leads up into the valley rather than immediately onto the Cnicht ridge. After realising this, not wanting to retrace our steps we decided to cut across the valley and ascend the scree slopes on the South Eastern slopes of Cnicht.

Cnicht viewed from the Southwest ridge on the ascent.
When you actually get to the summit after an interesting ridge ascent, you find that its not a pyramidal peak as assumed, but a long narrow ridge. A quick snack and we set off Northeast with a view to doing a loop of Moelwyn Mawr and Moelwyn Bach. I had read that the land between Cnicht and The Moelwyns was boggy and even in this lovely dry weather, it was very spongy underfoot in places.

We soon reached the ruins of Cwmorthin Slate quarry, a completely surreal and atmospheric place full of history and interest. It was fenced off with what seemed like an electric fence and yet no warning signs. Neither of us risked testing if it was live! There was a metal stile spanning the fence so it obviously isn't people they are trying to keep out.
Cwmorthin Quarry ruins
We spent half an hour or so at the Quarry taking in the sights and trying to imagine what it was like for the souls who worked and lived here in this hostile place. The slate cosntruction was very impressive indeed.

Our progress had been slower than we presumed and we made the decision that we would only make it to Moelwyn Mawr and that Moelwyn Bach would have to wait for another day. On the approach to the summit of Moelwyn Mawr a Sea King rescue helicopter was paying a lot of attention to Cnicht's ridge.

We didn't see anyone get winched up or down and couldn't make out anyone on the ridge itself, so it was probably a training drill.

Moelwyn Mawr's summit was fairly non-descript and we didn't hang about for long. The campsite and pubs in Beddgelert were calling us.

Unfortunately, the view to Porthmadog and the irish sea was denied us by the thick haze. A shame but we certainly weren't moaning about this fabulous weather which seemed more June than March.

Halfway down the ridge, Dave (49 years old, mostly acts like a 14 year old) spotted that some jokers had gouged a 50' comedy vagina into the opposite side of the valley! Were the Welsh Miners of the 1800s this forward thinking?!?! ;)

Cnicht and the Moelwyns are a great choice for a quiet walk in a pretty rugged and history strewn area of Snowdonia.

Next, day 2 - Part of the Nantlle Ridge.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

A few new sketches

Despite being an indoor hobby (for me anyway) I thought I'd share the progress of a couple of sketches I'm working on at present. One is my pride and joy, my boy Isaac, and the other is a close up study of an eye from a ref pic found on the net.

I'll update when I've completed them. Also in the pipeline, I plan to produce some works of outdoor activities, but these will be in coloured pencil as I feel the bright colours of the modern gear and the natural tones of grass, rock, water etc, would not be given justice in graphite.


I've done 2 10k road races in the past fortnight as I get back into my running and I was very pleased to break 40 minutes for the Mic Morris Torfaen 10k. I came 15th of 120ish and posted a time of 38:17. This is not a pb as I ran 36:10 in my early twenties but it's the best for many years and I feel fit and fresh at the moment! I should say that the Mic Morris race is mostly downhill from Blaenavon to Pontypool but nevertheless, it was pretty tough.

It's certainly rekindled my enjoyment of running and I'll be looking to enter a number of races through the year. Next up is the 20k Offa's Orror that starts at Tintern Abbey and ascends Offa's dyke. It sounds punishing but scenic which I find appealing. Endorphins galore!

I've also got a weekend in Snowdonia planned for the 26th March so it's plenty of leg and lung action at the moment. We hope to do the Nantlle Ridge for the first time and maybe Cnicht. Reports to follow.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Some photos from the 2nd walk near Abercynafon

These were taken on February 12th. Two weeks after the photos in the entry below and the conditions were totally different.
Craig Cwareli

The instantly recognisable 'Big Boys' of the Beacons.
I reckon this is the best view you can get of Pen Y Fan.

The 7 idiots I took walking, plus myself.

A nice rainbow near the finish.