Sunday, 21 September 2014

More Welsh wanderings and scrambling

Newborough Warren
Sometimes I think I’m in a dream, sauntering along on a sunny day, singing skylarks overhead, the kronking of raven on the headland, chough chi-owing along cliff faces, even the roar of the overhead jets add to the sensory delights of stunning Anglesey. Heady thoughts of retiring to a rural cottage, watching the seasons unfurl, away from the hustle and bustle of cities….mmh

So here we are again  ’Another balmy, sunny day, another place on Anglesey; this time we’re in bunnyland, well that was what  Newborough warren had been famous for ( as over 100,000 rabbits a year were taken from the warren by the residents) although on the day we only saw one from the path, I’m sure there were lots more about, as one of the first things we saw on the sandy path was a particularly fit looking stoat crossing into the warren, plenty of dinners to be had here it would seem.

Today’s circular walk starts and ends at the lake of Llyn rhos du and incorporates a walk through the Corsican and Scots pines of Newborough forest and a visit to this isle of llanddwyn.
Sandy paths

Newborough Warren is part of a National Nature Reserve, which also includes Llanddwyn Island- the sacred blessed isle of St Dwynwen’s.(Welsh patron  saint of lovers! - Nothing wins hearts like cheerfulness - St. Dwynwen)
To the left of the path is the reserve of newborough warren, it’s a massive dune system with a freshwater lake, saltmarsh, mudflats, a long beautiful beach and stunning views of the sea and Snowdonia
Lyn rhos du

Starting at Llyn rhos du’s car park,  a quick look over the freshwater  lake from the new bird hide only revealed coot, little grebe and swooping swallows.
A small herd of white Welsh mountain ponies were grazing on the warren - used to keep the sward in the condition needed by the wild plants that grow there. The song of Skylarks, robin, wren and Meadow Pipits could be heard. A kestrel hovered over the dunes.
The dunes are also home to toads and lizards, confirmed as a sand lizard dashed across our path and a young toad narrowly escaped being trodden on, a case of eyes to the path not to the skies! 

The beach at Newborough is long and sandy, and obviously popular with the locals. Extensive stunning views over to Snowdonia are afforded here. We continued along the beach to LLanddwyn Island passing some of the oldet rocks on Anglesey along the way. The island is more a long thin peninsula that gets cut off from the mainland only on the highest tides- not marooned today!
St Dwynwen's cross  and lighthouse

An atmospheric, serene little place, with its chapel ruins and beacons.
Chapel ruins
There are two beacons/lighthouses built at the tip of the island Tŵr Bach & Tŵr Mawr. The former lighthouse now returned to service after a modern light was placed on top. Off the tip of the island there were some rocky outcrops/islands, cormorants and gulls were sunbathing. On an inlet beach, a party of gulls were squabbling mainly adult and young herring gulls. Two oystercatchers were on the rocks nearby. Three sandwich terns were careering over the sea close to shore. As we walked along the island path, smaller residents were conspicuous, rock pipit and stonechat. A solitary wheatear was popping around the ruined chapel field.
We stopped for lunch on a promontary, fabulous.
Newborough view from island

Tall Pines
Leaving St Dwynwen’s resting place behind us we headed back to the path leading into the forest. This be the home of Red Squirrels, and we were lucky enough to see one shortly after, scampering up a pine too quickly for my camera - by the way don't forget to vote for Bob!

Apparently Newborough forest has a large raven roost, none heard or seen, far too early in the day. However we did see jays and buzzards as the path opened up to the estuary of the afon cefnii - one buzzard having no luck being mobbed by 4 crows! Curlews were calling on the estuary, but here our path turned away, back to Lyn Rhos du - we shall save Malltreath for another day.
Estuary Afon Cefnii, Malltreath

There are interpretation boards along the nature reserve path and trail markers throughout. Good, well-defined paths and the going is generally easy.

The following day saw us back in Wales, but this time in Snowdonia. Our aim was to climb the shapely magnificence that is Moel Siabod (2,860 feet) A mountain that looms large above coniferous forests near to Capel Curig.  On a clear day, the summit offers a fine panorama, revealing part or all of the highest three mountain ranges in Wales. Unfortunately although the day had dawned warm and windless September’s mist hung heavy and we could only just make out Snowdon and Tryfan through the haze as the day waned.
A spectacular start to our walk occurred as a fabulous male hen harrier glided over the heather clad moor and flanks of the mountainside, a Skydancer, ecstatic to see this special bird.

On the route we saw pied wagtails, buzzard, kestrel, robin, goldfinch, m pipit, skylark, wren and stonechat. As we approached the summit another highlight two splendid ravens kronked over the trigpoint, alas gone by the time the weary arrived.
Bill & laura on the summit
Anyone considering the walk should 
know it can involve a scramble up the ridge dependant on the path taken to the summit, amazingly didn't seem to stop the sturdy, foot sure sheep...

Late cuckoo with caterpillar

One more treat for the day - the path down 
the back of the mountain led us through a dip leading into the forest. A beautiful area, colourful, rowan trees heavy with berries, grasses thick and swaying and home to a particularly large black, hairy caterpillar that was about to become lunch for a cuckoo, a late cuckoo, no doubt taking advantage of the warm September weather before making it’s long journey to Africa.
Cuckoo path

Another fine day out, followed by tea in the Glan Aber , Betws y coed an old haunt of ours, still serving great pies after twenty years! 


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