(We continue our adventures in Wales with the final part – number three)
The evening after climbing Snowdon was unexpectedly painful. I’d expected my legs to hurt, but quite without warning when we got back to the hotel room after dinner something in my lower back went into a spasm and I was suddenly in real pain.
I ended up temporarily on my knees (quite literally) at the side of my bed trying to alleviate the discomfort – and thought I’d done myself a real injury. I’ve had problems with my lower back in the past and it still troubles me from time to time. After spraying on embrocation and taking paracetamol and ibuprofen it was still agony, however I was so tired that I fell fast asleep flat on my back shortly after (I couldn’t do that a year and a half ago!) and awoke several hours later feeling absolutely (and quite surprisingly) fine.
As well as my miraculous back recovery my legs weren’t the tortured pins of agony I was expecting them to be – and although I had some cramp when I moved around and they un-siezed I definitely had life left in them.
I’d set my alarm for 7am so that we could get down to the main hotel for breakfast. We’d missed it due to our early start the previous day – and upon arrival when I saw the choice I wasn’t disappointed. There were many slimming friendly options and I chose to have (to start) berries and natural yogurt with a couple prunes and peach slices sprinkled with a dessert spoonful of muesli.
The waiter then took an order for the main breakfast and I went for a poached egg with some smoked haddock – which arrived cooked to perfection. I left feeling pleasantly satisfied, but not overly full and we busied ourselves with getting ready to check out.
I have to be honest – I didn’t want to leave.
It seemed like a complete injustice to go home after just two nights with so much still just aching to be explored. Thankfully there was plenty of time left in the day and neither myself or my companion planned to waste it.
As I handed our keys in at reception I enquired whether or not it was ok to leave the car in front of the hotel for a few hours whilst we wandered off to explore a little more. One of the guests at breakfast had mentioned to me that by the road in front of the hotel there was a gate leading to a river side walk and a nearby copper mine (that I’d mentioned to him) that might be of interest.
Both me and my companion (who was also not completely crippled) felt pretty game for another walk so we made our way to the river.
This was a lovely shady (and well maintained) path to the nearby visitor attraction – and it was extremely relaxing to watch the fast moving (and quite swollen) river rushing past us as we twalked the morning away.
Before long we arrived at the mine – very very early for a Sunday – and we realised that we were pretty much the only ones there!
Instead of paying for a tour (it wasn’t that expensive it turned out later – £8.50 each) we decided to follow some of the marked walks nearby and initially started making our way up the mountain. However I think we took a wrong turn somewhere as the trail abruptly stopped at what turned out to be the exit to the mine’s guided tour and a rather lovely panoramic view.
At the exit to the mine was a gated metal turnstile – and inquisitively I checked whether it locked if you tried to go in. It turned out that it wasn’t – so (a bit cheekily) we had a look inside.
There wasn’t a lot to see at the end of the mine tour – just a really long tunnel – and we decided not to venture too far in (there were loads of signs about wearing hard hats and I’m not the type to needlessly tempt fate) but it was amazing just how much water was pouring out of the rock and how the temperature plummeted within just a few feet of the entrance.
Both my companion and I absolutely s**t ourselves when we turned the corner at the end of this long corridor and saw a mannequin behind a mine cart. In the dark the dummy looked real and he was staring right at us!
We headed (briskly) back outside into the warm sunshine and down past the visitor centre to see what else there was to do. Both of us still felt a bit crampy – but a flat stroll along the river to a nearby lake a mile or so away seemed like a nice alternative to the cold and wet mine.
We headed off along the route to see what was at the end.
As we made our way along the bank we saw a marshall in a high visibility vest standing by a gate. I said hello to him, but oddly he just looked at me, so we carried on. By the side of the path were occasional markers where someone had tied polythene signs saying ‘this way’.
We ignored them for the time being and continued along the peaceful path that wound it’s way along the valley.
It didn’t take long before we reached Llyndy Isaf – which is a large lake surrounded by woods, waterfalls and small boat houses. As we arrived a family with children were taking advantage of the opportunity for a free dip and there were a group of young boys all splashing about and having fun.
It seemed like a nice place to take a few ‘this is me and I’m here’ photos so we stopped for a moment to indulge in vanity!
Nearby there was the sound of rushing water, and there was a small stream that was feeding the lake.
We pushed our way through the bracken, hopped over a couple of rocks in the river and found ourselves in a lovely secluded little spot by a waterfall. If there was ever a place for a picnic in an idyllic location then this was it!
It was by now though (as we made our way back over the little stream and onto the path again) that we realised what the Marshall was staring at us for. The quiet, unspoiled walking paradise that we’d been ambling through was part of the route for a race from Llanberis to Snowdon.
Initially we’d seen a couple of (unrealistically fit and very muddy) runners flying past – but all of a sudden there were literally hundreds of them in small groups, meaning that we had to walk single file and keep stopping as they flew past us with various pained expressions.
After a while it got quite annoying, so when we saw a large stile over a wall that lead up the hillside into the forest we jumped at the chance to explore.
As this wound up the incline we realised that this wasn’t really a walking path as such – but more of an trodden route through tree roots and over boulders. It wasn’t an easy walk – but it was interesting and quieter than walking through a stampede.
After about 20 minutes of making our way up the hill – we found ourselves on the site of an old derelict stone cottage of some kind. There were three outlines of what looked like three very old buildings (clearly built before people thought windows were a cool idea) and we decided to have a look.
As we got closer it seemed that occasionally this place had seen a few campfires and there was evidence that someone had maybe toasted a few marshmallows – but otherwise it was an idyllic little oasis of green and calm half way up a hillside and completely hidden from view by the canopy of trees.
After looking around for a while we carried on up the hill – but things started to get a lot more overgrown and slippy.
Given that neither of us were completely fresh after climbing Snowdon the day before and hadn’t brought anything with us we decided that it was sensible to turn around – and instead to make our way back to the hotel and car to munch on our packed lunches.
There was after all still the little matter of a three and half hour drive home to contend with…
As we strolled back the torrents of runners just kept coming – and we even tried (and failed) to walk along the opposite bank of the river (there was a bridge next to the lake) in an attempt to get away from them. Sadly this just resulted in getting jammed up in head high bracken, but it made us laugh the whole way through, and we were still smiling as we once again crossed the river back onto the path full of runners.
Soon we were back at the hotel – and upon arrival we were greeted by the cutest and friendliest Staffordshire bull terrier who was sunning herself by the front door. She loved a good fuss and lots of patting and questions about ‘who’s a good girl?’
Strangely there was no answer – and this question remains an enigma.
I popped to the loo and then myself and my companion sat outside for a while on the garden furniture munching on our boiled eggs, apples and muesli bars, drinking in the scenery one last time.
It had been the perfect end to a pretty perfect little holiday.
According to Apple Watch we’d both walked 28.5 miles in three days – and most of those were over some kind of gradient.
Now all that remains is to find out next weekend whether this has helped me lose any more pounds! I’ve tried to be good – but at the same time, boy did I have an appetite after our riverside walk.
The rest of this week will be all about getting back into the swing of normal exercise, cooking meals, not eating things out of packets and wrappers and making forward progress.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Snowdonia experience internet – I know I certainly did!!!
If anyone fancies doing the same I really really recommend these guys – https://www.hfholidays.co.uk which owned the hotel we stayed at. Although we stayed there on a B&B basis only (paying less because of that) the other guests were getting the ‘whole’ experience with guided tours of the area and a variety of walking excursions each day.
(I’m not selling their services – nor do I get commission – they’re just nice people!)