Sunday, 5 December 2010

Snowdonia: Through The Enchanted Forest

The tiny road that passes the converted chapel that we have been staying in once again for a late holiday continues to climb further into the mountains. The grassy areas, cropped short by sheep, give way to bracken, heather and stunted gorse, also shortened by the harsh climate. And an hours walk along this road - now little more than a stone track - brings you to the Enchanted Forest. At first, it is barely noticed: a tongue of dark green that appears to be sliding down the mountain as if desperate to reach the richer soil of the valley below.
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But suddenly, as you walk round a bend in the path, there it is in front of you. The trees look inviting; beckoning you to shelter from the cold north-easterly wind that cuts through to your bones. Yet, as you approach, the gate barring your way makes you hesitate, for the first
view into the depths of the forest is a menacing combination of dark and light. All those childhood images from the Brothers Grimm come to mind for there are the conflicting emotions: is this a sinister or a kind place to be and where will the path lead?
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Walking further into the forest, it proves to be a fascinating place, with sight after sight more enchanting than the previous one. The damp mists and rain have turned the ground into a mossy wonderland with great mounds of it creating a weird, almost surrealistic, landscape. Surely, Goblins or Hobbitts live here? They do, for every so often the moss builds up to make a hooded entrance and some even have - if you look carefully enough (like in the photo below) - a wrinkly face staring out at you.
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It is just not the light and the shadows that play tricks with you, for nothing is quite as you expect it to be. Some of the conifers branches grow upright instead of horizontally so that their silvery underside is facing you, disorienting your vision.
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Even the toadstools are rarely toadstool shaped - here these look like pieces of discarded orange peel rotting in the leaf litter.
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It is not especially surprising that ice forms on the puddles at this altitude and time of year but even this is different. They have the appearance of stained glass windows, but strangely drained of all their colour.....
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And just as suddenly as you entered it, the forest gives way again to mountain. But what a mountain! It is as if it has been dropped from a great height and smashed to millions of pieces, some just lying around and others piled up one on top of the other, regardless of size or shape. And why, several hundred years ago, did they build the dry stone walls that travel up and over them for mile after mile?
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The sun had been shining brightly when we had stepped into the trees. Now, in an instant, the weather has turned and we are being threatened by snow flurries. She-dog, our lurcher, who recognises these problems better than we do, had been wandering on far ahead. Now, knowing that danger could be approaching, she hurtles down the track back towards us, agitated, beckoning us to return home.
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How glad we were we heeded She-dog's warning! By the time we were within sight of home the landscape was changing to white. And the snow continued to fall for days.....
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10 comments:

  1. I love this... the photos are so beautiful... I watch a lot of old Sherlock Holmes and other mysteries set in England partially because I love the scenery... thank you for sharing these wonderful photos! L

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  2. Thak you so much for your kind comment. I admit that, although I like travelling abroad too, that I find Britain a great country to live in. It has lots of faults, of course, but the scenery is varied and stunning and - being a small island - easily accessable.

    Johnson

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  3. What a beautiful photo tour.

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  4. Hiya Johnson,
    How fab a blog is this!
    How come I missed it until now.
    Maybe the garden designer bit put me off :-)

    What a strange formation in the puddle: those geometric cut slate forms are a surprise.

    Must have been a cold sojourn in an unfamiliar house. Hope it was heated well.

    I've greatly enjoyed my visit and will be browsing a little soon. Thanks.

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  5. Thanks Jim - glad you enjoyed it.

    Welcome Morememes and thanks for the kind comments. I like to think I'm not the average garden designer lol

    You are right about the cold - towards the end of the holiday the water supply froze and we had to get buckets from the stream...

    Johnson

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  6. Buckets from the stream? So glad this is armchair travelling from the comfort of my laptop ;>) worthy words to follow the video clip I've just watched of the Hallelujah chorus in the Food court!

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  7. You live in such a beautiful area. Merry Christmas. jim

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  8. Thanks both for your comments. You're right, Jim - I'm a very lucky chap.

    Happy Christmas to you too.

    Johnson

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  9. Beautiful forest... I thought maybe a wolf might appear. Smart dog, that She-dog is. I wish I had a dog.

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  10. Our wolves were all killed off hundreds of years ago but there is talk of them being reintroduced to Scotland one day.

    So who knows, perhaps they will roam in the enchanted forest then. I know I shan't!

    Johnson

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