The Compostual Existentialist

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Holiday 2012–Part 1: A Walk in the Rain

Rain. It comes and washes away the summer dreams like a proper spoil sport.

My calculations that the time between Wimbledon and the Olympics yet before the school holidays would be a gloriously sunny time were completely out. Beyond out.

And so it came to pass that on Saturday 14th July I loaded up the car for the next leg of my annual Welsh Costal Walk with Nick. With the car laden I began the four hour journey to the north west of Wales via Betws-y-Coed.

Omens and foresight should have shown me that the weekend was to be a tricky one. When I was about an hour into my journey to my first port of call, a text arrived from my colleague to announce he was running late and would be setting off shortly. Fine, I thought, this will give me a chance to mooch about the camping shops in Betws-y-Coed and therein maybe purchase some gas canisters for the camping stove.

On my arrival the rains began. Fair enough, I thought, this is Betws-y-Coed which is renown for rain as the clouds empty their load onto the Snowdonian foot hills so a bit of precipitation is bound to occur in these here parts.

Two hours, a very expensive bacon sandwich (£4.50 for two bits of soggy bacon between cheap slices of bread) and a cup of tea (£1.50 for an egg cup with a splash of milky brown liquid) and several Radio 4 programmes later, Nick arrived and negotiations began for further travel to Porthmadoc where we could buy provisions for the break and some beer. Before following Mr Sat Nav’s directions to Aberdaron and the campsite.

A few days before departure I had placed a reservation as usual at Mynnedd Mawr Campsite only to be told “Just turn up”. So we did. And managed to get one of the last good spots for the tent. The majority of the campsite seemed to be taken up by two very large 10 men trailer tents pitched slap bang in the middle of the site. The thoughtful owners (two Jewish couples in their late fifties/early sixties) had blocked out the lovely view so I didn’t have to look at it. That was very kind of them.

523909_391448184254980_1169956727_nThe following day, glorious sunshine blessed our walk which commenced from the end of the last walk (Porth Oer) up the coast toward Porth Tywyn. A good 15 miles of coastal path. The weeks of torrential rain over the previous weeks had made the going quite boggy and our initial steps seemed thwarted but following a brief detour along the beach we were back on the trail in no time.

 

Glorious views were beheld. Glorious weather too.

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Looking North

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Nick enjoying a well earned break

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There are many mysterious places along that stretch of coast. For example these stairs cut into the hill side and seemingly inaccessible static caravans.

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Or you would be trudging along and have to follow the path through a field of cows…

It’s such a lovely piece of coast line. But the weather there can be unpredictable. By 3pm the clouds were already gathering and the wind had picked up. On our return to the tent it was decided that it was too cold to sit outside drinking beer and that we should retire to the interior of the tent, therein to play dominoes.

I was winning, 10 rounds up, the wind brought with it rain and clouds to further darken the skies. By morning the tent had nearly taken off had it not been laden with the previous evening and early morning rain. The outlook seemed bleak. Further bad weather due.

Rain stopped play. We decamped and returned to our respective homes.

 

Coming soon – Holiday 2012: Part 2 Devon and Cornwall.

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There and Back Again and There and back again–Pt2.

So following arrival at Nicks in Crosby nr Liverpool at 1am in the morning I managed to squeeze out a couple of hours sleep. My head raced with the reality that I would be in Wales later that day. Think I was more excited than Nick.

IMAG0249Several hours later we were on the road in separate cars heading to Aberdaron. Traffic wasn’t that bad and the weather looked promising. Stopped off at the traditional staging posts (Tesco in Caernarfon and Snowdonia Camping Stores in Dinas) arriving at the campsite shortly before 1pm.

Lunch was at the Ty Newydd – I had scampi, Nick had a burger and plans and itinerary hatched.

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After a brief tour of the village, the beach and the church, a warm up walk on top of Mynnedd Rhiw and a visit to the top of Braich-y-Pwll to see the view followed.

 

 

Tuesday arrived and so commenced the walk. Turning left along the head land we followed the coastal path towards Aberdaron soaking up the views before us and testing our map reading skills to the full.

2011 - 1Now, I’ve been coming to the area for many years and I knew that walking the Coastal Path would provide me with new and exciting sights; I wasn’t wrong. Places I had gazed at longingly on Ordnance Survey maps were taking shape in reality: Porth Felen, Pen-Y-Cil, Bychestyn, Parwyd, Hen Borth. Glorious views, glorious weather. Strange remains of an industrial past. 

But woe! I lost my hat. My time worn hat. The hat I have owned for over 8 years. Gone. No more. Even though later in the evening a brief walk back to possible places it may have been left produced no fruits meaning that I had to wear my ill fitting Hard Rock Cafe cap until such time as a proper hat could be purchased…


A song that reminds me of an event

Way back when, in the time of never-never. Before sinister government face recognition software trawled tagged helpfully pictures on Facebook adding your face to the giant database that “does not exist”. Before the twin towers fell. Before the millennium of anti-climax. A much anticipated event occurred. Warnings in the estoteric press and from hippies and floaty vagina types about how the world was going to end because of the event were abound. The foolish paid daft wads of cash to observe the event from the furthest point south they could get to. Boats and aircraft were chartered. My pre-wife and I headed for relative isolation equipped with tent and telescope with solar observation module attached.

The main intent was to follow the hordes to the overpriced traffic jammed Southwest to observe the total solar eclipse of 11th August 1999. Common sense, however, reigned. Travelling south with all the holiday traffic to Cornwall, the Guardian destination of choice was utter madness. However, I knew of a relatively quiet place. Not many people went there for it was relatively undiscovered. It faced south over the sea, took about the same amount of time to get to and promised to be an adventure and a half.

So it was agreed, we would head to North Wales and to Aberdaron, camp, then ascend Mynnedd Mawr to observe the eclipse.

We packed our stuff and set off in the green nasty. Long term readers will remember the green nasty as the car that was killed by fire. It was a good car. Handy for camping. It had a cassette player and a selection of cassettes were chosen for the journey. I even compiled a “eclipse” compilation. Driving over the hill and into the village with Aberdaron and the bay before me while today’s song was playing burned itself into my mind. Whenever I hear today’s song, I am there;

Brain Damaged/Eclipse by Pink Floyd

….Driving down the hill into the village….just as….”and the sun is eclipsed by the moooooooooooo-ooooooooooon” is sung.

It was quiet there. Few people about. This was, of course, before being popularised in the Guardian and other such papers as the area to go because “Cornwall is too expensive, far away and full of awful tourists like yourselves”. We pitched our tent in a relatively unpopular field and the next day ascended Mynnedd Mawr. With, it seemed, everyone else who had the same idea.

Usually that place is quiet with few visitors. We got there early with the campsite being literally at the base of the mountain and as we set up and prepared ourselves for the event more and more people arrived with the same idea. Indeed, the look of horror on other people’s faces echoed mine as it meant that I was not alone in the realisation that that part of Wales was becoming more well known than before. Coach loads of people started arriving, all up the old army track way people had parked their cars blocking the passing places and being horrible and common. I was pleased because we had got there relatively early and as a result we were able to park right at the top by the coastguard view point.

Of course, with all these young types in their flash cars there, the radio seemed to be playing in unison. Which ever station it was….was playing today’s song too. Everywhere you went that week you would drive or walk past other cars also playing the album that today’s song is from. Collective imitation? Who knows? What I do know though….it was a bloody good eclipse enhanced by the beauty of Bardsey island. Sure there were lots more people than I had expected but I understand that there was nowhere near as many people than who were trying to get into cloud covered Cornwall. And when ever I hear today’s song, I am there….on top of Mynnedd Mawr, with my telescope with solar observation module…Total eclipse of the Sun 1999…Fantastic.


Day 4 – Zoe goes home

I had intended this trip to be one of solitude. Solitude is overrated.

Zoe left at lunch time and shortly after I went for a 3 mile walk on the top of Mynnedd Rhiw.

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Porth Neigwl from Rhiw Orange Mast. Damn TMobile IMAG0079 IMAG0080 IMAG0081 IMAG0082

As you can tell from the pictures the weather had turned in sympathy to my mood. Grey and miserable. The rain fell. And fell. And fell. And fell.

The wind. Blew. Blew. Gusted. Bellowed. Huffed. Puffed.

Wales missed Zoe as much as I did.

Cold. Damp. No radio. Not the holiday I had envisaged. I cooked burgers in the living area of the tent looking through the small window overlooking rain sodden fields watching the peaceful surroundings turn into a violent maelstrom.

Campaggeddon postponed for the post rain period.

“Thundery downpours” – said Thomas Shaffenacker on the car radio.

Stuff this. Time to call it a day and head to Zoe’s.


Day 3 – Sunday

Failure to find Chinese food the night before, lack of reception, difficulty in finding a small portable radio and realising that few places take cards in these parts brings home how remote this place can be.

Warnings of weather changes ahead start to foster concern in my mind. The likelihood being that my holiday may be cut short by bad weather. This is not a bad thing. This holiday is already costing me more than I had anticipated.

Today it was more of the same

– visit to Porth Ysgo

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– Visit to Pwllheli (Carvery Lunch)
– Geocaching taking in –
– – visit to Porth Oer
– – Visit to Porth Colomon
– – Visit to Rhiw

Secrit government installationz

– Dining out at Aberdaron on a beach side veranda (Mixed Grill)

Bits of rain. Not too bad weatherwise though.


Day 2 – Saturday

Went to sleep to the sounds of dogs barking and woke to the sounds of a murder of crows attacking, what I later discovered was, binbags.

5am – Nobody about. Dense fog across the land. How is it that the most beautiful place in the world can hide itself under a blanket of cloud? How can I possibly show off the picturesque vistas to a Llyn virgin when visibility is so low?

By 10am I was bored having walked as far as I dare without worrying that my imminent visitor would be unable to find me. The fog had lifted and the clouds were breaking overhead. I thought walking to the end of the lane to meet zoefruitcake would be a nice surprise.

The surprise, however, was for me. My parents. They too had chosen to visit the area this weekend and had just visited the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by my campsite and had run into me less than half a mile into my walk to the end of the lane. They invited me to join them on their day out but I declined, explaining about my imminent visitors arrival.

No sooner had their car rounded the bend on the crest of the hill and vanished out of sight but the familiar red of Zoe’s Smart car appeared.

As regular readers will know; I can’t do anything right. Zoe’s car is a 2 seater with no boot. I’d forgotten about that. So after saying hello and providing unneeded directions to the camp-site, I retraced my steps back along the road past Pen Bryn Bach to my base for the week.

As the day progressed I became wary of how boring it might be for someone not sharing the “Love of the Llyn” – sitting in the passenger side being driven through rolling countryside to remote destinations. None-the-less, the days itinerary included:-

  • The view of Porth Neigwl from Rhiw
  • The cairn on Rhiw
  • The Ty Coch on Porthdinllaen
  • The Parents
  • Abersoch
  • Pwllheli (in an attempt to locate a Chinese restaurant)
  • Aberdaron