Stratford – The Guild Chapel

We went back into Stratford on a sunny Wednesday. the offspring wanted to visit Shakespeare’s birthplace, but we’d been before and as entry is quite expensive me and J decided to give it a miss and have a wander round the small town.

After visiting Waterstones (and ending up buying a couple of books – more to add tot he pile 😂), walking a little further down the street we spotted this chapel and a notice enticed us to have a look inside.

It’s the the chapel built for the Guild of the Holy Cross, a medieval religious organisation created in 1269 which existed until it was abolished in 1547. The Guild membership consisted of gentry, wealthy merchants and tradesmen from Stratford – it probably acted like a sort of Freemasons where the members looked after each other while carrying out some charity work as a public relations exercise. According to Wikipedia

The guild reached the peak of its influence in the late 15th century, when it had become the town’s semi-official governing body, and probably included all of the more important townsmen.

The picture at the top of this post shows their Guildhall and the adjacent alms houses. The chapel was built at the end of the Guildhall – you can see the tower in the photo.

The Medieval Guild Chapel is a Grade 1 listed building and the Historic England listing tells us that the chancel was built in the 13th Century, with some alterations done around1450. The nave and tower were added in around 1490 and comprehensively restored in1804. Further restoration and refurbishment in the 1950s.

During the 19th Century Medieval wall-paintings were rediscovered which had been covered over by limewash during the Reformation.

In Medieval times most churches would have had paintings on the walls to educate and, literally, put the fear of God into the congregation. Even those who were able to read would be unlikely to be able to read the words of the scriptures themselves because until the Reformation the Bible was only available in Latin. The clergy and the Feudal Ruling Class didn’t want the Lower Orders to get any ideas about equality from reading the New Testament!

Following the Reformation, when English translations of the bible became available, the paintings, images, statues and the like were banned by a Royal Injunction by Elizabeth I 1559 which required the “removal of all signs of superstition and idolatry from places of worship”. So the paintings were covered over with limewash (Shakespeare’s dad was allegedly involved in this), which actually served to protect the them – although some have been lost, including some scenes from the Legend of the True Cross when the Chapel was re-modelled in the 19th Century.

Today, however, some of the paintings have been uncovered and can be viewed by visitors to the chapel. A team of historical archaeologists and digital heritage specialists from the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, have carried out a major study of the paintings and created a digital model.

The large mural painted above the chancel arch (probably at the beginning of the 16th Century) represents the Day of Judgement, otherwise known as the Doom,

This is what the York team think it would have looked like. (The large cross and silhouettes of two figures – one on either side – were not actually part oft eh painting. there was originally a physical cross and two statues there which were painted around. Now they’re gone they’ve left behind their “shadows”

Another large painting on lower west wall – the Allegory of Death is the best-preserved of the Chapel’s wall paintings.

The York team’s reconstruction can be seen here.

Not all of the paintings are on display. Most have been re-painted with limewash to preserve them, but there are a few which visitors can peek at!

There’s a couple of good websites about the chapel and the paintings here and here plus a website about the York University project.

After looking round the chapel we made our way to the river for a stroll before joining the offspring for a drink in the Garrick, the oldest pub (reputably!) in Stratford –  in a timber framed building dating back to the 1400’s.

After that we walked towards the river, crossed the bridge then walked along the other side

before crossing back over on the chain ferry.

We then made our way back to the RSC. Popping inside we asked how much it cost to go up the tower. It was free! (with the option of making a donation – which we did).

The tower was added during the renovation and remodelling between 2007 and 2010

and after taking the lift to the top we had some good views over the theatre, the town and the nearby countryside.

Wife and daugher took the lift back down an then went shopping. Son and I descended by the steps (more fun!) and sheltered in the shade while we waited for them. It was then back to the car for the short journey to our accommodation.

Chipping Campden

On the way back to our holiday accommodation from Snowshill, our route took us close to the small Cotswold town of Chipping Campden. As it was only mid afternoon, we decided to make a short diversion and stop to have a look. This holiday was out first experience of the Cotswolds which is famous for it’s pretty villages with buildings constructed from the golden-Cotswold stone, a type of oolitic Jurassic limestone. Chipping Camden certainly had plenty of them.

The town’s website tells us that its

an ancient wool town, jewel of the Cotswolds, centre of the Arts and Crafts movement, a beautiful place to visit, live or work

but there didn’t seem to be anything about its history. There is, however, plenty of information of the Chipping Campden History Society website.

There were settlements in the vicinity going back a long way, but the town really started to grow between the 13th and 15th centuries due to the wool trade. Apparently many of the buildings in the town date from this period. By the 17th Century the wool trade had declined, but it continues to grow and prosper as a Market Town.

We didn’t spend very long in the town – one of us wanted to get back to the accommodation – so we only had time to take a brief wander along the main street.

Looking closely, the buildings may have been built with the same type of stone but there were different styles, reflecting the different periods when they were erected. The buildings in the High Street are apparently mainly from the 14th century to the 17th century. There were many good examples of vernacular buildings

but we also spotted a number of Georgian style properties, probably built as the town expanded as it became more prosperous.

“Campden” originates from the Saxon ‘campa’ ‘denu’ -meaning ‘a valley with cultivated fields ringed by unfenced hill pastures’. The “Chipping” part of the town’s name, added later during it’s history, is from Old English cēping, meaning ‘market’, ‘market-place’. There are several other towns in the area with the same element in the name, and only a few weeks ago I was in the old Lancashire Chipping on the edge of the Forest of Bowland. So, not surprisingly, the town has an old market square and it was here that we found the old market hall.

Funded by a wealthy benefactor, Sir Baptist Hicks, It was built in 1627 to provide shelter for traders in goods such as cheese, butter and poultry. Not surprisingly it’s a Grade 1 Listed Building.

Like just about every other building on the High Street it’s built of the local creamy limestone. It has a stone slate roof, and each of the slates is secured by a single wooden peg through a hole resting on the wooden cross strut.

The old cobbled stone floor was very uneven! It’s believed that this is the original floor.

Today it’s owned by the National Trust and their website tells us that

In the 1940s it was almost sold to an American, but local people heroically raised the money to buy it first. They gave it to the National Trust

The market hall is the start, or end, point of the 102 mile long Cotswold Way. Now that’s given me an idea!

Snowshill Manor Garden

When Charles Wade bought Snowshill Manor the area around the house was a “muddy farmyard” but he was determined that it should become “a garden of interest”. The original design was by Hugh Baillie Scott, modified by Wade who’d originally trained as an architect, and, with the assistance of a local builder, William Hodge, he then set about its transformation.

Like Hidcote the garden at Snowshill Manor was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement style as an extension of the house, based around a series of “garden rooms” with terraces, stone walls, buildings and features such as a sunken pool, a well, an obelisk and a model village. Although it is much small than that at Hidcote.

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Armillary Court. The pillar was made from a gate post found in the farmyard!
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Looking over the lawn to the sunken pool with its model village
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A close up of the model village – “Wolf’s Cove”. Originally meant to resemble a Cotswold settlement, the later addition of the harbour means it looks more like a Cornish fishing village
The Well Court with its 24-hour garden clock
another view of the Well Court
Quote from For Katrina’s Sun-Dial by Henry Van Dyke
A close up of the 24 hour garden clock. The inscriptions are from the teachings of St Bernard of Clairvaux. The metalwork was made locally by George Hart, a silversmith from Chipping Camden
Another view of the Well Court
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Looking over the orchard to the village church
The orchard
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The orchard – photo taken on first approaching the house

Snowshill

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The day after our trip to Hidcote we decided to drive back over to the north Cotswolds to visit another National Trust property – Snowshill Manor. We’d read that it had another Arts and Crafts style garden but that there was also a manor house to visit. We didn’t know quite what to expect.

There’s been house on this site since Tudor times but at the beginning of the 20th Century it had been used as a farmhouse and was surrounded by muddy fields. Then in 1919 it was bought by Charles Wade who’d heard was up for sale while he was serving in the trenches. Wade wrote that

the whole property was in a most deplorable state of ruin and neglect, but it had not been spoilt…in spite of the gloom of the day…I could visualize it as a delightful home…’

Charles Padget Wade came from a wealthy family who had made their money from sugar plantations in the Carribean. Of course, that would had meant that originally they would have been slave owners (who were very comprehensively compensated when the slavery was banned in the British Empire by the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833). When his father died Wade inherited a share in his father’s business, including property on the island of Saint Kitts. He’d originally trained as an architect, but his inheritance allowed him to devote his time to other pursuits, in particular his passion for collecting, and Snowshill manor became a home not for himself, but his growing collection of diverse objects and curiosities. He also decided to create a garden from the farmyard and messy fields behind the house, designed by the Arts and Crafts architect Hugh Baillie Scott – who amongst other creations design our favourite Blackwell in the Lake District.

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After a 30 minute drive we arrived at the property. As the house isn’t very large they operate a timed entry ticket policy and we had about 40 minutes to wait for our turn. There was a lengthy walk along the drive to reach the house and gardens – it was another fine day so we were quite happy to start to explore the gardens before our turn.

At the back of the house there’s another smaller building Wade named the “Priest’s House” – said to be haunted by ghosts including a monk. Wade spent most of his time elsewhere but when he was at Snowshill this is where he lived – the main house was exclusively the home of his collection. We were able to look inside

This was his kitchen – notice the candles, there was no electricity. Cooking wasn’t allowed and he had his meals brought in by his housekeeper who lived in a nearby cottage. He did, however have a spirit stove that he used to boil water for his brew and to cook boiled eggs.

This was his living room with his favourite chair

and this was his bedroom with it’s Tudor box-bed and spooky religious statue and decor..

Yes, a real eccentric character.

We had a quick look around the garden, but then it was time for our turn to enter the house.

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It was a “self-guided” tour through a series of rooms that were packed to the rafters with an amazing collection of all sorts of objects. Nothing was labelled but there were the usual NT room guides who were extremely well informed.

Wade’s obsession for collecting was inspired by his “Grannie’s cabinet”. When he was seven years old he was sent to live with his maternal grandmother in Great Yarmouth. She was a strict woman, apparently, but on treat she allowed him was to explore her “cabinet of curiosities

Every Sunday she would allow Charles to open the cabinet with its ‘magic key’ and to marvel at its collections, hidden within drawers and recesses. The cabinet contained old ‘family treasures’, like a little wax angel with golden wings, musical boxes, shells, compasses, butterflies and silver spoons. 

NT Snowshill website

There were literally thousands of diverse objects in the house, which is effectively a giant “cabinet of curiosities”, and it was difficult to take everything in. By the end of the tour we were mentally exhausted!

Mechanical scorpion
A n “Armada chest” – which were used ti store and safeguard valuables – showing it’s elaborate locking mechanism.
the actual 18th-century black lacquer cabinet, known as Grannie’s cabinet, that inspired Charles Wade to start collecting
Samurai armour made in about 1830 in the Japanese province of Kaga
A collection of theatre masks and other objects from Indonesia
More samurai suits of armour dating from the 17th and 19th centuries – there are a total of 39 examples in the collection!
Part of the collection of musical instruments
Civil war armour
A hand loom
Lots of old bikes
Three penny farthings suspended from the ceiling
One of a sizeable collection of model wains showing the traditional styles from different counties
Toys

Wade married late – in his 60’s – and had no heirs so before he died, approached the National Trust and arranged to leave Snowshill to them to safeguard the future of his collection.

Having spent a good hour in the house we emerged into daylight to explore the garden. But this pot has been long enough. I think the garden deserves its own!

Hidcote Garden

Checking out what we might do while we were on holiday in Warwickshire, we found that there were several National Trust properties within 30 minutes drive. One that particularly took our fancy was Hidcote, only about 20 minutes away in the north Cotswolds. It’s famous for its “Arts and Crafts” style gardens and being interest in the movement we decided that a visit was a must. We drove over on the Bank Holiday Monday, but the traffic was light and, although busy, the gardens weren’t crowded.

The gardens were created by the American horticulturist, Major Lawrence Johnston who’d moved to Britain with his mother at the turn of the 20th Century. He became a British citizen and fought in the British army during the Boer war. His mother remarried and bought Hidcote Manor in the north of the Cotswolds and he set about turning the surrounding fields into gardens.

I mainly associate the Arts and Crafts movement with architecture, furniture and the decorative arts, but its principles also influenced garden design. Notable garden designers associated with the style include Gertrude Jekyll who designed the garden at Lindisfarne Castle we’d seen a few years ago at the end of our walk on the St Cuthbert’s Way, and the Lancastrian, Thomas Mawson whose works included Rydal Hall gardens and the Rivington terraced gardens. Mawson wrote an influential book – ‘The Art and Craft of Garden Making’.

Curious about what comprised an “Arts and Crafts” style garden I did (as I often do) a little research! I discovered that that moving away from the grand, large scale sweeping landscapes normally associated with grand country houses, the garden is seen as an extension of the house and a space for outdoor living and leisure. They were more intimate, with smaller scale “garden rooms” topiary and colourful plantings. They frequently have water features and structures such as terraces, pergolas, summer houses and dry stone walls and local materials and craftsmanship are utilised. All of this was certainly true at Hidcote.

There was a lot to see – you could wander around for hours – we certainly did.

Some References:

House and Garden “An introduction to the gardens of the Arts and Crafts Movement

Homes and Garden website – Arts and crafts garden design – 5 key elements for a backyard

Great British Gardens website – Arts and Crafts Gardens

A week in Warwickshire

For our family summer holiday this year we ventured into (relatively) unknown territory, venturing past the Black Country, braving the horrors of travelling down the M6 and past Birmingham at the start of a Bank Holiday weekend to stay in the countryside a few miles to the south west of Stratford upon Avon. The Friday before was a significant birthday for our son and it’s usually difficult to think of a suitable present for him, but J hit on the idea of taking him to see a performance at the RSC in Stratford and basing our family holiday around that. We had a choice between Alls Well that Ends Well or Richard III – well there was only one suitable option so the date of our holiday was determined by when the latter was showing – so it meant travelling down on the Friday so we could see the matinee performance on the Saturday of the Bank Holiday weekend.

Source: https://www.rsc.org.uk/richard-iii/

As it happened the journey wasn’t as horrendous as I was expecting. The motorway was busy but mainly kept moving – it was much worse the other way with long queues of traffic travelling north.

We’d booked a property which was part of a converted farm building on a small complex in the countryside near the village of Weston on Avon and Weford on Avon, a couple of rather posh Warwickshire villages, complete with a number of thatched Olde Worlde properties.

It was a good base – very quiet yet only 4 miles to the centre of Stratford and 20 to 30 minutes drive from places of interest in a part of the country that we’d never previously explored, including the Cotswolds.

Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds

As usual, we had a busy week. After a relaxing evening to recover from the travelling on the Saturday we drove into Stratford and spent a few hours mooching around before the performance, which we enjoyed very much,

Craft Market in Stratford
The River Avon at Stratford

and afterwards had a Thai banquet before returning to our accommodation.

During the week we visited two Arts and Crafts influenced National Trust properties in the Cotswolds, had another day in Stratford and on our final day drove over to Compton Verney, somewhere I’d wanted to visit for some time. Not much walking as this was a family holiday, but plenty of arts and culture – something we’ve not indulged in as much during the last few years due to “you know what”.

Compton Verney

We struck lucky with the weather all week too; generally sunny but not too hot. So all in all a good week – and a lot to write up!

Bodnant Garden

Returning home from my break in North wales I decided to stop off at Bodnant Garden, a National Trust site in the Conwy Valley. It’s known for it’s extensive gardens spanning 80 acres of hillside and includes formal Italianate terraces, informal shrub borders, ornamental ponds, lakes and riverside walks, with plants from all over the world.

The site was gifted to the National Trust in 1949 by  Henry McLaren, Lord Aberconway. However, the family still own the estate and Michael McLaren inherited the estate in 2003 on his father’s death and plays an active role as garden director. The house is “out of bounds” as it’s occupied by the family and the large shop/Garden Centre is owned and run by the estate and not the Trust. Personally, I’m never comfortable with these arrangements, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the gardens.

View from the terrace over to the Carneddau

Most National Trust properties have a reasonably priced guide which will explain the history of the site. This wasn’t the case at Bodnant where the guide was a hardback costing, if I remember rightly, £30. Being rather stingy I decided against purchasing a copy, so was going to do some research online after my visit. However, Eunice posted an excellent detailed account on her blog just a short while after my return so she’s saved me some work!

I spent a couple of hours wandering round the gardens and more or less following the riverside paths in “The Dell” down to, and round, the Skating Pond, before making my way back through the Glades and Yew Garden to the house.

Pwll Trochi – (The Bath)
The Pin Mill – brought from Woodchester in Gloucestershire to Bodnant in 1939
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Looking down to Hen Felin (the Old Mill)
Hen Felin (the Old Mill)
The canyon
The skating pond
The small boathouse on the Skating Pond
Y ‘Poem’ – the family Mausoleum
Y ‘Poem’
Pont y Rhaeadr (Waterfall Bridge)
Stepping stones
“Pwll Trochi”

Returning to the house I visited the Craft centre and bought a rather attractive small porcelain hanging sculpture decorated with impressions of local flowers by Charlotte Bellis an artist who studied in Cumbria but who had grown up in Snowdonia.

Checking the pedometer app on my phone I found that I’d walked just over 2 miles exploring and wandering around the grounds. There were long queues in the two cafes on the site so I decided to give them a miss before returning to the car. The drive home along the M56 and M6 was not fun, but then it rarely is! I was surprised how busy the motorways were as it was only early afternoon and the roadworks “upgrading” the M6 to a so called “Smart Motorway”. didn’t help. Still, it would have been worse later in the afternoon.

I’d had an enjoyable solo stay in North Wales and was pleased that I’d managed to get up on to the Cardennau. I’d also been surprised on just how nice the coast was here and how my enjoyment hadn’t been affected by the proximity of the Expressway, which I hardly noticed at all. Arriving home I decided I needed to return to this stretch of coast, the mountains and the Conwy valley before too long.

Arts and Crafts Houses in Llanfairfechan

Something I hadn’t expected to find in Llanfairfechan were some rather attractive Arts and Crafts style houses. I’d spotted three distinctive white rendered houses on the sea front during my walk along the coast on the Tuesday, all with some interesting architectural features. It turned out that they were all designed by Herbert Luck North, an architect who had lived in the village in the early 20th Century.

I though that this house was particularly attractive.

Whitefriars built in 1933. Designed by Herbert Luck North for a retired seaman
Another view of Whitefriars

and next door were a pair of semi detached houses, also designed by North, built almost 30 years earlier.

A pair of semi-detached houses from around 1906. Designed by Herbert Luck North.

Herbert Luck North was born in Leicester on 9 November 1871. He studied at at Jesus College, Cambridge, after which he worked as an assistant to William Alfred Pite and Edwin Landseer Lutyens. After qualifying as an architect he worked in London before moving to Llanfairfechan in 1901, where his parents lived, establishing an architectural practice there.

Higher up the hill, in the old village, there’s a street of 25 houses, the Close, 24 of which were designed by North. The first of these, built in 1898, was, apparently, the first house he’d designed. The others were built quite a few years later, between 1922 and1940.

House in The Close
Houses in the Close

The Arts and Crafts movement emerged in Britain in the 1880’s and was heavily influenced by the ideas of John Ruskin, William Morris and others who felt that the mass manufacture of goods during the second half of the 19th century had led to a design in standards and poor quality products and that mass production had led to workers being alienated from the products of their labour. The movement’s vision was for a return to craftsmanship. The use of machinery wasn’t dismissed entirely, but should be used to produce well designed, good quality products. The movement’s ethos is probably well summarised by a quote from William Morris

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

The movement’s principles were applied to architecture as well as furniture, fabrics, tiles, ceramics, and metalwork. Many of the buildings designed by the well known practitioners of the style, such as Charles Voysey, Hugh Baillie Scott and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, built homes for wealthier clients but the homes designed by Herbert Luck North were for more modest, albeit Middle Class, clients.

There isn’t one uniform “style” of Arts and Crafts architecture. However, the general approach involved the application of traditional building techniques, good quality craftsmanship, the use of local materials, asymmetry and avoiding excessive ornamentation. Many early Arts and Crafts style buildings were inspired by Medieval and Tudor design but as the movement evolved plainer, more simple styles become more dominant, with “form following function” at least to some extent. These buildings influencing the simpler Modernist architecture of the 20th Century. This was certainly true of Herbert Luck North’s houses that I saw in Llanfairfechan. They were relatively plain at first glance but had distinctive features including white rendered walls, steep gables, slate rooves (probably with slate from the many local quarries), arched doors and  “eyebrow” windows.

Further along the coast towards Bangor,  I’d spotted a rather nice house by the entrance to Traeth Lafan Nature Reserve, close to the level crossing over the railway line. It was similar in style to the houses I’d seen in Llanfairfechan. I wondered whether it was another building designed by North, but my research has drawn a blank.

There are certainly some other buildings by North in Llanfairfechan featured on the History Points website. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to seek them all out during my short break. Another time, perhaps.

Aber Falls and a coastal walk

Aber Falls is one of the most popular tourist attractions in northern Snowdonia. The dramatic waterfall is very accessible by an easy path making it suitable for a wide range of visitors. The falls, near to Abergwyngaren, are only a few miles from where I was staying and I had them on my list as a destination for a walk. I’d devised a lengthy route where I could walk over to the falls via the Roman road and then return via the coastal path. However, after a long hard walk up into the mountains the day before I decided to cut out a few miles by taking the bus to Abergwyngaren – the bus stop was almost opposite where I was staying.

I walked through the village and then after the falls car park I walked through the woods before joining the path along the valley that led to the falls.

It’s about 1 1/2 miles from the car park to the falls, passing several sites of Pre-historic settlements from teh Bronze and Iron ages.

Excavated Iron Age hut circle

Then, there are the falls just a short distance away.

There are actually two falls – Rhaeadr Fawr and Rhaeadr Bach, the easy route leading to the former.

Rhaeadr Fawr

I stopped for a short while to take in the view of the water cascading 37 metres down from the hanging valley of Cwm yr Afon Goch, before crossing over the wooden bridge spanning the river to take in the view from the other side.

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Another visitor enjoying the sunshine

A large proportion of visitors will return by retracing their steps back to the car park but there’s another option. Following the path from the bridge there’s a route that passes Rhaeadr Bach and then goes up over the moors before descending back down to the village.

Turning a corner Rhaeadr Bach was revealed. I thought that these falls which tumbled down the mountainside in a series of cascades were more interesting than the more popular (and more accessible) Rhaeadr Fawr.

I carried on along the path which looped round to the north climbing up the hill side above the valley, passing a couple of DofE exhibition groups (yes, it was that time of the year!).

Looking back there was a great view of both falls and the slopes of the Carneddau.

Height was gained gradually opening up views over the valley

and, eventually, over the sea

Looking back across to the mountains, the weather was quite different tan over the sea

My route now took me down a steep path back to the village. The picture shows how much height was gained on the return leg

Reaching the village I stopped for an ice cream and then took the minor road under the Expressway towards the coast where I joined the coastal path to walk back towards Llanfairfechan

This stretch of the coastal path passes through the Traeth Lafan Nature Reserve which stretches along the intertidal sand and mud-flats along the Menai Straits between Bangor and Llanfairfechan

I reached  Morfa Madryn and then continued, retracing my route from a few days before.

The weather was much brighter this time

Looking inland

Approaching Llanfairfechan

I walked along the prom before climbing up the hill along Station Road, turning right at the crossroads for the last half mile or so back to my accommodation.

Drum and Foel Fras

My reason for choosing to stay in LLanfairfechan was that I wanted to get up on the northern Cardennau. There aren’t many access points to the plateau but the village is one of them. So on the Wednesday, despite the promise of cloud, mist and some rain up on the high fells, it looked like that would clear during the day, so I took my chance, booted up and set off.

The first part of my route was reprise of the previous day’s walk up Garreg Fawr, except that this time I by-passed the summit, carrying along the path towards Drum.. heading into the low cloud that had descended on to the hills.

As I walked along the path I encountered two walkers coming back off the hills – they must have had an early start. They told me it had been clear up top. I didn’t see anyone else for another couple of hours.

There’s a long stretch of power lines that cross the lower slopes of the northern Cardennau which emerged from the mist as I approached them.

Just after I’d passed them I crossed the Roman road from Chester (Deva) and Caernarfon (Segontium) which also traverses the lower slopes

Shortly afterwards I encountered my first herd of ponies of the day

I carried on along the clear track heading towards Drum

The cloud came and went, bringing intermittent drizzle and rain, with Drum appearing from time to time as the cloud passed over.

As I climbed I gained a view of Foel Fras, Llwytmor and Llyn Anafon

Eventually I reached the summit of Drum and stopped in the shelter for a rest and a bite to eat

And as I watched the cloud began to clear

revealing views right down to the lower hills nearer to the coast, the Menai Straits, Puffin Island and Anglesey,

Foel Fras

Llwytmor

While I was snapping some photographs I saw my third walker of the day who came up the path I’d followed, but carried on towards Foel Fras. Not long after I resumed walking, dropping down from the summit of Drum before starting the steep climb up Foel Fras. The path was obvious but not as good underfoot. There were sections of boggy ground but stepping stones had been laid over the worst sections helping to keep my boots reasonably dry.

The weather continued to improve

The view over to the coat from the path up Foel Fras

On the way up, what did I see? yes, another small herd of ponies

It was a steep climb at first, but the slope eased gradually and it didn’t take too long to reach the boulder strewn summit of the northernmost of the Welsh 3000 foot peaks at 3097 feet.

Looking over to the southern Carneddau – Carnedd llewelyn was covered with cloud
Zooming in
Looking back down to the coast
Looking over Llwytmor towards the Menai Straits and Anglesey

I stayed for a while taking in the view without another soul in sight. I contemplated whether to carry on over the plateau, but decided that a circular route down towards Abergwyngregyn would have been a little too ambitious, so it was time to return, retracing my steps, down towards Drum.

The weather kept improving as I descended

There’s the great Orme in the distance
Looking back to Foel Fras, Llwytmor and Llyn Anafon – a clear view than this morning

Up until now I’d only seen 3 people up on the fells, but as I descended I saw a small group loaded up with large packs heading up. They told me they were making their way up to wild camp up on the plateau near Foel Grach.

On my way down I passed the herd of ponies I’d seen on my way up

Reaching the Roman Road I decided I’d take a different route back to my accommodation. I followed the track in the direction of Abergwyngregyn

and then, after a while, took a path across the moor heading north towards Rhiwiau

A path through the woods then took me to a farmhouse where I joined a metaled track

and then I weedled my way along some minor roads back to the flat.

That had been a grand walk through mist rain and sunshine. Just over 13 miles, reaching the northernmost of the Welsh 3000 foot peaks and back.