Wednesday 9 March 2011

Ffestiniog in the East!?

Yes, even Moelwyn Bach, just a few miles from Cardigan Bay, is in ‘The Eastern Peaks’.  This is the 3rd volume in the comprehensive quadrilogy describing ‘The Mountains of Snowdonia’.

The beauty of the series is the depth and choice. Unlike other books, that compromise and short-change you by squeezing into a single volume, this sprawls out like a range describing every significant peak and the many ways of linking them together.  Not just a route up and down but full à la carte choice to plan the expedition you want.

What I like is the balance between interesting information and details of navigation. I think John Gillham has got it right.

I live in the top right hand corner of my ordnance survey sheet, within 30 minutes walk I can be on to the next sheet. To get round this I’ve bought a customised version centred on our house.  With ‘The Mountains of Snowdonia’ I live at the intersection of 3 volumes. To get round this I’ve bought the set.

Using volume 2, ‘The Western Peaks’, I tested out the day route covering the southern Rhinogydd. No amount of adjectives can ever bring to life quite how magical it can be but the author does it proud nevertheless. As for the guideline time of 5 hours, I don't think that included much opportunity for savouring the best bits. Bumping into the farmers and their dogs gathering sheep off the ridge between Y Llethyr and Diffwys is an occasion I will remember for ages, with an indignant column of wild goats marching out of the way.

I wish I'd consulted volume 1, ‘The Northern Peaks’, before my last effort on Tryfan. I know now exactly where I went wrong! The panoramic 3D maps, with a touch of artistic licence, make so much sense of the routes.

Our home range, the Moelwynion, is covered in volume 3 and, even though I don’t feel we live in the eastern peaks, I am very glad that the Vale of Ffestiniog has been described so thoroughly. The Ffestiniog Railway gets a mention too – it’s a great way to start and even better way to end a long day’s walk, maybe with a bottle of Snowdonia Ale from the Purple Moose Brewery in Porthmadog.

All 4 volumes sit in pride of place on my shelf of walking books whilst others gather dust.

No comments:

Post a Comment