This is the same tree, I showed you in my travel post last week and the week before. But, this time in monochrome.
I guess you know this tree if you saw my yesterdays post.
It’s the same tree, but a whole trip was between these two images. Yesterdays image was the first photo taken in Wales and this one was the last photo. Morning and evening made a trip 🙂
This tree usually stands in the lake. But, the water level was very low because of the lack of rain during the winter. At least 0,5 meter of water is missing. The lake is approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) long and in size about 240 acres (~1 km²). So, you’re able to calculate, how many liters or m³ of water is missing. And, summer has not come until now. We only have May!
Climatic changes everywhere.
…. from North-Wales.
The week before last, I was in Great-Britain again. My destination was the Snowdonia National park and the island Anglesey, both located in North Wales. Wales is a part of the British main island and is located in the southwest, right next to the Irish Sea. Those of you, being able to understand German, can read this post in German language here.
Wales is a long-time part of the British empire and the integration path was very bloody. So, you can see impressive castles built by the Norman king Edward I. at the end of the 13.th century to overawe and rule the native Celtic folks living in that region. Also, he established roads for moving his soldiers more easily and more quickly.
Wales is dominated by agriculture: mainly sheep growing. You can not only find them on many meadows, but also in impassable mountain regions. Although, Wales is located at the sea, there are quite high mountains right behind the coast, just like the Snowdonia National Park with the eponymous mountain Mount Snowdon with a hight of 1085 meters.
In the past, there were many mines in Wales: coal, copper, and silver were dug out of the ground. But, these times are long ago. Compared to mining costs in other parts of the world, the costs in Wales were too high. Thus, mines (and other factories, too) were closed and people got unemployed. Just like in my own region, mining towns got deserted. Nearly everywhere in the small towns, you can see signs at the houses or in the front yards telling that that house is for sale. Rural exodus or rural depopulation seems to be an important topic here, too.
On the other hand, Wales is changing to become a tourist region. Hikers and climbers are to be addressed. The National Park lends itself to this. Many supermarkets are around to support hikers with food. Even in small villages, the supermarkets are open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. or even longer. You can not only find the regular products for a supermarket, but you can also find a large variety of prepared sandwiches and other convenient food to take away on your hike. You can also find a lot of small restaurants, pubs, and inns with quite a good value ratio. Often you can find very good products like cake, scones, or sandwiches far away from regular life in the middle of nowhere, but in touristic interesting places. Only with the coffee one notices that the British drink tea. Don’t get me wrong. You can find coffee nearly everywhere on the menu: filter coffee (coffee americano), cappuccino, or latte macchiato. Unfortunately, the taste is sometimes not good. Either you taste the usage of instant coffee or the coffee is way strong or too thin. But, you nearly always get a nice topping made from frothed milk and some cacao powder.
The National Park is equipped with a cog railway. It needs an hour for climbing uphill to Mount Snowdon and after a pause of half an hour back to the foot of the mountain if you don’t want to walk down on your own. We walked down. but, I don’t recommend this trail to an untrained person. Often the path looks more like a creek bed than a beaten path. Big stones and very steep parts make the path quite challenging. We needed about 4 hours for the way down. High shaft hiking boots are the absolute minimum for mastering the path. And take a lot of drinking water with you. There is no option to fill up your bottles after leaving the top station of the cog railway. There’s also no opportunity to change your mind after leaving the top station on foot. Buy your tickets early, they get sold out quickly. Diesel engines drive the carriages on the track and one old steam train is also still in operation.
The hike is very rewarding. Personally, I got impressed by a group of three young men hiking uphill. One of them was blind. He walked up to the mountain as calmly as if he were walking in the city on a flat walkway by trusting his friend on his right arm and his blind man’s stick the left. Several people came to us in different places that jogged up the mountain in bright sunshine and temperatures beyond 25 ° C. Amazing to what the human body is capable of with appropriate training.
As I said earlier, you can also find places for bouldering.
But there are also spots for more relaxed sports like canoeing, fishing or paragliding. The many lakes and treeless mountainsides are ideal for these many different sports in such a small area. Small parking areas beside the streets make it quite easy to stop every now and then, enjoy the landscape, take photographs or start a hike or a walk. Most of the lakes we passed, were easily accessible. On some of them, canoeists took their quiet laps. At the coast, you can start sailing or enjoy the beach life with sun-bathing, swimming, beach volleyball, and other typical beach activities. But, beach lovers should check in advance whether the location is equipped with a sandy beach. The beaches, I saw, were usually very flat-angeled, so that the sandy area was broad while low-tide but very small (or even completely gone) while high-tide.
Off the coast of Wales, you can find the quite big island Angelsey. It’s connected to the mainland by two bridges. Angelsey is even calmer than the Welsh mainland and the town are even smaller. The agricultural areas are mainly used as meadows, too. Despite you won’t see many cows or even horses, you can see lots of sheep of different races.
As a special feature you should mention, that often the order at the counter is expected (the food is then brought to the table), where partly also directly paid. Some restaurants also expect that guests do not just sit down somewhere but ask a receptionist to be assigned a table.
Just like in Germany, I noticed the missing of flying insects. Although this mad hiking a bit easier, by when looking on this from an ecological point of view, this is a disaster. Beside gulls, I saw many common birds: tits, robins, white and grey wagtails, magpies, crows, and ravens but very few swallows. I also saw ducks, geese and grey herons. Unfortunately, I was able to spot the national bird of Wales, the red kite, only once: from inside the cog railway uphill to Mount Snowdon.
You can reach Wales via the airports of Cardiff, the capital of Wales in the South (~150 miles), Birmingham in the east (~200 miles) or Manchester north of Wales (~100 miles). The distances are relative to the Snowdonia National-Park.
While writing this, I’m having a layover of about 3 hours in Amsterdam and hacking this in my mobile phone. All the other group members are on their ways to get home again and I’m the last one sitting in the airport terminal alone for the last hour and waiting for my connection flight. I was on a trip with some friends for seeing the beauty of the Isle if Skye. The island is part of The Inner Hebrides islands and is located at the west coast of Scotland in the Irish Sea.
As I was told before, many parts of that island look very similar to Iceland: fjords, steep hills and small mountains, few trees, green mountainsides, lots of sheep. Spring starts a bit later here, so far in the North.
We visited many famous and also less famous locations. As expected, the weather was quite mixed: warm, sunny moments were interrupted quite often by rain, which was sometimes heavy and equipped with very strong winds.
Over time, some images will pop up here. For today I attached an image of Eilean Donan Castle, located between the Scottish main-land and the Isle of Skye. It’s considered as a doorkeeper and one of the famous locations here.
Our base for exploring the island was somewhere in the middle of the island, not far away from Portree, the biggest town of the island. We had two cars for our group of seven: a Skoda Octavia and a Mercedes C220. The later wasn’t appropriate for the streets, because of the lowered down body and the low section tires. (We ordered a different car, but the rental car station did not have the ordered car).. The roads are quite small and often in bad shape. Some roads even have only one track and passing points every now and then. Usually, the sides of the roads are the worst parts: many potholes and unpaved sides. To avoid hitting a pothole you have the leave the regular track sometimes. But, when you’re encountering an other car or even s lorry, you can’t leave your track without risking an accident. So, over time we got a flat front tire 😕. Unfortunately, that happened at night and there was neither a spare tire nor a bootle of repair foam in the Mercedes. 😭
While two of us tried to get the tire repaired in the next morning, the others were trying to see another famous spot. But, after a few miles an encountering lorry occupying more room of the road (he crossed the middle line of the road and drove also in our half) and thus forcing us to yield to the unpaved side, where we hit a huge pothole and thus got a flat tire on the second car, too 😕. Thanks to a spare tire in the Skoda we were back on track after a short break. Pugh. Day saved. At the early afternoon we met with the second car and used the rest of the day as good as possible.
A few times, we noticed the midges, a kind of large mosquitos which bite very aggressively. Fortunately, we had too heavy wind for them to fly most of the time. So, no-one was harmed. Usually, they come not before end of April or early May, but probably they were earlier this year because of a few very warm days. In this context, warm is a quite relative term. As our landlord said, they have about 15-19 degrees centigrade during summer! So, the 14-16 degrees we had during several days, were quite ‘hot’ for spring time. During the rainy days the temperatures went down to below 10°C, not counting the nights.
So, I recommend dressing with several layers of clothing, starting with a t-shirt. I wore a t-shirt, a hiking pullover, a thin hiking jacket without hood, a thicker hiking jacket with hood and on top of this a windbreaker with hood. The windbreaker was not always necessary. Sometime even the t-shirt was enough. Because of the cold and heavy wind I also used sometimes a pair of Norwegian gloves and my wooden hat. Hiking trousers don’t fight the wind very good, but in my opinion that was warm enough. The advantage of such material is, it dries up extremely quick after a rain. It only lasts 10-15 minutes to dry completely even after a hard rain. During on trip we got very wet. Some of us looked like they were drowned in a barrel of water. My trousers dried up as expected, but because of the heavy wind, the rain was forced through the fabric and ran down the legs. In the end, the water ran inside the shoes. In such situations, the material makes a huge difference. When having leather shoes, drying lasts days, especially when fur-lined. I have shoes made of Goretex. Although, my shoes were completely wet from inside, they were dried up in only 3,5 hours. OK, I got some help by toilet paper and a hair drier.
Regarding shoes, I recommend hiking boots with a solid tread, so that your shoes have grip and save you from slipping. Don’t expect paved paths when heading to a sightseeing spot. Thus, use boots with a high shaft and no trainers. Despite having hiking boots, one of our group members had an accident. He went over on his ankle. Fortunately this happened in the early afternoon of your last day on Skye. So, he didn’t miss much. But, he will probably suffer from the for some weeks.
My advice: always care for good boots and proper clothing when going on a trip.