Weekends in Oxford

Oxford is a lovely city which I definitely recommend for a weekend break and whilst here a few times over the summer I’ve stayed in some of the neighbourhoods surrounding, which are worth a visit too. Cowley is a young and vibrant neighbourhood with lots of bars and restaurants and Iffley is a quiet relaxed place just next to Cowley and yet so different in feel.

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I also had a trip out to the Vale of the White Horse, a lovely spot for a walk. From the summit you can see forever and the landscape is vastly different from my home in the Pennines with its wild moors; here it is neatly managed farmland and collections of little villages.


Moel Hebog and the best ice cream in Wales

It may not have been glorious sunshine and it has been pretty windy and cold, but today has still been a great day to get out on the hills – and Moel Hebog was today’s calling.

I’ve stared at Moel Hebog a lot over the years when I’ve been around Bedgellert and for some reason the closest I’ve ever been is when I did Moel Lefn and Moel Ogof about 6 years ago as the second day of a two day expedition and I was a bit gutted at the time for missing it out (even if I was knackered by that point in the day). I’m not sure why its taken me so long to get around to this one, but today seemed like a good day to.

I arrived in Begellert early enough to dump my car on the road just out of town and headed off over the river following the new signs for the footpath between Bedgellert and Rhyd Ddu. The landscape has certainly changed since I last walked in this area as the steam train now runs through the valley and the footpath has been resurfaced. Here is the junction to head up Moel Hebog.

76 route up 79 Bedgellert Valley

The route up Moel Hebog is straightforward to follow as you pick your way through the boulders and zig zag up. It feels like you should head for the col (sorry, Bwlch) between Hebog and Moel yr Ogof, but resist the urge to add miles and follow the polished rocks where feet have gone before you, heading directly up the spur.

I was certainly surprised to reach the top so quickly as from the valley Moel Hebog looks quite oppressive. But up close it is a friendly scramble over the rocks making the walk interesting. Once at the cairn the wind was strong so it was a bit of a battle to reach the trig point, so I was grateful of the wall to hide behind to refuel myself with chocolate.

80 Moel Hebog 84 Moel Hebog not the top 85 Moel Hebog trig 86 across the top

I strongly resist the urge to return the same way on any walk so I continued across the top to descend south and then east to head back to Bedgellert. While its easy enough to do so, picking the way through the scree is less fun on this side of the mountain.

90 scree down 89 route down 93 looking back at route down

This last photo shows the route down across the top and down through the scree, if I was heading up this way I’d be less than impressed having to pick through it. I take the rocks to the northern side any day! Once out of the scree the going is quick over the grass heading down Cwm Cyd following the river.

96 route down 98 route down

My intention was to head for the top end of the thin strip of woodland, but got carried away descending and found myself bashing through the woodland instead. Ah, brings back memories of evenings on close country search exercises with the Mountain rescue team!

103 woodland 105 tree

Once I’d made it out of the assault course I could eventually see the route to head through the woodland of Parc Cae-Morys, which is a much more pleasant woodland to walk through and eventually takes you down to the railway and the road.

108 route through woods 107 mushrooom

And once back in Begellert there is nothing else you can do to top off a really good hike but to have a fabulous ice cream from the parlour. Whatever the weather!

110 best ice cream in wales




Finding myself again, on the Nantlles

Today’s been a great day of walking, even if I’m definitely sunburnt. I seem to have walked myself through the stressed that have been getting me down over the last few weeks and through sweat and over exertion I have found myself again. Happy and content as a solo walker. And back on the Nantlle’s!

Its been nearly ten years since I did the first half of the Nantlle ridge, back on my ML training as part of the two day expedition. So it was nice to finally be back to finish it off.

I parked at Nantlle village and walked back to pick up the path across the fields in the direction of the campsite at Tal y Mignedd Isaf. I momentarily forgot I was in Wales and that footpaths are rarely signposted from the road and require a bit of hunting out. So it was reassuring when the Snowdonia park ranger pulled up as I was doubling back with my map in hand. He kindly confirmed that the house I was stood next too was indeed where the path was and while it was due to be diverted (hopefully a signpost will appear then!) for now it was fine to wander through their gate. So if you’re looking for the path from the B4418 that crosses the river to the east of Llyn Nantlle yes, do go through the gate at the house called Tyrpeg Gelli.

36path down to Tal y mignedd isaf 39 sheep 38 river

Cross the bridge over the river, but instead of heading to the campsite cross the second bridge immediately opposite and pick up the track which leads upwards to the open access moorland to ascend Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd.

41 sheep 42 looking back at mynydd Mawr 44 route up 45 route up

Heading upwards you can eventually see the obelisk which marks the summit. It was another scorching day so whilst I’d at least found my walking rhythm again, I could feel myself baking in the heat. (I can confirm a very red neck despite a buff!) Its a bit of a monotonous plod to the obelisk but worth it for the view.

49 Mynydd Tal y mignedd 51 Obelisk

Nantlle ridge to the north east
Nantlle ridge to the north east

After a massive handful of jelly beans and nuts I headed down following the fenceline and picking my way through the rocks to reach the col (sorry Wales, I mean Bwlch) and then headed up Craig Pennant. This turned out to be a great route up as you pick your way through rocks all the way up, nothing too scrambly and difficult but requires concentration nonetheless. The top is marked by a shelter.

52 route across to Craig Pennant 56 Craig Pennant topFrom there it is a skip across the top to reach the trig point at Garnedd Goch a rather uninspiring trig point but the view makes it worth it.

62 Garnedd goch top 53 Garnedd Goch top

From here I headed down following the wall to the north west all the way to reach a small car park at the end of the road at Maen Llywyd.

63 route down

The route from here back to Nantlle was intended to follow the paths down to the quarry but to start with the path  just after the ruined house at Bryn llidiard (517498) was on the wrong side of the fence to what my map said. Not wanting to rip another pair of trousers on barbed wire I followed the path.

66 path on wrong side of fence

Which then  meant I couldn’t head north east towards the quarry! So I headed down continuing to follow the fence and squeeze through a hole in the fence ahead next to the ruined building.

67 route not on map

Which at least meant I could see a track through to lead through the tips adjacent to the quarry and then out on to the road. A typical end to a welsh walk in many ways!

From there I had a mindless plod back along the road to Nantlle but at least I got to see this view!

71 nantlle valley 72 ridge



R+R in Llanberis – Bera Mawr and Bera Bach

Ok, I should have been in Scotland this weekend but life has a way of screwing stuff up and I find myself in Llanberis instead. There’s worse places I could be right now and the sun is shining!

I can’t recall a day I’ve been in Wales in the last few years when I’ve had such glorious sunshine as today.

I’ll be honest, I chose this walk on the assumption that it would be away from the Easter crowds that will descend on Snowdon and the Glyders. However, I hadn’t realised quite how stunning and thus popular the Aber Falls would be. Having also had a near miss on the A55 (my fault – sorry to the car in front who must have winced) I thought I should perhaps stay away from anything too rocky, since I was clearly feeling a bit distracted.

33 afon falls

From Aber Falls I headed along the much quieter North Wales path to ascend the hill via Afon Gam.

11 Sign 13 Valley

In the unexpected hot sunshine it felt like more of a slog than it really was, but much of the battle was really with myself and my recent lost desire to walk alone. I’ve always loved walking on my own, but having recently found someone I loved walking with and then losing them, finding myself alone was a disappointment I didn’t expect, but to have clear skies out across the north coast to the sea was worth it the mental battle.

19 looking back

Attempting to find my marching pace I headed across the moorland to Bera Mawr, where I finally found my smile as I played across the rocks. No danger of breaking my neck but just enough fun to find my mojo again.

22 view from Bera Mawr 27 Bera Mawr

From here I headed across the hill top to a rather uninspiring Drosgl and back down to the waterfall, which by 3pm was heaving with young families paddling in the river. Despite the unexpected sunburn on my neck, I’d found my smile again so all is good in the world, just about.