Hello people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here reporting on a hike that me and my ‘hudad’ did on 29th September 2018, well before I started to write a blog. My dad keeps the photographs that he takes while we are hiking. He said that between us we should be able to remember the events of the day. This surprises me a bit because when he has been drinking Merlot he can barely remember his name! It was a lovely day, blue skies with a few clouds, no wind and, according to my dad, it was ‘shorts weather’. My dad said that he fancied walking to Llyn Parc from Betws y Coed because, in all the years that he had been hiking, he had never walked in this part of the Coed Gwydir. He had mountain biked in the Gwydir Forest, a good few years ago, in deep snow. I asked him if it was on a Penny Farthing. He said that I am a cheeky ‘bleep bleep’.
It takes approximately one and a half hours to drive to Betws and, as usual, I slept all the way there. When we arrived, even though it was a Saturday, we found a parking spot a few yards from the bike shop, where we always try to park when we visit the area. I managed to drag my dad past all of the outdoor shops even though he was sulking. He could have a look around them when we returned from our walk. It’s not as if he needs anything. He is just an anorak looking for an anorak!
We walked through the village and headed to Pont y Pair, the road bridge leading to Llanrwst. The bridge over the River Llugwy has been an important crossing since 1500, when it was first constructed. We chose to, initially, follow the ‘Yellow, Moderate’ waymarked trail, that forms a loop within the forest of around six and a half miles and 1280 feet of ascent. Not too taxing for the big feller but it should get his heart pumping. So, we turned left shortly past the bridge, along a narrow lane, before turning right up a steep lane by a few houses. Shortly, after my dad had stopped puffing and panting, we came to a forestry track. After turning right off the track up some rough steps the path climbed through tall conifers where I could smell grey squirrel. After being told off several times for running into the trees where my dad couldn’t see me, I was instructed to walk to heel. My dad said that he had to concentrate on his footing. I think that he was just struggling to haul himself up the steep path. The route was rocky, with some muddy sections, as it climbed and weaved up the hillside in the cool damp shelter of the pines.
Eventually, the path widened as it levelled out. My dad had stopped a couple of time to shed a few layers of clothing. He always seems to get this wrong. Too many layers at the start of a climb and sweating like a porker by the time we get to the top. I don’t have the luxury of a layering system. I am stuck with my thick bushy coat! Anyway, after he had stopped complaining that he was now getting cold because of his sweating, we continued along the easier forest track. We had walked for slightly more than a mile when we came across a bench overlooking Llyn Parc. The silence was deafening as we sat in the sunshine gazing across the water. It was time for our first snack of the walk. My dad drank a small mug full of Heinz Tomato Soup and dunked his crusty bread in it. He said that he wouldn’t eat that soup at any other time than when he is on a hike. Don’t ask me why! I ate a handful of treats and drooled as I watched him eat his snack.
At this point my dad decided that we would not stay on the yellow waymarked path and that we would do a bit of investigating in the area. We turned right off the trail and followed another forestry track that contoured the hillside. It led north towards Llanrwst, walking parallel to the road, railway and River Conwy. We could hear music coming from the direction of Llanrwst. We didn’t know where exactly it was coming from but, it sounded like an outdoor concert or festival. Gaps between the dense covering of trees allowed us glimpses across the Conwy valley until we came to the eastern edge of the Gwydyr and the vista opened up. We could see Llanrwst in front and below us.
We eventually came across a gap in the trees, overlooking Llanrwst, with three eight foot sculptures, carved by Mari Gwent from old oak trees. A Welsh language poem and the lyrics to a song about Llanrwst are carved into the tree trunks. It was a magical spot made even more atmospheric by the sound of the music faintly drifting along the valley. We discovered later that the music was coming from Snowdonfest in Gwydir Park in Llanrwst.
As we followed the track it started to move away from Llanrwst, where it met a minor road, that we joined for a few yards until we turned left along another forest track. We stayed on this track, heading south through the conifers, towards Llyn Parc again. The track runs alongside Llyn Parc from its northern tip to the southern end where we had sat on the bench earlier. Llyn Parc is a natural lake but was damned in the 1900’s at the southern end to provide water to drive machinery at Aberllyn lead and zinc mines. The lake is ‘dead’ due to lead pollution and there are no fish living in it. We walked onto the small beach at the southern end of the lake but, my dad soon stopped me from drinking the water. Small amounts are supposedly safe to drink but, he would not take a chance with me.
We chose not to retrace our steps back to Pont y Pair but, instead, we found another path that ran alongside a stream at times. There were a few steep sections and a few places where small waterfalls had formed. At one of the steeper wet sections my dad slipped onto his backside. He didn’t injure himself but, his rear end was wet through and his hands were covered in mud. I rushed over to him to see if he was OK and he was fine. He was laughing because he was struggling to stand up as it was so slippery and steep. I think that he needs four-paw drive like me.
We rejoined the minor road that runs into Betws y Coed, at a point west of the Miner’s Bridge. After crossing the road we joined the footpath that runs along the Afon Llugwy towards Betws. Through the trees, we caught the odd glimpse of the river and some of the rapids downstream from Swallow Falls. The path led to a boardwalk before we arrived back at Pont y Pair. We had hiked just over ten miles rather than the six that we had originally planned to do. It had been a varied and scenic walk with plenty of squirrels for me to chase.
There were so many people in Betws y Coed when we returned so, rather than browse in the outdoor shops, my dad reluctantly walked us back to the car. On the way home we made our usual stop at Rhug Farm Shop for a ‘hotter than the sun’ takeaway americano and a bison burger, with all the trimmings. My dad certainly looks after himself when we go hiking. I can’t complain because I get extra food and treats when we are on our hikes. It had been another good day and the weather had been kind to us again. It was time for me to have another snooze while my chauffeur drove me home. It’s a hard life being me!