A Union meeting in Leeds gave me an ideal opportunity, someone was paying for fuel, to tag on a couple of days at the start and take some photos in North Wales. The forecast was mixed and none of the big sites could agree but snow was definitely on the horizon.
I drove down overnight and snow did slightly hamper progress. The rain and featureless sky meant I took it easy and had a lie in. It had been a long drive and sunrise images at my planned venue would not have been worth the effort. The weather was beginning to clear so I had a look at Llundudno Pier. Nice enough and a good start with some light and clouds.
I decided to head to the hills with the blue skies but on arrival at Llyn Ogwen I was met with very dreich conditions. Being the weekend there were walkers and togs everywhere and I made my way up the mountain hoping the clouds would break. I climbed as high as the clouds would allow but the view of Tryfan was covered in cloud that never cleared so opportunities were limited. A lovely walk albeit very boggy and slidy.
Next up was the famous lone tree at LLanberis. I was greeted with a little light and the place to myself. The tree was in water but not enough to create a decent reflection and the stones made the bottom of the frame a bit scrappy for my liking.
The weather was now looking decent with breaks in the clouds and I decided to head to Penmon for sunset. As seems popular in England and Wales they love ripping you off for parking. Three quid to get to the lighthouse and no facilities at all barring a place to park.
The tide was in to the lighthouse base and the slippy rocks made the walk/climb down to the waterline tricky. I felt like I had eels glued to the soles of my shoes but got there without incident. I love lighthouses so I was looking at all the various angles and came up with a couple I was fairly please with using pools for reflections and the algae/seaweed covered path as foreground.
The sunset never happened so I started to think about heading to my digs. Looking at the time available I decided to visit the Church in the Sea in the dark hoping for some stars or moonlight. On the way I took the opportunity to shoot the wee house at the bottom of the Menai Bridge. Nice little shot but typical estuary sand that was very muddy. The landscaper’s friend, Welly Boots, saved having to worry about the mud.
Down to my final shot at St Cwyfan's Church. I love some of the minimalist shots of the church sat above the horizon with nothing else bar sea and sky. The tide allowed for this type of shot but it was hard going as it was now pitch black and focusing and composition were done by taking high iso shots and adjusting from there.
On to Day 2 and I was up bright and breezy, well tired and windy would be more accurate. That dodgy fish supper probably.
My first port of call was Ynys Llanddwyn Island. I had looked online the night before and didn't see any info about tides and when to cross and the only comment I read said it was only an issue on big tides. I arrived 90 minutes before a middling high tide and walked a mile in the pitch dark along the beach. I love this part of photography as the only sound is the waves lapping the shore and there is a lovely feeling of solitude and peace. That is a rare commodity living in a house with two teenagers and a wife. On arrival at the island it was clear waders would be needed to cross the channel. If it had been summer the trousers would have been off but far too cold for that. Besides it was grey and no chance of a sunrise. I retraced my footsteps thinking of where to go now
I headed to the lone tree again hoping it might be moody and have some more water as there wasn't a breath of wind. The tree was nice and I got another shot I was happy with.
After a quick breakfast of banana and double decker it was back to Ynys Llanddwyn. Those few hours had seen a huge change in the weather and the car park. A fiver to get in and the place was busy. The light was decent but not in a favourable direction but I fancied a recce having now been here twice.
A couple of hours not getting much was interrupted by a blast of God Rays and an obliging fishing boat. Very quick change of settings and filters and manged to get one I am very happy with.
Another mile and a half back to the car in a tea shirt. It was around 13 degrees and so still.
Last port of call was South Stack. The weather started coming in and it was lashing down and getting windy. I sat in the car and watched the rain pass over from the trusty Mondeo. The light was gone and the sky not too interesting so I grabbed a few shots perched as close as I dared to the cliff edge and had a bit of a wander before tiredly calling it quits.
I always say if you get one shot then be happy. It was one of those days, 100 miles driven and probably 7 walked and I only like one shot. A big thanks to that fishing boat captain.
Day 3 of my Welsh trip, in my head that is being spoken in a Big Brother Geordie accent. The third early morning in a row and at last Mr Sun popped his head over the horizon. I drove from my digs in Anglesey up to Talacre. Around 90 minutes and on the beach for around 7.15. The tail end of the eclipse was visible for the first part of the journey and as I got out the car there was a rare orange glow on the horizon. Game on.
The tide wasn't as far in as I thought which was originally disappointing until I found a pool which allowed me to shoot into the colours of sunrise.
As usual the colour doesn't last long and I hurried round to the other side to get some pastel pink in the sky and the first of the morning rays. The light was still decent so had a go at getting some waves in the foreground.
Wales was great and although I never got great light on the first two days I came away with a few decent shots and topped it off with a great morning with miles of beach completely to myself.
The second part of the blog was going to be my journey home through the North Yorkshire Moors and onto the Lake District. The conditions were spectacular over the Moors with snow falling and lying. I was starting to feel shivery and other signs of the Norovirus were starting to be felt. I did take a drive to Ribblehead but there was far less snow than down the valley and it was shrouded in mist with no light. At that point my bed in Scotland was the only thing on my mind. A very long drive home but back safe and sound and nearly a week later I manage to publish this having lost half a stone and now feeling much better.