Hi people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here. On 1st February 2019 me and my human dad went for a little hike up Moel Famau in the snow. At home there hadn’t been any snowfall due to it being only 30 metres above sea level and close to the coast. Moel Famau is only 555 metres high but, it had been coated with a fresh layer of snow overnight while we had heavy rain. We were unsure of the conditions in the Clwydian Range when we left the house but, after a ten minute drive to the motorway, we caught a few glimpses of the hill in the distance. It looked completely covered in the white stuff.
It took us approximately 40 minutes to drive to the car park at the foot of the hill. On the way there we encountered a spattering of rain and it wasn’t until we reached Loggerheads that we first came across any snow on the road. By the time that we reached the car park the car was becoming a bit difficult to control as the road was covered in a few inches of freshly laid snow. It was even more of a challenge to manoeuvre the car in the car park. We were only the third car to arrive on that morning so driving in previously laid tracks wasn’t possible. My dad was a bit concerned that if it snowed any more that we would have a real problem driving away later. He said that we should be OK because there was no more snow forecast for the day.
It was bitterly cold as we set off up the hill. I had my coat on with its fleece liner so, I was well prepared for the few hours that we would be on the hill. My dad was wearing his winter gear which included a bright orange goretex jacket. We certainly wouldn’t be losing him! The initial stages of the walk was on a steep incline and difficult for my dad to keep his footing. He had left his micro-spikes at home so, I had no sympathy for him. He was carrying my Ruffwear boots in his rucksack in case my paws were too cold. He says that I am a pampered pooch. The cheek of him!
It was slow going as we climbed through the conifers. The snow on the path had been laid down for a few days and had been compacted by a procession of walking boots. On top of that was a layer of fresh snow making the path incredibly slippery. It took longer than usual for us to reach the edge of the treeline and when we did, we were sideswiped by a bitterly cold wind. It was playtime for me as I ran through the long grass that was covered in a few inches of loose snow. My dad said that I was bouncing around like a spring lamb. Pretty soon I had to stop while my dad broke up the balls of ice that were forming on the fur on my legs. It was like having golf balls dangling from my legs. We had to do this regularly on this walk as I started to look like a Christmas Tree with white baubles.
The path weaved its way across the open moorland until we met a junction in the path. One choice was to head straight on toward the summit, up a steep path. The other option was to take the easier route which is more scenic. It was a ‘no brainer’ on this day. The scenery was what my dad had wanted to come here for so, the easy route it was. I was still bouncing around in the snow and having the time of my life. We were the first ones to walk on this path on that morning so, it was all virgin snow that I was playing in. The path was on a gentle incline until we came to the junction with the track from Bwlch Penbarras where the view opened up along the Vale of Clwyd and Moel Fenlli. The sky looked menacing, being a patchwork of blue with white and black rainclouds.
We turned right to climb the steep and slippery path toward the Jubilee Tower on the summit of the hill. The clouds came down and at times, engulfed us in the icy cold air. By the time that we arrived at the top of the hill the visibility had dropped to about ten yards. Luckily, the big feller has a good sense of direction (and a map and compass, and a GPS and a mobile phone) so we could easily find our way back. We had a good mooch around the tower which was built for King George III’s Golden Jubilee in 1810 but, due to lack of funds, it wasn’t completed in time. In 1862 a massive storm had demolished the part-built structure and it was, virtually flattened, for safety reasons. Local farmers took much of the remains to build dry stone walls. The views from the tower in clear conditions are well worth the climb. However, on this day the views were non-existant.
Our original plan was to walk from the tower to Bwlch Penbarras and return to the car through the forest of Coed Famau. The weather was looking threatening so, we decided to simply retrace our steps down the hill. But first we decided to attempt to walk down the steep section that we had bypassed earlier. My dad almost fell on his backside on 3 or 4 occasions as we descended. I thought that he was practicing some strange break-dancing moves. He was throwing some pretty weird and wonderful shapes! My dad has plenty of padding in his rear end so, he would have been OK! We zigged and zagged to take the steepness out of the hill and after a few more near misses we reached the flatter section and relative safety.
We had to stop a few more times to break the balls of ice that had formed on my legs again. While my dad was doing this, another two walkers asked if they could take my photograph. I felt like I was a celebrity. They fussed over me. Don’t ask me why. Perhaps they felt sorry for me being dragged around the snow covered hills against my wishes. Anyway, it was nice to be fussed over.
As we dropped down the hill the weather improved. The ominous dark clouds had disappeared to be replaced by blue patches of sky. The more we descended the warmer it became. The steeper section through the trees was still very slippery, well for the big feller anyway. So, it was slow going again while I had to keep stopping for him. Fortunately, he had brought his trekking poles because, without them, I think that we would still be on that hill now!
By the time that we returned to the car park a lot of the snow had turned to slush and the narrow approach road was practically clear of snow. When I jumped into the back of the car my dad had to spend a while breaking the balls of ice off my legs, belly and from somewhere that ice should never be allowed to form! I was fine but I was glad when the car heater melted the ice. It was time for a kip while I was chauffeured home. After a short drive home it was shower time for me followed by yet another snooze. It’s a hard life for a pampered pooch, according to my dad. Till next time!
Joe gives this hike.
A 5 out of 5 pooch rating.