The Start of Spring - Jay Birmingham

The Start of Spring

It seems that we have been drawn to North Wales recently – we made our third trip of 2018 this Easter, and what a good decision that was. The last time we visited was when the ‘Beast from the East’ was wreaking havoc on North Wales, particularly on Anglesey, and snow was all around. There definitely is still some snow in places, but spring is starting to take hold of the land and there are lambs and daffodils, signalling the change of seasons.

North Wales wouldn’t be the place we know and love without a bit of rain – on the day we arrived it was torrential – we tried to photograph Penmon Point on Anglesey, and also sunset near Tryfan, but even with umbrellas and rain covers it was nigh on impossible to get a good shot as rain was hammering straight into the camera lens.

The next day (after a failed sunrise due to rain) we went to catch up with family on Anglesey, and were in good spirits, despite the rain. We went for a long walk in the forest at Newborough, and caught sunset on Llanddwyn Island.

The following day we thought we would visit Dinorwic Quarry. It’s an interesting place, and we've not had a really good explore of the area before. It was a long walk up the hill with all the camera gear, but there was a bit of moody light. I couldn’t quite find the shot I was looking for, but I did bump into another landscape photographer - Andy Page - who is a top guy, and even gave us a lift down the hill when the inevitable torrential rain started.

One of the great things about today's connected society is that these days, I often meet others taking photographs, which is great in itself, as it is always good to talk to people who have a passion for the same hobby. However, thanks to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter et al. I can now see their photographs after we have met, and be inspired by their take on viewpoints and locations.

The next day had some sunshine forecast, so we were up bright and early and at the ‘lonely tree’. This is an oxymoron really, as this tree is never lonely, as people are constantly taking photographs of it – sunrise is rush hour. This was the first time we have seen it fully submerged in Llyn Padarn, so it was good to see the reflections on the water and enjoy the stillness.

We then decided to go up Snowdon, as we had all our kit in the car. As we knew it would cloud over soon, we cheated a little and took the train three quarters of the way up, and walked from there. As a seasoned walker of the Snowdonia hills (I went hiking in Snowdonia most Saturdays for three years when I was at University) I felt a bit guilty about this, but we have summited over 30 times between us and never used the train, so we thought it was probably ok, particularly as we were carrying cameras, tripods, and several lenses, along with crampons, walking poles and ice axes. The train ride was quite interesting, and my wife was delighted to miss walking up the extremely steep start of the Llanberis path.

The snow blanketed the hill from around three quarters of the way up, and the view was impressive. It was sunny, as forecast, and we did not escape from a bit of sun/snowburn! It was a very popular day on the mountain, so we weren’t alone, but having crampons on allowed us to stand a little closer to the edge to take photographs. This was particularly useful when I was trying to take photos of a very obliging raven so that I could capture the summit behind it.

After walking down Snowdon, we decided to go for a walk again at Newborough beach. Sunset at Llanddwyn Island is one of the finest viewpoints in North Wales, and we were hoping for something special. It ended up being a bit washed out, but we did meet Kris Williams, who was taking timelapse photographs, which must require a lot of patience. He has created some stunning images, and it was nice to meet a local photographer.

The next day we had a lie in and got up at 5:40am. We spent far too long faffing though and ended up in a mad rush to try and get to Penmon Point for sunrise. I didn't take many shots, but I was pleased with how the long exposure pictures turned out.

After our morning rush, we had a nice leisurely walk around Cwm Idwal. Although close to the A5, it really does feel like you are in the middle of a vast wilderness.

We thought that we would spend our last evening back at Llanddwyn Island - one of my favourite places in Wales. My grandma lives in Newborough, so I spent many happy hours here as a child, and these were also happy hours as we witnessed a beautiful sunset. A fitting end to a wonderful Welsh adventure!


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