Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Llanaelhaearn to Clynnog Fawr

25 June 2008

Howdy, All,

Had a nice breakfast of poached eggs, fresh fruit, o.j. and coffee whilst looking out at Beautiful Caernarfon Bay from the glass enclosed porch restaurant at the Bryn Eisteddfod. I was watching the wind blow at a steady 40 miles an hour and gusting up past 60. The chairs were blowing around on the lawn.

I had arranged with Peter from Walks of Wales to pick me up at 9:30. He brought me the map and the GPS unit that I use on my walk. He thought it would be better for me to walk with the wind, as opposed to against it, and I wholeheartedly agreed. So that meant that Peter would take me further out instead of my leaving from the hotel.

After a beautiful ride along the coast and a few tidbits of information from Peter, I was on my own with a map and a GPS and a few pages of information about this walk that I was about to do.

The Edge of Wales Walk follows the footsteps of early Christian Pilgrims to Bardsey Island on the Llyn Pennisula. Legend has it that if they made the trip to Bardsey Island 3 times it was equal to 1 Pilgrimage trip to Rome. The churches were built next to the wells, which the Celts had thought were the sacred places because they believed that the "other world" or Annum was underground, not in the heavens. So in order to get the pagans to switch to Christianity, or at the very least, accept it, they (the Christians) adopted these places as their own..or at least that's what I understood from Peter. On the way to my starting point, Peter pointed out these wells and the churches built next to them. I will be walking past them on the way back to the hotel, as this is the pilgrimage walk.

My starting point was up a lane and through a gate that Peter had to get out of the car to unlatch. Once through the gate, Peter stopped the car up the lane a bit, gave me the , GPS unit and cell phone and showed me how to use them, gave me a map and pointed up to the Iron Age Hill Fort, Tre'r Ceiri or Town of the Giants, that he said I should definetly visit.

Not that I could see it, the mountain was shrouded with cloud. Nonetheless, I said my farewells to Peter and started off.

I went up the lane and to the marker for the footpath. I got on the footpath, but soon lost it and I really didn't know how to use that GPS very well. I got up the hill and the arrow kept pointing straight ahead, but there was no way that I was going to be able to go straight, as there was a fence and no way to go through it!

So, back down the hill a ways to see if I could find the path. I noticed a stile over the fence, but the GPS just wasn't telling me to go over it. Back up the hill looking for the path, back down. Finally, I decided just to take my chances and go over the stile and see what happened. Lo and behold, the GPS was now working...

I continued up the footpath and soon the clouds were gone, so I could finally see exactly where I was going. Wow, that would be a nice climb up. 485 meters according to the map Peter gave me. This was supposed to be the best preserved Iron Age forts in Europe.
I had a nice walk up and I spent about an hour up there. With 360 degree views of the surrounding valleys, including views of Caernarfon Bay, I couldn't stop taking pictures.

I had a quick lunch in one of the "HUTS". Just 3 stone walls about 4 feet tall, no roof or doors, a ruins. To be expected, since the Iron Age was, oh, 100 B.C.. They were believed to be occupied until the Roman Era, 400 A.D.

There is also a burial cairn at the very top that is believed to be from the Bronze Age!

I started my descent down the hill and for some reason, the GPS didn't want to work again.....hmmm...couldn't be me. Well, after a phone call to Peter, I got it started again. I wasn't on the right path, but it didn't matter, according to Peter, as long as I got down to the road and turned left.
So, off I went. Everything going smoothly, right up until I stepped off the path.. My right leg stepped off the path, which, unknown to me, the fern and heather were hiding a drop off, and there I was stradling the path with the left leg bent at the knee. After a long minute, I realized that I was probably going to be ok, just a little shook up. Lucky that didn't happen way up there on the rock scramble. Onward, ho.

I got into Llanaelhaearn and took pics of the well and the church. The church wasn't open. Neither was the Pub. or the Bakery..but I saw a house for sale for 50,000 pounds....
Off up the lane and into a horse field I go. I didn't have any apples or carrots for the horses. They seemed to be expecting something. Then thru a cow field, then a sheep field..well, that's a given in these here parts. Lots and Lots of Sheep.

The GPS continued to guide me around Bwich Mawr, a 509 meter mountain. It was a beautiful sight, since the sun was out and the wind had died down. I had removed quite a few layers of clothing by the time I was walking across the sheep pastures. I started out the morning with 5 layers. I was down to 2 by the mid afternoon. At some point, I realized that it was getting pretty late. I finally got into the Village of Clynnog Fawr at 7:30.

So, I had been walking for a good 9 1/2 hrs. No wonder I kept turning my ankle on the way down the hill to the village. I kept stepping on these tufts of grass that were mushy and almost fell quite a few times...and the last mile was a road walk, which is hard on the knees. Quite honestly, I am pretty sure that I twisted something when I fell.

Tomorrow will tell the story.

Total miles hiked = 9

Off to bed around midnite after another great Welsh Beef Filet dinner. and a couple of cognacs.. and a couple of aspirin....