Cwm and see!

I can’t believe I ruined this website blog thing with a full post on a sandwich.

It’s not getting deleted though.  It’s staying cos the content – my thoughts – are totally valid and might be worth remembering in December 2019.  I tried a lot of sandwiches in the run up to Christmas, and Greggs was definitely the winner.

Anyway, I haven’t done of these in a while and I need to get the writing back on track, if only for another excuse to post more photos that I’m proud of.  These have already featured on instagram, and less so on Facebook, but now it’s time to share here too and give a bit more story.  That’s the thing with those other platforms is that it’s hard to get the story across.  Even if the story is boring, it’s still there to be shared, so I’m here to share.

As I often need to do, here’s the explanation of the blog title:

Cwm is pronounced like come, but spoken by a northerner calling his dog.  Coom, but not like boom.  The oo should be like cook rather than cool.  Cwm is the Welsh word for Valley, specifically a glacial valley.  Cwm Idwal (Idwal Valley) is the first place that I visited in Snowdonia (already mentioned this in a previous blog post that you can go and find) and over a year later I returned.  This time it was Autumn going in to Winter.  I wanted snow, but I didn’t get it.

This visit wasn’t quite as romantic as 2017’s trip, with the stay in the cottage.  This time “home” was a Premier Inn sharing a plot of land with KFC and Aldi.  There was a curry house a few doors along though, so ultimately that swung it.  Wifi was rubbish though.  Millennial nightmare.

We actually got there really early and the sun was still up so I grabbed the opportunity to get to the coast.  I’d seen photos of Point of Ayr lighthouse on Talacre beach but had never visited it.  Google maps (using my own data now, dammit) says that the beach was only 20 minutes away, so off we went.  Ever been to a beach in November?  One that tickles the Irish sea?  It’s windy.  Wasn’t too bad though.  The main thing about beaches in November is that no one else is daft enough to go there so you end up with images like this:

Point of Ayr Lighthouse, Talacre Beach

Point of Ayr Lighthouse, Talacre Beach

The sun was getting ready to set just off to the left of this shot, which is why we have that lovely soft light coming in.

I took another shot of this from the sand dunes, and it was picked up by Visit Wales’ instagram account, shared, and attracted over 30000 likes.  Unreal!

The next morning we got up way before the sun and headed down the North Wales Expressway towards Bangor, turning off to the A5.  We were hoping to get up to Cwm Idwal before sunrise to catch it rising and filling up the valley with light.  That didn’t really happen but it was a nice walk at least, and I got the drone out.  The cloud was quite low, it was a bit cold, there was a bit of rain, and the light was quite flat for some time.  We decided to walk a lap of the lake (Llyn Idwal) and just see what happens.  Along the way I spotted this waterfall and couldn’t resist it:

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To get this sort of shot where the water has almost turned to milk, you need to slow your shutter speed down.  There are 2 key pieces of kit needed for this – a tripod and a filter.  You need a decent ND filter that makes the light work harder to get down the barrel of the lens.  I think for this I used a 6 stop ND filter by Hoya, which is kinda like wearing 6 pairs of sunglasses I guess.  Other than that, you just need to fiddle around with your camera settings to get the timings right.  I think this one must have been between 2 to 3 seconds long.

At this point we’re close to being halfway round the lake, and the weather is awful now.  Visibility doesn’t even stretch to the next path.  This is going to be a waste of time as far as photos go, but at least we’re out in the great outdoors.  Look at this poor lone tree, lost in the very odd green fog:

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Getting closer down to the water, things improved a little and actually I think the tone of this one came out really nicely.  It’s a very calm and tranquil image:

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Then this happened:

Pen Yr Ole Wen

Pen Yr Ole Wen reflecting in Llyn Idwal

The cloud just seemed to fall down in front of me to the Ogwen Valley and then roll across the nose of Pen Yr Ole Wen, seen above.  The water at Llyn Idwal was almost perfectly still and crystal clear giving amazing reflections, so it was time to run down to a decent spot in the water, set the tripod up and snap away quickly.  Moments like these usually come and go very quickly.

Turning back to face the Devil’s Kitchen, the cloud was still lingering and giving the place a really spooky feel.  I had to get a quick shot of what was behind me, and it wasn’t until I got home that I realised 2 other explorers had just snuck in to shot on the left.  It turned out to be the outdoor extraordinaires John and Hollie who saw the image on Instagram and identified themselves.  Small world!  Just look at that water though!

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From here, there was only the slope back down to the car park left to navigate, and the area was filling up with people.  The world had woken up and were keen to explore.  I was keen to get a bacon and egg sandwich so took the A5 north to Bethesda to Fitzpatrick’s cafe.  That turned out be a great decision.

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