Wales – Hiking Snowdon, almost.

We woke up to a grey morning, on top of the windy hill where we had parked the previous evening. Even though the weather had been harsh in the night, our caravan had kept us nicely warm and dry. The cold air outside came as a bit of a shock once we opened the door.

The rain was looming around several corners, and we were planning on staying off of the mountain cliffs. Instead we were looking some options to take our way to valleys and hillsides. We had a small book with us with short walks which guided us to the small town of Beddgelert.

To get to Beddgelert we drove a short and pretty road trip down from the highlands to lush green valleys and up a river to reach this small, very very Welsh town.  Despite the slight drizzle the town managed to be very charming, lying there, surrounded by hills and green nature. We walked through it to get onto our hike further up the river, towards Llyn Dinas.

It was a relaxed stroll, we got to enjoy the serene lakeside scenery before starting to tackle the small uphill back towards the town. Up on the hillside there were some old copper mines, which intrigued us so, that we lost the trail. In our defense I must add, that the book we were following was not too clear in its descriptions…  Nevertheless we found some industrial history to enjoy at the mines and eventually had a wonderful walk and didn’t even end up too far from Beddgelert. As an added bonus, while we were approaching the village, we met some locals, who led us into some folklore.

The name of the town means Grave of Gelert, Gelert was a brave dog that got killed by its owner, a Welsh Prince. As the prince came home, he found blood on the cradle of his baby, so he came to the conclusion that the poor hound had killed the child. The prince then took to killing the dog and only moments later found the baby alive and a dead wolf in his house. The grave is now somewhat famous attraction, though Wikipedia is somewhat skeptical about the truth to this story.

The day was coming to an end, and we started moving towards our hike of the next day. Waffle was really, really looking forward to it, since we were aiming to climb up the Mt Snowdon. The Park4Night -app found us a sheltered parking spot near the town of Llanberis, and we were happy to plant our caravan there, under some maple tress. We figured it would be best to set off early the following morning, to beat the heaviest rush of hikers, so we set alarms at 8 and decided to be at the foot of the hill around 9.

The morning came and soon it was evident that starting the hike at 9 am was inevitably too late. The great weather and the fact that it was a Saturday had lured tons of people out of their homes. Every single parking spot on a 2 km radius from start of the hike was taken. To me, the steady stream of people making their way up the most famous peak in the whole of Wales was not so very inviting.

We parked somewhere, waay down the road. Waffle was mortified. We were browsing through the map, desperately trying to find a manageable way up. We were both slightly ill and massively out of shape so options were limited. Plus the idea of reaching the peak only to find 200 other tourists there, was putting me off.

Eventually, after vigorous browsing of the map, we had to give up. We were not going to climb Snowdon, not this time. Instead we locked our gazes to another mountain; Glyder Fawr, which is pretty close to the Tryfan, which we did for the starters.

It was not the spectacular peak we would have gotten with Snowdon, but a beautiful stroll nevertheless. We aimed for the ridge from Ogwen cottage, walked past the Llyn Idwal resting under the cliffs of Glyder Fawr. The trail is easy to walk on all the way to the top of the cliffs. And over there, the scenery is breathtaking. Turned out, we kind of got the Snowdon experience after all, since it is the neighboring peak, we got to enjoy the view over it. It was quite amusing actually, to see the steam train running up and down and the lines of people as black dots climbing the ridges.

The peak itself of the Glyder Fawr was very pleasing to climb. It is rugged with sharp rocks pointing to all different directions, a sight, not quite from this world. We scrambled up the peaks diligently and wandered forward on the ridge, until it came to a sudden, plummeting end. Our way down to the saddle between Gluder Fawr and Tryfan was probably the most strenuous part of this hike. The steep descent took the trail among  rocks and loose sand, and we were sliding and rolling the rocks ahead of us all the time.

It was slow advancing but eventually we were down the hill and rejoined with our little caravan. We had met some Wales dwelling Spanish people earlier and rejoined them too at the parking. We shared food and drinks, as a descent hiker does with another. And stories.

Our holiday came soon to an end. We drove away from the hills of Wales, camped in a forest full off bluebells somewhere in Luton. All hail park4night -app! In the early Sunday afternoon we plowed our way to the boat, through France and into Belgium. Monday would be there all too soon with work to do.

Luton, Bluebells, England

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Project Caravan – Almost There

It has been a while since I last wrote anything about this caravan project. It is partially because we have mainly been waiting for things to arrive, plus I am running out of hours in my days.

But some advances have been made. Last time you saw the project we were busy with the wires and insulation and sealing all that inside the walls. That has all been finished now! Also the battery found it’s place on the floor. and everything looks tidy.

We left the trailer waiting for the working week, with the idea that the following weekend we would build it with the intensity of a squirrel high on cocaine. There was a surprise waiting once we finally made it to the scene on Saturday morning.

A bed.

There was a bed frame occupying the space that was earlier a floor. Waffle’s dad had been clearly unable to stay away from the project. The bed is built so, that it also works as a storage and hides the battery. The bed bottom has hinges and is cut in half on the middle, so we can easily get under it to reach what ever we have stored in there. Also the frame for the door had appeared.

Trailer, caravan, teardrop

We had to stuff our squirrels back to where they came from and start doing the small bits. I went around the outside, armed with a scraper and some filler, aiming meticulously at the screw holes and other cracks, to make sure no water would be stored in there and that the surface would be even and smooth for the aluminium to lay on.

After that the wood was also oiled, by Waffle, to make it water resistent already. We do not want any issues with the moist here!

In the meanwhile Waffle was fighting his battles on the inside of the trailer. He was working on the switches and electricity outputs and lights as well as the mounting of the charge controller and its monitor.

We have 4 spot lights in the roof, consuming about 2 watts each. On the walls, on either side, we have bright, twistable reading spots that consume 3 – 4 watts. To make searching of things easier there are long led strips under the bed and inside the cupboard that will appear later on, to the top front part of our trailer. All the lights together are swallowing about 20 watts of electricity.

Then we have charging points, USB ports and cigarette lighters, for juicing up the phones and hooking in the TV and the cool box. For them Waffle created small wooden stands to enforce the wall a bit and make them sturdy.

There are also the switches. We have a main switch, which makes sure the whole circuit is dead and a switch that…. On top of that there are also the switches controlling the lights and the power to the TV.

With the installing of those we made a small mistake. Waffle accidentally short circuited them and made the cables melt. Good thing nothing started burning. After a quick study on electricity, circuits and switches we realized that only the positive current should run through. The negative wires need to bundled together and be forgotten. After that we put on some fuses too, to make sure that a mistake like that would not destroy the whole installation, but just pop a fuse.

We were almost ready to give a go for the solar panels. We plugged the cables in, threw the panels onto the roof and rolled the caravan out, what an exciting moment. The trailer was safely standing outside and the moment of hitting the switch came.

It was partially cloudy and the panels were a bit dirty too, so we were not expecting too high amount of current to hit the system. Once Waffle read the numbers on the monitor we were pleasantly surprised! We were producing enough power for all the lights and still pushing a bit into the battery! The total amount of power coming from the sun was about 100 watts, that I would call a success! Especially when nothing burned nor exploded!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So now we practically have our own power station. Some bits are still missing until we get the thing on the road. So the next post will be about treating the walls weather proof, making a door and the additional bits we are requiring to make the trailer livable.

I’ll also try to get some better pictures for you guys to look at!

Until then then!

Parts One and Two and Three!

 

 

Normandy and Easter – A Perfect Duo

Normandy. The green, softly flowing valleys, glistening sea, shining white cliffs and sky so close you could hug it. Normandy is such a picturesque place, I think my soul has found a second home from its shores. I am always happy to return there, and bring some friends along, like we did this time.

Normandy is starting to be our Easter habit, it seems. It is just close enough to get to for a long weekend, and just far enough to feel like you are abroad, or at least, somewhere else.

Early in the Saturday morning we hit the road. Despite the masses of people on the road we reached our first walk early. We had chosen a small loop around the countryside near the town of Yport. Yport, as many of the towns on the coast, sits there where the cliffs lower down to a valley. The streets climb and wind up from the beach onto the cliffs to go off finding other villages. The houses are a harmonious combination of natural rocks and bricks. I would imagine happy people are living in them.

After a good walk we headed to camp at the same place where we have been every time when we go to Normandy. On the cliffs, a few kilometres to the west from Étretat. Good weather and long Easter weekend had lured out some other wild campers too, so we did not get our favorite spot, right on top of the cliff, but no-one let that ruin the mood.

We got our camp up and campfire going at the edge of the cliff just perfectly to be able to enjoy the colors of the sunset. After dinner the cooling air shooed us away to our tents as the stars started to litter the sky. The night was chill and I could not sleep too much. Instead I listened to the sea and the calmness of the night… and Waffle, sleeping next to me.

I was surprisingly well rested in the morning, as we prepared for the coming day, by munching breakfast. The hike for the day was something we had already done with Waffle a couple of years back. The trail would walk us via the cliffs to Étretat and beyond, and return back deeper inland, stretching a distance of about 16 km.

Waffle and Bram found their inner children and were soon enough climbing and crawling into caves, eventually managing to get me and Maria into that business as well. The beaches and cliffs with their caves kept us rather busy for a while, but the crumbling tummies demanded us to climb back up and find our way to Étretat to get some food.

The closer to the village we got, the more people there started to be on the trail, everybody want’s the hottest selfie with the famous arches. I do think they are better seen a little bit further away, down from one of the beaches, rather than by sitting on top of one.

At one point Bram’s face went sour. He had dropped his phone somewhere. A vigorous search started. Me and Maria were left on the important duty of watching over the stuff, as the guys ran up and down the path in search of the phone.

It was nowhere to be seen.

After the shock treatment Bram swallowed his fate, blocked the sim and life started to go on again. We had a quick lunch in the beach boulevard of Étretat, trying not to get annoyed by the massive crowd of tourists.

Finally we headed on, over the cliffs again, before turning back via the fields. Half way back we ended up at the goat farm Le Valaine, where we had visited earlier too. The place where they make amazing chocolates and ice creams out of goats milk! Of course we had to pay a visit, after which Maria and Bram were rather sold too. The only sad thing is, that they are shutting the place down, since there is nobody to continue the business.

So if you happen to be into goat herding and ice cream / chocolate making, please go there, me and Waffle will promise to be your most loyal clients!

Another tired and serene evening followed with campfire rattling on the cliff and sun putting on its best show while setting. It felt good to crawl to bed and lat the sleep take us away to another world.

Monday was the last they we had in the beautiful Normandy. We started driving off towards Dieppe and another set of cliffs. We were passing a series of very beautiful Normandian villages and farmlands on our way to the destination, which was Criel-Sur-Mer.

Those cliffs covered in whispering grass were bathing in the sun as we climbed them. The northern wind had turned a little warmer with the sun, and hiking was very pleasant, even our Portuguese addition was unwrapping herself.

It was a very beautiful walk to end the trip, not a spectacular one, rather the beauty was more hidden in its subtle colors and warm sunshine. In any case it left me wanting to stay there. Normandy just feels like an improved Finland sometimes, very homely.

We’ll be back, soon I hope.