Day 230 Mile 230: Conwy Rivers Project 6/10 Staying Downstream of the Goblins

river moss rocks waterfall walesDay 230 Mile 230: Conwy Rivers Project 6/10 Staying Downstream of the Goblins. The Afon Dulyn (the Black River) is a small river cutting its way down off the mountains from Llyn Dulyn, yes you’ve guessed it, the Black Lake. It makes its way down the west side of the Conwy Valley gouging a deep cleft through the Cambrian strata that marks out the far boundary of the Carneddau range and thus tells of a very old history.

Today’s run starts in the village of Tal-Y-Bont just above where the Dulyn meets the Conwy river and follws the Dulyn gorge up from its starting point behind the Bedol Pub and up into the hills. Y Bedol is Welsh for “The Horseshoe”. The next building to the north was a smithy and farriers and presumably somewhere back in the mists of time hence how the inn earned its name.

river moss rocks waterfall walesThe run up the gorge feels close, and the river feels dark under the trees and particularly ancient rocks and woodland. The path is narrow and at times precarious and it is easy to see how people became so suspicious of the lake that feeds this water-course.

Llyn Dulyn (the Black Lake), which is overlooked by tall cliffs, is said to have a dark reputation. In the past it was said to be visited regularly by the ‘Tylwyth Teg, goblins and rain-makers’. Other stories involve disfigured fish living in this lake, which apparently have bulbous eyes and deformed bodies. The lake covers an area of only 33 acres yet is extremely deep reaching to a depth of 189 feet, so the oddly shaped fish may well have some basis in crepuscular evolution more than superstition. In 1942 a plane crashed into the foreboding rocks to the west of the water, and pieces of it eventually wound up in the lake, where they are to this day. This cemented it as a place of ill fortune in many people’s minds. So I’ll stay down by the river rather than going up to the lake today… just in case!

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1965.2 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)
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Ed

For today’s earworm my mind was too full of endorphins from running up hill and talk of the weird so this wonderful chestnut sneaked its way in 🙂  

Day 214 Mile 214: Conwy Rivers Project part 5/10 Afon Machno

5 arched stone bridge in Wales over a rushing riverDay 214 Mile 214: Conwy Rivers Project part 5/10 Afon Machno. This evening finds me further into the mountains than normal, hence I get the chance to tick off one of the more ‘remote’ runs today 🙂 The Afon (river) Machno is the first major tributary of the River Conwy, which it joins south of Betws-y-Coed.

Roughly halfway down the valley sits the village of Penmachno, an ancient settlement which quite literally spans the river; the two parts of which are linked by a quintuple-arched, stone bridge.

The river and it’s surrounding elements have a very different feel to the last few runs I have done along the river Conwy tributaries. It is the complete antithesis of the ornamental gardens  I found down the Hireathlyn, or the tourist honey pot that was Betws-y-coed, the Afon Machno has a routed beauty all of its own.

The textured stone of the walls and houses, verdant hills and lichen bedecked contours tell of a weight of history and an exquisiteness which has stood strong against wind, rain and invasion for millennia.

Tradition has it the Iorwerth ‘Snubnose’ the father of Llywelyn Fawr (ruler of Wales 1200-1240) is buried here and the parish church of Saint Tudclud contains five early Christian, inscribed stone slabs dating from the 5th or 6th century. The Carausius Stone, which bears the Chi Rho symbol has been suggested to be the grave stone of Carausius, a Roman military commander who usurped power in the British Isles in 286 and was assassinated in 293.

Just down the road is the birthplace of Bishop William Morgan (1545 – 1604 probably!). He was one of the leading scholars of his day, having mastered Hebrew in addition to Latin and Greek. Morgan was the first person to translate the Bible in its entirety into Welsh, an act which was hugely significant, culturally and linguistically, and the effects of which are still with us today.

It is amazing what you can so easily overlook as just being a few houses a pub and a load of sheep!

For more background on the Conwy Rivers Project please have a read of the blog post first published on 16/5/17 here.

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1741.6 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed

A good earworm for a tired but musical summer’s evening…

Day 210 Mile 210: Conwy Rivers Project part 4/10 Afon Hiraethlyn

Day 210 Mile 210: Conwy Rivers Project part 4/10 Afon Hiraethlyn. Today finds me running alongside the Afon (river) Hiraethlyn, sometimes Erethlyn in old Welsh and it is beautiful. What started as a relatively mundane run down a farm track has taken me into the back of Bodnant Gardens and the scenery has been so enhanced by the planting and care lavished on the area as to give the impression that I have stumbled into some magical kingdom in the early morning light.

The gardens were founded in 1874 by Henry Davis Pochin, a Leicestershire-born Victorian industrial chemist who acquired fame and fortune inventing a process for clarifying rosin used in soap, turning it from the traditional brown to white. These were developed by five generations of one family, they was gifted to the care of the National Trust in 1949. The garden spans 80 acres of hillside and includes formal Italianate Terraces, informal shrub borders stocked with plants from around the world, and The Dell, a gorge garden, a number of notable trees and a waterfall.

This stretch of the river has such a different feel to all of the others I have met with so far on this adventure. There is a manicured beauty to the landscape and a forthright grandeur to the ramrod trees, tended grass and considered planting. It is an incredibly impressive place, and the amount of time invested in it (both in the short and long terms) is truly awe inspiring. A little part of me cant help but feel that this slightly misses the point of the welsh landscape. They have created a place of great majesty and beauty here, in one that had it already, a bit like building a roller-coaster on a mountain so that people can be elated by the feeling of going downhill quickly.

However the place is astounding and it is wonderful to run in a completely different environment through winding paths passing show-standard flowering plants from across the globe whose names surpass my parochial botanic knowledge and just bask in the beauty of a place understood only on a surface level of pure amazement.

On a side note, good luck to all the people doing the North Wales Half Marathon today which goes through the village in a bit! 🙂

For more background on the Conwy Rivers Project please have a read of the blog post first published on 16/5/17 here.

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 2203.3 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed

Day 193 Mile 193: Conwy Rivers Project part 3/10 Afon Llugwy

Day 193 Mile 193: Conwy Rivers Project part 3/10 Afon Llugwy. Betws y Coed (Chapel in the wood) has been famous as a tourist resort since the Victorians developed a love of the rustic and the mountainous ‘sublime’, and its stone-built houses in an alpine woodland setting make it one of the most picturesque villages in the Snowdonia National Park. It is probably its location near the junction of three river valleys that has made it an ideal place for a settlement dating back to at least the bronze age and on a sunny day such as this it is simply stunning. It should be noted that today’s glorious weather is not always the case, the average annual rainfall in the catchment of the River Llugwy is the highest recorded in England and Wales.

Today’s run goes along the river starting at the iconic Pont y Pair, (the Bridge of the Cauldron in English). built in 1468, and winds up through the woodland along the river bank as far as the slightly crazy looking Miner’s Bridge. This bridge is something of a relic and curiosity. These days it is simply a foot bridge and a bit of a fun way to get across the river into the woods but up until 1860 it was used by miners to cross the river via wooden ladder when commuting to and from the lead mines in the Gwydyr Forest.

It’s a very different experience compared to the other tributaries I have run so far. The river is wide and powerful, and populated by sightseers fron around the world. This is a bit awkward on narrow paths but a great thing to have so many people out obviously enjoying themselves and the day!

For more background on the Conwy Rivers Project please have a read of the blog post first published on 16/5/17 here

On the way there… (sorry, had to be done!)

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 2862.5 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed

Day 140 Mile 140: Conwy Rivers Project #2/10; Afon Conwy

Day 140 Mile 140: Conwy Rivers Project #2/10 – Afon Conwy. Today I headed out to Conwy to do the parkrun and to tick off another stage in the Conwy Rivers Project (see below for info) and maintain running at least a mile everyday for charity. As part of my warm-up I went around the town itself, taking in the castle and historic quay and getting to be a bit of a tourist taking photos from the battlements along the town walls.

Today it is raining, proper Welsh rain with big drops that soak you in seconds. In spite of this it is not too cold and the wind has died so as far as running goes once the initial shock is over it’s almost pleasant!

It’s great to run along the river with a big bunch of friends with a renewed appreciation of its geology and history having been delving into it. It helps to remind you to value the brief time we have.

On the flip side if anyone does want to go and verify that this is real if forgot my parkrun barcode today, so, even though I unofficially did my 2nd fastest ever time it probably won’t show on their website… bother!

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 5027.7 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed

For more background on the Conwy Rivers Project please have a read of the blog post first published on 16/5/17 here.

18527347_1718199914861152_8087519642734209188_oP.S. 22/5/17 You know you get those days when it is really wet and nasty and you refuse to be overtaken by someone who is so overwhelmingly happy. Well that’s what it looks like! I’m pretty sure I didn’t mean to look that grumpy 🙂 Photo courtesy of SJ Photography.

Day 136 Mile 136: Conwy Rivers Project Pt. 1

In early May I discovered a book on the shelf at the Bridge Inn in Conwy, entitled Walk in the Beautiful Conwy Valley by Ralph Maddern. It is a wonderfully written book, with an inspiring enthusiasm for the landscape and culture of the valley: at whose head I was currently nursing a pint, while overlooking the castle.IMG_0855The book was illustrated with pen and ink sketches, which not only provided a fun insight into the concerns and imaginations of the author and illustrator, but also no doubt kept production costs down. I suspect that photos, even black and white ones my have been prohibitively expensive with the technology available in 1970 for such a small run book. Viewed through a 2017 lens where photos are two a penny the book almost seems better by their absence.

Hidden amoung these sketches and maps was a simple diagram outlining the Afon (River) Conwy and its major tributaries. I have lived near this river for a large part of my life and have never seen it described so clearly. As a result of this inspiration, and possibly the fine locally brewed ale I was supping I decided to run a section of each of these tributaries over the next few months.

IMG_0854There has been a River Conwy for millennia. The valley floor has been made rich and fertile by the deposits left behind by the retreating ice sheets of the Pleistocene era, but the river and the valley were forming long before then. Way before the ice came that water had already found a natural line of weakness between the Silurian bedrock to the east and the older, harder Cambrian rocks found to the west.

There is still evidence of Stone Age settlements in the hills and a written history dating back to the Roman settlement of Britain. Salmon and Sea Trout can still be found in its waters and in 1991 Elizabeth II opened a tunnel crossing under the estuary.

We stand in the narrowest slice of time trying to find context in a framework which in itself is still altogether insignificant in the massive arch of geological chronology.

IMG_0861

On the next sunny day I took a few minutes out and sat on the roof where there was space to layout the gargantuan and iconic paper map that is OL17 Snowdon and Conwy Valley along with a pen and paper and a cup of tea. I would try to tick off the 9 different tributaries and something from the main river itself as an ongoing sub project to running at least a mile everyday this year. There would only be a few rules:

  1. I would have to try and run as close to the course of the river as possible gullies and bramble bushes etc. permitting for at least 1/2 mile before looping around to make a minimum 1 mile run.
  2. I would have to physically make contact with the water at least once per run. The ceremonial sploshing of a digit would be preferable to accidental full body immersion!
  3. Only 1 river per day, no binge-ing.
  4. Avoid specific trips out to locations, try to make it fit in with another reason for going to that area, in order to save on time and petrol, also see rule 3.
  5. Complete the challenge before 31/12/17.
  6. Avoid mosquitoes if at all possible.

So today, I have ticked off the Afon Roe as the first while en-route with work. It’s a lovely little part of the river going through sheep fields under overhanging trees along the bank. In-spite of my running along beside the river it was magical to see a heron, lofting its way along the stream while the mayflies convened below. Although evidence of human intervention was visible throughout the landscape, from the subtle inferences of grazed land through to the more obviously tended trees and pylons; it was refreshing not to meet a soul on this brief excursion. The opportunity to let my mind range out, from this stream, across a valley into a landscape; washing like a wave, up to the mountains and down to the sea with a refreshed understanding of it, and its time and the creatures upon it. It was very special.

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1726.4 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed