Towyn Farm: Cloud Ten

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Lesser Black-backed Gull (I think).

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Our tenth annual summer camping holiday at Towyn Farm near Tudweiliog on the Llyn Peninsula. (Eleventh for some of our friends, because we missed one year for a family birthday party). We were unusually late this year, meaning that S had his birthday before we got there – he has had almost all of his birthday’s in Wales.

Because I’m chary about taking my camera to the beach, my photos are wholly inadequate and don’t capture any of the things which are important about the holiday – the frisby flinging, beach tennis and mass games of cricket, games of Kubb, swimming and body-surfing, messing about in boats etc etc. There are no pictures of our various rock-pool finds, in particular of the Norway Lobster which B and I caught with a borrowed net. Or of the many fish I saw at low tide whilst snorkelling around the reef just off shore.

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But most importantly, there are no photos of the gaggle of old friends whom we meet here every year and who make the holiday what it is.

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The weather was very kind to us this year, with lots of sunshine and the rain largely confined to the nights or early mornings.

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Our kids adore the sea and seemed to be quite happy to spend almost all day every day immersed in it, swimming, surfing, snorkelling, boating, floating on a ring, jumping about in the waves etc.

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I’m already looking forward to next year.

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Towyn Farm: Cloud Ten

Annual Outing to Nether Wasdale

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Little to report from the annual camping trip to Nether Wasdale. The company was excellent, the weather was the usual mixed bag with a hard frost on the Friday night, beautiful sunny weather on Saturday and then a continuous downpour on Sunday, brightening again eventually on the Monday.

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Full of cold, I opted to take the easy way out on the Saturday and hang around the campsite with those of the children who had decided not to join either of the walking parties. (Scafell Pike and the hills above the Screes respectively). It was slightly frustrating, but I had a good book, a kettle almost constantly on the boil and a seat out in the sun where I could listen to the birdsong in the adjacent woods, so no complaints really.

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The rain on the Sunday was convenient for the kids, who were adamant that we should return to Mawson’s Ice-Cream Parlour in Seascale, which we duly did, receiving a fabulous welcome once again.

On the Monday the traditional massed football match was hard fought as ever. We also got out for a short walk, although I don’t seem to have taken any photos (probably too busy gassing). Finally, I should mention the campsite, which is a great place to stay, always very accommodating (and with extra showers now).

Annual Outing to Nether Wasdale

Camping in Wasdale

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Shortly after our return from Norfolk, the kids and I joined a friend from the village and his gaggle of children and spent a couple of nights camping at Church Stile in Nether Wasdale.

On the way over we stopped for lunch (pies) in the charming square in Broughton in Furness.

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Inevitably, the boys wanted to try out the stocks.

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I didn’t take all that many photos whilst we were away. We had some mixed weather. Were eaten alive on the campsite by midges. Had nightly campfires in a brazier we rented from the campsite and which was fashioned from an old washing machine drum.

We also had a wander up to Ritson’s Force in Mosedale Beck – we’d been told it was a good place for a swim. In honesty, the water wasn’t deep enough, but we had a bit of an explore and managed to get fully immersed, one way or another, so it was worth a look.

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Camping in Wasdale

Camping on the Llyn

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Summer comes and once again we’re camping on the Llyn Peninsula with the usual suspects.

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We had a couple of very wet days early on, but after that the weather was fine, but not particularly hot and often very windy.

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Purple Loosestrife.

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Small Tortoiseshell enjoying Purple Loosestrife.

As usual our ‘radius of activity’ whilst we were there was pretty narrowly focused; we mostly stuck to the field where we were camped and the beach below it.

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After 10 years of annual visits, it was quite surprising to find the beach quite markedly changed; superficially because of the waves, the seaweed and the jellyfish (including the ‘sails’ from By-The-Wind-Sailors which I’ve never seen before) which the stormy weather was bringing in, but also more substantially because the beach seems to have steepened, with a considerable bank of sand around the high-tide mark. One consequence seems to be that the tide doesn’t go out as far as it did, making it more difficult to walk around at low-tide to the ‘secret beaches’ beyond the main strand. The beaches were also more stony than they have been in the past.

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B found this little chap in our tent when we were packing up.

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I’ve searched through my field guide but to no avail; I can’t identify it. Any ideas?

Here’s B with his next find…

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A Garden Snail…

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And the sling? He broke his Radius just below the elbow, on the trampoline in our garden, shortly before we came away. He must have thought I was missing Lancaster A&E. He’s fully recovered now, although he gets occasional twinges, usually brought on by imminent washing-up duties.

Anyway, it was a great trip. Not sure what will happen next year when late school holidays and other planned trips look to be squeezing our window for a Tudweiliog getaway. (Imagine a suitably miserable looking emoticon here, since my technical know-how is insufficient to provide one).

Camping on the Llyn

Harlech Castle

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The size of our party fell from sixteen to three; from four families to just part of ours. The boys had very firm theories about what we should do with our days. We went to the circus in Pwllheli (they twisted my arm). And we must do a castle, they said. I’m was much happier with that idea. We’ve done both Beaumaris and Criccieth on recent visits, and Caernafon several times in the past. Andy suggested Harlech for a change of scene – which was a great idea.

This must be my third visit, I think. In my teens I had a holiday in Harlech, coincidentally just with my dad and my brother. I don’t remember coming to the castle, but we were camped on the links between the town and the huge sand dunes, right beneath the imposing castle, so surely we must have done? I’ve certainly been here with Andy, long before we had any kids and when there was no real excuse for us to charge around the battlements pretending to be knights. But we did exactly that.

The castle sits on a large dome of rock in a really commanding position. It’s another of Edward I Welsh fortifications.

Harlech Castle 

The views from the top, of the coast and the mountains of Snowdonia, are magnificent.

View from Harlech Catle 

The castle was taken by Owain Glyndwr during his war with the English, and was his residence and headquarters for a few years. His second Welsh parliament was held here apparently.

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The song ‘Men of Harlech’ was apparently inspired by a lengthy siege during the Wars of the Roses, when Lancastrian forces held on much longer here than they did elsewhere.

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It’s almost like they knew we were coming!

Touring castles with the boys is great fun; their enthusiasm for exploring every nook and cranny is infectious.

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Although I sometimes worry that they’ve overstepped the bounds of what is acceptable visitor behaviour, when they start crawling around in some dusty hole.

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We wandered around both the inner and outer wards at ground level.

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Climbed the only tower still open to visitors, which has an awful lot of steps!

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And also toured the battlements, where the relatively low wall made me feel slightly nervous.

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In common with just about every castle we’ve visited, Harlech was slighted after holding out against the Parliamentarians during the Civil War. Fortunately the ordered destruction wasn’t very thoroughly carried out and although materials were later taken from the castle to provide stone for buildings in the town, there’s still plenty here to see and enjoy.

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After the castle, we picnicked on a nearby sports field and then walked down towards the sea. We never really made it to the beach, because the boys…

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…were captivated by the dunes of Morfa Harlech and ran around exploring those, whilst I ‘looked after our stuff’ and settled down out of the wind to do some serious reading.

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They claim that I dozed off, but I maintain that I was just resting my eyes.

Harlech Castle

Towyn Farm, Tudweiliog – Mostly Sunsets

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A bit of an annual ritual this, or two in fact, first going to Towyn Farm on the Llyn Peninsula for our camping get-together, to start the summer, and then blogging about it, usually somewhere nearer to the end of the summer. This was our eighth trip in nine years – I suppose recommendations don’t come much higher than that.

The gratuitous fry-up picture? Well – the weather was scorching, at least to begin with, and almost all of the cooking happened outside. As usual, I was extremely methodical in the run-up to our trip and had made and frozen both a chilli and a Bolognese sauce to bring with us. Shame I left them in the freezer at home. Never mind – we managed.

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All the usual stuff happened – digging and stuff, swimming, snorkelling, crabbing, beach cricket and tennis, messing around in our inflatable dinghy. I didn’t see as much this year snorkelling as I have before, not sure why, a few crabs, one of them a spider crab, a few small fish, but to be honest just the colour and variety and motion of the seaweeds is enough to bewitch me. Rubber rings seem to have become a firm favourite – keeping the kids happy in the sea seemingly for hours on end. Throwing a Frisbee, and even sometimes catching it too, was also a big favourite this year.

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Later in the week, there was even some good body-surfing to be had, which is unusual at Porth Towyn, at least when we’ve been there.

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‘Little’ S always has his birthday whilst we’re away. Can’t be bad. Here he is enjoying a well chosen gift. I’ve actually posted about S and his affection for bubbles before. I was surprised to find that was four years ago.

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Sunsets are always a feature when we’re camping at Towyn. I made a bit more of an effort to take photos this year. They don’t compare to the real thing, but here’s a sample….

Tudweiliog sunset I 

Tudweiliog sunset II 

Tudweiliog Sunset III 

Tudweiliog Sunset IV 

Tudweiliog sunset V 

Tudweiliog sunset VI 

Tudweiliog sunset VII 

One evening a few of us watched the sunset from the cliff-top (there were people still swimming, I wished I was one of them) and then walked along the coast path out to a point. The orange glow along the horizon was in some ways even more enjoyable than the more spectacular sunset had been…

Tudwieliog post-sunset

A couple more posts to come about our holiday – we didn’t neglect Carn Fadryn for example, and we managed to squeeze in a trip to a castle.

Towyn Farm, Tudweiliog – Mostly Sunsets

Miterdale revisited: Illgill Head and Whin Rigg again.

Another gathering of the clans, a few weeks back now. This time our annual May Bank Holiday camping trip to Church Stile at Nether Wasdale. A good time was had by all. Lots of football was played, sometimes in the rain. The kids were once again victorious in the races at the very welcoming Wasdale Show, where they also enjoyed participating in the maypole dancing and watching the Morris Men. The new campsite owners were terrific and invited the kids to hand-feed some lambs. As ever, too much meat was barbecued, too many stories were recounted and the odd beer was quaffed (not too much obviously). When you next meet the Junior Sherpa ask him about the unfeasibly large gammon steak he consumed at the Strands pub (which, by the way, is highly recommended ).

We even managed to squeeze in some walks, the longest of which was a ramble over Irton Fell, down into Miterdale, up that valley and then up onto Illgill Head, then onto Whin Rigg and finally steeply back down to Wasdale.

Caption competition

The top end of Miterdale is quite Pennine in character, very quiet and – whisper it – a little known gem.

Miterdale 

Lunch stop 2 - by the infant mite 

The head of Miterdale  

Waterfall 

Looking back down Miterdale 

Scafell, Great How above Burnmoor Tarn

This photo, taken rather early in our steepish climb to Illgill Head, was the last I took. On the top we followed the dramatic edge of the top of the Wasdale Screes, but I neglected to photograph them. I think I was cold, because, despite the optimistic shorts in evidence above, and the sunshine, the weather was perishing. February seems to claimed squatter’s rights. Hopefully Andy will have some good shots whenever he gets around to posting this trip.

Whin Rigg map

Miterdale revisited: Illgill Head and Whin Rigg again.