Hikers and walkers often speak in terms of wilderness. This is a wilderness one person says. Others say there is no such thing in Britain. Even in the remote parts of Scotland you will find tracks, a sweet wrapper, or perhaps a bothy. In less remote parts – not Fisherfield, Knoydart or the far north – you might be a few hours from a village or road. The same applies with Wales, the Lake District, the Peak District most of all, which are the places I generally walk.

Another term you might use is liminal. It’s used in an academic or intellectual context. It’s not confined to National Parks and the countryside but applies anywhere you get a feeling of boundary, threshold, or forgotten space. That might be a disused car park, waste area, or derelict part of the city. I explore those spaces in search of wild flowers. Then I write about the juxtaposition and the presence of living nature.

I wouldn’t describe the Rhinog area as a wilderness. It is quite a special place with a feeling of roughness, age, and untamed beauty. Behind Fach and Fawr, which you see here, there’s a relatively flat area which looks and feels empty. Then you see the Arenigs. In the other direction you have the sea, before which you find this kind of terrain. There are a few roads and only a few farm houses. It’s about three miles to Llanbedr from this location. It’s unlike anywhere else I know.

You don’t see many people here. When the camp site is busy, you drive to the base of the Rhinogs to walk and might see two or three cars or none. It seems most of the interest relates to sea proximity and holiday delights, and camping delights in a wonderful place: I enjoy that too.

The area feels liminal. It’s a better word than wilderness: more fluid, general, and suggestive. The word Rhinog means something like threshold, which I also like.


Rhinog Fach and Fawr: Snowdonia

Saturday February 20, 2016