This week we headed up to Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. We opted to get there by train rather than by car which meant catching a train from London Euston to Chester and then changing trains to reach Bangor. The journey across the top of Wales is rather interesting as the railway line runs close to the seafront. From Bangor we took a local bus to the village of Llanberis before checking into the Pardarn Lake Hotel.
On Tuesday we took the Sherpa bus to Pen-Y-Pass to join the P.Y.G track to the top of Snowdon. The walk was certainly less tiring than last time I climbed Snowdon (this time not having taking part in the three peaks challenge). After a quick hot chocolate in the questionable cafe at the top we took the Llamberis path all the way back down into Llanberis village to enjoy some food and a beer at The Heights Cafe Bar. Later in the day we ate out at Llanberis Spice.
Wednesday involved a trip to Caernarfon to look around the town, harbour and castle. The weather was markedly coder than the previous day with a strong Northerly bringing down the temperature.
After a lovely few days up in North Wales we headed back down to the “big smoke” on Thursday afternoon.
Altitude Profile of the trek (P.Y.G track up, Llanberis path down)
Trek Map (Start: Pen-Y-Pass; Finish: Llanberis)
After spending my Saturday morning at work working on transferring patient demographics on to the new oncology system I took the bus over to the market town of Marlborough. Marlborough is famous for being the seat of the Duke of Marlborough and the private school which shares its name. Historically Marlborough made its name as a Stagecoach stop on the route West from London. The town is busy and it is immediately obvious there is a lot of affluent people in town, in complete contrast to Swindon. I had a quick look around the rather over priced shops before returning to Swindon in the evening.
On Sunday I headed back to Kemble to search for the Sapperton Tunnel. At three and a half kilometres in length, Sapperton Tunnel is still the third longest canal tunnel in England. The canal is at present disused although there are aspirations to oneday reopen this historic waterway that links two of England’s great rivers. After an hours walk through some open fields I finally found my way to the tunnel entrance (I forgot my map so had to navigate from memory). After lunching at the Tunnel House Inn I had a quick look inside the tunnel entrance. The water was freezing and the walls were covered in slime mould. A set of heavy rusting gates block the tunnel a few meters inside the tunnel.
On Saturday I headed off to Bristol for the day to attend the annual balloon fiesta in Bristol. Unfortunately I missed the early morning mass launch as there was not an early enough train. I arrived at Ashton Court where I looked around the site. The Armed Forces were obviously on a bit of a recruitment drive with numerous recruitment vans attending from all three services. In the afternoon I went back across the Clifton Suspension bridge where I met my sister and Tim. Over some food and a beer we watched the spectacular red arrows before waiting patiently for the evening mass releas of the balloons which began 45 minutes late. Definately worth the wait – the ballons are a great spectacle.
Today (Sunday) I took the train to Kemble to go in search of the source of the mighty river Thames. From the station I walked into the village and soon picked up the Thames Path – a nationally recognised path that follows the entire length of the river. After traversing through numerous fields (including a cow field) I finally came to the stone that marks the source. The source marker stone is most disappointing – not really fit for purpose as you can’t easily read the inscription. I headed back to the station where I ate some Sunday lunch at the pub, before heading back into Swindon. Just in time as the hoards from the Womad festival were beginning to congregate at Kemble station.
The following photographs were taken during our two day stay in the beautiful Scottish city of Inverness.
The following photographs were taken during our four day 100 Km Canoe trip along the Caledonian Canal from Fort William to Inverness.
We set off towards the north-eastern end of Loch Ness on the final day of our canoe trip hoping for a glimpse of the elusive Nessie. Passing out across the front of the village of Dores we headed out of the Loch ness and past Aldourie castle where we spotted a Red Squirrel – hte first I had seen in th wild. The rest of the trip took us along the caledonian canal, first passing a beautiful wier before reaching Dochgarroch Locks where we rested for a few hours.The final paddle took us to the swing bridge at Tomnahurich where the hire company picked us up and then dropped us off at our accommodation in Inverness. Our Canoe trip was definately the highlight of our Scotland trip – definately recommended if you are fit and don’t mind a bit of a challange!
Awaking at 4am we had the wonderful of experience of witnessing the mirror state that contrasts with its normal appearance. We set off into good conditions anddidn’t spot another craft until about 9:30am. We passsed the old hydro electric power station and Foyers, all the time taking in the magnificent scenery. The water became more and more confused as the wid picked up and the tourist boats began to ply their endless trade in search of the Loch Ness Monster. We continued for a few more hours before finding a sutiable camp and called it a day. Distance paddled: 27.5 Kilometres in 5 hours.
We set off from the Northern bank of Loch Lochy at about 6:30 in the morning into much more favourable conditions. The last stretch of Loch Lochy was a truly beautiful experience before we pssed into Loch Ceann and made the portage around Laggan Locks. Passing along another man made section of the canal we passed under the swing bridge at Laggan and into the beautiful Loch Oich. After this truly wonderful section we passed into another sheltered section with two more protages around the Locks at Cullochy and Kytra. A further hours paddling brought us down in to Fort Augustus where we portaged around the flight of Lochs for our first glimpse of Loch Ness. After a short break for some grub we set off on to Loch Ness. We opted for the isolated southern bank away from the busy road. Lisa spotted a tiny landing sutiable for camping which is where we made our camp for the night. Distance paddled: 25 Kilometres in 5 hours.