Brian's Travels

2nd November 2021 - Snowdon (again)...

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Prior to arriving at point 1, I pulled over in my car at the parking place north of there to admire and photograph the morning mist lingering in the valley.

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In addition to the mist there was also a rainbow (right) which I always consider to be a good omen; a few weeks prior I had begun a walk from just north of here with a double rainbow to bless my way.

I'd found at point 1 a lay-by that was free to park in; too many parking places here you're supposed to pay at and I generally avoid that, I'd rather walk a bit further than pay to park. Immediately from the lay-by I followed a public footpath through a sheep field, then back out onto another road, before going through yet more fields (2); these became increasingly marshy, but my new boots (more on those later) were doing a good job at keeping my feet dry.

After this the footpath took my through the backend of a campsite (closed on this occasion) and then alongside Llyn (lake) Gwynant. I enjoyed the atmosphere here; for some reason the lake had an air of pirates about it, or rather Swallows and Amazons (indeed there are boat houses over on the other bank, but we'll pass those proper later on).

This path became increasingly slow-going, but very enjoyable. I seemed to have ventured off the main footpath and found myself closer to the shore, which involved crawling under a fallen tree, then over one, and then to a fast-flowing stream (3). How to cross it? The heavy rainfall recently seemed to have widened it and I might have been able to simply hop over it had it not been for this. I was not brave enough to jump over; there is something about fast-flowing water like this, that even if it would just mean getting wet if I feel in, I get put off. There was a wall made of piled up rocks that went over the stream and my instinct was to take this route. It was sill quite precarious, but I carefully crawled over, my backpack probably giving me the silhouette of a snail.

I made it safely across and looked back to marvel at what I'd done.

I don't think this picture really does this justice, but I'd crawled across
this loosely-constructed wall, to get across this stream!

Next, due to me being off the beaten track, I had to clamber across the boulders of a 'boulder field' that lined the edge of the lake here; again, due to heavy rain recently, the water's edge was, I determined, a fair bit further in than normal.

My journey had been slow-going up to this point until I rejoined a clearer path and found myself wandering through another campsite. I could see on my map that there was a footpath along the east side of the river here, leading to some waterfalls, but the campsites seemed to lack clear footpath signs so I wasn't sure which gate to go through, so I continued on and considered I could see the waterfalls on the way back.

I then joined the 'Watkin Path' proper (4). This would lead me to Snowdon's summit. Shortly after joining the path my Fitbit buzzed to inform me I had walked 10,000 steps already. Wow!

"Britain's first designated footpath" I didn't know that!
"...created by Sir Edward Watkin and officially opened... in 1892...
Starting at the lowest elevation this is the longest yet arguably most scenic route up Wales highest peak..."
I'm tempted to take some Tipex next time and correct some things on this sign
(...lowest elevation,) and (Wales' highest peak)

The Watkin Path is said to be one of the tougher routes up Snowdon, but I have done this one once before, and the weather was pretty nice on this day, just clouds higher up, so I had no concerns. Well, not until some walkers were coming towards me on their way down who told me they had decided to turn back because water was running down the rocks they needed to climb up. I thanked them for their information and said I would continue on and check it out for myself.

Sure enough a part I vaguely remember clambering up on my previous trip up this path was experiencing a steady flow of water running down it. I wasn't too phased by this and confidently but carefully worked my way up it, finding sufficient toe holes for my bulky new boots (thankfully they served me well here); I've done some 'actual' indoor rock climbing in the past so I know about keeping my three points of contact, still I was surprised how I just knuckled down and got up this 'iffy' bit. Thankfully the climbing didn't prove too slippery with that trickle of water, the only problem with it was that it was running down over what was the only ideal hand-hold, so I got a wet glove and sleeve (I'm sure the water went up my arm briefly too), but that amused me more than anything!

Just as I was almost up and out of this precarious spot I saw a couple more walkers on the path above me. It became immediately obvious now that from their perspective there was a clearer path on the way down, but I, like the others who had turned back, hadn't seen it on the way up (I'm not even sure if these walkers had even seen me clambering up from where I was). Oh well. [Indeed, this was confirmed on my way down later on; a different route was more obvious].

The rest of the route up the mountain was easy-going to the summit (5). It was just cloudy up there, and not with all that many walkers on this day. After a quick clamber up onto the podium atop the summit, I turned round and quickly headed back down; I'd realised that time had been getting away from me - I'd set off from my car at 9:15am and it was now approaching 2:00pm already.

My walk down was brisk. At about halfway down the Watkin Path I met some people I'd passed on the way up, I thought they were slow-going! And then a guy walking his dog who stopped to ask me how much further it was to the top. "Jeez" I thought as I looked at my watch and told him it had taken me an hour and a half to get down to that point [and considering it would take him far longer to go up the same distance] that "I doubt he'll be down again before it gets dark". I hinted at this and he added that he had a head-torch with him... fair enough... "rather you than me!" I thought, and left him to his adventure!

As planned I took the path (6) along side the other side of the waterfalls, and then once back to the lake, and after crossing another narrow bridge over fast-flowing water (7) I walked alongside the main-road to get back to my car more directly; I didn't want to be re-playing my antics from the first part of my walk, and certainly not in the dark. The light was indeed failing now down in the valley as the sun had set behind the hills and mountains. As I got out onto the road, or rather the footpath along side it at this point, a pair of walkers coming towards me informed me the police had closed the road ahead 'due to a fatality', but they had been let through. I thanked them for the info and carried on.

Flashing lights in the distance...

Sure enough the flashing lights of emergency vehicles could be seen ahead. First I passed those boathouses I'd seen on the map; they were somewhat submerged though given the recent amount of rain.

Some submerged boathouses as seen from the 'boulder field' earlier.

Eventually I arrived at the scene with multiple police and facilitating vehicles and a police officer approached me to tell me there had been an accident and they'd closed the road. "My car is parked just the other side" I said, and he said "Ok, you can come through, we just need to cover things over." He waved back to his colleagues and then he asked me to stick to the opposite side of the road; he walked with me, out boots crunching on a scattering of broken glass on the road. A large white sheet/tarp had been pulled over a vehicle and a multitude of police and fire-crews were seemingly standing around waiting for me to walk past so they could get on with whatever they were doing; I imagined various things such as them peeling bits of body off mangled metal but it might have been less gruesome than that; perhaps it was general forensics and figuring out what had actually happened. I also had visions of something more nefarious going on; like the crew were like something from the Grimm TV series and using their official positions to feed on a dying person, or enjoying the gruesome remains... I've been reading about vampires lately... but their atmosphere here was very peculiar to me and quite 'eerie', quiet as the crew watched me in a weird way as I walked on by, trying not to look over to the wreck. It was almost like I was somehow under suspicion, like perhaps they would be suspicious of anyone near the scene of such an accident. Anyway, the officer left me to walk on by myself, and I thanked him for seeing me through and even thanked the others for waiting for me.

Beyond the eeriness I also considered it 'weirdly' fortuitous for me that the road had been closed since it was getting quite dark now, and once past where the accident had taken place there was no footpath. I often think along the lines of 'fate' when something happens; like if I get delayed or take a wrong turn - I think things like this happen for a reason, and even now I thought even someone dying (as awful as that would be for their family and friends) might have been some tangle of fate that I had been remotely tied to (like if the road hadn't been closed 'for me' then I could have been the one meeting my end that day). I didn't have a torch with me (something that is actually recommended for walking up Snowdon) because I hadn't planned/expected to be walking back so late, although I did have a Kindle Fire with me and considered I could have lit the screen up with a blank white page (something I have done when out in my tent in the garden!) I also considered I could change out of my dark-coloured coat and into my lighter (blue) sweatshirt I had in my rucksack, to be more visible to motorists, even if I would have gotten chilly for the final stretch back to my car. But it didn't come to that. I got safely back to my car and headed for home.

My Fitbit later informed me that on this day I had burnt 4,200 calories!

I later looked up the accident that had happened but there was only the news of the temporary road closure - the page, at the time of writing, hasn't been updated with any more details. [link]

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2nd Karrimor 'Leopard' Walking Boots...

Now for my new boots.

My old ones were no longer keeping my feet dry; I'd once stumbled through some stray barbed wire and pierced the leather in the toes slightly (but thankfully my actual toes were unharmed) - I'd tried gluing the holes but that made little difference. That and they were showing their age in other areas, so, with a birthday on the horizon I elected to splash out on some new boots. I hadn't found any that I was completely happy with; I'd watched and read reviews on numerous pairs and types only to end up concluding that no pair was going to be perfect; this pair was just the best of the bunch, working my way through from cheapest to most expensive on the website I was to buy them from (I prefer to start from the cheaper end of the market and work my way up until I find what I want, rather than think something will serve me well because I've spent lots of money on it).

The boots fitted me well, which no use to anyone else because no one else has my feet, which are on the skinny side; I'm always amazed at how 'slim' footwear often feels to me given I have such skinny feet compared to most people - I don't like my feet to feel squished. Thankfully, with thick boot socks on over my thinner socks, there was room in these boots for my feet like this, although they felt quite snug at first. I had to roll up my jeans since they wouldn't go over the ankles of the boots and I certainly didn't want to tuck them in to the boots (do other people have this issue?)

I strapped the boots up round my ankles and lower legs; these boots being taller than my old boots; their problem was that they were a bit on the big side - no problem with that here. It probably took me a while to get used to these boots, but if you're going to break boots in on any walk then the Watkin Path will surely do it! With them thoroughly strapped up my ankles certainly felt strapped in. I also took it easy over slippy rocks until the sole's level of grip became instinctive; I don't think the Vibram soles of these boots are all that grippy - my old boots, which weren't even 'walking' boots, seemed better, although perhaps they got better over time, and maybe these will too once they've gotten worn in and gained some suppleness. I'm guessing that walking boot manufacturers have to make a compromise between the rubber compound's grippiness and other things like what adhesive they can use with it and how well they work.

Once well into my walk I started to feel that I'd done my right boot up a little too tight, and perhaps my left boot was a little on the loose side; my lower shin, all round, on my right leg was feeling 'rubbed' or rather pressed too tight; I'd taken care to ensure my thick socks weren't bunched up and the tongue of the boot wasn't uneven, and also the cuff of my jeans hadn't crept in. By then end of the walk and even for the week this area of my legs (mostly the right one where the boot felt too tight) has felt bruised - it doesn't look it, but it's like the bone has been bruised. In addition to having skinny feet I have skinny legs (and skinny the rest of me) to go with them, so wouldn't blame these particular boots for this, and I could just put it down to going on such a long walk with new boots and ones that go further past my ankles than I'm used to. I didn't get blisters, so that is a bonus; the boots were otherwise comfortable.

When I came to rinse off the boots I came to notice that where the cuffs of my jeans had been folded over and were against the top edge of that particularly problematic right boot, the fabric of the tongue had been ruffed up and presenting a kind of fraying.

I was quite disappointed to see this fraying on my new boots and even considered contacting the company I had bought them from with a view to returning them and choosing some others, but which ones to choose instead? (All Karrimor's ones, or even other brands of the same style, seem to be constructed in a similar way with the same kinds fabrics, particularly regarding the tongue - this is surely an issue with the chosen fabric rather than a defect in assembly/construction). It had already been a minefield choosing these boots and I might end up with boots that have different issues or don't fit me as well, so I'd decided to stick with these. Hopefully the fraying wont continue to the point where the tongue comes apart any time soon, but even if it does I'll just stitch that back together... hopefully that doesn't happen for a while.

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