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snowdonia

Capel Curig Camping

Bad weather is guaranteed when I book time off. It’s well known amongst my work colleagues, it’s well known amongst the flying club, but 2020 really is a strange year. I had fantastic weather for my first camp since lock down eased and the weather looked just as nice for the three days I had booked off in September.
This was another trip for my new favourite tent, the MSR Elixir 1.

Therm-a-rest compressible and Exped inflatable pillows

Something new to try on this trip too. I normally use an Exped inflatable pillow. It weighs virtually nothing, packs down tiny and can be inflated with the same inflation tool as my Exped mattress.
It’s a great design but, for me, a front sleeper who likes a squishy pillow, it just doesn’t quite work. On this trip, I also packed a Therm-A-Rest compressible pillow.
The difference in size is quite obvious in the photo, but there’s little difference in weight. Would I pack a bulkier item for a better night’s sleep?
I packed both pillows and headed off down the A5 towards Capel Curig.

There is another site a short distance from mine. A nice looking site but just a field, my site had plenty of little nooks and crannies. Places to pitch that felt a little wilder.

MSR Elixir tent pitched near Capel Curig, Snowdonia

I left the car near the facilities block, grabbed my rucksack and made my way to the far end of the site. I found a lovely little spot next to a stream. As there was no wind at all and none forecast, I could position the tent whichever way I wanted. I turned my back on the rest of the campers and pointed the door to the stream.
Beautiful.

I wandered back to the car to pick up my day sack containing a flask, digital SLR camera and a few lenses (a benefit of car camping, multiple rucksacks!) I then headed out for a bimble.
A path runs from the back of the campsite towards Capel Curig. I followed it to the first turn off to the left which led me to the A5.
The path continued on the opposite side of the road. It was initially easy to follow, heading up towards a building then crossing a stream. The path soon became less well defined and the surface was quite boggy.
At one point I got knee deep in mud. Typical! I had no spare pants. Knew I should have packed the gaiters.

Once I’d reached another stream, The Leat, I took a right and followed it before taking the path up to Llyn Cowlyd reservoir.
This was social distancing!

Llyn Cowlyd reservoir.

I sat on a rock for a while. The sun was hot and the sky clear. I couldn’t have asked for better conditions. The only thing which could have improved the day was some plane spotting. I could hear what I assumed to be Hawks from RAF Valley but nothing came into view.

Bridges on route back to A5, Capel Curig, Snowdonia

I returned back to The Leat, turning off to follow the path back down to the A5.
There were a few little wooden bridges over some patches but these only served to prove I was on the right route, the boggu ground surrounding them was full of mud and large puddles.

Back at the road, I crossed to walk on the the narrow pavement heading towards Capel Curig.
Around the back of the Joe Brown’s shop is a footpath which led straight back to the campsite.

This route is available to download as a GPX file.

After a cup of coffee by the tent, I returned to the path towards Ogwen Lake. A wander around the lake was very tempting but my stomach had other ideas. It was definitely getting close to dinner time!
After a few photos around the lake I headed back to camp. I’d timed it so I’d be on my walk during sunset. I sat on a rock and watched as the day light came to an end.

Sunset over Snowdonia
Campsite meal

Dinner was a Wayfayrer Pasta Bolognese. It was surprisingly tasty, but I was glad I had a couple of slices of home made bread to fill me up.
Maybe I’m just greedy!
Another benefit of car camping is the ‘luxury’ extras you can take. My little folding camping table proved very useful although my dining chair was a rock!

I sat on a rock by the stream for a while, drinking a beer looking at the stars. It doesn’t get much more relaxing than this.

When it came to settling down for the night, I unrolled the Therm-A-Rest pillow. It so comfortable. It also reduced the ‘electric shock’ hair I often had in the morning.
Snug in the tent, I soon fell asleep.
Sorry old inflatable pillow, you’re relegated. Maybe it’ll make a good cushion for next time I’m sat on a rock.

I woke around 6.30 and popped my head out of the door. The sun was rising over the misty fields. It looked as if it was going to be fine weather again.

Sunrise Gwern Gof Isaf campsite near Capel Curig

I sat by the stream, brewed a coffee in the Wacaco (my little camping luxury) and make an Oat So Simple porridge.
I definitely had brought my appetite with me. Deciding that one porridge just wasn’t enough, I made another espresso coffee and a second pot of porridge.

After breakfast(s!), I packed the camping gear away. The outside of the tent was wet, I assume the rain they had back home in the day reached me overnight. Inside the tent was bone dry though. The tent has two vents each end and they obviously did the trick at eliminating condensation.

Everything packed up, I drove to Capel Curig. From the car park, I headed over the road and took the path next to the church. The route soon changed from fields of sheep to woodland. The path was fairly easy to follow and not challenging, some times, that’s exactly what you want!
The views were both beautiful and varied; mountains, lakes, streams.
A lot of the return leg is along a road but this is a quiet road, only two vehicles passed me during the walk.
This route is also available for download.

Capel curig walk

I returned to the car full of mud, sheep poo and other unmentionables but happy. A fantastic couple of days and just what was needed. To round the trip off the roof went down on the Abarth 124 for a very enjoyable blast around the Welsh roads.

Llanfair Talhaiarn

This post should have the subheading, ‘I’ve made the mistakes so you don’t have to’
I had some time off work, no time constraints and the weather forecast was good. I had a number of routes planned and I wanted to go somewhere different, somewhere new.
I opened up the OS map, looking for places with plenty of paths then looked on Google Maps to see if there was anywhere to park up.

  Llanfair Talhaiarn seemed to tick the boxes. A pleasant little village  5 miles south of Abergele, it has a good size car park with toilets, a couple of pubs for refreshments and it is easy to get to, just off the A548.
After leaving the car at the School Lane car park, I headed to the river Elwy, taking the bridge on the A544 to get to the footpath on the other side.
This was a pleasant start to the day.
Easy to follow, well maintained footpaths, a nice river, a waterfall and a little ‘beach’ which if I’d come across it later in the walk, would have made a great spot to brew up a coffee.
The route followed the river,  along the edges of a field and through woodland…
then came the overgrowth.

The path seemed to go on forever through this mass of wet plants. I’m quite tall but plants where taller. It was difficult to see the path on many occasions.
Despite being a warm, summer day with no clouds to be seen, I was drenched.
My trousers stuck to me and my feet squelched with every footstep.
Just when I thought I’d reached the end, there was more. These plants were almost goading me.
No mater how well you plan a walk, there are somethings you don’t expect and this was one such thing.
Sadly, I suspect that unless something is done to clear this path it may well become unwalkable soon
There was eventually a light at the end of this fern covered tunnel…..it came in the way of a muddy track covered in cow manure.
At the end of the track, through a gate I hit a road. This would give me a chance to dry off if nothing else.  I followed the road south for a while, crossing over a bridge. At a second bridge I had a choice, assume that that the track to the right of the cottage with the barking dogs was the way to a path on my planned route or continue to the signposted bridle way.  Not wanting to argue with the dogs, I took the second option.
This was more like it, a good path and nice views.
I carried on until I reached a farm house. According to the maps, there was a footpath running behind the house. I couldn’t see it. There were a number of signs, none pointing to where the path should be so I continued along the bridleway which brought me out on to a road.
I spotted another track on the map which would lead me back the route I had planned, however, the ‘access forbidden’ signs on the gate made it clear this was no footpath! Once more I went back to the road and continued up hill.
Not to worry, there were another two footpaths up by a farm, one of those would lead back on track.  I walked up the farm track and opened the gate. According to my GPS I was right where the path should but there was nothing. No path, no signs. I really didn’t want to go trudging through the farmers land looking for the route so, again, I returned to the road.
To be fair, the walk along the road wasn’t too bad, I’d only seen the one car and the views were good. I’d come to the conclusion that if all else failed, I had an ‘escape route’ .  I  could follow this road to the main road then back to where I had parked the car.
There was one last route I could take, crossing over the sheep fields towards Llyn Du. The path was easy to find from the road and the lake was a good reference point. A little voice in my head kept telling me that this part may be easily navigable but at any point the path and signs could disappear and I wouldn’t have the road to fall back on.  I put these thoughts to the back of my mind, I wasn’t to be defeated!
Things were going well until I reached the farm at Cefn-treflech. There were a number of signs between the road and the farm then nothing. Well, not quite nothing, a post lay on the floor in front of the gate. I wondered if this once had the route labelled on it. To make matters worse,  the owner of the property had come outside. I didn’t want to go marching through his property, he might get angry, he might have a shotgun or worse, he may ask if I needed directions!
Once I was through the rusty gate, walked round the back of the house and on past another farm, I started to enjoy the views.
This seemed like a good spot to fire up the JetBoil and make myself a coffee.
I consulted my map. Perhaps I should have braved looking for the path at the side of the house near the second bridge. Not too worry, this coffee stop was enjoyable and I could see clearly where to head next. I confirmed the route on my map and with my GPS – all was good!
Nope, this was the calm before the next storm!
From the coffee stop, I headed towards the woods. A sign confirmed I was heading in the right direction. Splendid. I then ended up in more tall, wet foliage but, to make matters worse, there were also two meter high prickly blackberry bushes. At times the only way I could get through was to turn my back, duck down and let my rucksack push the worst of the branches out of the way. I couldn’t see the path at all but, amazingly, one I reached a crossroads with a track I was right on course. I crossed the track and followed the sign. Again, the plants made the path impossible to see so I checked the GPS and compass and headed in what seemed to be the right direction, unfortunately, although I achieved the objective of reaching the woods without being ripped to shreds, I was in the middle of a mountain bike track.
I couldn’t find any information about this track, only finding this one YouTube video. Luckily for me there were no bikes around as I weaved my way as best I could through the woods in roughly the right direction.
I could see the track I needed but a barbed wire fence stood between it and me. It seems that I’m not the only person to have made a mess of navigation, at one point the painful bits of the fence had been removed. I managed to step over and follow the track down to the road to Llanfair Talhaiarn.

In conclusion, this wasn’t one of my favourite walks!  Llanfair Talhaiarn is a lovely village and a great base for walking, it’s shame the navigation is made awkward.
I can understand why landowners don’t want people trudging through their land, their home, their place of work but, put up a few signs, make the paths obvious and you won’t have people  climbing over fences and being in places they shouldn’t be.
As a crude analogy, my office has signs to the training rooms, the toilets and the reception. Visitors find where they need to be and we don’t have people wandering past our desks looking lost.
I’m sure I’ll revisit Llanfair Talhaiarn  in the future, perhaps trying some of the paths to the other side of the village.
In the meantime, my route is available to download as a GPX file.…good luck!

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