Friday, 4 July 2014

93 - Moel Famau - Flintshire - 25th June 2014

Country lanes with Moel Famau in the distance
In the north east of Wales lies the Clwydian Range of hills and mountains, it is a designated area of outstanding natural beauty and its highest point is also the highest point of the county of Flintshire.

On the previous day I had arrived, set up camp and visited the highest point of Chester and the Talacre lighthouse on the north coast of Wales, It was now time to pack my backpack again and start walking. This walk was going to turn out to be a bit different than most as it was not the journey up which was going to be memorable, it was the journey down. I left the campsite and headed along the country roads towards the Clwydian hills, there were a mixture of country lanes and paths to follow and I caught a few glimpses of my destination over the hedgerows. It was quite a dry warm day with very little sunshine so not too bad for walking. I carried on walking for a while along the various roads and lanes, at one point I took a wrong turn into someones front garden but eventually made it onto the hills of the Clwydian range.

As with many of the hills I have visited on my quest this one was covered with sheep, hills and sheep always seem to go together, its like ponds and ducks. I made my way up through the sheep stopping for a banana and biscuit at one point, the views were getting quite amazing and so was the amount of sheep poo building up on the bottom of my shoes, it really was impossible to avoid. I soon met up with a more substantial path which turned out to be the Offa's Dyke path, I walked along part of the Offa's Dyke path when I visited Black Mountain in Herefordshire last year so it was nice to walk along that again. It was along here I passed a few people, the first people I had seen since leaving the campsite, It was now not too far to the highest point and I was soon standing on top of Moel Famau at 554.8 metres above sea level.

Jubilee Tower
On top of Moel Famau stands the Jubilee Tower, Its a derelict stone structure which was first layed down in 1810 to mark the golden jubilee of King George III however it was never completed and in 1865 it was badly damaged by a storm and so the ruins are the only thing left standing. Its quite an interesting and large structure and you can climb up onto it, It would have been amazing if it had been finished. After a stop for tea and sandwiches I continued my walk back to the campsite, I had decided to take a different route back to I headed off away from the summit of Moel Famau.

I quickly made my way down the slopes of the hills trying to dodge the sheep poo and a baby fox eating what looked to be the remains of a sheep and soon I was back into the farmland and walking along some country paths and then a road. After a short while the maps showed the path heading off across several fields, and sure enough when I arrived at the field I saw a prominent pathway working its way through the field of corn towards the next field. Once across this first field I had 4 more fields to cross, the next field also had a nice path cutting straight through the middle of it, that was 2 down and 3 to go. 

Offa's Dyke Path
Field number 3 turned out to be a bit more difficult, when I first saw the field I could see the nice pathway heading off to a gate on the other side, a nice and simple 150 meter walk though a field, the problem however was the herd of 30 baby bulls standing in my way and yes, I was wearing bright red. What was I going to do? It was a pretty long walk back the way I came so I thought I would test the waters and step into the field for a moment. I climbed over the style and stood there, nothing, all was calm, I slowly walked into the field along the path, still nothing, and then one bull saw me, then another and another, suddenly they all started heading my way, I quickly made my way back to the style and climbed back over.

So there I was, stuck on one side of a fence with a herd of bulls on the other side, I reached out to stroke one and he backed away, maybe they were just inquisitive? I thought I would try again, there were about 8 bulls watching me, I climbed over the style and into the field and I stood there, almost petrified, the bulls stood there watching. Nothing happened, it was stale mate, I watched the bulls, the bulls watched me. I made a decision, rather than head directly through the field I would walk around the edge, that way I would not be completely surrounded by the bulls. As I slowly backed away from the bulls and made my way along the hedge they seemed to follow me, I put out my hand and they backed away so I kept my hand there all the time, when ever I looked in the direction I was going they got closer to I had to walk backwards for more of the distance not knowing where I was treading. The further I went the more bulls joined in, further from the style was was getting but closer to the gate. I seemed to working my way through the field for ages but soon I was nearing the gate, by this time I had the whole herd of cows following me and I scrambled over the gate away from the bulls.

In the panic I took a bit of a wrong turn here but I was soon back on course and walking through field number 4, just 1 more field to go and I was back into normal roads. I arrived at the last long field and started walking through it, it was a very long field, around 500 metres in length. about a third of the way through the field I was minding my own business when what I can only describe as a Pterodactyl dive bombed me, it was so close and I actually felt it sweep past my hat. I have since found out that this was a buzzard and I didn't realize just how big these were, its wingspan was over a metre and it dive bombed be 2 more times before I decided to start running. The buzzard obviously had a nest somewhere and was just defending it but it was still pretty scary.

Out of the field I was back onto the country paths and walking through a few farms eventually making my way back to the campsite after a very action packed walk. That evening I relaxed with a beef stew ready for the next day when I would be trying to cross off 4 high points from my list. Moel Famau was a lovely climb and pretty easy but it was the wildlife that made it so exciting today.

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