The plan was Place Fell in the Lake District ....the weather had other ideas...again ! In fact , unless we headed East the weather was forecast to be pretty rubbish but undeterred we had a long conversation on messenger, several places were mooted & we settled on Wales . The Brecon Beacons had been mentioned but Wild Camping was iffy in that area so we found a super looking spot (with help & advice from the Talk Photography forum) & agreed to meet early saturday morning . After a bit more of a conversation that moved to the Friday evening with 3 of us meeting at a pub close to Mam Tor around 7pm . I managed an early dart from work, Andy arrrived at mine at 17:55 and we were loaded up & on the road by 18:15 , not bad considering I only started packing at 17:45 ! Mark called to say he was stuck in traffic....friday night heading up from Norfolk was proving a bit of a mare so we changed the plan slightly & decided to meet at Mam Tor itself .
It had been windy all day but by the time we arrived at the top of Mam Tor it was getting silly , standing up was a feat in itself so the possibility of a tripod staying put was slim. Sense kicked in & the tripod & camera stayed in the rucksack though we did come across another photographer brave enough to risk it....I hope he got some decent shots ! Sunset kinda didn't happen, we had great fast moving clouds but no real color so didn't feel to bad for not getting the cameras out & I took a little video of the view on my phone just to remind myself of how good it feels to be out in the countryside even in ridiculous weather -....the wind was so strong I struggled to keep the phone steady hence the slightly wobbly video .
Andy & I headed back down to the car to meet Mark who had sensibly decided NOT to wander up to meet us , had a brief chat with a couple who'd parked in front of us & were setting up for a night of meteor spotting & then headed off for Kinder Scout.
We pulled in to the village & found parking spots near the pub ,which with the wind howling , started to look a very attractive proposition for the evening especially with the delicious aroma of home cooking coming from within . I realised I'd been here before & pointed out the Cafe at the campsite which would be the target for breakfast in the morning & with that decision made we pulled on our rucksacks & stared walking. Luckily Mark had worked out which way & soon we were heading up the slabbed pathway toward the top of Kinder Scout , a gentle continuous incline ,through the woods ,over a quaint little wooden bridge and then a slightly more uphill section ,the path edged with fresh ferns & swathes of heather in varying shades of purple as far as the eye could see...which by this time was not very far as the night was closing in rapidly ! The wind was picking up again & I suggested that we look for somewhere to pitch lower down as the possibility of being able to keep the tents on the ground at the top was looking very slim .We came to a spot which looked ideal but decided to head up a little further which proved , in the end , to be a fabulous decision .
Suddenly the path kind of disappeared , we were faced with large boulders & a sea of ferns , what appeared to be a small track to our left that had been worn away by little streams flowing down from the hills above & a what sounded like a somewhat larger stream . The situation was not being helped by it now being virtually pitch black ! Mark scrambled down the 1st part of the track, no more than about 1ft wide in places & went a little further to see how easy it would be to carry on , Andy went next & I followed in a rather most un ladylike manner grabbing heather roots to stop myself sliding down into the stream for an early bath . At this point I mentioned that to carry on would end in tears ( most likely mine) and we should find somewhere to pitch....now ! Mark leap frogged across the stream & found an area that looked a possibility ,went a little further down the otherside & back across the stream to another spot suitable for maybe 1 tent. .Andy & I clambered down a couple of boulders & followed Mark back to the other side where we figured that with a bit of neat planning we'd have enough room to pitch both tents together . It was a perfect spot, sheltered enough that the wind,though still blowing , didn't hamper us too much as we put the tents up, though Mark's porch wasn't too happy with the rather large clump of heather where it wanted to be secured ! Tea brewed , food eaten , we settled down for the night to the sound of the stream babbling gently beside us & the wind howling over the hill tops....it was going to be a long night !
Sunrise was supposed to be around 5am I think but having seen the weather report yesterday we weren't too optimistic & on peering out of the tent at a little after 6am we confirmed we hadn't missed much so ,boots on I set about boiling the kettle for that all important 1st cuppa of that day & a pot of porridge to keep me going until breakfast at the cafe. Conscious we were fairly visible from the path , the 3 of us set about making the most of the soft light to get some photography done before the 1st walkers arrived . An hour or so passed as we snapped away & we realised just how good a spot we'd found in the dark .The view down the valley was wonderful, the hillsides swathed in the rich greens of ferns and clumps of multi toned purple heather topped off with a brooding almost stormy sky .....I can think of far worse views to wake up to on a saturday morning . The 1st walkers came in to view so we set about packing the tents away ensuring we left nothing to show we'd been there( except maybe some slightly flattened heather ) & set off back down the path toward the cafe , the thought of a full english breakfast spurring us on .
We arrived at Coppers Cafe in Grindsbrook Booth to find it already rammed with walkers, cyclists & families but managed to grab a table & order food with the minimum wait , a slight disagreement between Mark & the staff ensued over sausages (but that's another tale }.
Breakfast finally eaten we headed back to the cars & set off to Wales ,the weather was still less than ideal but we were in high spirits ,good company & great scenery have that effect on you. The journey passed without much excitement barring a couple of traffic jams which seemed to have no real cause & we pulled in to Llanberis a little after 2pm I think. We stopped in the carpark that fronts on to Llyn Padarn & Mark went off in search of a store selling inflatible pillows which he decided he needed after seeing mine ,have to admit , it's possibly the best £5 I've ever spent ! I took the opportunity to snap the view down the lake, the sun breaking though the clouds for just a few minutes to light the hills .Across the lake we could see the quarry that was to be the location of our camp , all we had to do was find our way there . Pillow purchased we drove round to the Slate Mining Museum hoping to find a suitable place to leave the cars for the night . We stood in the car park for around 30 mins debating & eventually decided to drive to the top of the quarry as the car park signage wasn't particularly clear & we really didn't need parking fines or clamping . Mark got the os map up on his phone & set off in the lead on what turned out to be a cracking a little road , little being the operative word !
From the A4086 we took a right on to the A4244 , took another right & followed the winding road along side Llyn Padarn where I immediately wanted to stop as the water was flat calm with superb reflections ! The road gradually got narrower & narrower , bends & bumps yet flowing & grin inducing even at the steady pace forced upon us by blind bends. The road narrowed right down to a single track through some quaint little villages, small cottages covered in & surrounded by flowers & eventually we had to stop as we came round a lefthand bend to find a large white van coming round the bend towards us. Luckily there was no-one behind me so I backed up about 600 yards in to someone's parking area with relative ease ,Mark appeared to be unsure which way to go & whitevan man seemed a little confused as well ! They finally sorted themselves out & we set off again the road still twisting & turning but becoming more open & eventually went back to 2 lanes a little way before we came to the turning circle at the head of Dinorwig Quarry .
We parked up , kitted up & headed off to find our chosen place , a ledge in the quarry overlooking the mining museum & Llyn Padarn which looked to be just perfect for a camp . We picked up the trail & followed the markers down in to the woods, slightly slippy underfoot but far less strenuous a hike than Kinder had been. We walked down for what seemed to be forever & eventually came to a clearing with a superb view across the valley , not our intended spot but it had promise. We left our bags in a small slate built hut & headed down a stairway made of the same slate, a little wobbly in places but fairly secure. The path wound downwards through woods & we came across the remains of the slate buildings that ( we belive) housed the workers when the quarry was active along with remanants of rail tracks & building complete with what appeared to a water wheel - unfortunately the cameras we back up the top & none of us had the energy to go back & get them !
We found THE spot after walking downhill yet further ( much further & we'd have been at the bottom!) & went exploring. Sadly we found it somewhat waterlogged & positively alive with midges - I have a major problem with midges...I tend to be breakfast ,dinner & tea for them no matter what repellant I use . That kinda made the decision for us.....& we headed back up the hill at a somewhat slower pace than we'd come down at - sometimes we forget that we aren't 20 ! As our chosen ledge was higher up & not water logged there were less midges to contend with though I could still feel the little blighters , I swear they followed me ! 2 suitable pitches were found, tents were put up ,tea was brewed & swiftly followed by dinner.....Pot Noddle . We nattered the whole time about everything & nothing , keeping a close eye on the sky hoping sunset was going to happen . For a few minutes it looked promising so I fired off a couple of shots but failed to get any color , hey ho, best laid pans & all that .
The ledge was so quiet I managed a fairly good nights sleep & woke around 6am, again hoping for sunrise but it wasn't to be so we packed up & headed back up the hill to the car after a brew .The lake below was flat calm & we wanted to explore a little before the tourists came out in force. The road down bought more grins & I managed to miss the turn so Mark took the lead & we found the spot we'd driven past on the way up the day before . By this time my face was itching like mad....dam those midges !
I have a thing about reflections , could spend all my time taking photo's of them & the sight that greeted me as I walked across the bridge had me doing my best Janice impression.....oooohh Myyyy God ! There followed several hours of pure bliss, no sounds other than the birds & running water & the occasional car on the distant road,even the grey sky didn't hamper too much .This is definitely on the list for a return visit, hopefully during winter months when we'll see snow on the hills.
Eventually we'd taken all we wanted & we headed back in to Lllanberis to find some breakfast .I can highly recommend Pete''s Eats , super food,friendly staff ,very busy which is always a good sign & menu that goes on & on & on . We finally said our farewells & headed off around 11ish ,happy with the weekend & with plans in mind for return visits .