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30 December, 2004

A day out near Conwy

Whenever my mother, sister and I have had a day out in Wales in recent years, it has always seemed to be a slight variation on a trip to Betws-y-Coed, perhaps a diversion along K's 'secret' (yet suspiciously well-trodden) route to Swallow Falls, then on along the Llugwy valley to Cwm Idwal, a walk round the lake, and home.
However, K. is in the middle of various property transactions (selling one house, buying another, whilst ending rental of a third), so couldn't afford the temptation of Betws' shops (she's not as weak-willed as that might imply; it just wouldn't have been much fun for her) and Llyn Idwal was deemed too far/too tiring, so I had to find an alternative.

I still fancied going to the Conwy valley. According to the 1:25,000 OS map, there's a 'waterfall' in the steep, narrow valley of the Afon Dulyn near Carreg-y-ffordd farm, above Tal-y-Bont (a common Welsh place name; this one's near Dolgarrog, Gwynedd). The area is known for its waterfalls and picturesque gorges, so this seemed ideal.

There are several landmarks on the A55, impressive in themselves but rarely visited because they're merely on the way to somewhere else. This time, I had the startlingly obvious idea of trying to take photographs from the car (I wasn't driving...). Many attempts failed, but that's no problem with a digital camera, and a few were worthwhile.

Having found the best point of access to the waterfall, I was a little surprised to find no public footpath. I've had 'encounters' with local landowners before, so we parked and vanished into the woods as quickly as possible.
There was a minor track, blocked in places by fallen trees, but that merely led down to the stream, then seemed to stop, with no hint of a waterfall anywhere nearby - I'd thought it'd be right there in front of us. The stream was very pretty, but clambering over mossy boulders, with no guarantee that there was anything worthwhile even within earshot, seemed a bad idea, even with a fully-qualified orthopaedic & trauma surgeon in the party, so we turned back.
Unfortunately, thinking it'd be unnecessary, I'd left the map in the car. If I hadn't, I'd have known the barely-visible path continued on the other side of the stream, to the waterfall a further ~150m away. So, if anyone is tempted to visit, wear decent boots (I was, but the others were in 'street' shoes) and persist.

Improvising an alternative destination along the same road, I suggested we go on to the disused Llyn Eigiau reservoir - that might be photogenic. It was. We parked at the start of a popular walking route to the Carneddau, a mountain ridge with peaks 926-1064m high, but didn't follow that route. Instead, we walked towards the dam wall, against a strong wind.
After a couple of kilometres, we, well, gave up. Instead of going on a further ~500m to the main outfall of the old reservoir, we passed through a nearer gap in the dam and walked across boggy ground to the shore of the remnant lake, stared at that for a while, then went back to the car, rather quicker with the wind.

As it was still only about 14:00, I'd expected to return to the main Conwy Valley then head south towards Betws, but the others seemed to have had enough, and K. urgently needed to change her bank details, so the plan was to head 'home', calling in at the Mold branch of her bank. I was able to slightly subvert that, so I took a few photos in Conwy (English: Conway) whilst she visited the branch there.

[Update 27/12/05: almost a year later, we returned and completed the 'standard' day trip outlined in the opening paragraph above.]

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