Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Curse you, Arthur

My plans for our holiday in Snowdonia involved nothing more than chilling out with a good book and hoping for rain to provide an excuse to not do too much gadding about. Unfortunately, my son's friend Arthur climbed Snowdon some while ago, so when Rowan learnt we were heading to that part of the world for the family holiday it was the first thing on his 'to do' list. (They are quite competitive).
Before scaling Snowdon, I managed a trip to Anglesey's Cemlyn Lagoon, where breeding Red-breasted Mergansers were in residence

 Very cute ducklings
Mother would occasionally take a short flight but her offspring were in no position to follow
We put it off for a few days, blaming imperfect weather, lack of decent footwear and various ailments, and taking in alternative sights such as Conwy Castle, Great Orme's Head and Betws-y-Coed, where some proper hiking boots were acquired. But eventually we could defer no longer, and with the first good forecast off we set. Unfortunately it was a Saturday, and despite heading out early by our standards, the Pen-y-Pass car park, from where we planned to start our ascent via the Pyg Track, was already full. So there was nothing for it but to Park-and-Ride in Llanberis and get the bus back up to Pen-y-Pass. No way to start a mountain climb.
I had hoped to see Arctic Tern at Cemlyn, though I knew it was late in the season - the colony had indeed gone, and just one immature bird was present (my first photo year tick for over a month - #203)
And here with a much larger Sandwich Tern. Note the paler, more translucent secondaries in the open wing, the all dark bill and the absence of brown which would be seen in the juvenile plumage of Common Tern
Sandwich Tern at Cemlyn
Since I last scaled it, Snowdon appears to have become the testicular cancer charity hike of choice. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it was slightly odd passing large groups with colour co-ordinated T-shirts, some bearing slogans which took a bit of explaining to an 8 year old, some carrying giant furry gonads on their backs (fake ones, obviously) and some occasionally yelling advice about checking them regularly. You would have to be pretty bold to have done so in front of the vast crowds lining the Pyg Track or queueing for selfies at the summit cairn. It really was surprisingly busy.
Crib Goch from the summit of Snowdon
The Snowdon railway above Llanberis pass
Snowdon from the Pyg Track
Anyway, we made it up and down in good time, returning via the Llanberis path to avoid what by late afternoon would have been a very sweaty Park-and-Ride bus. I was proud of the lads for managing it without complaint, and Rowan seemed particularly serene knowing that Arthur's bragging rights had been duly neutralised.
The summit queue. Like Everest without the snow.
Llyn Llydaw form the Pyg Track
Y Lliwedd from Yr Wyddfa

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