Ogwen Valley Trail

Come with me on a bright, sunny, but very cold day for a little walk on a section of the Ogwen Valley Trail. I’m often on the trail further into the Snowdonia National Park, so this area is a first for me.

Let me tell you a little bit about the trail first. North Wales has a rich industrial heritage, especially in slate quarrying. Slate from the two big quarries at Penrhyn and Dinorwic was appreciated for it’s high quality and consequently was shipped worldwide. Penrhyn quarry was located just outside Bethesda and to get the slate to the coast at Port Penrhyn a railway line was built. Later when quarrying finally stopped the railway line fell into disuse, until the establishment of the Ogwen Trail which forms the first part of the National Cycle Network’s route 82 running from Bangor and entering the Snowdonia National Park at Bethesda.

In total the trail is about 18 Kilometres in length but I’m going to have a look at the recently opened tunnel section, starting my walk from the Community Centre at Tregarth.

At first it’s pretty boring, a children’s play-park and some rather tired football pitches mark the start of the trail before entering a wooded area. But finally I come to the first structure, a bridge to carry the road over the old railway line.

Road Bridge
Road bridge over the trail

Almost straight away you come to another bridge, slightly longer this time, almost a tunnel

Two Way Route
First small tunnel on the trail

Through the tunnel and this is what I have come to photograph, the Pendinas Tunnel which is 275 Metres in length.

Entrance to the tunnel. It curves and then straightens out

As I said earlier it was a bright sunny day, but cold. As usual I was equipped for walking in the hills, but my goodness, the wind rushes through this tunnel and with no sunlight it felt quite cold in there.

It’s a pleasant walk through the tunnel. I’m not taking any photographs, just eyeing up some opportunities for photographs on the walk back.

Far End
Other end of the tunnel

At the end of the tunnel a stone bridge with several arches crosses the Afon Ogwen. I really did want to go down to the riverbank for a photograph but as I hadn’t seen anyone around and I was concerned about slipping I decided to give that one a miss. Shame really because I could see that it would have been an interesting photograph, But after the incident in the Llanberis Pass a couple of years back I have been very careful were I tread now.

Afon Ogwen
River Ogwen from just before the entrance to the tunnel

Just a short walk away I can see another tunnel. This one is of a modern construction. so I figure it replaced an original structure which had collapsed.

Corrugated Tunnel
Another small tunnel under a road

And just a short walk away there’s another old bridge supporting a road above.

High Arch
End of the line for me, time to turn around

I walked up the trail for about another 500 Metres but there was nothing of interest so time to turn back and take the photographs I had planned on the outward leg

Stand Aside
The first person I’ve seen on the trail

Maybe it was the cold, but for one of the most scenic trails in Snowdonia, there weren’t too many people using it. At least not this section, which I have to admit is not the most scenic. The section between Ogwen Bank and Idwal Cottage, where I do a lot of my photography is by far the most scenic. Mountains, valleys, rivers, waterfalls, lots of sheep and occasionally you get a glimpse of the Carneddau Ponies if they come down from the higher levels. This is the only person I saw the whole time I was walking on the trail. Suited me because I could take time to set-up my tripod and take photographs.

Back at the bridge just before the entrance to the tunnel. The parapet is low so they have put up some extra protection. Doesn’t look good but it does a job.

This Way
Entrance to the main tunnel as I head back

Just about to enter the tunnel now. When you look at the workmanship, you can see it really is an amazing piece of our industrial heritage. For a start, they had to quarry through the hillside, then line the tunnel with bricks.

It's Long
Now you get to see how long the tunnel is

Inside, the tunnel is well lit. You can clearly see the amount of work undertaken to line the tunnel.

Let There Be Light
The tunnel is well lit

I spent ages in here taking photographs from all sorts of angles. One of the problems I had was lens flare from those right tunnel lights, another was blown highlights. Sometimes I managed to correct for it, sometimes I didn’t. If I lowered the exposure to compensate, everything was too dark. In the end I decided to bracket my photograph sets and use HDR to deal with the high dynamic range that I was struggling to compensate for.. Once I decided to use HDR I also decided to make everything look grungy using PhotoMatix instead of myt regular HDR program SNS-HDR which I use for landscapes.

Almost Home
Not far to walk back to the car, maybe about 800 metres

Well that’s it. I hope you enjoyed the photographs and the walk along the trail.


8 thoughts on “Ogwen Valley Trail

  1. Wales is filled with beautiful man made creations from the past. I absolutely loved seeing the tunnels/ walkways and the surrounding scenery. Honestly I don’t think you could ever run out of interesting things to photograph. I am impressed to see how well kept all those tunnels are and that they have lighting as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welsh slate was mainly used for roof tiles, Arv. But thicker cuts were also used to create, floors, tabletops, even gravestones. At the height of production, late 1890’s approximately 17,000 workers were employed in the 4 main quarries, located in North Wales

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