Friday, October 15, 2010

DOLGELLAU : Torrent Walk

PA150021It’s signposted as Llwybr Clywedog, which according to Chris is “Library Club for Dogs” but since this is his first proper visit to Wales then we’ll go with the standard English version: Torrent Walk.

Yes, we’re in Wales and more pertinently, Dolgellau (or Dolgelley “Dol-geth-lie’), home to my paternal line, and as I quickly discovered on my first visit five years ago, an incredibly beautiful corner of the world. Dolgellau is in the borders of Snowdonia National Park, which is one of the UK’s biggest adventure playgrounds, only about 4-5 hours drive from London.

The weather was predicted to be cloudy and cold all weekend – my only consolation was that London was to be rainy and cold.

As we arrived early afternoon, we really only had time for a short walk before the light faded.  I took Chris into the centre of town, mostly so we could go to the Visitor Information Centre and collect some walking maps and bus time-tables. While browsing through the racks of leaflets detailing tours, amusements and the like, Chris spotted a brochure for The Glassblobbery, which from his explosive giggle meant that it had pretty much made his life. I think he would have given anything at this point to be able to introduce himself to someone as a glassblobber.

I selected the Torrent Walk for our afternoon as it could be done in under two hours. A short drive out of Dolgellau on the road we’d entered it from Welshpool, Llwybr Clywedog is more accurately Clywedog Trail after the river that it follows. (More proper nouns Terry!)

As we opened the gate to begin the walk across the carpet of moss that wrapped around trees and the boulders lining the river, we were blessed with some beautiful afternoon light as the sun appeared and stayed with us for the duration.

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Balancing out that good luck was the expiry of my camera battery about fifteen minutes into the walk, so I had to make do with the little backup camera.

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It’s a circular walk, crossing the river twice as it falls sharply through narrow twisting gorges. One of the most well known tracks in the area, it was laid out two centuries ago by a local surveyor, so most of the man-made efforts to make a trail have blended into the natural veneer of leaves and lichen.

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This walk deserves repeated traversals at different times of day to appreciate the light. I’d also like to return to see the Clywedog swollen with snow-melt and possibly even snow laying a new carpet through the green. Most of all a properly working camera would assist in reporting on the beauty of the area!

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Munson loved this walk: the crunchy leaves, the smells, the endless hints of little creatures living under logs or in decaying stumps. He’s so happy at the end, I can sense that he’s starting to appreciate all the wonderful places that his dad takes him to Smile.

After thinking about saying I’m ‘dad’ to Munson, I should quickly point out it’s not meant to be in an anthropomorphic child-substitute fashion. When I started travelling in earnest with Bondi, he was 4 years older than Munson is now – he was a mature dog and we had the measure of each other. He was companionable in the way of long time friends or partners. Munson is still figuring out the ropes of life, is frequently drunk on the newness of *everything* and needs more day-to-day coaching. So, even with the distinct personality differences between the two dogs, Munson’s immaturity is an extra factor I have to consider when I’m out on the road with him. It’s fascinating to watch him learn the world, to soak up a greater variety of environments at a much earlier stage than Bondi (who had a pretty stable home environment for his first five years), but it’s as different as travelling with a precocious six year old child compared to doing the same journey with an adult.

2 comments:

  1. You may have had to opt for a lesser camera .. but you got some bloody good shots anyway! In fact, they're really beautiful Mwij. Stunning. I'll have to try and get there oneday.

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  2. Michelle Bullivant8:54 pm

    excellent pictures, great to see you exploring my local area! sometimes when you live somewhere you forget how beautiful it is, thankyou for reminding me!

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