Wonderful Wales - Jay Birmingham

Wonderful Wales

North Wales is a wonderful place for photography, so we were delighted to be able to go and see the mountains recently. This trip had been booked for some time, and we had been studying the weather forecast, which predicted rain, and wind. It wasn’t wrong! The only place we could find out of the rain for our first morning was Llandudno, so we went to try and capture the pier, which was built in 1878, and is Wales’ longest pier. It was a nice drive down in the dark, and, although there wasn’t much of a sunrise, it was nice to be on the beach, enjoying the scenery.

The rain then began to fall, so we decided to go over to Newborough, on Anglesey for a walk in the rain. I know this place well, having spent many childhood holidays there, and, although the rain was heavy, the place itself is still spectacular. The forest houses red squirrels, and Llanddwyn Island is a great place. St Dwynwen is fabled to have lived on the island, and she is the Welsh patron saint of lovers. More recently, Demi Moore starred in a film shot on the island (Half Light).

After a soggy, but scenic walk, we decided to head back into Snowdonia. We climbed up the steep hill to Dinorwic Quarry, which used to be the second largest slate quarry in the world. It employed over 6,000 people. This quarry shut in 1969, but the workshops up on the hill still stand. It is fascinating exploring this once busy place, and there is an eerie feeling about the silence in a place where there would have been noise all around.

We were surprised at Dinorwic – after the grey and flat day, from nowhere, a red sky appeared at sundown. It was wonderful to have this place to ourselves, and we spent quite some time taking photographs of the buildings and the view.

After a full day of rain and photography, we were glad to head into Bangor to see what the city had to offer. Bangor is a great city, and holds fond University memories for both my wife and I, so we try to visit whenever we can. It is a great base for photography exploits too!

The next morning the weather was a bit better, so we decided to see what it was like on the Eastern Peninsular of Anglesey. Penmon Point feels like the end of the world (its name is symbolic of that, with ‘pen’ meaning ‘end’ and ‘Mon’ meaning ‘island’. and the money collector on the toll road, who had also decided to get up early, told us that there were a few photographers there already. It was a pleasant spot, and we were pleased the tide was in, and the lighthouse was surrounded by water. There were some nice clouds, and even a playful seal (though I didn’t manage to capture that in time!).

We needed to get home fairly early in the day, so we thought we’d have one last adventure in the mountains before returning. Llyn Idwal is a lake in rather dramatic surroundings, with rugged mountains towering over it, and a long waterfall carving a path down to the water. It was hollowed out in the Ice Age by a glacier, and has lots of fossils and cool geographical features. We hiked up and spent a while watching the spray dance across the water. It was a howling wind, and we definitely tested the sturdiness of our tripods!

It was a trip of mixed weather, but, whatever the photography prospects, it is always wonderful to be in these mountains, or on these beaches, so we returned home with smiles on our faces.

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