Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Aran Ridge Walk in Wales. . .

Sometimes on a walk the most unexpected things happen.  You get off the coach, take a look at where you are going, sigh, and think that's a lot of climbing only to be rewarded with your head in the clouds.  But you are prepared to slog on because it's an A walk and you want to improve your fitness. 

And then it turns out to be one of the best walks you've ever done!

We left the coach about a five minute drive out of Bala, which is in the southeastern part of Snowdonia National Park.  The ascent starts out quite gradual on a very good path and the hilly surroundings soon start to come in view.

Behind us is Bala Lake or Llyn Tegid, the largest natural lake in Wales.

The path ahead. . .but hey it's starting to clear up.

This is about two-thirds up and the views are looking pretty good.  It was enormously windy up here but lucky for us, not a spot of rain and the mist came and went fast enough to allow us fairly good visibility.

There are three summits on this ridge walk and I confess I can't remember from which one I took the following photos - they all follow on from each other; you climb one, descend a bit, then up to the next one.  I think the order we climbed them was: Aran Benillyn, Erwy Ddafad ddu and Aran Fawddwy  (don't ask me how to pronounce them).  In total, we climbed just over 3400 feet and the views in every direction were stunning.

And then as we rounded this corner, you could get a great glimpse of another ridge ahead (I love ridge walking!) and the views got even better!

This is the perfect type of ridge walk - broad and grassy with the hills falling away from you in all directions.  It really was stunning.

But also with reminders on how dangerous it can be up here in bad weather.  This memorial is in memory of Michael Aspain, a volunteer with the Mountain Rescue team who was struck by lightning and died while on duty.

It's a beautiful spot for a memorial now, but you could image how treacherous it could be in a fierce storm.

And how steep if someone accidentally veered off the main path, although the sheep don't seem to have any trouble.

Once we went round the curve onto the second ridge, we could look back with pride at all the summits we had just climbed.

And then there was the descent through a gorgeous valley and on into the village of Dinas Mawddwy, our final destination after a truly glorious walk.

My favourite walk so far in the UK has to have been the Newlands Horseshoe in the Lake District which we did on a perfectly sunny day while on holiday two years ago.  If it had been just a bit warmer and a little less windy, this would definitely have been a contender. Such a fantastic day out. 

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