Martin on Cnicht

Martin on Cnicht

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

2 to 6 December 2016 – Center Parcs, Jazz, and an Unexpected Quiz Result


Sue and I missed Robert and Lyn’s annual visit to Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest last year due to our South American trip. This year we were fortunate to receive an invitation for the entire weekend, rather than the normal day pass that we’ve had since the early 2000s. Our recent visits are recorded here. Earlier visits involved the entire weekend, accompanied by legendary figures such as Maureen and Trevor.

889 Pine was a spacious, luxurious sort of place, with an upstairs living room and games room, and a handy sauna in which to wind down after the day’s activities.

This year the team was Sue and me, Robert and Lyn, Stuart, Roger and Louise.


On Saturday morning we tripped past the singing reindeer to the sports hall.


I’m almost totally incapable of hitting a badminton ball, but Sue is a bit better at it. I just finish up with a jarred shoulder and ‘Nil Points’.


Lots of people use bikes, but Sue and I enjoy walking between venues, especially in the good weather that usually follows us to Sherwood Forest.


This dove somehow got inside our chalet!


But we managed to keep this chap at bay.


Saturday’s ‘hydro bikes’ activity had been cancelled, so we instituted a photographic competition in its place. Up to five images from each attendee will be collated and independently judged, the results to be published here in the next week or so. So I’ll leave any slideshow until then.

Then we went swimming, before adjourning for an excellent meal and a ‘Patagonia’ slideshow.

Sunday morning started with squash. Can you spot the ball?


Cars are mainly tucked away in a big car park. Tourist traps can be utilised by those without bikes or serviceable legs.


‘Short’ tennis (an indoor variety with a soft ball that is hard to miss) triggered a thirst, so we sat outside and were entertained by a brass band.


The B and C teams battled out a game of table tennis. Sue and I were undisputed champions at that. (The standard was dismal!)


Five of us enjoyed a bout of floodlit night tennis. As usual, woolly hats and gloves were needed, but it was good fun.

After that we adjourned to the beach for the traditional carol singers and fireworks display.


And that’s it really – excepting more sauna, more good food, a few games, a good night’s sleep, and Monday morning tennis of various sorts before slipping off for a short rest at home.

Then Sue and I joined Reg and others for Eagley Jazz Club’s annual Christmas dinner, with the excellent Tame Valley Stompers on stage.


Tuesday saw us enjoying another Christmas dinner, this time at the Spinners with Stuart, Lyn, Bev and John, and Hugh and Sue.


Unfortunately, Stuart was taken ill during the meal and left in a hurry. We were able to start with a round of free drinks, having won the quiz (this is a Very Rare Event) last week. Hugh and Sue’s annual visit to the team generated a few extra brain cells this week and although we scored 16 points fewer than last week, by some dint of fortune we managed, after a nail biting tie break involving the number of minutes in The Full Monty, to reclaim the vouchers that we had spent earlier! Unbelievable really, and John had to be reminded of his campaign to give winning teams a handicap of 5 points for the next week’s quiz, as he gets fed up with the same teams winning week after week. I can remember winning once before, probably several years ago…

Well done everyone. You are geniuses. See you next week.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

19 to 25 November 2016 - A Trip to Porthmadog


This posting, as promised, summarises our walks last week from Porthmadog, and finishes with a link to a fairly lengthy annotated slideshow.

Day 1 – Sunday


We started with this 8.5 km circuit from Tomen-y-mur.


Then we walked in the Trawsfynydd area (pictured above), before strolling around Llyn Bach – 2 km, as shown below.


Day 2 – Monday


We walked in a circuit from Llanbedrog – 4 km, 150 m ascent, 1.25 hours.


Day 3 – Tuesday


In the morning we enjoyed a damp circuit from Criccieth – 11 km, 150 m ascent, 2.75 hours.


In the afternoon we enjoyed a walk over Foel Gron, Foel Fawr and Carneddol – 8.5 km, 200 m ascent, 2 hours.


Day 4 – Wednesday


A walk around the coast path from Abersoch to Porth Ceiriad and back – 10.5 km, 200 m ascent, 3 hours.


Later, this 6.5 km circuit with 200 m ascent, taking1.5 hours.


Day 5 – Thursday


A classic short traverse of Cnicht – 11 km, 600 m ascent, taking 4 hours.


Day 6 – Friday


Classic ascent of Moel-y-gest from Porthmadog – 7 km, 300 m ascent, 2.25 hours.


And a visit to Great Orme on the way home.


Here’s an overview of the week’s walks. Porthmadog is an excellent base from which to explore Snowdonia and the Lleyn Peninsula, which is often bathed in sunshine whilst cloud lingers over Snowdonia.


There’s a slideshow (179 images) here.


Saturday, 26 November 2016

Postcard from Porthmadog (7)


A lovely blue sky day. Unfortunately it was time to return home. Julia set off to Tewkesbury after breakfast, but Sue and I lingered in the sunshine and enjoyed the short but delightful walk up Moel-y-Gest (262 metres). Sue is pictured on the summit, with fine views to Snowdonia.

After cleaning the house and enjoying a bite of lunch, we set off home. Sue remarked that she had never been up the Great Orme, so we diverted to Llandudno and pottered around for a while on that hill, after parking near the mines, which apparently are 4000 years old. Everything - mines, tramway, cablecar etc is shut for the winter. The views (see lower picture) were much hazier than than at Porthmadog, I'm not sure why. But Llandudno was busy with tour coaches full of decrepit looking people. A massive array of wind turbines scars the view from the white fronted mansions on the seafront

Then we really did go home. Routes and slideshow to follow.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Postcard from Porthmadog (6)


Cnicht is one of my favourite hills. After having had its head in the clouds for most of the week, today it beckoned us on. From Porthmadog you can see why Cnicht is sometimes known as the Matterhorn of Snowdonia, a description analogous to Shutlingsloe's status in Cheshire. George Borrow was more flowery with his words about Cnicht, describing it as 'the conical peak impaling heaven'. Wow!

A leisurely start saw us leaving the well signposted path from Croesor at around 10.30 on a bright day with a cold northerly wind. After a while we found a sheltered spot for a tea and cake break, before stumbling up the final 200 metres to the summit. There was snow, and a tricky scrambly bit, but as you can perhaps judge from the lower picture, we made it safely to the cold, windy summit. It had taken about an hour and three quarters. My guide book, admittedly a little ancient, quotes 'The record for the ascent and descent is held by Mr Showell Styles, who accomplished it in winter in 1 hour 18 minutes!'

Good old Mr Styles!

Not being inclined to return down the precipice, Sue and I continued along the ridge to the north eastern summit and on to Llyn yr Adar. At this point there is a grandstand view towards Snowdon and a number of the other high peaks of Snowdonia, but today they were very reticent in their grey caps.

Soon we were meandering around the head of Cwm Croesor towards Llyn Cwm-Corsiog. It was boggy at times. An excellent sheltered spot was found for lunch. Then we headed to a tramway, from where a good path leads back to Croesor, avoiding a couple of steep inclined planes.

Back at 2.30 or so, we finished our flask of tea on a comfy bench before heading back to base, with some good views towards a distant, snow laden, Snowdon, the wind having finally released parts of that massif from the cloud.

Julia arrived back a little later, having enjoyed a sunny day on the Lleyn Peninsula . 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Postcard from Porthmadog (5)


A visit to Abersoch placed Sue and me in the sunshine for the day. Julia chose to visit Blaenau Ffestiniog, where it was cooler, with thick low cloud and little of a view.

We enjoyed a couple of circular walks. Firstly, along the beach (pictured - top) then around the coast path to Porth Ceiriad, a rather attractive if deserted beach (also pictured). We enjoyed lunch in a sunny, sheltered spot, before returning along pleasant paths and lanes, and across the busy golf course where one elderly chap politely doffed his cap when we applauded his putt.

After that 10 km circuit we moved on a short way to the National Trust parking spot at Mynydd Cilan. Setting off to find the coast path, we were passed by a farmer in his 4WD. Like everyone else we encountered in this small outpost of Abersoch, he gave us a cheery wave.

The light was lovely as we strolled up to the trig point by a small reservoir, and then along the coast with good views of the western end of the peninsula and Bardsey Island. Photos will follow in the form of a slideshow in due course.

That's it for now as it's my turn to cook tonight - cauliflower cheese with bacon and sausage from the local butcher. Plus other stuff...

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Postcard from Porthmadog (4)


Sue and I went to Criccieth, where Julia investigated the castle. It was cool and a bit rainy, so we warmed up with a brisk stroll along the coast path. There were fine views back to the castle, silhouetted against the backdrop of Moel-y-Gest (pictured).

We soon left the coast path in favour of heading into Llanystumdwy, where we enjoyed a cuppa in the shelter of the church porch before continuing past flood damaged houses and a monument to David Lloyd George. Considered by some to be one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th century, despite a 'colourful' private life, he grew up here and is buried in the village. He served as a Liberal MP for Caernarfon from 1890 to 1945, including spells as Chancellor and as Prime Minister. He was a charismatic and controversial figure who laid the foundations for the Welfare State.

We followed a lovely riverside path for a while before doubling back along a lane to Trefan Farm. Between here and Cefn-y-maen a 30 metre stretch through ankle deep slurry took us by surprise! It was one of those paths that looks concreted, but of course it isn't.

We came across a few signs that showed the Welsh at their worst. Instead of polite 'Please close the gate' signs, there are signs such as, simply, 'Penalty for not closing gate £1000'. And on a signposted public footpath, 'Private Land. Your insurance is void'.

Later in the day we returned to our car to find two locals parked either side, one with his children. They all completely ignored us, 'blanking' us in a manner we have come to expect from Russians. The only difference being that the Russians understand English whereas these people don't seem to....

I digress. After making our way back to Criccieth on pleasant paths and beside a stream useful for boot washing, we enjoyed lunch with a view across the beach into the mist.

By the time we reached Mynytho the rain had stopped. We were soon on the summit of Foel Gron, from where the view to the north is shown above. Onwards then to Mynytho Common and to the remains of a windmill on National Trust land at Foel Felin Wynt. A stile pointed the way down to a path that came to a dead end beyond Foel Bach. Never mind, we come to expect such blockages here; we easily found our way around via a gate. Then we popped up to the summit of Carneddol before returning by a fairly direct route to the car and our unfriendly Welsh neighbours. Or were they Russians?

Monday, 21 November 2016

Postcard from Porthmadog (3)


Julia went looking for castles. In the 'old days' she would have come walking with us. An inveterate backpacker well into her 70's, she now has a heart condition that has seriously dented her lifestyle.

Meanwhile, Sue and I headed down the Lleyn Peninsula to Llanbedrog for a short but blowy stroll over Mynydd Tir-y-cwmwd. It's a lovely walk. Beyond the fine views to Llanbedrog beach (pictured - in the early 19th Century, boats sailed from here to South Wales, Liverpool and Dublin), there's a brand new bench on the summit in memory of Tom Atherton and his daughter, as well as a newish Topograph. The former served us well as we paused for a cuppa. The latter was much more informative than was necessary today, as only a couple of the closest hills could be seen.

We made our way down to the magnificent dower house built by Lady Love Jones Parry in 1856. After falling into disrepair in the mid 20th Century it has been lovingly restored to its former glory. A beautiful bronze sits outside admiring the view to the beach and beyond, shivering a little today. The art gallery is currently celebrating Jan Morris's 90th birthday with offerings from a selection of artists. It's an excellent spot, highly recommended for a visit. It was a struggle for us to leave without buying much more than our lunch.

Then we had planned a walk around Mynytho Common. We went to the starting point, but given the driving rain we opted to return to Porthmadog for a gentle stroll around Llyn Bach.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Postcard from Porthmadog (2)


(Non) Storm Angus didn't arrive. We have enjoyed a sunny but cool day.

William Rufus's motte, built in the eleventh century at Tomen-y-Mur, may have become the site of a castle but for the intervention of Gruffydd ap Cynan, the ruling prince of Gwynedd, who in driving William back to Chester secured two centuries of independence for Wales. Sue and I are shadowed on the top of the motte as we look towards Snowdon in the top picture.

A thousand years earlier the Romans had easily over-run north Wales. The fort established here on a four-acre site following Agricola's conquest around 78AD, formed the southern corner of a network encompassing Snowdonia. The fort may have been used as a training base for the entire region.

After exploring the fort, Sue and I enjoyed an 8 km circuit, nearly reaching the site of some Roman Camps to the east. A local farmer was unsuccesful in his attempts to drive us back to Chester. (We befriended him - it was a struggle but he eventually managed a smile.) Julia was more modest in her aspirations.

Lunch was taken by the Roman amphitheatre at Tomen-y-Mur, then we drove down to Llyn Trawsfynydd for a short stroll near the nuclear power station that is being slowly decommissioned. The cloud reflections in the lake were spellbinding.

After that the supermarket called, and tea with our landlord at South Snowdon Wharf, before a jaunt around Llyn Bach for Sue and me before the curtains were drawn on an unexpectedly lovely day.

The storm arrives tomorrow?

Postcard from Porthmadog (1)

Here's our early morning view from the living room. Sue and I popped down here on Saturday afternoon, and were joined by Julia, who is in her 80's and not as fit as she has been, for a relaxing week around Snowdonia and the Lleyn Peninsula.

The local Thai restaurant was up to its usual high standard last night.

We expected a storm, but it's a sunny morning!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Wednesday 16 November 2016 – 36 Degrees, Stage 2 – Burscough Bridge to Adlington


For this second stage of John P’s much vaunted ‘36 Degrees’ walk (see here for Stage 1), John and I were picked up by Nick in Adlington and driven to Westhoughton Station, where Bernard joined us. The locals here have a novel method of releasing cows whose heads get stuck in fences.


After a train ride, and welcome coffee in Burscough Bridge, we set off in light rain along the towpath of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.


We soon turned north, up the Rufford Branch of the canal, the last of the autumn colours still illuminating an otherwise grey day.


After leaving the canal at Prescot Bridge, we soon crossed Eller Brook at Wham Bridge and passed a deserted airfield.

The rain was intermittent, the paths were flat, and sometimes tarmacked.

We passed a house that has recently been acquired by one of John's friends for use as a barber's shop. We gave him a cup of coffee and some medicine before continuing merrily on our way.


Shortly afterwards, Bernard was found negotiating a particularly dense section of East Lancashire Jungle.


On the ascent of Harrock Hill we raced past a disused artefact of the Industrial Revolution. Our leader was anxious to press on. There were worries of a finish in the dark!

There was however time for a group photo.


Here's the view in the other direction (north) from the same point near Hill House Fold.


Winter Hill was now looming through the mist ahead of us, but one o’ clock had been and gone, as had the M6 motorway, beyond which we made progress to a point where the noise was reduced. A couple of pallets were spotted, making an excellent base for lunch, where we all sat next to each other, with four different views.


Nick’s new dog, Buster, was soon brought to heel, and we continued past a smart plaque near Chisnall Hall Jubilee Wood.


By the time we reached Bogburn Hall Farm, Nick had sold Buster to a passing hobo and our very own Hoarse Whisperer found a friend on whom to practice his not inconsiderable skills.


It was a day of showers, with occasional sunshine. John and Nick broke into a run after a pot of gold was spotted. Bernard was rooted to the spot. He could see two pots of gold and was unable to decide which one to aim for.


A little later, we negotiated a tricky entry to a field. Bernard fell in. Then we had to return the same way as the footpath had been diverted and there was no other way of escaping from the field. Bernard fell in again.


John proceeded to give a masterclass in finding his way to Holt Farm.


After this series of tricky manoeuvres, we all headed in increasing gloom down a diverted path to an al fresco tea stop in John's back garden. At this point the walk could be subtitled ‘0 Degrees’.

Soon we were on our way again in another sharp shower, before long finding our way back to where my car was parked in Adlington.

Here’s our route: 25 km, 300 metres ascent, in 6.5 hours. Click on the image to see a larger version.


There’s a captioned slideshow (34 images) here.

That was a nice walk. Very jolly.