The Glyders walk had been talked about for a while since it is fairly straightforward, involves a bit of clambering over rocks, and offers magnificent views of Snowdonia. This sounded excellent for a Tuesday in February so we gave it a go.

We started off near the Pen-y-Gwryd hotel in the last of the free-to-park lay-bys. Seriously, since when did “pay and display” lay-bys come into being?

I guess the big theme of the day was mist. The weather forecast for the nearby area had suggested, perhaps even promised, at some blue sky appearing during the day. With this promise in mind, we set off and within 30 mins had lost sight of the car as we entered the mist.

In the mist we aimed for the Miner’s Track and eventually found it about a third of the way up the slope to Glyder Fach.

Unsurprisingly with the poor visibility we didn’t see any other walkers until we reached the plateau near the summit. The plateau was a nice change under foot though as we left streams and boggy ground behind and walked across a much rockier landscape.

The final ascent to the summit of Glyder Fach (994m) was relatively gentle, and we just made out the Cantilever Stone that marked the effective summit for us (the actual summit is nearby to the Cantilever but involved climbing a few slippery and large boulders – so we declined on this trip).

The visibility had not improved whatsoever, so we plodded on fairly blindly towards the summit of Glyder Fawr. The route initially involved a small descent past the jagged crest of rocks that form Castell y Gwynt. Needless to say, we didn’t see much of the rocky feature as we passed it.

After we took the wrong path, at some point on the way to Glyder Fawr, there was a small temptation to carry on walking down the path that was fairly obviously descending the mountain. The visibility was a bit rubbish, but personally I was determined to summit another peak so did my best to persuade the group that we wanted to head back up the path and take a route that pointed us uphill, and not downhill.

We followed a new path that ascended to another plateau and this gently led us up to the summit of Glyder Fawr (1,001m). This peak had only recently been promoted to the group of peaks over 1,000m, so I felt fairly privileged to make it to the summit. And I felt pity for those folks that had climbed it previously when it was only 999m. Surely they would have to climb it again now?

The path down from Glyder Fawr took us to Pen y Pass and was marked by little red painted dots. We didn’t do a particularly good job of following these dots and frequently left and then rejoined the path.

About 100m above Pen-y-Pass the mist finally cleared and we could see again. Looking around us and back at the bases of the two Glyders I got a sense of  the views and scenery that we had missed out on.

The path took use to the back of the Pen-y-Pass youth hostel and I volunteered to walk along the road back to pick up the car while the others had a cup of tea at the cafe.

The final memorable moment of the day for me was shutting the car boot on my phone which absolutely killed the LCD screen on my Samsung Galaxy S (but without breaking the so-called “protective” glass). I have been quoted £150 to repair this. Ouch.

Duration 6:46 hours
Distance 8.2 miles
Path (Google Earth)


Wirral coast

I’d planned on doing a coastal walk from Birkenhead to West Kirby on Christmas Eve, but this didn’t happen and we had to postpone it for a few months.

The Wirral is not really big enough to do many full day walks that are of interest – but one route that is possible is to follow the coast around the 3 sides of the Wirral Peninsula.

We took the train to Hamilton Square in Birkenhead and attempted to find the River Mersey. Given that we could see the river from the train station door way, we didn’t do a great job of finding our way down to its edge. We spent a fair while walking around docks, and industrial estates before we found ourselves on a clearly marked path/promenade to New Brighton.

Here’s one of the swing bridges in Birkenhead docks.

The views over to Liverpool were quite hazy, but I always like seeing the ferries keeping themselves busy.

By coincidence, our walk coincided with one of the highest tides of the year. This was good as it hid the depressingly muddy sands that are all too present along the whole coastal route when the tide is out.

The walk took us to Seacombe, Wallasey and New Brighton before we left the River Mersey and next walked alongside the Irish Sea.

The coastal route took us past Leasowe, Moreton, Meols and Hoylake before we turned the second corner and headed down the River Dee.

By now the tide had retreated. In its haste to leave, the tide had left behind hundreds of really quite large jellyfish. I had a nervous poke around a few of them with my foot – perhaps expecting them to jump and attack me, which they did not.

The coastal path turned into an inland path between Hoylake and the River Dee, so we opted to walk on the sands for a mile or so before rejoining the path.

Finally we reached West Kirby where we stopped at an ice cream shop for a cup of tea. I doubt they sold too many ice creams on such a typical February day.

Since the tide had now departed, we walked around the Marine Lake which was as full as it possibly could be while the sluice gates did their feeble best to try and lower the water level.

The walk was pretty good. However we did discuss improvements to it.

Firstly, the weather could have been sunnier and warmer and then that would have made the walk perfect. But then again we were lucky it wasn’t raining and colder given that it was winter.

Secondly, we did not go to one pub. This is a problem since for large stretches of the walk there really aren’t any pubs. There are a few along the stretch from Birkenhead to New Brighton, but that is about it without going off the beaten track. My original plans for doing the walk had included taking a hip-flask, and this is definitely worth taking along the next time I do it.

Duration 5:49 hours
Distance 15.6 miles
Path (Google Earth)