In November 2015, we ran an article entitled ‘Meet the Women Reviving Nature Writing‘, which explored and ran with the idea that women are slowly becoming the writers championing the idea of nature as the site of solace, interrupting the male-dominated narrative of conquering and dissecting.
“When we step outside and look up, we’re not little cogs in the capitalist machine. It’s the simplest act of resistance and renewal” – Kathleen Jamie.
Here’s an original piece from someone who stepped outside and looked up.
Recently I enjoyed my first extended foray into North Wales. I had been to Wales many times prior to being with my boyfriend, Dewi, who hails from Bangor, but the extent of my journeys across the border had included daytrips or school outings. I had experienced my fair share of tramping across the beach at Llandudno when I was younger, or complaining my way up the back of Snowdon. I had spent many a time hiking various routes around and across Moel Famau, and explored both Chirk and Powis castle. However, my lack of car and driving ability meant I had never been able to dictate my own experience of North Wales, and get to explore in the way I’d like.
Fortunately my boyfriend was prepared. Fully equipped with his driving license and a little rental Toyota Aygo, we excitedly set off with plans of seeing everything and somewhat ambitious ideas of swimming in the sea. It soon became clear though that an Aygo in the Welsh mountains, in poor winter weather, was not the most suitable vehicle.
The road upwards twists and turns through a landscape of vast mountains pierced by swathes of blue slate
As we drove up Pen Y Pas sheets of rain drifted against the sides of the old slate mines, dancing on the surface of Llyn Peris below, and the Aygo shook at each gust of wind that blew down from the top of the mountains. Pen Y Pas is a mountain pass in Snowdonia, which was originally built to allow ore to be shipped to Llanberis from the mines in the mountains. The road upwards twists and turns through a landscape of vast mountains pierced by swathes of blue slate. Fortunately the beauty of the scenery failed to be hampered by the poor weather and we had expansive views as we drove on.
Granted, the day on which we drove up Pen Y Pas would have made any passionate walker sob, but we were happy to gaze out the windows, warm in our cosy car, the radio busy in the background. The views once you reach the YHA and car park at the top of the pass are phenomenal, reaching for miles. Unfortunately this day we could see nothing but a thick mist that sat low over the mountains. If you continue along the road you can arrive at the popular tourist site of Beddgelert, but on this day we chose to admit defeat and head back — though, as I asked my boyfriend, at a much slower pace than we had driven up.
The next day we headed to Aber Falls, a location I had been adamant I wanted to see. As we passed through the village of Abergwyngregyn rain began to fall until the downpour at the top meant we were forced to turn around. We were at the base of the village again when, waiting to pull out at the junction, I stuck my arm out the window. A distinct lack of raindrops fell onto my palm. Dewi looked at me and raised his eyebrows, ‘Do you want me to drive back up there?’ Yes. Yes, I did. We went back up.
‘Fools!’ we laughed as the sky cleared and our sodden jeans clung to our shaking legs.
The walk to Aber Falls is short, taking around 30 to 45 minutes and though uphill is remarkably easy going. It is also graveled, making it passable for wheelchairs and prams. On our way we were accompanied only by a group of students who gave up in the face of the suddenly monsoon-like conditions. ‘Fools!’ we laughed as the sky cleared and our sodden jeans clung to our shaking legs. Our reward stood in front of us — the waterfall swollen with rainwater, its plunge pool similarly full. The more adventurous side of me remembered stories I’d heard of people swimming there. The more sensible side of me shivered inside my thin waterproof and made myself content with clambering over the rocks and taking photos by the stream.
Our waterproofs were barely dry by the time we wet them again on the beach at Dinas Dinlle, where we had cautiously hoped to swim. We couldn’t help but laugh as the rain began to pelt down mere moments after stepping out the car, and the sea began to churn. We fought against the weather as the dogs ran over the stones, Dewi laughing in the wind, the sky and water blended into one blue blur. Funnily enough, the entire time we spent in Wales on that long weekend we were drenched and shivering but ludicrously happy.
It could be said that we were unfortunate to have experienced such poor weather. Wales, after all, does not experience as much rainfall as is widely believed. However all the rain did was make the country feel even more mystical, even more wild and beautiful. The scenery in the few places we were able to visit was extraordinarily breathtaking and calming, and only the slightest indication of the beauty of North Wales.
At the end of our holiday I bid a fond farewell to our little Aygo who we had so cruelly forced up roads somewhat out of its depth. He had been our first car and I said a reluctant goodbye as we prepared to leave Bangor. I had the happy knowledge though, as I stepped onto the train homebound, that I would be back again soon and that perhaps, next time, I might brave the water.
Featured Image © ‘Pass of Llanberis’ Brett Fraser
All other photographs © Dewi Jones