Don’t go to Mackintosh Davidson Woods. Honest.

Don’t go to Mackintosh Davidson Woods. Honest.

We’ve got two mini explorers on board here at jonesnow, Ifor, who is just beginning to read maps, and has morasses of energy. Then there’s young Ellis, who loves animals & has no fear of anything. Most of our outdoor time is dedicated to these guys, so I’m going to try and write more about the routes we take with them. The routes as a result are short, so I’m going to keep my posts short too you’ll be pleased to hear 🙂

Well, we had a spot of holiday last week, but the weekend before saw us head off to the gloriously titled Mackintosh Davidson woods. I’d spotted it when downloading maps of the surrounding area on Viewranger, suddenly seeing the words nature reserve just shy of West Knoyle. Curiosity piqued, I filed it away in the grey matter until we finally got the time to pop out there. The start boded well. Dorset is too posh for my liking sometimes, too many fey little villages with price tags that would make a footballer blush. The drive out to West Knoyle was different though, working farms and houses that were run down gave a more honest feel to the countryside.

We parked on the high street, (if you could really call 5 houses a high street) and headed through the gate. Woods for me offer some of the best walking, the smell of the woodland floor, trees and flowers is kept strong under the leafy canopy. The light is always special and these were no different. The last of the bluebells still gave off their fragrance as we wandered, following Ifor who charged ahead. The path danced in and out of clearings until we came out of the oaks and startled the deer grazing nearby. They took a while to get the message until both boys crashed towards them in delight and they vanished as quickly as they appeared.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no choice when walking with kids, there is a point when trying to get them to fit in with what you want them to do just won’t happen. You can either have a cruddy time trying to batter them in to walking in a straight line, or you can let them do their thing with a little prompting.

Walking on, the tone of the wood changed to silver Beech, and them to pear orchards. We stopped for a bite to eat and marvelled that the woods still remained peculiar to us, no-one else gracing the paths we travelled.

I guess all I really want to say about this walk is don’t go to the Mackintosh Davidson woods. Don’t go as no-one knows about them and we saw no-one there all morning. Don’t go, as the variety of woodland and unspoilt little trails will leave you wanting more. Don’t go if you’ve got kids as the playground at the start of the woods rocks. Don’t go if you are miserable, as these woods will undoubtedly make you smile. Don’t go if you want your kids to have a good time as they definitely will. Don’t go if you want to feel uplifted and at peace. Don’t go if you don’t like taking your son on a zip wire. Have a look at our flickr set for more reasons not to go if you don’t like beautiful blue skies and green things. Definitely don’t follow the route we stored below on Social Hiking.

 

 

North Ridge of Tryfan

North Ridge of Tryfan

Having had an epic first day back in the hills the day before, I was looking forward to Sunday and meeting up with Sean. The day began with the sun gracing the hills opposite us, and we packed up quietly. Lauren headed off for a search exercise, and I was off to the North ridge of Tryfan. It still feels a little strange meeting people you have got to know from twitter, but having met Helen in the peaks, my experiences have always been positive. It was lovely to have met Lauren as well – not only was the conversation good, and she made me laugh, but she didn’t snore and keep me awake unlike my last wild camp companion who will remain nameless 🙂

view from my bed.

flight of the ninja bumblie

sunrise over Craig Wen

I’m a photo, click me to make me bigger.

Meeting up with Sean at Nant Gwynant car park, we headed back to the Pinnacle sports cafe in Capel Curig for a bit of ballast for the day ahead, and to decide what we wanted to do. I have always been keen to do the North ridge of Tryfan. My better half has never been a fan of scrambling and so whenever we have been in Snowdonia, we have always passed on doing it. Sean kindly agreed and so we headed down the Ogwen valley to park at the foot of Tryfan.

 

looking up at Tryfan

I think Tryfan is perhaps the most beautiful mountain to look at in Wales along with Cadir Idris, and I was genuinely excited to be climbing it. I don’t have a huge fondness for heights, attributable to being up the Kyoto Tower when a 6.3 richter scale earthquake hit on our honeymoon. Sean was decent enough to keep me away from the more exposed elements to the east, but at the same time, we took more of an interesting route up, away from the standard smooth rocked trail.

A steep ascent gave us some rapid height, and the route that Sean had us following led to a massive grin on my face. I had ditched the large sack from yesterday, and just had a small scrambling sack. Pausing to drink in the Carneddau opposite, I struggled to think of a time when I had more fun on a mountain. I was loving the physical challenge, but not feeling too exposed, and I really started to enjoy myself. Heres the route I took on social hiking;

 

 

 

having fun on the north ridge of Tryfan

Getting nearer to the top, the final section of Tryfan came in to view, looking like nothing else but a selection of rock lego bricks piled up by Ifor, my three year old. The top came too soon for me, and we perched for a while, catching our breath and some amazing views.

top of Tryfan

View from Tryfan

The descent was down by Llyn Bochlwyd. By this stage my feet had realised I had walked for a while the previous day, and decided to let me know that they weren’t happy with me. I’m sure other people feel the same as well, but I really have no fondness for going down hills. I would rather climb all day than have to step down. We soon reached the saddle leading down to the lake, and Sean pointed out Bristly Ridge. Keith has often said in conjunction with the North ridge of Tryfan, it is one of the best hill days out in Wales. It certainly looked like a hell of a lot of fun, but sadly we had a 6 hour journey in the car ahead of us, plus our exertions from the day had left us both zonked so we meandered gently back to the car.

The journey home was made in a comfortable haze of tiredness, Sean driving down through mid Wales, a route I had never taken before which was a treat in itself. Heading past the other side of the Moelwyns, Rhinogydds, Cadair Idris etc, plans were hatched for the next hill visit. I usually drive whenever we go anywhere as a family so I enjoyed the rare treat of not having to drive at all. Soon my head was lolling around like a broken doll and I awoke just as we came past the black mountains in the Brecons. Tempted to stop for an evening stroll, we resisted the temptation and continued down to Dorsetshire and home.

Snowdonia has so many memories for me as most Easters before the boys were born, we made the journey up to the Rynys campsite in Betys y Coed to stay with a wide variety of friends and family. It felt strange to be there without Cath, but at the same time I realised that these times are what we live for. The memories, experiences and challenges we gather from the hills, are many times the potency of the experiences we pick up from every day life. It has been too long since some proper hill time for me, but a week after my visit, I am still casting my mind back to an amazing weekend, and if truth be told, still feeling the tiredness a little!

I’ll write shortly about the gear I used, but in the meantime you might want to have a look at all the photos I took on Flickr