I have to admit since my return from Scotland I have been a tad lazy, but in my defence I had a small bout of the flu again followed by a dodgy stomach so running has taken a little back seat.
Finally after weeks of promising myself I decided that I would make a start on crossing Snowdonia, I had tried to figure a few routes in the weeks leading up to this, the original route was some 90 miles but given the way in which I had to do this there was little time for this run and with the advent of winter snow now topping the higher climbs I decided to opt for a less crazier route of around 30 miles.
The final route commenced in a little town named Bala, a small historic market town on the edge of Snowdonia national park, once famous for making stockings apparently.
It was an early start at 5 am, a journey that would take me some 2 hrs in total, once past the M54 the route cut its way around some fantastic roads, you could almost imagine being nestled in a miniature Alps. Being stuck behind a slow moving lorry gave me ample opportunity to fully enjoy the drive in.
I parked up in a little car park and was pleasantly surprised at how cheap it was for a full day here, making ready adventure pooch, I rechecked my route and set off towards the first climb of the day, we crossed the quiet main road and cut up a little path by the side of a housing estate. I took a look back and marvelled at the inversion creeping in off the lake below, I joined a brief section of road followed by some very damp grass, road and more damp grass. As I cross the second field I became a little lost as the path seemed to dip in and out of existence.
Underfoot became increasingly wetter and I was soon waterlogged, a short hill climb led me to an amazing view of Lake Bala which at this early hour was now bathed in an eerie mist which spread across the valley like a slowly moving monster consuming the view as it went. A short climb followed as I topped Moel y Garnedd, I took the time to admire the early morning view (the video you may have seen) and set off in a rough direction of my path.
Once again I had manged to find no path on the ground and tread the many lumps and bumps of tough grass through a bog, Millie in her element just carried on happily through the dampness. The roads were quiet, you wouldn’t have thought I was in Snowdonia, I crossed more fields and met a few gates that were tied shut, this was to become a regular feature of today. Having to haul a 15kg dog over gates, fences and styles was not fun.
Having followed a short road towards a farm, the path cut across the edge of a forest, the overgrown and little used, underfoot was sqidgy and springy affair thanks to the abundant and extremely damp moss, careful footing was needed as I tried to avoid sinking anywhere, cows watched with amusement as I went by, I always wonder what they are thinking as they watch me amble by. The forest beside the small hillock of Y Lordship contained a fine and dense collection of conifers, the ground all over covered in a soft and damp carpet of moss, any routes that braved to show above the ground became clothed in the ever present moss, it added a sense of maturity to my route and is always a sign of good air quality.
We stopped at the top of a rather steep climb, water was taken and a wonderful outdoor provisions bar shared with the pup before I was once setting off again, I took what I thought was the path only to be met by nothing but a ditch, a quick climb to my left showed that I was in fact running along a ditch and the path was just above me, the route now split between damp steamy and rock, running was easier than had been and a slow pace was once again taken up as I neared the 8 mile mark.
I had wanted to go to 15 but I was already feeling the rough route, my lack of running since Scotland was defiantly showing as my legs became heavy and unwilling to do what I wanted of them. I passed the little hill of Bryn Cau and decided to cut down the road here and loop back, this would take me to some 18 miles for the day which I felt was more than enough. From my vantage point here it offered an expansive of the area with a view that wouldn’t look out of place in the lake district, it was wild and remote but strangely there was a car parked here.
My route down was much kinder to me, consisting of a rough gravelly track it thread a way past yet more stunning little hills, offering a rather majestic horse a spot to look stunning stood atop and watching me go by. I passed small farms who waved me as I passed and was treated to a stunning view across the little valley towards Craig-y-tan, the whole area was awash with the fiery colours of Autumn. Red, amber and umber browns dotted the landscape and gave the appearance of a valley on fire. This was the time to be out in the hills, crisp clean air and little cloud provided a stunning backdrop to the route.
Before long I was dropping down into the little village of Lanuwchllyn where interestingly the majority of people here speak Welsh and was home the author Owen Morgan Edwards. It was peaceful here, with only a few people coming and going and I was able to pass through quickly, I entered the little railway station that served to take tourist along the shores of Lake Bala and after a quick search my route crossed up and through some nasty and deep mud, Millie again wasn’t bothered by this fact and happily pulled me along into deeper mud.
A short road section followed by a climb up Lech Weddystrad and another sit down to take in the enormous view provided by not only Lake Bala but of the route I had just come from, there is nothing more heartening than the views of rugged hills to provide a sense of adventure, I was now on the Cambrian Way but as I started to descend, my knee began to provide the simple and unmistakable feeling that it was no longer happy. A sharp and stabbing pain wrapped itself around my knee, I hadn’t felt this for some months and I was pretty sure it was due to the fact that I had not run for some time.
I opted to stick to the road as I knew my knee could longer provide the support of running down hills, luckily it was extremely quiet on the roads and I was able to bimbler along undisturbed. The line was in the process of being repaired and men busied themselves on short sections providing a nice little distraction, I marvelled at the views across the lake and passed some stunning homes.
Before long I was passing again into the outskirts of Bala, crossing a bridge and again treated to a stunning view of the Lake, a man had even parked up his van to capture what could easily be a work of art that could adorn any gallery, 18.5 miles finished the day off, my knee ached but I was wholly satisfied with the route I had chosen.
Snowdonia was definitely a magnificent place to be running so far.