North Wales - ACHughesPhoto

North Wales-Ogwen Valley

8th/9th June 2017 

Hi All,

I thought I'd start something new by adding a section to the blogs for an activity report or sorts.

As I hadn't taken my camera out of it's bag since around October of last year, we've been renovating our house and I had started a new job last year, and again had a change to my position in April so I hadn't really had the get up and go to get out there and shoot.

I thought it was about time to break the camera out again, and I wanted something to really sink my teeth into. I've been meaning to visit North Wales/Snowdonia for a while now, but my days off and weather has never seemed to coincide.

I decided to go to the Ogwen Valley, located inbetween Gwynedd and Conwy Counties.

The valley is bordered one side by the Glyderau mountain range and on the other by the Carneddau. The River Ogwen (Afon Ogwen in Welsh) flows through it, separating the two mountain ranges, and also has some well known lakes in the area (Llyn Ogwen, Llyn Idwal), so I knew that I was going to have a wealth of locations to shoot within a stone's throw of each other.

I had been monitoring the weather leading up to my days off and it seemed to be saying the same old story, bad weather and rain. It did not look good.

Never the less, I kept checking regular updates from the Met Office in hope of a break. It wasn't until 21:00 the night before that I finally got my break, a bit cloudy, morning mist, hill fog at 500-600m.....yes!

I quickly got my gear together, packed the car, said goodbye to Amy and got on my way.

The sat-nav said I should get there in around 3.5 hours, plenty of time to get there have a nap in the car and get on the hills ready for the sun rise which was due around 04:30.

And this boys and girls is where I forgot to check one key bit of information - traffic reports, or more specifically road closures. In my haste to get on my way I failed to see that the A5, one of the main roads to get to the Ogwen Valley was indeed closed. To cut a long story short, many, many, many diversions and detours later through windey country lanes, I arrived just before 03:00.

Much to my delight there is a visitor centre at one end of Llyn Ogwen which has much needed restrooms which are open 24/7.

A quick hour nap in the car and I started making my way up to Llyn Idwal. It's a short walk of around 30 minutes or so to the lake.

The weather was slightly overcast which I hoped would produce some interesting skies for the coming sunrise & I hoped the wind may drop off long enough for me to capture some reflections on the water over the lake.

The path up provided some nice leading lines into the valley below, so fired off a few shots, and carried on looking for more locations. (Phone capture below, I'll post the actual in a few days)

As I carried on up to Llyn Idwal it became clear that the wind wasn't going to calm down, in fact it got quite lively. I took a snap on my phone for a reference and moved on.

As I turned back towards the valley I was met with a wonderful sight of the sun bursting through the clouds producing some gorgeous rays onto the hills and lake below (Phone shot below, image coming soon).

This alone was worth the drive up.

Llyn Idwal

Sunrise over Ogwen Valley

Sunrise over and I started hunting for more areas to photograph. Looking over to Pen Yr Ole Wen, which has the honour of being the 7th highest mountain in Wales, I could see the cloud starting to drop over it's peak.

It gave a fantastic moody appearance as the mountain slowly began to disappear from view. I knew it would be ideal for a black and white image so I fired off a burst of shots to capture it's disappearance before moving onto my next location.(Click the photo to take you to the full size image)It was at this point that the lack of sleep caught up with me, so I took a quick cat nap back in my car.

I woke in the car, now surrounded by hikers and ramblers who were getting ready to tackle the hills. I checked my map to find a new location and decided to try the other end of the lake. After a short drive, I hopped out of the car and made my way back up the hills to find a suitable place to shoot. I found a small but lively stream which had many short waterfalls which I thought would provide some foreground interest.

By the time I found a spot the sun was out on full force and the view was gorgeous, however the light was much too harsh for my liking. Regardless I took a shot, packed my kit up, sat back and took in the view and the sounds of the water. After all, it's not all about chasing the light and grabbing as many shots as you can when you can relax and enjoy this amazing countryside.

(Excuse the mugshot)

Break time over & I headed back to the car. I had decided to call it a day as the long drive and lack of sleep had started to kick in, but then I noticed Fairy Glen was 10 minutes away so decided to pay a quick visit.

It's 10 minutes drive away from Ogwen Valley, and has a small private car park nearby. (£1 for parking and 50p per visitor to the gorge) which is ideal.

Due to the recent heavy rains the water was in full flow, producing thick white foam across the river. It wasn't ideal, but I grabbed a few shots just in case.

At this point I was finding it hard to focus due to tiredness. I was done for the day and decided enough was enough and headed home.The trip was well worth it, even with the 6 hour drive and has given me "The bug" again.

I'm already planning to revisit Snowdonia during the Winter as the landscape will completely transform over the seasons and will provide some fantastic opportunities for some interesting photos.

Until the next one,  happy shooting all.


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