Wales Is Open Again, Sort Of

With the easing of Covid restrictions here in Wales, we’re able to get back out into the mountains of the Snowdonia National Park.

Unfortunately this has led to the area being swamped with walkers, many of whom don’t stick to roads guidance when parking their cars. Being a mountainous area there are not too many car parks and those that there are become full by 05:00 hrs in the morning at weekend. The result has been roads, which are two lanes mainly have become blocked by inconsiderate parking.

This video was taken in March this year and it shows the extent of the problem then. When the National Park re-opened it was far worse.

For interest, this is the road over the Llanberis Pass. The car park at Pen-y-Pas that the driver pulls is popular because there are several trails that you can take from here to the summit of Snowdon. But it is the only car park, apart from a few small stopping points in the Llanberis Pass. There is a larger car park nearer Llanberis and car parks in Llanberis itself and from these you can use Park and Ride to Pen-y-Pas

So knowing this I decided that my first venture back in to the National Park should be to one of the less popular areas. I also wanted it to have not much of a climb, I haven’t done much walking since the lock-down started way back when, and I didn’t want too much of a walk.

I decided to park at Moel Siabod Cafe, it’s in Capel Curig and offers easy access to the nearby forest. My aim was to complete a simple walk, the Plas y Brenin Loop, which is an easy/moderate route consisting of forest track and some rocky paths. It takes in the Afon (River) Llugwy, Coed (Forest) Bryn-Engan & Llyn (Lake) Llynnau Mymbyr. With the added bonus of maybe seeing the Snowdon Massif if they’re not shrouded in clouds.

Click on map to see where I took the photographs

The map above shows my route, the numbers correspond to the 8 photographs below.

When you enter the forest the light changes dramatically . The National Park being mountainous sees more than it’s fair share of rain and low lying cloud. In consequence you find a lot of moss growing in shaded areas like woods and forests.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/8 sec at ƒ / 11

The initial path through the forest is a logging track so it’s hard packed stone capable of taking the weight of trucks carrying a heavy load, but soon it peters out to just a trail as you start to walk along the lakeside.

There are very few breaks in the trees but this little gap lets you shoot in the direction of St Curigs Church, Unfortunately it’s hidden in the dip of the mid-ground.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/100 sec at ƒ / 11

Carrying on through the forest you’ll see quite a few stone walls, all covered in moss. Where the light breaks through you get patches of light and shades of green

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/5 sec at ƒ / 11

From 3 through to 4 there’s not a lot to photograph. The trail is narrow, muddy, rough and single track. Two people couldn’t walk side by side here, but eventually you get through the forest. There’s a small rise which brings you up above the lake and is an ideal spot for photographing towards the Snowdon Massif, which you can see in the photograph below.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/125 sec at ƒ / 11

On the opposite side of the lake runs the road from Capel Curig to the base of the Llanberis Pass. I’ve often stopped there and walked down to the edge of the lake, but the viewpoint is not as good as where I’m standing now.

I can also look back towards Capel Curig from here and you can’t do that from the opposite side of the lake.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/125 sec at ƒ / 11

Not the best photograph below but at extreme zoom for the 300mm lens you can see how the clouds swirl around the mountain tops.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II ISO 200 1/200 sec at ƒ / 11

Again the 300mm lens enable me to capture this old farm building at the far side of the lake.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II ISO 200 1/200 sec at ƒ / 11

My final photograph from the edge of the forest, looking back towards the Snowdon Massif.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/100 sec at ƒ / 11

That’s it. I took a slow walk back towards the cafe, stopping a couple of times for a drink. It was nice to get back to Moel Siabod Cafe, sit outside (Covid Restrictions) and have some lunch, before heading to the Ogwen Valley.

But that’s another story…..

12 thoughts on “Wales Is Open Again, Sort Of

      1. Yes, I went up there with my wife a couple of years ago. (My first and only ascent so far). It was pretty busy and then the train rolled in and people were everywhere, Though a friend of mine mentioned the other day and I hadn’t realised that he and I have done the highest peaks in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland together, so it looks like it’s just going to have to be done again one day.


  1. With that many cars parking along the road, it must have been quite crowded at Pen-y-Pas. I experience something similar near the bottom of Goat Hill (Lamberville, New Jersey, USA) but the road was too narrow for cars to pass, so I had to reverse down the hill.

    I love the way you’ve described your walk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t always describe the walk, Khurt, because sometimes I just go off trail and take the most direct route. But I’m going to try and do it where possible.


  2. The stunning beauty of Snowdonia and lockdown must have attracted so many people. The car parking on the road is quite long and not the best thing given its narrow width.
    Hope you are doing well, Mike.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When we got back from Egypt my wife wasn’t so well Arv, but she’d fine now. Unfortunately Wales and especially Snowdonia is a very popular destination. But not everyone comes equipped for walking in the mountains and so the Mountain Rescue Team might be called out. They need to get their vehicles with all their equipment to the base of the mountain which is one of the reasons why the roads need to be kept clear.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah! Well, then the roads need to be kept open for them. It is critical. I’m happy to know your wife is better now. Take care.


  3. Your stunning pictures shows why Snowdonia is regarded as a jewel in the Welsh landscape. My favourite was the mossy stone one and it immediately brought to mind the Wordsworth poem ‘Lucy’ although the mossy stone in the poem is not important. It was nice to make that connection though as I haven’t thought of that poem for years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No matter where I go I always find a wall somewhere with moss or lichen growing on it. I suppose it’s just the nature of the landscape that we live in.


  4. Mu goodness I can not imagine so many folks wanting to walk the trails. You were smart to let your initial idea fall by the wayside and to go to a different place. It is quite beautiful where you took these photos. I love moss and fern and a woodland setting. The old barn with the sheep in the meadow is lovely to see. It is good to see you back here. I hope all is well with you and family and the two dogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’re doing OK so far, Yvonne as I hope you and yours are. Elaine wasn’t so good when we got back from Egypt and she had a terrible cough for weeks on end. It wasn’t Covid, just a very bad chest infection, and X-ray showed her lungs were clear, We put it down to flying and air-con/hot dessert/air-con

      Liked by 1 person

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