If nothing else could be said of Wales, it’s improving my fitness levels.
Yesterday, I pretty much carried my increasingly solid three year old daughter, if not quite ‘up’ a mountain, half-way round a mountain, and with lots of upward trajectories.
My daughter can walk. She just doesn’t want to.
Our route goes through the back garden gate into a soft-footed pine-needle carpeted National Trust woodland; and up, up, through muddy tracks; past waterfalls and creaking, wavering pines and eerie still reservoirs, to the tracks of the Ffestiniog Railway. We cross the line once, and later again on the way down, where we stop and wave to the steam engine, and the driver and all the people in the painted carriages wave back.
Flora prefers to be carried like a baby monkey, arms around my neck; but she sometimes consents to her grandfather’s shoulders. She makes it clear that she won’t walk, but makes an exception when there’s an obstacle. “I want to do it, I want to do it,” she cries at the sight of a stile, or stepping stones; giant steps or a fallen tree, and then with nimble and speedy determination shows us that she can.
We picnic by Llyn Mair, where Flora shows she has inherited my own magnetism for water; both children hover around the stony stream tumbling down into the lake; and as we sit on a picnic bench there are moments of warmth when the sun shines, but mainly a chill cold; a sort of fresh breath upon us. We walk up to Plas Tan y Bwlch station, where two more steam trains are seen into the platform and waved on their way, before we leave.
Much of the way home, Flora sings to me softly and strokes my cheek; but her brother has had greater stamina, since he’s walked the whole way.
The route planner said the walk from Ty Cae Fali to Tan-y-Bwylch would take 40 minutes. With children, it took 2 hours.
Nearly home, we turn off-path, and follow bilberry sprouting rabbit paths, crossing old barbed wire fencing, to the Home Guard look-out post where Leo has built a den; and they cover themselves in camouflage and look down the precipice to the curve of the main road from the coast; and then we descend again, past the small ivy devoured scrapyard of old ovens and iron bed frames previous occupants of the cottage threw there, to where the stream rushes under the back of the house, and falls steeply over rock, and under the road.