The word Rhinog means something like threshold. Historically, I don’t know why the hills have that name. I do find it evocative and meaningful. The Rhinogs, or Rhinogydd, sit between land and sea. They shelter flat plains from the sea, which leads to the Arenigs. You can see Rhinog Fach and Fawr from the coast line but only if you walk across the sand and approach the lapping sea. A few metres back into the beach and the Rhinogs disappear.

You can see the Harlech area in this potograph. There you find a pleasing old castle and an impressive dune beach. I don’t like wading across watery sand, sucked down at every step. The view from the road however, out to the sea high above the beach, is astounding. Every time I drive there, heading towards Llanbedr, I search for a convenient place where I can stop and park and photograph. There is none. I stopped once at the entrance to a house, slightly on the road, as a calculated risk. The road is quiet. I was highly visible. There was however barely the space for it.

The Rhinogs are a threshold from land to sea, up from the beaches in front and the flat area behind, and they are a threshold of time. Britain is an ancient country. There are rough areas below here, the slopes of Moelfre, which had settlements thousands of years ago. They made the best of the land, clearing where they could, then stopped. Halfway up Moelfre you see how they thought. We can’t go any higher, one man said to another, it’s too rough. The slope suddenly climbs. That’s where you find the wall.

It’s a lovely area. Nearby Barmouth has it’s fun fair amusements, candy floss stalls and chips. It also has a quiet charm as a traditional seaside resort, as we enjoyed before we all went abroad. The Mawddach Estuary is the other side, above which you find enticing slopes leading to the Cregennen Lakes and Cader Idris.

There’s something about the Rhinogs. I could try to explain it, do so effectively, tell you more. The special ecology of the area below the hills, ancient oaks, curious wild flowers, how quiet it is here, how there’s no evidence of tourism, how it feels separate. It’s more potent if I only allude to it but the word separate gets close.


Snowdonia Photography: Rhinog and Coast

Thursday April 16, 2015