Wales – Hiking Snowdon, almost.

Glyder Fawr, Snowdon, Wales

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

 

 

 

 

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The road that led us to Wales…

Snowdonia, A5, Wales

As usual, an approaching long weekend gave us a reason to anxiously keep looking at the weather and hikeability of areas not too far away. In our priority list the Swiss Alps were keeping a high position, but as the day of departure approached the weather was looking increasingly bad.

Eventually the only option was to leave for the always so sunny Wales!

We had been changing long looks with the Snowdonia National Park and this seemed as the perfect opportunity to explore its hills. I was still a little bit bitter, since I have been really anxious to go to the Alps, but then again, lemons become lemonade, or how do we say it.

On a Wednesday we had our boat ticket on hand and passports in tow and our house on wheels attached to the car as we headed for work for the day. Turned out, that was more or less everything useful we had packed. Slowly it all became to sink in. We had our shower, but no towels. Yay. We had our camping chairs, but no fire bucket. Yay, again. We had sunny weather coming up, but no sunscreen. Yay, I always wanted to look like 50 when I turn 30.

More importantly, we had forgotten the licence plate of the trailer. Not exactly a good thing when crossing a border. So Waffle ended up running around like a headless chicken to get a new plate made. In the meanwhile I was hunting down some duct tape, to attache the plate with, since we didn’t pack any screws.

Waffle also had found out, that the lock on the door of our trailer did not really hold. So our trailer door was casually flapping away as it was pulled around the highways. The duct tape came in handy here too.

After a vigorous day of working and running around we were finally on the road to Calais, France. On the same road there were approximately 2,73 million other people trying to spot a piece of coast to sit on. That all resulted into us being stuck in a jam for an extra two hours, missing 2 boat connections and arriving to Dover closer to midnight than anybody would have wished for.

Snowdonia, UK
On the A5 towards the hills!

Snowdonia, A5, Wales

Caravan, Road trip, Wales
Our road train!

As we rolled out of the boat, I propped myself into an upright position against the window in the desperate attempt to stay awake and keep Waffle company. Absolute failure that was, as I was soon slipping into the abyss of drooly, snorety car-sleep. Soon Waffle shook my grumpy ass awake, since he was falling asleep as well. We needed to stop and move ourselves to the sleeping room. We used some rope to make sure nobody could get in to our trailer while we snored, and crawled under the covers, to get an hour or two of shuteye.

The morning came all too soon, but the prospect of having some mountains to climb turned into motivation to get up and going. I don’t know how Waffle did it. I would have not been in any shape for driving with my crisscrossed eyes. But soon we entered the National Park and gasped at the sight of the first hills plummeting into valleys and rising up again to plateaus. I felt my hiking nerves tingle, deary me had I missed that feeling!

We parked our road train right underneath the peak of Tryfan. The first mountain we were planning on climbing that day. First, we tried to sleep a bit longer though, since the climb up would be scrambling, and somehow I think, a well rested brain is crucial for survival in such activities.

I’ll leave you here for now. More about the wonders of the hills, and whether or not we had luck with the weather,  in the next post!

Sneak a peek to our photos here!

 

 

 

 

Israel Breaks the Silence

…of this blog, I mean, nothing political behind the headline. Sorry.

Waffle had promised to take a colleague of his to mountains. The original plan was aiming us to the Welsh mountains in Snowdonia, but as the execution of this noble plan grew later and the weather in Wales got more and more wintery, we changed the direction.

And went to Israel.

Ryanair has opened a route from Charleroi to Eilat ( Ovda), and the tickets are very affordable, so Waffle thought why not, and off we went. We were expecting to land in to a summery environment, but it was surprisingly chilly. Sea breeze was not so very gentle and temperature was not so far above 10 degrees.

It took over 2 hours to get out of the airport to Eilat by a shuttle bus. Another hour to get the car and by then the hopes for us having a first walk for that day had disappeared along with the setting sun. We sincerely hoped that the rest of the holiday would go more smoothly as we drove in the darkness towards the town of Arad, where our Airbnb was waiting.

The road trip was a bit lost on us. We couldn’t see much, so the morning and sunrise brought us a nice surprise, as we saw the desert spreading out all around us. A pretty sight to wake up to! On the planning for the day was a walk in the desert, bit of the Dead Sea and Jerusalem.

We had once again one of the Rother walking guides (a German edition) with us, and in it we found a lovely, short walk through a small canyon of Wadi Perazim, selected as one of the top walks in that book. The instructions for the approach were of course in German, but also not especially precise. After a couple of missed turns we found the starting spot, in the middle of desert of white sand. And cyclists.

The canyon bottom our trail was on, was also the venue of a Desert Challenge cycling competition. Thankfully we were still able to enter the canyon and cheer up the cyclist swooshing past.

The canyon itself was a surprisingly beautiful. The sandstone there is soft, powdery and white, making it unbelievable that such high walls can stay standing. The stone walls created a breathtaking contrast with the blue sky. I was also happily appreciating the sheltering shadows in the canyon, since the sun in the sky seemed fairly merciless.

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The day continued towards Jerusalem with a quick pit stop at the Dead Sea. The road 90 goes right by the side of the sea. We stopped a couple of times to get some photos, and in search for a beach to take a dive in. The most famous beaches are in the northern end of the sea, and it is ridiculously expensive to even enter the area. So no swimming that day, Jerusalem was calling.

We had a mixed set of feelings about visiting the city, since we were visiting there just a day or two after Mr Trump had said what he had about the position of that city, causing some instability in the area. We entered through the West Bank, seeing the contrast between the Israeli and the Palestinian side is thought provoking.

Thanks to the riots, many parts of the old city were shielded off from tourists, and our visit was cut short. We only marched through some of the bazaars, sniffing the scents from the spices, teas and falafels. But as the sun set, we had to make our way out and back to Arad.

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The first days in Israel were interesting. I was a little bitter about loosing the first day completely, but the beauty of the second day had turned the mood nicely. It was new to me to spend time in a place that is so controversial and so holy for so many.

Our Israel trip continues still for two days in the next post. So hold on tight! In the meanwhile, pictures are here: Flickr.