A very happy new year from Rhyd. The Christmas and New Year weather has not been great in North Wales, so it has been difficult to get up into the mountains. However, we did manage our traditional walk up to the Arenig bothy by Llyn Arenig Fawr on Christmas Eve, with mulled wine and mince pies in front of the log fire.
We travelled south to Dinas Mawddwy on Monday to walk up Maesglase above the spectacular waterfalls in the cwm. We slogged up the steep climb to Bwlch Siglan, but dense hill fog stopped us from crossing the top of the cwm to the summit - the path runs close to the cliff edge, so would have been a bit tricky in the poor visibility.
A break in the weather on New Year's Eve allowed us to enjoy a nice coastal walk from Borth-y-Gest to Black Rock sands, with good views of the Moelwyns across the Cob at Porthmadog.
New Year's Day forecast was for a sunny morning, with cloud and rain due in the afternoon, so we made a dash for the summit of Moelwyn Bach behind the cottage. The weather held with some good summit views before the weather closed in.
After fairly damp and gloomy weather in Snowdonia over recent days, the skies cleared and the sun came out today. We headed south to Minffordd to climb the lower part of the Cader Idris path, as far as the dramatic setting of Llyn Cau below the steep cliffs of the Cader Idris range. The mountains looked glorious, and if the day had been longer, we might have headed up to the summit of Penygadair. We'll save that for another day. After our walk, we headed to the Tyn-y-Cornel hotel at the end of Tall-y-lyn lake for coffee and cake - a lovely setting for post-walk refreshments.
Danby Wiske-Ingleby Cross (9.5 miles, 4 hours). Fairly easy and also fairly tedious walking today. Leaving Danby Wiske, you cross the East Coast main railway line, then head out across more flat farmland in the Vale of Mowbray. There was some light relief at Wray House farm, with some Halloween-themed adornments at the stile (refreshments are also available from an outdoor fridge at Wray House).
Just beyond Wray House, the path crosses the railway line that branches off the East Coast main line to Middlesbrough and Sunderland.
More trudging across farmland follows, but eventually, the Cleveland Hills and North York Moors come into view in the distance, the grande finale to the coast-to-coast walk.
We walked on to our destination for the day, Ingleby Cross, with a slightly scary crossing of the busy A19 dual carriageway shortly before we walked into the village. There is a nice cafe in the village, the Joiner's Shop, with a good selection of drinks and snacks.
Just a few yards further on was the Blue Bell Inn, our accommodation for the night, and the end of our journey for the moment. We plan to come back next year to complete the final 50-mile stretch of the path over the North York Moors to Robin Hood's Bay, so watch this space ! The Blue Bell Inn was a pleasant place to stay, with good food and drinks and a comfortable room, albeit with a rather small shower room.
Richmond-Danby Wiske (14 miles, 6 hours). After Richmond, the C2C walk enters what is probably the least interesting section. You are basically crossing the rather flat Vale of Mowbray, stretching all the way to Ingleby Cross, with most of the walking being on farm tracks and country lanes. It was a shame to leave Richmond behind, with nice views of the Norman castle above the Swale as we headed out of town.
The path stays near the Swale for a while longer, taking you past two sewage works (lovely !), and passes under the A1 near Brompton-on Swale.
Catterick bridge and race course were a short way further on. You get one of the last decent views of the river from Catterick Bridge.
The path swings away from the Swale at Bolton-on-Swale where we stopped for lunch in the churchyard at St. Mary's church, where there is the grave of Harry Jenkins, said to have lived to the ripe old age of 169. The church also offered refreshments (by honesty box) and use of toilet facilities, which were very welcome. After Bolton-on-Swale, there are several miles of trudging along country lanes towards our destination for the night, Danby Wiske.
We eventually arrived at our accommodation, the White Swan in Danby Wiske. This pub has a somewhat mixed reputation amongst C2C walkers. Wainwright could only obtain a packet of crisps here, and Julia Bradbury found it closed when she passed through. It has had some rather surly landlords over the years. We were greeted by a rather grumpy barman, who immediately said we had to order our food there and then for the evening meal which would be served at exactly 6.30, otherwise they could not feed us. Breakfast provision was also run with military precision - we should report to the dining area at exactly 8.00 am and the cooked food would be served at exactly 8.10 am. All a bit strange, but the staff were actually OK once you got chatting to them.
Reeth-Richmond (12 miles, 5.5 hours). Reeth looked rather sunnier this morning, with a slightly improving forecast, although the chilly north wind was still in evidence.
We walked out of Reeth to re-join the River Swale at Grinton Bridge, after which there was more pleasant riverside walking to reach Marrick Abbey (now an outdoor activity centre).
The path then swung away from the river through the village of Merrick, then across farmland to the village of Marske, where we paused for lunch. We took advantage of the refreshments on offer at the village church (St. Edmund's), operating on an 'honesty box', donation system. We found this arrangement at a few churches on route, and very welcome it was too. Beyond Marske, the path crosses more farmland then climbs slightly to reach the prominent feature of Applegarth Scar, the start of a long series of limestone cliffs high above the Swale valley, that continue towards Richmond.
A cairn marks the top of the climb to Applegarth Scar, before the final 2-3 mile walk into Richmond itself.
The last part of the day's walk was along pleasant tracks fairly high above the Swale, until eventually the town of Richmond came into view.
We walked into town and checked in at our accommodation - the Old Brewery Guesthouse. This was excellent, and probably the best overnight stay of our trip. A lovely clean room with good bathroom, pleasant staff and a good breakfast. They do not offer evening meals, but a short walk up into the old part of town will present you with a wide choice of eating places.
Keld-Reeth (12 miles, 7 hours including diversion to Muker). There was slightly better weather this morning, with sunny intervals but occasional showers and a strong northerly wind as we set off from Keld. Shortly after leaving Keld, we joined the Penine Way for a short distance to cross to the north side of the River Swale, where there were some nice waterfalls at East Stonesdale.
Shortly after, below the wonderfully-named Crackpot Hall, the C2C path divides into low and high level options - we selected the low level option down Swaledale in view of the frequent showers and strong wind.
This low level option still provided very pleasant walking and good views of the River Swale, and also allowed us to add a short diversion to visit the Muker Show, which was in full swing on the day of our visit.
Back on track after Muker, the path follows closely by the River Swale to Ivelet and Gunnerside - we stayed by the river after Gunnerside, although there is slightly higher level option for the low level route after Gunnerside in some guide books. The scenery gets slightly less dramatic on this stretch, so we plodded on passing through various short sharp showers, with the occasional rainbow thrown in for good measure.
After what seemed like quite a lot of riverside walking, we arrived in a slightly damp Reeth, which was still recovering from some serious flood damage sustained in the summer.
We stayed at the Black Bull Hotel. which we would not really recommend. The bedrooms were small, very much in need of refurbishment, and our shower did not work ! However, the breakfast was good and the landlady quite friendly. We had a nice meal at the Buck Hotel, which may be a better option for an overnight stay in Reeth.
Kirkby Stephen-Keld (10 miles, 5.5 hours). Over the the last week, we have picked up where we left off in 2016, and started to tackle the Eastern section of the Wainwright Coast-to-Coast walk. We stayed with our friend Sarah in Nateby on the outskirts of Kirkby Stephen, and set off from her house with a fairly poor weather forecast. In view of this (and one or two minor ailments), we decided not to tackle the tough walk over Nine Standards Rigg, but walked on the B6270 road towards Keld, then joining the 'green' bad weather (December-April) route off Nine Standards to drop down to the farm at Ravenseat. This was a good decision, as there was driving rain, mist and high winds above about 400 metres, so tackling the high route (and the notoriously boggy paths off the Nine Standards summit) would have been a bit foolish. We'll come back another day to summit Nine Standards.
We paused for lunch at Ravenseat Farm , the home of the famous Yorkshire Shepherdess, Amanda Owen. A board in the farm lane promised Cream Teas and other goodies, but at the farm, there was a large 'closed' sign, and no evidence of Amanda (or any cream teas). We were joined for lunch by a very persistent Shetland pony that insisted on rummaging in our rucksacks and lunch boxes, for any available tit-bits.
After Ravenseat, it is a pleasant walk down into Keld, to join the River Swale, which the route will follow in the coming days. .
We finished the day's walk at Keld Lodge, which displays plaque stating this is the half-way point on the Coast-to-Coast route (about 95 miles from both St. Bee's and Robin Hood's Bay).
Great weather in Snowdonia this week, and great for hill walking. Today we tackled Moelwyn mawr by a route we have not tried before. From Bwlch Stwlan below Moelwyn Bach, we tackled the scramble over Craigysgafn - a bit exposed in a couple of places, but not too hard. Then there is a bit of a slog up to the summit of Moelwyn Mawr for great views across the whole of Snowdonia. We then dropped down to the abandoned quarry at Rhosydd, before walking down Cwm Croseor for a cooling drink at the cafe in Croesor. A lovely day out.
A nice family day out in the mountains today. Together with Lorraine's family (including Maddie the Westie), we climbed Arenig Fawr (854 metres), a nice rounded peak above Llyn Celyn, reached from the lane off the Bala-Trawsfynydd A4212 road. It is pleasant climb up past Llyn Arenig Fawr (with a mountain bothy by the dam) to reach the summit that has a wind shelter containing a memorial to the American airmen who died on the mountain when their aircraft crashed there in 1943.
The high winds and hill fog continued today, so we ventured into the rainforest. Just off the minor road between Maentwrog hydropower station and Gellilydan lies the Ceunant Llennyrch nature reserve - one of the few remaining natural oak rain forests still surviving in Wales. A short energetic walk from the car park takes you to the spectacular Rhaeadr Ddu waterfall.
Peter and Lorraine, owners of Ty Uchaf since 2011. We will post occasionally items that may be of interest to our guests, past, present and future !