Sunday, 27 May 2012


Nowhere in Wales evokes quite the same emotions among mountain lovers as the Ogwen Valley. To me it is a mini Scotland with towering peaks, jagged ridges, sheltered cwms and imposing rock walls.

I have two possible challenges in Wales this year:
The Welsh 15 three thousand + feet peaks, within a window of 24 hours
Welsh 1000m Peaks race on Saturday 9th June 2012.

With this in mind it was important to familiarise myself with the routes and with friends over 3 days this was done.

Day one – Saturday 5th May

We left the car park at Trasbwll at 9.15am and at 10.45am we had reached the top of Foel-fras (942m). It was a nice morning and it was mainly dry under foot all day. We reached Carnedd Uchaf (926m) at 11am and then had a coffee stop in the mountain hut on Foel Grach (976m) at 11.20am. It was then a walk in light cloud arriving on Carnedd Llewelyn (“CL”) (1,064m) at 12 noon. It was then across to Yr Elen (962m) at 12.20pm and we took the lower path on the slopes of CL and along the stony ridge to Carnedd Dafydd (1,044m)at 1.25pm with lovely views all around. At 2.05pm we reached Pen-yr Ole Wen (978m), our 7th peak of the day before descending to Glan Dena, arriving there at 3.05pm. It was then a long walk back to Capel Curig and a lovely meal at the Moel Siabod Café.

Day two – Sunday 6th May

Staying overnight in Capel Curig and having a lovely vegetarian breakfast at the café we were at the base of Tryfan (915m) at 9.15am to commence our day’s massive challenge. At 10.30am we had reached the top coming up the steep direct route by the Bochlwyd Buttress. Flurries of hail had accompanied us for most of the way up and we had to put on winter gear as it was very cold. Light snow was then the order of the day so reaching the base of BR at 11.30am we needed to be very careful in making this demanding scramble. We went up the ridge with two groups of climbers and this was good as we helped each other up to the top and we were able to take photographs as we ascended. At 12.30pm we reached the top and then it was on to do Glyder Fach (994m) at 1.00pm and Glyder Fawr (999m) at 1.35pm. It was then a decent through the scree slopes down to Llyn y Cwn and then up to Y Garn (947m) by the ridge route, arriving there at 2.45pm. By now the snow had abated and eventually stopped as we made our way to the isolated top of Elidir Fawr (924m) arriving there at 4pm. After a break of 20 minutes in afternoon sun we left on our long and steep decent and we were down in Nant Peris for 5.30pm and a quick pint in the local pub before catching a bus at 6pm which took us back to Capel Curig.

It had been the intention to do Snowdon, Carnedd Ugain and Grib Goch that day but this was deemed 3 mountains too many to attempt due to the time of day. The three would be done on a separate day to complete our 15 Peak recognisance.

Day three – Thursday 24th May

On a beautiful day at 10am we set off from the north end of Lyn Lockwood by the new path to reach Pen-y-Pass, then taking the Pyg Track to Bwich y Moch and then taking the steep Crib Goch path and the demanding scramble to the top (Grade 1) of Crib Goch (923m), reaching there at 12.20pm. The 921m east top is one of the finest views in British mountaineering which is guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping. Then the start of the section that everyone wants to cross with the Bwlch Goch pinnacles keeping your “rock count” high for the day. Once over the pinnacles it is more a sedate stroll up to the flakes and pinnacles of Crib y Ddysgl and then on to the top of Carnedd Ugain (“CU”) (1,065m). We had a couple of breaks as we made our way along the long narrow ridge getting to CU for 2pm. It was then onto Snowdon (1085m) at 2.16pm and then a drink in the café and a supply of water taken with us as we had decided to do the Snowdon Horseshoe on this hot and windless day. The Snowdon Horseshoe has long been rated as one of the finest mountain days in Wales, if not Britain. Despite sun cream we well knew we were going to get burnt. It was then down the long scree slope to Bwlch y Saethau, along the ridge and then the challenging scramble (this is scrambling at its best!) up the escarpment edge to the top of Y Lliwedd (898m), arriving there at 4pm. Two people we knew were climbing on the cliff face and we did meet them having successfully completed their climb. It was then along the ridge with breath taking views down to the shores of Llyn Llydaw, then on to the Miners Track, where we linked up with the two climbers once again, and walked back to Pen-y-pass. We were back at our car at 6pm and then it was on to Moel Saibod Café for a well earned drink and a chat over the success of the day.

Over the 3 days some 16 mountains had been done adding to my annual mountain count.

26th May 2012

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


Wednesday 9th May and Thursday 10th May 2012 were set aside to walk in the Lake District and do some more of the Central Wainwrights. We left Chester at 7.45am and with a brief shopping stop in Ambleside we were at our overnight accommodation in Langdale at 12.15pm and we commenced our walk at 12.50pm with a nice dry clear day, indeed ideal for walking. A BIG day was planned and some 7 mountains were on the Agenda, alas not all Wainwrights but all counting in my annual “mountain count”.

We did the following mountains:
Rossett Pike (1.30pm)
Esk Pike (2.30pm)
111 Crag (3.20pm)
Broad Crag (3.50pm)
Great End ((4.20pm)
Allen Crags (5.00pm)
Glaramara (5.50pm)
Allen Crags (6.45pm).

Alas a light rain started at 4.45pm and the cloud began to drop. On Glaramara we put on our waterproofs as the rain was getting heavier and visibility was rapidly vanishing. We reached the top of Allen Crags for a second time as this was the best route back. The question I ask is – does this count for 8 mountains in the day or just 7??

In the darkening after a long and hard walk we were in a pub having a well earned pint at 9.55pm.

It poured during the night and was a terrible morning again on Thursday so we made the wise decision to return south. Activities for our second day would need to wait!!

12th May 2012

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Coast2Coast “Way of the Roses” Morecambe to Bridlington – 170 miles (274km) Monday 14th – Thursday 17th May 2012

It is our main bike challenge for the year and we have been training hard for it. We are waiting the 8.22am train at Cuddington on Monday 14th May to take us to Chester, then the 8.52am Manchester train to Warrington. Here we change to get the Virgin train to Edinburgh, exiting at Lancaster and then catching the 10.19am to Morecambe. The pressure is on but all goes according to plan and at 10.45am we leave the prom. at Morecambe bound for Settle, our first overnight stop. At 12.45am we are at Hornby and have an enjoyable lunch at the Royal Oak. It had threatened to rain and the dark clouds above us told us a shower was imminent so we took shelter at the pub until the shower passed and we had an enjoyable day as we make our way passing through small villages and over moor areas, some steep gradients and by the River Ribble into Settle. We arrived at our hotel – The Craven Arms – in Giggleswick and we very much enjoy our overnight stay. We finished at 4pm having travelled 60kms.

Having had gear changing problems with both bikes we called into the bike store at Settle to have them looked over and we were ever so impressed with the service and advice we received. We knew we were in for a very hard day with the first massive hill climb as we left Settle at 11.30am on Tuesday 15th May. (Alas we had taken the wrong route out of the town, our only wrong navigation error on the trip!!) However it was a long downhill ride to the lovely village of Airton. It was then a lot of up and downs, with some hail showers, which proved tiring as we were carrying all our kit in two pannier bags over our back wheels. At Hetton we stopped for a coffee break at The Angle Inn, a delightful location with two wood burning stoves bringing warmth on this cold but dry day. At Burnsall we reached the River Wharfe and stopped to take photographs on the bridge crossing the river. From here we negotiate the longest and steepest hill of the trip taking us up onto the Nidderdale moor and the highest point of the route at 1,312ft (402m) at Greenhow. The decent down to Pateley Bridge was ever so steep (14%) with lots of tight bends. Once at the base of the decent we needed to stop as we were cold and not in a good way. We bought milk, sausage rolls and chocolate cake at the local bakery to help us recover from the long climb followed by a very demanding decent.

Our climbing and walking with our bikes is far from over as once in the town of Pateley Bridge we are once again climbing and eventually reach the top of Brimham Rocks. Farms are cutting their first silage and here we hear a cuckoo making its unique call. At last gradients start to get easier and the Vale of York and the riverside path into the City of Ripon were flat. At 6.30pm we arrived at our hotel – The Unicorn – somewhat knackered, having recorded our hardest ever day cycle. Once in our hotel the heavens opened for an hour or so – how lucky were we. We travelled a hard and demanding 77 kms.

9.45am on Wednesday 16th May sees us pass Ripon Cathedral and we are bound for York. This proves to be a very scenic route and we are off road for long sections as we reach the River Ouse. We are in the centre of York by the Minster having a coffee break in a Café at 1pm and we have travelled some 50kms. We are well pleased by our performance and cycling has been so easy compared to the previous day. Again we are blessed with good weather. Today we are bound for Pocklington and staying at The Feathers Hotel. At Stamford Bridge we pass the sight of the Battle of Stamford Bridge (1066). Fields of bright yellow oil seed rape have fascinated us each day and as for the first time our track took us through a large field we stopped to take photographs. A little further on we stopped for a snack at the road junction just before “Fat Rabbit Farm”. We knew we were doing well and at 3.45pm we reached our hotel having travelled some 80kms.

We are up earlier on Thursday morning and we are on our bikes at 8.45am ready to go. Alas there is a light drizzle of rain (which lasts all day) but does not hold us back. Again for most of the day we are on narrow lanes in lovely country side and apart from two hills to negotiate we are mainly on the flat. We stop at Driffield for coffee at 11.15am having cycled 38kms. At 1.48pm we arrive on the finishing point on the prom. at Bridlington, our massive challenge has been accomplished and what a great feeling of achievement. The tide was in so we went and touched the sea. We had travelled 70kms.

Finding the station we were on the 2.11pm train bound for Sheffield (our target had been the 16.09 train). Here we would catch a train bound for Manchester which was extremely busy but we fought our way on and got off at Stockport and immediately getting on a train bound for Chester. We were back in Cuddington at 6.45pm. all going like clockwork, and our adventure was over. Our effort was well rewarded with an overwhelming sense of achievement and memories of iconic landscapes and beautiful skies that will never be forgotten.

This is a hard route especially if you are carrying your own gear without any support as we were doing. Our overnight stops were well thought out and in reflection there were few alternatives. The route is well sign posted but you need to be careful as other routes are also sign posted. Sustrans has done massive good work in creating this route through The Lune Valley, the beautiful Forest of Bowland, the wild and wonderful Yorkshire Dales and the no less captivating Yorkshire Wolds. Give it a try and you will enjoy it.

19th May 2012

Across Wales, Anglesey and Holy Islands by Bike Tues 1st May to Thur 3rd May 2012 178.5kms

Leaving Chester on our bikes at 9.55am we were at the Welsh Border at 10.05am and with a good tail wind on a dull but so far dry day we were in Prestatyn by 12 noon. With ever more darkening clouds we decided to put on our waterproofs at Rhyl but I am glad to say the heavy down pour did not materialise and only light intermittent drops were felt. At Abergele (1pm) we stopped at a seaside café – Pantri Bach – for a light lunch and by 1.30pm we were on our way again arriving at Rhos-on-Sea (our overnight stop) at 2.30pm well ahead of our expected arrival time. What a difference a tail wind makes!! We had cycled 71.8kms. We spent an enjoyable evening in this small town.

Wednesday 2nd May saw us start at 9.30am on a lovely sunny morning with no wind and with the prom. At Llandudno open on a trial basis to cyclists for the first time we could not miss out on this opportunity to go through the town and round the Great Orme, arriving in Conwy at 11.30am, having cycled 18kms. The scenery all day was spectacular. We had a short café stop at 28kms and at 3pm we were at the Menai Bridge, having done 50kms. At 4pm we were at our overnight farm B&B near Pentraeth and we had cycled 61.7kms.

A short taxi ride took us to the Ship Inn for drinks and a meal at the lovely location of Red Wharf Bay. I had passed through this delightful location a few years before on a C2C walk across Anglesey.

Thursday 3rd May turned out to be another nice sunny morning with a light wind as we left our accommodation at 9.30am after an enjoyable breakfast. We were on narrow hedge bordered lanes as we made our way across the Island. By 11am we had done 19kms and we were in the village of Maenaddwyn. The next section of the route was mainly down hill with two long straights, for the first time we touched over 50kms per hour on our bikes. At 12.30pm we were at Trearddur and on the small island of Holy Island (Ynys Gybi) and enjoying a coffee and hamburger by this lovely beach. At 1.30pm we had reached Holyhead and made our way to the railway station. We had done 45kms. We boarded a Virgin Super Voyager 2 bound for Euston at 1.58pm. By 3.20pm we were back in Chester at the end of an enjoyable trip.

5th May 2012

Asturian House

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Henry Garcia Tours Madeira
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Rachid Imerhane

Rachid Imerhane
Guide & Organizer of Treks - Mountain - Coast - Desert & Imperial Cities

Clashview Kinlochbervie

Clashview Kinlochbervie
Clashview Kinlochbervie





Bayhead Self Catering, Isle of Harris

Bayhead Self Catering, Isle of Harris