A few days in the mountains

Last week we managed to spend a few days wandering around the mountains of Snowdonia, making a really pleasant change from being out on the sea, off Jersey.  I lived in North Wales for a few years towards the end of the 1970’s, working in a number of outdoor centres and spending every available day meandering around the hills, from Cader Idris in the south to the Carneddau in the north.
We passed a relaxing day heading up Cnicht from the Gwynant Valley, with views stretching from the coast off Porthmadog to the crags on the south side of the Glyders.
Our second day involved a rising traverse from Cwm Idwal to the summit of Foel Goch, a mountain I have largely ignored in the past, followed by a reasonably steep climb to the snowy summit of Y Garn.  In retrospect snowy is too generous a term, it was more like closely compacted ice pellets.  Lunch sheltering in the lee of the summit cairn was as cold a meal break I can remember for years.  It wasn’t a place to sit and savour the gastronomic delights purchased in Capel Curig.  As we headed down via the Devil’s Kitchen I couldn’t help but remember a bitterly cold January day in 1979 when all of the streams were frozen and we had a really memorable day ice climbing.
For the final day, there was only one real option, Tryfan by Heather Terrace.  I have lost count the number of times I have reached the summit of Tryfan, it must be in excess of 50 times, but each time it just re-inforces my belief that Tryfan is the finest mountain to be found almost anywhere.
Reading the walking magazines one gains an impression that British mountains are so crowded that it is almost impossible to find space for your feet.  In these 3 days we saw 4 people and only one was close enough to speak to.  So the moral of the story is if you want the hills to yourself then midweek in December is a good starting point.

Snowdonia
Moel Siabod from the car park at Tyn y Coed. Lovely start to the day but not the best conditions for practicing navigation.
Snowdonia
Pete below the final slopes of Cnicht. It must be one of the best little mountains anywhere.
Snowdonia
A perfect reflection in Llyn Gwynant.
Snowdonia
Heading up the final slopes of Y Garn, a bit slippy underfoot.
Snowdonia
The route from earlier in the day. We followed a sloping route to the summit of Foel Goch.
Snowdonia
A picture from an earlier decade. Cwm Idwal in January 1979.  A memorable Snowdonia winter

Sea bed ramblings

Saturday dawned windy yet again with the promise of substantial showers around in the afternoon so I decided to head out towards Seymour Tower, off the south east corner of the Island.  Due to the large tidal range (almost 12 metres on the larger tides) a virtually unique coastal environment is exposed twice a day, particularly on Spring Tides.  For several hours, each day, the opportunity of walking around on the sea bed presents itself and I took full advantage of the opportunity yesterday. Amazingly I was the only person who seemed to want to experience the delights of this corner of the Island on blustery Saturday in January.

Sea bed ramblings
Looking towards Seymour Tower, my aim was to try and reach a navigation mark, Karame, which is beyond the obvious tower. As I headed out across the exposed foreshore I was the only person in the area.
Sea bed ramblings
The rescue beacon. In the past people have lost their lives when they have been cut off by the rapidly rising tide. Between Christmas and New Year two German tourists were fortunate to be able to climb the tower when they underestimated the speed at which the tide rises. The inshore lifeboat collected them from the tower which prevented them having to speed a cold and dark night 6 hours perched above the swirling waters.
Seymour Tower
Viewed up close the superb construction of the tower is clearly visible. The concrete additions are as a result of the German occupation. It is possible to hire the tower from Jersey Heritage, a very unique place to spend a night.
sea bed ramblings
A quick lunch stop coincided with almost the only sunshine of the day. The tower casting its shadow over the sandbank.
Gorey Castle
Looking north towards Gorey, with the magnificent Mont Orgueil Castle towering above the harbour. The shiny slopes to the left of the castle are some of the earliest fields to be planted with Jersey Royal potatoes.
Seymour Tower
Seymour Tower seen from the south. Painted white as a navigation mark.
Karame
I had been hoping to get as far as Karame, it was going to be touch and go but as I stood here the atmospheric pressure was 987mb. As many of you know, tidal heights are based on mean atmospheric pressure of 1013mb and as a general rule a change of one millibar results in a change of one centimetre in sea level. 26mb lower than average pressure meant that the tide was 26 cm higher than predicted.
sea bed ramblings
Heading towards Little Seymour, my final navigation mark before heading back to the shore. The clouds were obviously building to the south and west, it was time to up the pace.
La Rocque Harbour
Looking towards La Rocque Harbour, the end of the pier clearly visible, being painted white. It was at La Rocque that Baron de Rullecourt landed on the 6th January 1781, an invasion which resulted in the Battle of Jersey being fought in the Royal Square in Jersey, followed by a rapid expansion of the building of coastal fortifications. Many of the towers survive today, part of the distinctive coastal architecture.
Black Skies
The predicted heavy showers approaching from the south west. A significant increase in walking speed could not prevent major soaking as the downpour hit. A very wet end to a thoroughly enjoyable 3 hours, and the only people I saw were on the slip at the beginning and end. There is still isolation in Jersey, waiting for those who seek it out.