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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Three Magnificent Days in the Welsh Mountains

It’s overcast this morning, which makes the three-day break in North Wales seem all the better. We barely saw a cloud the entire time we were down there - just the odd puff generated by rising ground. The weather was simply glorious: sharp frosts at night, followed by bright sunshine, and we managed a hike every day.

On Saturday we climbed an old favourite of A’s, Moel Siabod - and I hope I’ve got the spelling right. I find Welsh names rather difficult, especially the ones that stretch to half a line and seem to run out of vowels halfway through. Here it is from a distance, admittedly not looking like much of a challenge.

It’s the mountain in the centre, the one to the left with the two peaks being Snowdon - the highest point in Wales. We approached from the far side. It’s just a steady climb up a rocky track and across a few mossy bogs, with a spot of clambering over broken rocks towards the summit, but on this day the trickles of water that course over the path had frozen solid, so it was quite hard going. Still, the view from the trig. point at the summit was well worth the effort.

Coming back down was very hard work, especially without poles. Both of mine are broken. I thought about replacing at least one of them at the outdoors shop, handily located at the bottom of the mountain, but after I’d paid - take a deep breath now - £180.00 for a  new pair of boots, I was reluctant to pull the wallet out again. The new boots, which are absolutely superb - well, they’d need to be, wouldn’t they? - are the result of my subjecting the old pair to six months in the Sandhills of Nebraska. Desiccated is the best word to describe the leather uppers, with each boot now scarred by half a dozen cracks and letting in water like a leaky old boat.

One of the delights of that walk is the view of the lake Moel Siabod overlooks. As ever, I took a dozen or so pictures. These may be the pick of them; I’m not sure. And oh dear... clouds! So maybe I exaggerated a little back there.

Sunday the wind was blowing, so we stayed in the valley, walking down to visit a friend for morning coffee and then taking a gentle two-hour walk across the Machno and up through the woods before hurrying back to the house for a roast lamb dinner. On Monday we had a few chores to do, and the long drive back to think about, but still squeezed in another modest climb to ‘the hill with the lake on’. This was surely the pick of the days, with barely a breath of wind, a crystal-clear sky, and enough frost in the ground to firm up the boggy spots.

We tried our hand at a couple of panoramic shots, and got one decent result.

And now it’s back to work. It’s 1115h and Mike’s annotated version of Chapter 8 has just pinged its way into my Inbox, so I’ll be getting on with that as soon as I’ve had lunch. The good news this morning was that we’ve both received notice of the  payment we can expect from Public Lending Right - the accumulation of 6.05 pence fees levied on each withdrawal of our books from public libraries. Two years ago the fee stood at 6.29p - but we live in an age of austerity, don’t you know? Anyway, I’m not complaining. In my early years I was getting annual sums of £4.28, or £1.24. One year it was £0.00. Today? £793.25. Woo-hoo! To add to that, we heard yesterday that we have sold large print rights to the latest book. And, inasmuch as they say that good things come in threes, I must add that I also received a letter from HM Revenue & Customs announcing that I am due a repayment of… £1.01! This writer is lost for words.  

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