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Day one in Snowdonia

The only problem with Wales is how far away it is from where I live. I’m not one for enjoying four hours of driving but, thankfully, the trip across the Pennines and then down to North Wales was relatively stress free; we only encountered a couple of drivers who warranted the title of “fuckhead” (a generic term I rudely apply to people who, invariably, can’t keep a constant speed on the motorway and who believe indicators are for wimps).

Driving into Wales, along the main route past Prestatyn towards Caernarfon, I’m always impressed by the rise of granite along the edge of the road, with the sea on the other side. Seeing small but pretty trails of snow on some of the higher peaks just added to the picturesque view through the windscreen. Hopes were instilled that the weather mean had it wrong; blazing sunshine was the order of the day.

I’d secured a bargain holiday let – £120 for the Monday to Friday, shared between the four of us intrepid explorers – at Nantlle, on the edge of Snowdonia. The plan was to go up Snowdon at some point during the stay, but the weather appeared to be against us as I religiously scanned the Met Office leading up to our departure. As Wednesday appears to be the least wet day of the week, that’s when we’ll have a go at the Ranger’s Path.

Our cottage/terraced house is ‘compact and bijou’ but it has wi-fi, so I’m happy. If nothing else, it means I can do daily photo dumps and waffle, rather than trying to sort it all out when I get home. As with most holiday self-catering rentals, I despair of the poor quality of the cooking fare – for a place that accommodates up to five people, the largest pan is barely big enough to do pasta in. And I’m glad I brought my own sharp knife with me… Yes, I’m picky and, for the price, maybe I’m expecting too much. But, as my Mum always said, a good set of pans will last you a lifetime. And, in my opinion, a ‘set’ comprises of more than a couple of milkpans and a rusty frying pan. Maybe it’s just me.

Pans aside, the cottage is clean enough, warm enough and it has a kettle to keep me in caffeine beverages.

As the rain was holding off (even though the sunshine had given way to grey clouds) we decided to go for a short stroll before tea. Initially we headed left out of the cottage, with the hope of walking round the lake Llyn Nantlle Uchaf. We managed to find a path down to the edge, but attempts to follow a route round the shore were foiled by a warning message saying that the bridge over the stream was dangerous (the sign was accompanied by some lovely hazard warning tape across the path, making it clear that any progress would probably be hazardous to our health. Or something.).

The oddest thing was the sight of a small wooden chair, perched on the shore facing out across the water towards the mountains. I took a picture of it, and all its implied tragedy.

Our lakeside hike foiled, we headed back to the cottage but continued on up the road – Vicki believed there was another lake further up.

The further along the road/track we got, the creepier it got – we passed a derelict caravan (I say derelict, but Carly was convinced the curtain twitched as we passed) and a car that was slowly being reclaimed by nature. Huge man-made slate monoliths rose up either side of the road but we couldn’t figure out what they were; we guessed that they were something to do with the slate mine but, with the date of 1938 inscribed on one, we also guessed that they were no longer in use.

Other evidence of some kind of mining past – half derelict buildings – had us inventing a tragic cannibal mutant family. Hence the picture of ‘Cannibal Alley’ in the gallery below.

We found the lake, which appeared to be surrounded by shear cliffs, but we could see some kind of boat landing platform so there was obviously some way down to the water. There was – it was so steep we pictured keen canoeists being pushed from the top and hurtling down the slope, before launching themselves off the platform into the water. It would be spectacular.

That’s as far as we got on day one – a tea of chick pea and sweet potato curry, washed down with a chilled white Zinfandel, was calling. So that is where I’ll leave it for today. Strawberry cheesecake is now shouting from the fridge.