One of my favourite walks – Y garn, Glyderau loop

This is one of my favourite walks. A circular loop from the Youth Hostel by Llyn Ogwen, taking in some of Snowdonia’s fine mountain peaks.

Do be aware that some of the going is quite rough, there are sections of scrambling on scree and that in winter you are likely to need crampons & ice axe. That said, it’s an exhilarating mountain walk with fine views.

As one leaves the car parking area and follows the well made path to Llyn Idwal, it’s great to view the imposing cliffs above you with the knowledge that you’ll soon be walking above them. Upon reaching the lake we turn right to head up the slopes of Y Garn. This path is steep & particular care is needed in icy conditions. As you climb, do take time to look around and take in the views; looking east across Llyn Ogwen with Tryfan on its righthand shore or looking north along the Nant Ffrancon valley and out to sea.

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Nant Ffrancon with snow tipped Carneddau

Upon reaching the summit of Y Garn, fine panoramic views are available, looking over most of Snowdonia. Again take in Tryfan to the east or look south-west to Snowdon & her relatives.

Now we must descend about 250m southwards to Llyn y Cwn before ascending the shaded scree slope to the summit of Glyder Fawr, the highest point on this walk. The rough & jagged rocks of Glyder Fawr provide quite the dramatic viewpoint. Now we can enjoy the high level walk eastwards from Glyder Fawr, via Castell y Gwynt to the similarly rocky summit of Glyder Fach.

Whilst it is possible to descend almost directly via the eastern scree slope of Glyder Fach to Bwlch Tryfan, it may be more enjoyable to take the slightly longer route to Bwlch Tryfan by diverting towards Llyn Caseg-fraith, as shown on the map.

Once we have reached Bwlch Tryfan, follow the rock strewn path downhill past Llyn Bochlwyd & its associated waterfall and then all the way back to where we began.

In total a very enjoyable walk of about 7 miles with a climb of around 3,300 ft. Whilst timing will vary upon your pace & how much you stop to enjoy / photograph the views, it is best to allow most of a winter’s day to complete this – say 7 hours.

Below is my map for this walk, embedded via Viewranger:

Natural History Photography – Why? Reason 1

4:30 am Beep, beep, beep. The alarm goes off. I’m comfy & warm, it’s freezing out there but there’s stuff to do before getting on the road. Why do I get up? To take some landscape shots…

A few hours later it’s still dark and we’re at our first destination. I’m reckying by torchlight for the perfect spot to set up the tripod. The car was reporting -6 degrees when we stopped, feels at least that cold to me. Damn, there’s a light breeze. I’ll really need that breeze to drop, if the reflections are to be perfect.

The first glow of dawn light tinges the sky, it’s so peaceful, serene even and I feel that oneness with mother nature that you just won’t get in a town or with a bunch of folk. Time to take a few longish exposures.

It’s light now & the sun is about to rise above the horizon, birds start singing, it’s time for the main event. The breeze has dropped, almost as if nature is holding her breath & right on cue too. Boom, those first mandarin coloured rays of sun illuminate the Snowdon Horseshoe. The warm light quietly yet inexorably rolls down the mountains, illuminating them in it’s fiery glow. The lake in front of me forms a perfect still mirror, reflecting the morning mountain beauty; mingling it with reflections of the lake’s own glacial boulders. Click, the picture I wanted, saved to flash card. Time to just enjoy these fine moments of sun-kissed mountains & lake.

Then it’s back to the car. Get out the stove to cook up beans on toast for breakfast. And then time to drive to our daytime destination, there are 7 hours of daylight left to make best of, with camera & Shank’s pony.

Snowdon Horseshoe at dawn, from Llynnau Mymbyr
Snowdon Horseshoe at dawn, from Llynnau Mymbyr

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Remembrance, for our children.

Child and multi coloured poppy

Remembrance – What message?

TLDR – What? You can’t spare a few minutes of consideration for a matter so important. Fair enough – go in peace.

In many countries of our world, we have a day upon which we remember the fallen of wars past. For some the date of such is the 11th November; 11am 11th November 1918, the time when the Armistice of Compiegne brought an end to the hostilities of WWI (peace wasn’t fully ratified until 1920). On the nearest Sunday to this date memorial services may be held. Whatever date and whatever name, Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Anzac Day and more; what do we consider if we observe a minute’s silence, what, perhaps, should be our take home message for the time ahead.

Why a silence? For those of us in Britain, King George V asked the public to observe 2 minutes of silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The stated intent was so that “the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead”.
Most families have born the suffering & cost of wars waged across the ages, my own included. I therefore do not wish to criticise the intent to remember ‘the glorious dead’ but would like to suggest that there is very much more that we might consider and that this should be with us for all days, not just 2 minutes per year.

Why a Poppy? After the destruction wreaked upon the countryside of Flanders during WWI, one flower bloomed in abundance before any other, it also proliferated around the graves of the fallen. This was noted by a Canadian field doctor Mr John McCrae in a poem he wrote “In Flanders Fields” and so the red poppy became a symbol for all those fallen & of rebirth in those ravaged lands. The red colour of said poppies also stood for the blood that flowed from the horror of war. Interestingly, if you read McCrae’s poem, it’s last verse is something of a rallying cry for more to “Take up the quarrel with the foe”.

Who & what do we remember?
Some would have us remember only those who fell serving their own country, fighting for our freedom against a foe or nation that perhaps might still be vilified. Surely we can go further than this and extend our compassion to those who fell on all sides. I believe & hope that the mainstay of remembrance these days is for all who fell.

Many now choose to wear poppies of alternate colours.

Purple poppies in remembrance of all the domesticated animals who fell, without their consent and on our behalf. The British Army alone deployed more than 1 million horses & mules to the WWI war effort, over half were used as draft animals to deliver supplies through thick mud & across rough terrain. Others were deployed to the battlefield as the ultimate weapon. In November 1918, the British Army still had about 275,000 riding, gun & cavalry horses deployed. Every year at least 15% of these noble creatures died, some from gas, bullet & shell but most to simple debilitation due to malnourishment, illness & mistreatment. Some estimates are that 8 million horses died during this conflict alone. I salute those who choose to wear a purple poppy to remember these creatures who suffered at our hands.

White poppies may be worn by those who are pacifist, as a statement of opposition to all war & conflict. Whilst I am not a pacifist (I believe that most of us would fight to defend our children), surely the ideal that this pale emblem stands for, is one that all sane people should aspire to. To learn the lessons of the past and avoid conflict in the future.

So, what’s my opinion, what would I have us consider?

Remember – to recall something from the past
Glorious – having splendour, worthy of fame & adoration
Dead – expired, showing absence of all life
War – armed conflict between groups

Consider this: Life is glorious, life can be beautiful. Conflict frequently escalates to armed conflict (because most humans aren’t pacifists), that war brings death which is the absence of life & all that goes with it.

Perhaps more than simply recalling “our glorious dead”, we could learn from the mistakes of the past and avoid that which caused so many violent deaths before their time.

Perhaps we could live our lives in a suitable manner for 365 days per year, not just remembering for 2 minutes of 1 day.

Perhaps we could attempt to avoid conflict in all our actions & decisions. Not only in our direct actions but also our wider influences; such as in decisions of who we vote to rule our nations and decisions of unity or breakup. We are all humans after all and we all share this glorious blue marble as a home, so:

Perhaps we could learn to live together in peace.

Dawn to the Soul

Dawn to the Soul

A beauteous scene, dawn upon lake.
A strong comparison, perhaps to make.
Moral ideals, versus acts that you take.

Walk to the edge, tread with care.
Cast eyes down, take a stare.
Open your soul, if you dare.

In that reflection, what do you see.
Angel or Devil, what might you be.
Good deed or bad, how much the fee.

To yourself, you might lie.
On Reaper approach, tis time to die.
Meet it with honour, or inexorable sigh.

Dawn to the Soul

Listen to a reading of the poem:

Excitement on a misty morning

Saturday morning dawned with mountain mist and a quiet rumbling in the hills.

We packed our flask full of warming chilli & tub of flapjacks, along with just a little photo kit 😉 and headed out on foot for Gartheiniog.
Here we found international sports stars like freshly reconfirmed world champion Sebastien Ogier and previous Wales Rally GB winner Jarri-Matti Latvala (pictured) guiding their rally cars through the forestry with the grace of an ice dancer and the pace of a cheetah. The precision & speed carried by the top drivers through even the most awkward of hairpins was a treat to watch. And all this whilst the cat & mouse battle for the lead continued between Ogier & Tanak.

JM Latvala

We enjoyed our lunch taking in the view of sublime autumn colours reflected in the calm waters of a small lake (pictured). Our snack was not only serenaded by the local birdlife but also by the whoops, laughter & air-horns of passionate & fun-loving rally fans.

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And what do you know, our afternoon was then filled with the pops, bangs and hisses of some classic older rally cars. The air filled with an evocative mix of autumn woodland & synthetic motor oil and we watched these valiant cars, from Imprezas, to Metros (pictured) and plenty of Escorts of course.

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A great day of entertainment in a setting that few could better.

Photographer and Nature Lover …