Glyders 2012

Snowdonia was the latest destination for our group that had first met on Kilimanjaro in 2007. Many of us had been to the area in Oct 2008 when we had completed the Snowdon Horseshoe, and the one particular find from that trip was the Ty Gwyn Hotel that we all loved. Booking our rooms there again was an easy decision. Everybody had a different style and standard of room and Carmel and I were happy with our room 9a (the hotel would not explain why there was a room 9a and a 9b but no room 8 – I assume something brutal and unspeakable once happened in room 8). You got what you paid for to some degree – Nik and Tim saved £20 per person by forsaking an ensuite and choosing room 4.

Shortly after breakfast Tim had to go into Betws-y-Coed to get himself some new boots since he’d forgotten to pack his usual pair. He also needed some walking trousers, since he’d forgotten to pack those too. Tim had brought his jacket and some socks so it wasn’t abject failure on his behalf.

Our original plan, as discussed in the bar on the Fri night, was to walk from Pont Pen-y-benglog at Llyn Ogwen to Nant Peris. After breakfast on the Sat morning, Jon and Andrew volunteered to drive and leave one of their cars at Nant Peris. When they came back some time later they had mistaken Pen-y-Pass for Nant Peris and since the car park was predictably full they had instead parked at the junction near the Pen-y-Gwyrd Hotel.

A backup plan was concocted and we decided to start at the same place by Llyn Ogwen but to walk over one fewer Glyder and end up at Pen-y-Gwyrd.

The car park at Pont Pen-y-benglog was heaving so we had to park on the pavement by the road. We started off by immediately taking the wrong path (towards Bristly Ridge) but quickly turned round and headed up the fairly direct path to the summit of Y Garn. We were in amongst quite a few groups taking the same route and repeatedly swapped our order as the groups took it in turns to rest during their ascents.

The weather was thankfully good enough, in that it wasn’t raining, and even the ground was dry under foot. Much of the rest of the country was dealing with flood warnings but on this Sat Snowdonia stayed pleasantly dry, if cloudy.

The top of Y Garn (947m) was extremely windy so we didn’t hang around for long. We aimed towards Glyder Fawr and stopped for something resembling lunch overlooking Llyn y Cwn.

Climbing up from Llyn y Cwn to the summit of Glyder Fawr (1,001m) brought us into contact with snow which felt quite out of place in the last weekend in April.

The walk along the top from Glyder Fawr to top of Glyder Fach (994m) was pleasant enough with good views overlooking Y Gribin and Llyn Bochlwyd.

We found the Cantilever Stone at Glyder Fach and a passer-by kindly took a photo of us.

Next we headed down the worn out slope that runs to the side of Bristly Ridge.

This took a short while and was quite tiring as the slope contained very loose rock that didn’t give you quite the confidence you wished for when putting all your weight on it. Nevertheless there were fantastic views of Tryfan as we descended.

Next up was Tryfan. I’ve never climbed Tryfan via the more difficult route from the north and we weren’t going to try that today. Instead, we climbed up from the south and said hello to Adama & Eve at the summit (917m).

We retraced our route down the south face of Tryfan and said goodbye to Jon who took the path back down to his car at Llyn Ogwen and drove home. The rest of us planned to walk to the car at Pen-y-Gwyrd and climbed back up the slope to the plateau between Glyder Fach and Y Foel Goch.

Our destination was now in sight and we started off on the seemingly endless Miners path down to Pen-y-Gwyrd.

During our descent we were treated to some showers and were rewarded with a few impressive looking rainbows.

Looking behind us, the hills we had come from were now in thick rain cloud so we narrowly avoided getting very wet.

Back down at the bottom, Andrew picked up his car and drove Tim to collect his car from Llyn Ogwen. Carmel, Neil and I took the opportunity to get a beer from Pen-y-Gwyrd and sat at the end of the Miners path enjoying it in the glimpses of sun that were shining through.

It was 7pm when we got back to the Ty Gwyn Hotel and there was just enough time to put away a couple of pints of Orme bitter before dinner at 8pm. Dinner was excellent and we had a full three courses with a good amount of wine to accompany it all.

The miserable weather that had plagued much of the country on the Sat arrived in Snowdonia at breakfast time on the Sun. With rain coming down I think only Nik was tempted to give walking a go. Neil and Andrew headed off back to their homes after breakfast leaving just Carmel, Nik, Tim and I to go into Betws-y-Coed. We wandered around the large Cotswolds for a bit and then went for a coffee at Y Stablau at the Royal Oak Hotel next door.

A full set of photos are available here:

Glyders 2012 photos on Picasa Web

Here’s the route we took on the Sat.

Duration 7:18 hours
Distance 8.5 miles

Path (Google Earth)

Hadrian’s Wall

I’ve never walked across a whole country before, from one coast to another. It sounds a long way, but also sounds pretty appealing (how many Americans or Russians can say they’ve walked across their country, coast to coast?). Ever since 2003, when the Hadrian’s Wall Path became the UK’s 15th National Trail, I’ve had this nagging desire to walk across England from one coast to the other.

One of the problems with holidaying in the UK is the price of things. For a walking trip across England, the cost is significantly more than getting on a plane and doing a similar walk somewhere much warmer, much more exotic and probably with nicer food and drink. I am far too old (always have been) to consider camping if there are other options available, so any walking trip in the UK was going to involve staying in either hotels or B&Bs instead of tents in fields. We weren’t overly surprised, therefore, to find out that our costs for just the trains and accommodation came to £660 for two people. In this era of cheap-ish flights, that would get us a very nice trip away somewhere much more exotic than northern England!

Carmel and I decided to walk Hadrian’s Wall from east to west. It makes little difference which direction you walk it, in my opinion. We chose our east to west route as the train travel from Cambridge to Newcastle was shorter than Cambridge to Carlisle so it meant we could leave after work and still have time for a drink and some food when we got to Newcastle. Some people say that starting the walk in an industrial environment like Newcastle and finishing it in the natural wilderness Solway Firth is the perfect route. That is pretty much nonsense. While admittedly we did catch Newcastle on a rare sunny day, the finish at the Solway was pretty dire and was by far the least interesting of the walking days.

The walk along the Wall is officially 84 miles. Following convention, we planned to do this in 6 chunks of approximately 16 miles per day. This sounded a little easy so it was a no-brainer that we would carry all our stuff with us in our rucksacks. We ended up with about 18kg of rucksacks and 2kg of camera equipment, per person. In hindsight this was more than a little excessive. We hadn’t walked with rucksacks for multiple days at a time before, so didn’t consider the weight to be a problem, but we were wrong. Carrying 20kg and walking for 8+ hours a day really took its toll. I know the army make soldiers carry 30kg and probably walk twice as fast as we do, but they don’t have sedentary office jobs during which any form of muscles are unable to develop. If I was recommending walking the Wall to anybody else I would say get some “Sherpas” to carry your luggage. Don’t even consider carrying it yourself – you will enjoy the walk so much more.

Lightroom plug-in – Picasa Web Upload

Lightroom is my preferred method for working with my photos, but I’ve always wanted an easy way of uploading them to Picasa Web. I like the integration between Picasa Web and Google+ and find the combination perfect for sharing albums and individual photos with friends and family.

However, the only option I could find for uploading photos from Lightroom to Picasa Web was to make use of a donationware plug-in. The fact that the plug-in was donationware bugged me and stopped me even downloading it, never mind trying it out. I haven’t quite figured out why donationware bugs me so – it may be the necessity of using Paypal or such like (due to the absence of an integrated Adobe app/plug-in store or something similar in the OS). Although I certainly don’t seem to have a problem splashing a few dollars here and there on the Android Market (or whatever it is now called).

In the interests of giving everybody a chance to upload photos to Picasa Web I wanted there to be a free plug-in which does just the simplest of tasks – uploading photos.

I have created a Lightroom plug-in for uploading photos to Picasa Web. Discover more about the plug-in and installation instructions here:

Photo Upload plug-in