Thursday, 29 August 2013

Wooden Boulder is Back

It’s back on display in the Afon Dwyryd, on the bend with an island, opposite Bryn Mawr. At least I’m assuming it’s the real McCoy and not a replica knocked up in someone’s garden. 

It all started in 1978 with the base of a large oak tree being carved into the shape of a boulder, somewhere on the banks of the stream that flows down through Coed y Bleiddiau. It was washed by floods or pushed downstream until in 1994 it was stuck by the bridge at Bronturnor where it got a helping hand from the Council. For years it moved up and down the estuary until disappearing from sight about 10 years ago. Had it gone out into the ocean? Or was it stuck in the sand?

There have been reports of it being seen since 2009 but this is the first time I have ever seen it. The river is a dynamic place; where will it be after the next downpour in the mountains?  

For more information including a film of the tide flooding in around the boulder go to this blogpost.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Fox on barbecue

No sunny August bank holiday would be complete without a barbecue. Not very new potatoes from the garden, onions, courgettes with sausages and chicken wings cooked not on charcoal but thin logs of oak; a lot cheaper than buying charcoal, just as good for cooking and might even taste better.

My turn to do the dishes and all those bits and pieces that go with a barbecue but I forgot the grill. At dusk two young fox cubs did the job for me.  

Monday, 26 August 2013

Space for everyone

August bank holiday with a good forecast could mean Snowdonia’s about to be overrun with visitors. So we set off early from Campbell’s Cottage along the railway to the Lakeside CafĂ©, Tanygrisiau, then up the Wrsygan incline through the side of the mountain to the slate workings. No-one in sight.

Explored a few mine adits, ate some bilberries and climbed to the top of Moel yr Hydd. Still no-one in sight. Down the other side and up to the summit of Moelwyn Mawr. Yet still no-one to be seen.  Onwards to Craigysgafn for lunch and there in the distance, tiny figures about a mile away; we could see two other walkers.  

Along the way we set the camera timer to photograph  the two of us on each of the peaks. I was about to set up the camera on Moelwyn Bach when we were mobbed by a mass of insects. The mountains of central Snowdonia might have been devoid of humans but the final peak had more than its fair share of bugs. Had someone buried their packed lunch in the summit cairn? Or was it Haydn’s aftershave?

Philistines on the Dwyryd

For Porthmadog subtract 2 hours 45 minutes from Liverpool then add 1 hour to get British Summer Time; high tide would be at 11:58. With 90 minutes to high water it looked like someone had pulled the plug as we launched close to Plas Tan y Bwlch into still, peaty water.

We paddled past the first of several slate quays and by coincidence a gravity train of slate wagons was trundling down the line towards the sea. When the railway opened in 1836 the boatmen sailing slate down the Dwyryd were doomed but they kept going until the 1860s. They were called Philistines, maybe because of the uniform they wore or maybe because they would not accept this new fangled railway thing. With cars galore on the roads we had the river all to ourselves and felt anything but the philistine.

A family of goosanders, with 9 or 10 young, was paddling to get out of our way. At one stage, having dived and re-emerged to discover these gaudy coloured kayaks were now much closer, a panic set in and wings started to flap. The adult flew low above the water but the youngsters were like paddle steamers in overdrive.

As we approached Pont Briwat the tide was flooding in and progress towards Portmeirion was hard. Fuelled by a KitKat break we turned and floated up the river with the currents spinning us now and again to better appreciate the view. At one stage we paddled up a stream with lots of fresh otter prints in the soft muddy banks.

Wildlife good deed of the day was to pluck an upside down yellow duck out of the water and give it a new lease of life as a kayak mascot.