There’s a lake here called Llyn y Cwn and two or three smaller pools. The contrast between Llyn Idwal, Devil’s Kitchen and the plateau is pronounced. One moment you’re in a cauldron-like place with a steep wall to climb. Then you have extensive views across to Snowdon, up to Y Garn, and back to Pen Yr Ole Wen. If you’re unlucky you might hear the Snowdon train puffing its way to the summit. The sound is entertaining but it’s not appropriate for the hills. I’ve climbed Snowdon six or eight times, mostly along Crib Goch. It’s a fine mountain even further spoiled, however, with a hydroelectric pipe ruining the view as you drive down to Nant Gwynant.

Place feeling is highly subjective. One person might like Snowdonia while another (I know) says he will never walk there. He does most of his walking in Scotland with occasional trips to the Lakes and Peak District. It’s taken me a few years to like Wales and to appreciate, most of all, the other-ness of these hills. The Lake District is beautiful but touristy. It’s like an extension of the city, a commercial outpost rather than escape. Other-ness and escape is what I want. Scotland has escape, other-ness, and superb beauty combined. It also has midges, dreich, the least sunshine of all and is not suitable for casual plans. If I have a few days free I wait for sunshine. If there is some, I walk. If there isn’t, I don’t. I can’t do that if it means driving hundreds of miles. I’m inclined towards three season walking and in Scotland you must often be prepared for four. As I write, there’s considerable snow up there with reports of impassable routes. Three weeks ago there were reports of two metres of snow on Ben Nevis.

The Lake District is immediately and stunningly attractive. My first trip was to Eskdale taking my bike on the steam train, accessed with the main line rail from Lancaster. I had a drive there with my parents, another with a girlfriend, and then a weekend trip with a friend. That was my first proper experience of the Lakes when I climbed Maiden Moor and gazed, astonished, at the beauty of distant Borrowdale.

Wales is less attractive but I like the other-ness and peace of the place. I stayed at a camp site for this trip, two miles from Betws-y-Coed and eight from Dolwyddelan. It’s one my favourite sites with a wonderful view down to Penmachno, a glimpse of Moel Siabod, and surrounding woodland.


View to Pen Yr Ole Wen

Wednesday June 17, 2015