Mountains, seagulls & upside-down waterfalls

Location: Holyhead, Anglesey
Days since departure: 56
Days walked: 50
Mileage: 748.5
Counties visited: 11
Blisters: 5 dead ones

OK, I give up – the blog isn’t going to catch up with me!

So instead, here’s a random snapshot of a couple of days from this week. You’ll have to check back once I’ve finished walking for some posts to fill in the gaps!

Bizarrely (anyone who knows me fairly well will agree) – I am actually on schedule with the walk. This means that, as planned, I started this week with a ‘discretionary’ stroll to the summit of the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon. Not very coastal, I admit – someone I met in a cafe this week was relieved to hear that you don’t have to climb it as part of the Wales Coast Path – but it was a target inspired by my Dad. When out on a walk, if there was anything pointy within sight it was obligatory to climb it, so he wouldn’t have approved of me walking within 15 miles of Snowdon and passing it by.

Those who’ve been paying close attention to my itinerary & tracker may have spotted that I’ve started swapping my rest days from Friday to Saturday over the past few weeks. This means that I get to spend my rest day with Tasha, who comes up on Friday evenings to join me, rather than on my own.

On that basis, instead of resting in Caernarfon on Friday, I walked up to Pen-Y-Pass in the rain – about 13 miles, all on roads and mostly with no footway. A couple of miles outside Llanberis I bumped into a couple of very wet, knackered-looking law students from Bristol Uni (where I studied Aeronautical Engineering a few years ago). They were hoping to walk from Bangor to Abergavenny in about a week, including climbing Snowdon on the way. Both were carrying massive rucksacks that must have weighed about 80 lbs each – “It’s just the bare essentials, we took out everything we couldn’t manage without.”

I dispensed a little bit of advice (“please God no – you’ll end up needing Mountain Rescue”) when it transpired that they were planning to tackle Snowdon via the Horseshoe route (the hardest way, including the knife-edge of Crib Goch which has a boot-width path on uneven rock and sheer drops on both sides) – and that the only map they had between them was an A-Z.

I was really chuffed that my good friend, beard culturist and lime-green leotard owner Richard Nelmes made the long trip from the fine city of Stoke to join me for the Snowdon climb. We met up in Llanberis on Friday, and walked together to Pen-Y-Pass, where Tasha picked us up. The weather was, frankly, horrendous – it was chucking it down with rain and so windy that we actually had trouble standing up in places. Towards the top of the Llanberis pass it was pretty surreal to watch waterfalls where the water never reached the ground – as soon as it went off the edge, the wind threw it vertically back up the hill again! We warmed up a bit afterwards with a hot chocolate in the famous Pen-y-Gwryd hotel.

As planned, I then had my rest day (comprised mostly of laundry, lunch and trying to get my new phone working) on Saturday while Rich went out with his video camera to capture some footage of the Glyders, which he’s planning to use in his audiovisual compositions. We met up for some dinner in the evening at The Heights in Llanberis.

On Sunday, Tasha drove us both to Pen-Y-Pass and we took the Miners’ track to the summit of Snowdon. The weather was still rubbish – fortunately not so windy, but above about 600 metres there was zero visibility. We took things at a moderate pace and I was really surprised to find myself not feeling particularly tired at the summit – first time that’s ever happened to me on a mountain! Those 650 miles of walking beforehand must have done me some good 🙂

We walked back down the Snowdon Ranger route (on the opposite side of the mountain) – luckily the cloud was starting to lift so we had a fairly good view for most of the way down. Rich and I parted ways at the Snowdon Ranger youth hostel and then I walked all the way back to Caernarfon on the road, ending up at Bron Menai guest house – thanks to Mrs Ashcroft for her kind welcome.

On Monday I crossed the Menai suspension bridge to Anglesey – it’s bigger than it looks on the map (Anglesey, not the bridge). Now I’m about half-way round, at Holyhead. The weather has been mixed but I had a little boost on Thursday when Arry Beresford-Webb joined me for a stretch between Wylfa and that pointy bit before you head south towards Church Bay. When we met up she was lost as usual – we had a surreal phone conversation that went something along the lines of:

Arry: “How far have you got?”

Me: “I’m at Cestyll.”

Arry: “Oh cool, I’m really close to there”

Me: “Hang on, are you wearing black, I think I can see you?”

Arry: “Yep, I can’t see you though”

Me: “I’m wearing blue, waving my walking poles”

Arry: “Still can’t see you”

Me: “To the left of the three seagulls! The ones that are flying!”


Big thanks to Arry for not only keeping me company across the dreaded pebble causeway at Club Bar Bay / Squashed Baguette Bay / Arry Bay (other geographical terms may apply), but also for bringing another emergency supply pack including Penguins and a couple of Go Bars (for Offa’s Dyke). Arry and her massive feat of endurance have given me a huge impetus to complete my own challenge, and I’m honoured to have her as a friend.

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