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Snowdon – Crib Goch & Pyg Path

Snowdon – Crib Goch & Pyg Path

Crib Goch – Mount Snowdon

Area: Snowdonia – Mount Snowdon
Starting point: Pen Y Pass
Date of walk: 25th March 2017
Walkers: Me
Distance: 8.36m
Difficulty: Hard
Terrain: Rocky
Weather: Sun, blue skies, clear

Crib Goch, A walk? (or ‘scramble’ should I say) the only part of this walk is on the Pyg path on the way down! has been one to certainly write home about. It’s been a hazy week, some niggling thoughts of worldly nature have taken a firm grip, so what best to go for a long walk and shrug it all off. As Hippocrates stated ‘Walking is mans best medicine’, I agree with the Greek Physician.

Bets Y Coed

The long drive is taken on the day prior to stop of in Bets Y Coed for the night with the intention to head off early. Upon arrival I realise I am short of a few supplies so pop into Cotswolds to grab at least a good ol’ OS map. After a brief discussion with the store assistant, I’m urged to buy crampons & an icepick as apparently a walk up Crib Goch at this time of year without them should be ‘interesting & dangerous’. I ignore his ploy to try and sell me stuff, nether the less the seeds of doubt have been planted…

Oriental and American tourists are in abundance in this village, I imagine in the summer months this place is heaving with visitors all across the world hoping to spot themselves a dragon. Bets Y Coed in general, is a forested region, perhaps next time I will venture into the surrounding woodlands for a forested walk. A campsite is found right next to the Swallow Falls and I drift asleep to the gentle gush of the waterfall.

A bitter spring morning
A bitter spring morning

Pen Y Pass

Alarm bells ring and off I go to Pen Y Pass (starting point). The peaks are seen from afar, and I try and look up as much as I can to see if the ice and snow will prove a serious problem. The car park is unsurprisingly full, so I head further down to park on the side of the road. Dozen and dozens of groups congregate ready to climb this Welch beast. Pen Y pass is the starting point to 3 routes, Pyg path, Miners path & Crib Goch. I make steady pace up the Pyg path, even at the beginning stages this way up is simply beautiful.

Pyg Path
Start of the Pyg Path with the ascent to Crib Goch seen in distance

A feeling of respect is felt, respect for the mountain itself and the knowing of how treacherous it can be is never forgotten. The elements can change rapidly on any mountain & as with anything in this life, preparation is key. I’m wondering after about 15 minutes, when will I encounter this Crib Goch. The Red ridge in English. Red = danger, red = blood. Basically, proceed with caution.

A mile or 2 later I reach the path up to Crib Goch. This path up itself is a climb. I’m trying to get my head around how this is a level 1 Scramble… I mean parts are near vertical and even on this path, a slip up could leave anyone injured or stuck. On the way up I bumped into 2 unprepared Americans struggling up wearing skateboarding trainers. After a brief chat, they than proceed to tell me this is their first mountain they are going up. I slow my pace and adjust my rhythm to take up the rest of this ascent with the nervous looking pair. I worry for them as mountain rescue usually come out for those who are not well prepared. If you thinking of taking up this walk, this is where you turn back if you don’t wish to proceed. As once your up on the ridge it will prove very tricky backtracking.

Climb upto Crib Goch
Climb upto Crib Goch
the scramble up
the scramble up
looking back from the scramble up

The Red Ridge

After 50 minute or so the top of the ridge is reached. Wow, what a view. I’m pretty sure Ireland, Isle of Man & Holyhead are seen from here. However, now is not the time to take it all in. There is a queue behind me, and loads in front doing the ridge so I better get on it with. Exposure levels are high, and it is actually the exposure that makes this scramble seem a lot more dramatic and harder than it actually is. At places the ‘path’ is no bigger than half a metre and it becomes clear why there have been so many fatalities up here. A helicopter circles around the peaks, which is the mountain rescue as this is probably the busiest day on Snowdon this year. Still with the Americans at this point, however there pace is taking me off my stride so I stay focused and plod on. Some hairy moments do follow, and hands are needed aswel as my legs for pretty much the whole ridge. After the first stretch there is some relatively flat land and a perfect opportunity to tuck into my sandwich and a couple of oranges. I’ve run out of gas on my burner so a much needed cup of tea won’t be possible right now. Oh well.

Crib Goch
Crib Goch
Looking back on Crib Goch - you can see the 2 Americans nearest to camera hanging for dear life
Looking back on Crib Goch – you can see the 2 Americans nearest to camera hanging for dear life
stopping off for lunch at the end of the 1st ridge
stopping off for lunch at the end of the 1st ridge

Crib-y-Ddysgl

Crib Goch itself is only around 200 metres. However up on this exposed airy ridge, it seems alot longer. After Crib Goch, a descend it make until you reach the foot of the ridge to come, Crib-y-Ddysgl. Now they say this one is alot easier, but I beg to differ on this day. It seems a steeper climb, and a harder walk as there is ice & stone laying on the rocks. This is a full body workout. From this ridge looking back on Crib Goch and seeing the walkers walk along like is much like playing the game lemmings.

lemmings on crib goch
Sun falling back behind Snowdon summit

The end is near, and I feel like I’m not just getting warmed up. As I reach the trig point at the top a sense of achievement is felt and I sit down to enjoy the oranges I have left in my bag. There are hundreds off people up Snowdon today, and Snowdon is certainly a mountain I have avoided in the past due the amount of people on it. It can be a solitary walkers a nightmare, but today it isn’t. I sit in peace amongst the herds of people & the chitta chatta. The chaos of the world below seem insignificant, and my worldly worries which I have held throughout the week have been lifted and surrendered. Right now, at this moment on top of this mountain, there is nothing, but now. Here and now.

The Descent

After some time off soaking in the subtle energies of this mountain, I begin my descent down the Pyg Path. My intention was to actually take the miners path back, but that didn’t happen. I’m practically jogging back down past the mass’s of people moving in both directions. I’m moved when I observe a couple sitting in silence also soaking in the mountains energies. As I continue, I reflect on today’s walking, and am once again reminded how spending time in natural environments, alone has a purifying effect on the spirit. An effect that can often be forgotten in daily life. I also contemplate the difference’s in ‘belief’ & ‘realization’. For today I have once again realized, freedom and peace are not far away, infact they are right here within me. Even in the midst of madness. Belief on the other hand can often lead to the opposite of self realization. When 1 of certain in ways of thinking it can lead to a stump on spiritual growth. Heck, conflict of belief is how wars are started!

Couple soaking it all in
Couple soaking it all in

6 hours later, today’s walk is now completed. What a cracker this one is. But please be careful & prepared. I drive back home, and stop off in Chester on the way for a Turkish kebab. Perfect way to end a perfect weekend.

Lathkill Dales from Monyash

Lathkill Dales from Monyash

Area: Derbyshire – Peak District (White peak)
Starting point: Monyash
Date of walk: 2nd August 2016
Walkers: Me & Merlin
Distance: 11.20 miles
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Terrain: Woodland, Wateralls, Streams, Moorland
Weather: Sun, blue skies, cloudy

I can’t take credit for this walk as I borrowed it from the walking English man website, however slightly varied. A day walking through the white peak, with the sun out has never been anything less than pleasant. This walk in particular is varied, walking through the 2 picturesque villages of Youlgreave and Monyash. And in between, open fields, rivers, wooded areas and dales. What more could you really ask for? There isn’t much in terms of climbs , hill walking or mountains, however this walk will certainly be going on the ‘connoisseurs list’ for walks. A thoroughly rewarding enjoyable walk.

I arrive in Monyash late morning with the doggy. Park the car up and walk towards to village centre where a small tea room is found called the old Smithy. cute little place, so I treat myself to a bakewell flapjack & a cup of tea. The route takes the limestone way, which I’ve never really explored much. However within moments coming out on Monyash, the views on Fern Dale are far reaching, and are absolutely stunning.

Cales Dale
Fern Dale

A mile or 2 on, the first landmark is One Ash Grange Farm. We continue past the farm following the Limestone Way (which by the way is well marked). After the farm, there is a drop into Cales Dale. Down into this dale and back up sn the most strenuous part of the walk, so watch your footing. As you rise back up heading towards calling low, fine views are had once again and easy walking is had for the remainder of walk. It’s well worth taking your time with this one, simply because this is low effort walk with great reward.

Past Calling low, Low Moor plantation is reached, again followed by open pasture land filled with cows who seem rather entrigued by Merlins high energy levels. On the East side of the Moor a B road is reached where we continue across the path by a car park. Youlgreave is seen in the distance and upon a grassy knoll I sit myself. Me and Merlin take in the view & out comes my Moleskin to jot down some anagrams..

On a grassy knoll we sit
On a grassy knoll we sit

Down off the knoll, we head into Youlgreave, a pleaasent little village with a pub and some cafes. I had my lunch on the knoll so need to really stop off in the village. Heading out of the village towards to final section of the walk. Lathkill dale. Before reaching there is another drop in the valley, and the walk along the banks of the river are mesmerizing. This section is sheltered, the quiet titter tattering of the slow moving river is head and it feels extremely safe & secure unlike how the Moors can be at times, relentless.

along the valley before reaching youlgreave
along the valley before reaching youlgreave
Merlin testing the waters
Merlin testing the waters

Unfortunatly my camera ran out of battery in the deep valleys of Lathkill Dale, which probaly is the highlight of this walk. It’s quite dramatic coming out of the wooded riverlands to exposed limestone outcrops. Further down the valley, the start of Monyash is reaching, and winding up the hill, we are back at the car

 

Day 32 – Brora to Dunbeath (Berriedale)

Day 32 – Brora to Dunbeath (Berriedale)

Day 32 – Smellydale Berriedale

We awaken by the sound of a train passing us by, 30 cows around our tents and the busy trunk road heard. Not quite the scenic Wild camping Scotland we’d encountered along the way. However, there isn’t much choice on these last few days & in hindsight looking back, next time I’ll probably try heading up to Cape Wrath which goes through Scotlands Western Flank through the last wilderness with very little civilization for many days.

As we continue along the coast off the road and off the path, its very pleasant. Seals are seen and heard in the north sea which is an amazing experience for the 2 of us. We figure, if we just follow the coast, the walk would be nicer in so many ways. We take this plan, until we hit a river which isn’t really cross able.  Adam’s witty thinking leads us to throw big boulders for 20 minutes into the river making it crossable. Quite literally ‘Building bridges’ & whatever tensions has naturally arised between us during the trip diminished at this point as we rebuild not just physically but emotionally. I must say, no matter how puny the bridge was, it is the first time I have build a bridge. To be fair, it would make for a great team building exercise. We soon change our minds and decide the road is probably going to be the better option from now. The ghost town of Helmsdale is reached, pots of tea are had with a light lunch.

We make pace walking through the high winding roads which vaguely reminds me of a visit to the Pakistani Himalayas as a young boy. On a bus cutting through the cliff faces with view of the K2 mountain in the distant. It has me thinking I must visit that part of the world again at some point. What comes next is what all the locals have been talking about. Berriedale, which is a series of small, extremely steep hairpin bends. As we reach the bottom , into the very small hamlet of BerrieDale, we stop for tea & biscuits, air out our feet & rest. Berriedale Smellydale. It’s quite a steep climb back up but nothing compared to what we have experienced over the past month.

As we arrive in Dunbeath, we hope for a shop, but the spar is shut. So we check in at a campsite & proceed with cooking an extremely bland meal with a pack of pasta, a can of chopped tomatoes & some mince. Food for fuel I suppose. Not quite the lobster & champagne we had hoped for…. nethertheless, the high pressured, hot showers at the campsite made up for it all….

Day 25 – Fort William to Laggan

Day 25 – Fort William to Laggan

Always hard to get up after a day of rest but we manage roll out of our tents, whack on the gas burner & gobble down a healthy portion of porridge. We depart the campsite passing the grand nevis on the right. In Fort William we start the great glen way towards Inverness..

sdr
Caledonian canal leaving Fort William

Eventually we gain some heights passing through the beautiful forested shores of Loch Lochy

mde

Loch lochy
Loch lochy

As we continue along this Loch and back on the Caledonian canal after we reach a small village called Laggan for an experience I certainly wilk never forget. We come across the eagle barge inn, which is a boat on the canal, with a bar serving food.

Relaxing in the Eagle Barge inn
Relaxing in the Eagle Barge inn

It comes to be another hidden gem crawling out the woodwork. Well , until adam notices they do a chilli challenge, the chefs sauce is said to be one of the hottest in Scotland containing 3 of the worlds hottests chillis in the world. So, before I know, tired and hungry, im signing a disclaimer waiting for a sample of this chilli sauce. Adam goes first, seems bearable. As soon as the damb stuff touches my lips I am in agony, streams of tears, and I freeze from the shock of what is happening to me, I turn green and white, a lady at the bar seems concerned asking if I am okay. For the next 25 minutes I genuinly dont know.. than it hits the stomach and intestines… all I remember saying is ‘the chef is evil & I would not wish this on my worst enemy’ . An evening to remember…

dav

Day 20 – Sallochy to Inverarnan

Day 20 – Sallochy to Inverarnan

The birds tweet as I write this evening, gazing into the remote highlands. Skys have turned blue from a day of threating rain, and most importantly midgies are no where to be seen. A deep breath in and long sigh out… life is good. Like anything, walking is an art, a vast amount of people we bump into on the West Highland Way seem to be in some sort of state if shock. If only they walked the purgatorious Pennine Way instead…

Today is a sweet 16 mile, along the beautiful shores of Loch Lomond. A reasonably easy but slightly tedious in places due to the ups and downs on boulders. Apparently this is the hardest section of the trail… really? I ask myself. Either way as each day passing , more fulfilment, joy and perfection of this art are aquired. The key is what I saw printed on a board. ‘ keep calm and carry on walking’ ‘ Each soul I pass, encouragement is given to firstly accept and than really enjoy the ups and downs. Otherwise, whats the point of this all ? To prove a point ? To make a statement ? Or just to live, and today is one of those days I sit in my tent, kiss my feet and realise that I have never been so grateful to step foot on this earth. Sitting here away from all, but at the same time with everything.

I was supposed to right about my walk today, but the words above speaks more, and with the pictures below you may sense what is inspiring me. God bless

sdr

sdr

Day 19 – Drymen to Sallochy

Day 19 – Drymen to Sallochy

A wholesome interesting relatively short day. Weather is dreary and we are stuck in the clouds by the time we reach conic hill but Loch Lomond is seen for the first time through the mist.

Loch Lomond from Conic Hill
Loch Lomond from Conic Hill

The clouds start to lift as the sun rises and the route is packed full of walkers. Conic Hill looks higher than it actually is & we scale around the side before the descent into busy Balmaha. Coach loads are here spending money in the extortionate village shop. We pass through quickly and walk the beautiful shores of Loch Lomond all day..

dav

sdr

We eventually reach a simple campsite in Sallochy where we pitch up. Until now, Ive been under the impression the whole midgie thing is just the Scottish exaggerating, but no, it is a problem. A big problem, lol..

Chilling in Sallochy
Chilling in Sallochy 
Day 18 – Croy Hill to Drymen

Day 18 – Croy Hill to Drymen

Limits. What are they? What’s there purpose ? Barriers of the mind…

Todays a turning point & from today we leave behind canal walking for the West Highland Way. We walk the canal for several miles where it turns in a disused railway line. Walking through several picturesque villages & admiring the change scenery. The Campsie Fells domi ates the north.

Walkers welcome
Walkers welcome
Campsie fells
Campsie fells

We eventually hit the West Highland Way..

dav
West Highland Way

The West Highland way takes us into the lovely town of Drymen. We arrive at a bunkhouse called Kip in the kirk, and welcomed warmly by the kind staff. This place is a gem and really feels like a home away from home. Our stinky clothes are washed and dried, we were fed home made South African milk tart. walkers pass through here with bags of enthusiasm and I can say I left here with some new friends.

Samanthas delicious milk tart
Samanthas delicious milk tart
Day 17 – Linlithgow to Croy hill

Day 17 – Linlithgow to Croy hill

Now following yesterdays blinding canal walk, we ramp up for the same again. But soon start to realise, theres only so much straight line walking with no gradients one can take. Especially as underfoot is mainly concrete. However we are overwhelmed by the musky aroma of fresh Yarrow growing along these canal banks…

Yarrow
YarroW
Long straight canal
Long straight canal

We are mildly impressed by the Falkirk wheel (featured pic), and before reaching we take a quick walk into Falkirk for some quick supplies which takes longer than expected. Which adds on a few miles to an already long walk.

As we reach the walks end, we walk up Croy hill overlooking Kilsyth, we set up camp, get a fire going and cook up a stir fry before departing to sleep..

Kilsyth from Croy Hill
Kilsyth from Croy Hill
Day 16 – Edinburgh to Linlithgow

Day 16 – Edinburgh to Linlithgow

Tranquillity…. Is a word I don’t use much. These days I barely read so my vocab isn’t to vast, but after today tranquillity is certainly a word I will be welcoming back into my life.

The walk today left Edinburgh Haymarket around 9am after a sharp cup of tea. We took the opportunity to walk around the city early morning to see it without the hustle and bustle. This old city shines in the light rain on this quiet Sunday morning.

The road out of Edinburgh took us out of Westwards joining onto the Union Canal. This canal goes all the way to Glasgow and we encounter only dog walkers & cyclists throughout our day. The setting is in constant change as we walk through the suburbs surrounded by the high rise blocks. Empty cans of buckfast are seen on the canal sidings.

As we leave the suburbs we hit various outstanding aquaducts until reaching a small village where we stop off for a quick cuppa. As we proceed we enter in Broxburn, an extremely deprived area. Adam comments along the lines of ‘this place makes modern day brixton look like Buckingham Palace’. 2 miles through this ghetto still along the canal, what comes next & for the remainder of the walk is truly wonderful & tranquil. Canal boats pass us every half hour along the wooded banks filled with wild flowers & hawthorns.

By the end of todays walk, 22 miles or so later, we stroll into Linlithgow (the birthplace of Mary queen of Scots) with a spring in our step…

 

 

Day 14 & 15 – Innerleithen to Penicuik

Day 14 & 15 – Innerleithen to Penicuik

There is not much about today except, moist feet, walking a busy A road & coming into Edinburgh. Actually I’m currently sitting in an internet cafe in Edinburgh, with some afro beat music playing in the background, with the lady continuously bringing me pots of tea. I’ll be very surprised if I don’t have a strong caffeine addiction by the time I get to John O groats.

However on days like this, with ‘mundane’ walking you have to look beyond & be patient, and something will pop out of somewhere which just takes you away.

We walk a relatively new trail out of Innerlaithen to Peebles, where we arrive 6 miles later.

Busy peebles, church seen in distance
Busy peebles, church seen in distance

This is a busy town, banks, cafes, art shops, barbers, incense shops & the rest of it. It’s all a bit overwhelming, readjusting to everything, so many options all around us. So much confusion, we grab lunch, and I say to Adam, I’m going to sit in the quiet church, so we go. 45 minutes after meditation in this quiet church, stillness is found. I than walk amongst this busy town, holding space & feeling peaceful. We find a spiritual shop called house of Gaia, as we need some incense to help with the less desirable smells of odour coming from our tents! Only entered in for a quick stop, but end of staying for an hour speaking to the lovely shop worker named Hanisa. Deep conversations are had in regards to spiritual healing, fear, environment, walking, ego and the rest of it. Before we know it its 2pm & we still have 15 miles to walk!

So we depart, and walk along the pavement along the A703, fast cars, trucks & motorbikes continuously pass us, but we grit & bear, as we know we have a rest tomorrow in a campsite just outside Edinburgh..

A road
A road