Friday, 28 March 2014

Are you a Future Leader?

Plas y Brenin is offering discounted courses for people looking to become mountain and walk leaders. Applicant can get reductions of up to 75% on walking, mountaineering or rock climbing training and assessment courses.

"The National Mountain Centre trains people on the basis of talent, enthusiasm and commitment.  We believe it should never be on the basis of your ability to pay. That’s why we have created this fund to help support the volunteer leaders of the future – The Future Leaders Fund – to make sure that the next generation has the opportunity to enjoy a healthy and happy sporting habit for life."

If you would like to apply, you can find an application form on their website.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Happy Birthday Wales Coast Path!

The Wales Coast Path is 2 years old in May of this year, and it is timely to remind ourselves just what a great achievement this was. Wales is the only major footpath all the way around its borders. The coastal part is 870 miles long. It has opened up sections of the coastline that have not previously been well walked and has brought a lot of tourist business into Wales. Circular walks are being developed based on the Coast Path and a number of companies have grown up offering luggage transfer along the route. In North Wales such facilities are provided by the 3 major walking companies:

Edge of Wales Walk

Anglesey Walking Holidays

Clwydian Walking Holidays

Where the Buffalo Roam

Walkers along the Dee Valley Way will be treated to an unusual sight in the area just west of Corwen. The Rhug Estate have introduced a herd of bison which can be seen grazing peacefully on the lush grass.

Normally seen in Holywood films being chased by Native Americans on horseback, these animals seemed very content with their lot. From the Rhug Estate website:

"Rhug Bison Herd have become famous in the locality, the herd at Rhug has grown from 7 to 43 in the last four five ears and the Bison meat has become the most popular meat sold in The Farm Shop at Rhug. The Bison Grill serves delicious Bison Burgers enjoyed by many. The herd has also become a tourist attraction and there is a walk that takes you round the field where the Bison live and in the late spring you can see there little orange coloured calves with their mothers.
Rhug Bison came from a large herd of North American Bison in southern Ireland just North of Dublin. We now have a small herd at Rhug of four cows that are due to calve again in the spring. These cows all have calves at foot from last year and they run with a bull who we have nick named Rambo. They have now become an important part of life at Rhug."
By all accounts, it is a very lean meat and low in cholesterol. The Rhug Farm shop is a great place to stop for lunch, an opportunity to try out the Bison burgers.

Wales shows its strength!

This is not a reference to the 51-3 defeat of the Scots Rugby XV on Saturday, but a reference to the outstanding contribution that Wales made to the best of Britain and Ireland Show at the NEC, which took place on Wednesday and Thursday of last week. This was a trade show and aimed directly at tour, bus and coach companies that are important to the life blood of tourism in Wales.

The NEC is the main exhibition centre in the UK, and the show was well attended.

For someone normally reliant on OS maps to guide him around the quiet Welsh Hills, I found it fairly simple to get lost in this giant cavernous place, which is probably going to be another casualty of the internet. It is being sold by Birmingham Council.

North Wales' Tourism Staff were in action as always.

Wales had 3 bays like this.

Claire Dwight in action at the coffee table.

Tansy Rogerson of Bodnant Welsh Food and Andrew Oughton of Plas Tan y Bwlch.

Stephen Jones of Gwynedd Council was promoting Snowdonia Mountains and Coast.

The Rise and Rise of Heritage Tourism was the subject of a lecture by the Tourism Society.

What a Find! - An Abyssinian Cross!

Peter was exploring the Maelor Way and visited the church of St Mary the Virgin at Overton-on-Dee. To his surprise he came across an Abyssinian Cross, one of only 5 or 6 to ever reach the UK. Christianity reached the Horn of Africa far earlier than it did Northern Europe. There is evidence that Christianity thrived in what is now Ethiopia during the 1st Century and took on the appearance of the Orthodox Church. They developed elaborate crosses made from brass, often with lattice work with geometric patterns representing everlasting life.

This is the inscribed head of what is a processional cross.

This is the inscription in Indian Script.

This cross was donated to the Bishop of Madras. Many, many others seem to have been "rescued" by Queen Victoria's army during the Sudanese Wars.

The cross can be found near the pulpit of the church in Overton.

Contract Signed!

We've just had some good news at Walking North Wales. We have successfully bid to provide an electronic mapping service and website to Flintshire County Council, in order to update their walking routes, (previously published here) and make them more widely publicised. These are excellent routes in a beautiful part of the country, so we are very happy to be helping the council give them the profile they deserve.

As part of that we will be working closely with the Flintshire Ramblers Association to recce the walking routes, noting any obstructions or necessary changes, photographing key points to aid in navigation, and uploading an updated detailed set of instructions for each path, pointing out items of historical interest. We will also record each route as a downloadable GPS file so that people can follow it on GPS devices or smartphones.

Peter visited the offices of Flintshire County Council to finalise terms and met with David Evans and Jessica, and then went on to the offices of Cadwyn Clwyd to sign the contract with Sarah Jones, the Environment and Heritage Officer.

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Bala Challenge

On Saturday 10th May, the Bala Challenge will celebrate its 10th Anniversary. Over 3,000 hikers of all ages and fitness levels will have completed one of the stunning walks around Llyn Tegid, raising over £50,000 for charities and local good causes.
This year’s Challenge promises to be the biggest and best ever and with a choice of four walks there is something to suit everyone. Join our local wildlife and history expert for a leisurely two hour guided walk or take on the might of the full 20 mile Challenge around the lake including a spur of the Aran Ridge. Want something in between? How about the 14 mile Lake Circuit hike, high up in the hills surrounding Llyn Tegid with stunning views over the Aran, Arenig and Berwyn mountain ranges. Alternatively, take the family on the 8 mile walk to Llanuwchllyn and get the steam train back.
The event is organised by the Rotary Club of Bala and Penllyn and is well marshalled and sign-posted with tea and cakes served at the railway station in Llanuwchllyn for those of you who might be flagging. Whether you’re raising money for charity, training for an endurance event, taking your dog for a walk (on a lead!) or simply enjoying the incredible scenery, the Bala Challenge has it all.
Entry forms can be downloaded from ; or simply pitch up on the day in your hiking gear and off you go. Please join us to celebrate our 10th Anniversary and remember – the sun always shines in Bala!
Contact details:

Ar Sadwrn 10fed Mai bydd Sialens Y Bala'n dathlu ei degfed penblwydd. Erbyn hynny bydd dros 3000 o erddwyr o bob oedran a graddau ffitrwydd wedi cwblhau un o'r llwbrau cerdded hyfrytaf o amgylch Llyn Tegid a chodi dros £50 000 i elusennau ac achosion da.

Bydd y Sialens eleni'n debygol o fod y fayaf a'r orau o'r cyfan a, chyda dewis o bedwar llwybr, bydd rhywbeth at ddant pawb. Ymunwch a'n harbenigwr hanes a byd naturar daith ddwyawr hamddenol neu wynebwch sialens eithaf y cylch 20 milltir o amgylch y Llyn yn cynnwys rhan o gefnen Aran Benllyn. Beth am rywbeth yn y canol? Y dewis hwnnw fyddai taith 14 milltir dros lechweddau'r bryniau o gylch Llyn Tegid lle ceir golygfeydd gwych o'r dyffryn , yr Aran, Arenig a'r Berwyn. Y daith hawddaf i deulu fyddai'r llwybr 8 milltir i Lanuwchllyn a dychwelyd ar y tren bach!

Trefnir y digwyddiad blynyddol hwn gan Glwb Rotari Y Bala a Phenllyn. Bydd wedi ei stiwardio a bydd digon o arwyddion cyfeirio. Darperir lluniaeth i gerddwyr yng ngorsaf Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid yn Llanuwchllyn - digon i atgyfnerthu pawb! Pa un ai'ch dewis fydd codi arian noddedig i elusen, ymarfer ar gyfer cystadleuaeth, mynd a'r ci am dro (ar dennyn wrth gwrs) neu ddim ond hamddena a mwynhau'r olygfa bydd Sialens Y Bala'n cynnig y cyfle ichwi.

Gellir lawrlwytho ffurflenni ymuno o'r wefan: neu droi fyny ar y diwrnod yn eich dillad cerdded ac i ffwrdd a chi! Ymunwch a ni os gwelwch yn dda i ddathlu'r degfed penblwydd a chofiwch fod yr haul yn gwenu bob amser yn Y Bala!

Am fanylion pellach cysyllter a:

Rambling Reviews

The Ramblers Association have a section of their website dedicated to reviewing new walking guide books, many of which describe Welsh routes. Check them out at An example review can be found below:

Price: £6.00
Author: Ken Farrance
ISBN number: 978 0 95011785 0
Not so much a walking guide, rather a route accompaniment. The route in question is the A5 road in North Wales between the Menai Bridge and Betws-y-Coed and this unusual title traces Telford's famous route via photos and text, dwelling on interesting buildings and constructions, signs and sights found at intervals along the way. The book has been produced to raise funds for the Welsh Highland Railway.
- See more at:

Friday, 14 March 2014

Exploring Llanbedrog

Menter Fachwen has recently published an excellent bilingual leaflet on walks around Llanbedrog.

"Read and Walk the Paths of Llanbedrog to discover the history of the parish from the Iron Age to the present day."

The 16 walks each have a historical theme - such as Iron Age remains, the Victorian Coastal Tramway, smugglers, or the famous Iron Man sculpture. Copies of the leaflet are available at the Pwllheli Tourist Information Centre, Station Square, Pwllheli, Gwynedd LL53 5HG

Tel: 01758 613000

Friday, 7 March 2014

Keep Rambling!

Cadw and Ramblers Cymru are working together to encourage people to both walk in the countryside, and explore Wales' heritage at the same time. Members of the Rambler's Association can get a 25% discount on a first year membership of Cadw, providing free admission to all Cadw maintained attractions, including Caernarfon and Caerphilly Castles, and Tintern Abbey.

The offer runs from 17th March to the end of May. To take advantage of this offer, just quote "Cadw Ramblers" when contacting Cadw on 0800 074 3121 or

Stepping up to the Challenge

Let's Walk Cymru have a new initiative to encourage the Welsh public to get out and enjoy the beautiful countryside that we sometimes take for granted. In conjunction with Ramblers Cymru and Change4Life Wales they have launched the Wales Pedometer Challenge. You can sign up individually, or as a team to walk as many miles as you can of the Wales Coast Path, or the Welsh Three Peaks Challenge, and record your achievement with a pedometer, so you can claim bragging rights on the challenge website leaderboards. One individual has already clocked up 848 miles, while the total distance walked by all participants currently stands at 53,387 miles!

This is part of the build up to the Big Welsh Walk over the May Bank Holiday Weekend.

For more information, or to sign up for free, go to

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Red Sky in the Morning

I thought I would share these photographs with you. I took them yesterday morning, the 5th of March on my journey to Llanrwst for the Outdoor Forum. They were taken at 6:45am in Mynytho, just above Abersoch, looking east over Cardigan Bay.

They do say that a red sky in the morning = shepherd's warning, but actually it turned out quite a reasonable day.

A Great Success!

The 4th Outdoor North Wales Forum was held at Llanrwst yesterday. It was attended by 120 people and went very well indeed.

Dewi Davies, Regional Strategy Director for Tourism Partnership North Wales, opened the Forum at 10:25.
The Forum was well attended by 120 people who are active in the outdoor industry of North Wales.
Marcus Bailey, Head of Inspection of the Adventure Activities Licensing Service, was the Key Note Speaker, and explained how Human Error Accidents can happen. These can be particularly damaging when unrelated events are linked together to create a catastrophe, the so-called "Lemon Theory". The name derives from slot machines where 3 cherries means a prize, but 3 lemons bring the opposite.
This was James Gooding talking about "Wales Days" - the provisional title for his new business selling day tours to visitors over the internet. He received many suggestions which changed his views. He will be launching the new business very soon.
All the speakers were well received and we had a question and answer session at the end of the morning.
Chris Wright of Snowdonia Active was the champion of the new Heart of Adventure concept, see our blog during December.
Full Welsh / English translation services were ably provided by Mr Glyn Jones of Cyfieithu Cymunedol.
Glasdir is a great venue, and the staff were brilliant.
Post-lunch the seating layout was changed and we formed work groups to discuss the future of the Outdoor Tourism Project. 
The afternoon session led by Sian Shakespear as facilitator.
Each table worked on their own recommendations.
Clare Sharples is the leader of the Outdoor Tourism Project, and is seen here thanking everyone for their participation.
One of the glories of these events is to meet new people and discuss new ideas. Here is Steven Jones, Tourism Officer with Gwynedd Council, getting to grips with digital mapping with James Gooding.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Home of a Hero

The Snowdonia Society is running a guided tour of Yr Ysgwrn, the childhood home of the famous Welsh bard Hedd Wyn on Thursday the 6th of March at 11pm. Details below:

Yr Ysgwrn, Thursday 6 March, 11am

Guided tour of yr Ysgwrn, home of Hedd Wyn and the ‘Black Chair’. Learn more about this iconic building, one of Wales' most famous homes, with its special collection of artefacts and furniture, which tell the story of a rural community at the turn of the C 20th. You will also be able to find out about the upcoming plans for development by the Ysgwrn SNPA.

Suggested minimum donation £3 for members, £5 for non-members. A proportion of your donation will be given to Friends of Yr Ysgwrn.

Parking available by the farmhouse.

Please be aware this is a working farm. Close all gates behind you. No dogs, except guide dogs.
All children should be accompanied by an adult. No need to book in advance.

Location: Yr Ysgwrn, Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd, LL41 4UW      Grid ref: SH 723 346

Monday, 3 March 2014

Take a Bite out of Nature!

Our friends, Kathy and Ken at Naturebites have just released their schedule of planned guided nature walks on Anglesey. If you would like to book a place, please contact Kathy using the details below:

Contact: or call 07790431078

Friday 7th March - Penrhos Coastal Park
Join Ken for a leisurely wildlife walk around this Holy Island gem. Key species we'll be looking out for are slavonian grebe, pale-bellied brent geese and great northern diver (this might be our last chance to see them before they return to their breeding grounds!).

Sunday 16th March - Soldier's Point
No one knows this area like Ken, in fact none other than Iolo Williams has recently been asking him about the birds of this spot! This could be a good date for scare migrants such as black restarts and snow buntings, but we'll also hope to show you black guillemot, ringed plover and little owl among many others.

Sunday 23rd March - South Stack
An absolute favourite spot for Naturebites! Local specialities such as chough, raven and peregine often make an appearance and at this time of year Ken's bird senses are tingling in anticipation of that next rare bird!
Fulmar, kittiwake, guillemot, razorbill and potentially even puffin are back to check out the cliff ledges and stonechat and meadow pipit are on territories for the coming season.

Sunday 30th March - Cemlyn Bay
Here we should enjoy the excitement of the first sandwich terns screeching over the shingle ridge as they return to their breeding islands on the lagoon.
As we walk around this coastal reserve, we will search for early migrants such as sand martins and wheatears as well as looking for lingering waders, including turnstone and purple sandpiper.
We can provide binoculars (as well as wildlife expertise!) on any of these walks. Please also let us know if you have any mobility issues as we will always try to plan a route to suit you.

Lane Walking around Glyndyfrdwy

As part of my series on lane walks that can be completed when the surrounding countryside is sodden - and perhaps with a pushchair in any weather, I had a crack last weekend at Craig y Rhos, a hill just north directly north of Glyndyfrdwy in the Dee Valley.

I suggest parking in the area of the train station, with its delightful signal box. I had one just like it one Christmas - made by Hornby!

Cross the bridge across the Dee.

Turn right along the lane to the phone box and take a left up the hill.

Path takes a hairpin bend as it climbs uphill.

When the lane reaches the top, the woods are behind us and there are clear views.

You come down the lane in front of you to this cattle grid. The lane intersects here with the Dee Valley Way. Take the lane to your left - almost doubling back. This will take you back to the start on an easy downhill stretch (you will have earned it!)

NSPCC Snowdon Moonlight Challenge

The NSPCC is holding an unusual sponsored walking event this September the 6th. A night-time walk to the 1085m high summit of Snowdon in the moonlight, culminating in a view of the sunrise at the highest point in Wales, and a slap-up breakfast!

Limited places are available, so register now on the Discover Adventure website to secure your spot. There is a registration fee of £29, and a minimum sponsorship of £350.

How Come?

I was doing some research for a visit we are planning for a group of European Tour Operators yesterday and found time to recce the Church of St Mael and St Sulien in Corwen, which is just up the slope from the Owain Glyndwr statue. Unfortunately it was locked but I noticed what is clearly a Bronze Age standing stone.

For some reason it was incorporated into the porch which was built in 1777. I have written about this phenomenon of churches being built right alongside ancient standing stones before in earlier blogs.
Was the church built there because of the stone or was the stone one of many in the area which survived modern developments (which led to the destruction of the other stones) simply by being in a churchyard. Has anyone any idea?