With a free day at the weekend I decided the best location for me given the weather conditions would be around Capel Curig in the heart of Snowdonia. It turned out to be a good move as despite not enjoying the best conditions or coming back with the photographs I’d hoped for I was able to explore a new vantage point and I now have a good idea of the shots I want to capture in the future.
The day started reasonably early as usual, I was up and out of the house after a proper breakfast this time and on my way by around 5:30. I opted to take the A55 route, turning off at Bethesda as this is more direct especially when it’s dark and you need to concentrate. Parking behind the cafe at Capel Curig at that time is pretty easy, there are usually only a few cars and I think most had been left overnight. After drinking a small flask of coffee I had prepared before the drive I took to the footpath around about 7 a.m. which was half an hour before the much hoped for sunrise. I was surprised by the amount of cattle as I entered the footpath, this worrying me slightly because they had their young with them and I am becoming increasingly wary of going through areas were such large animals are roaming freely. By sticking to the path initially all was well until a very large cow decided to stand firm and not move out of my way as I approached. Weighing things up I took the safe option and left the path, circumventing the problem and leaving the cow as the moral victor, no point missing a good composition by spending time in A&E.
The route was now clear and I followed the well-made path up through a short section of woods. I had decided that I didn’t actually want to do the full walk up to the modest peak of Crimpiau which would have been about a four and a half mile circuit. Instead I took a left had fork and headed up towards one of the best viewpoints I’ve seen in a long time, a gentle crag called Clogwyn Mawr. I hung around at the top for nearly an hour waiting for decent light but nothing happened. It was such a beautiful morning however that I didn’t mind one bit and just sat there taking it all in. I had something to eat and drink then set the Olympus OMD EM5 up for a time-lapse of 400 shots at 3 second intervals but there wasn’t much movement in the sky so the result was not that impressive.
With the time now approaching 08:30 I decided that I would explore a little bit further afield and headed over towards Llyn Crafnant, a location I have shot on a couple of previous occasions. I had downloaded the GPX map for this walk the day before but I rather foolishly ignored it when it started indicating that I was veering off the track. I thought I knew best and followed a small path which turned out to be very wet underfoot, eventually soaking me up to my knees. Deciding that I needed to get back onto the main path and not wanting to miss any good views I headed straight up the side of the hill which proved to be very steep and rather precarious but eventually I traced a route to the top. A few hundred yards more and I was able to get decent views towards Llyn Crafnant but it was rather dull despite some mist lingering at the end of the Lake. I decided I would sit for a while and just take in the scene which was truly beautiful with very little wind (and not too cool either). I was enjoying myself despite not taking any photographs because for once I was not in a rush.
Another 30 minutes went by before I decided to move on and follow the path back across the hilltop to the original viewpoint where I had started the day. This was a lot easier because I now stuck closely to the path and was rewarded with decent, if misty views of the Ogwen valley. Eventually I was back on the top of Clogwyn Mawr but unfortunately the conditions were even worse than those at sunrise as thick cloud was now blanketing the view towards Snowdon. I weighed up my options for some time before deciding I would try a new location and also use the time to scout out some different viewpoints. An easy walk back down the hill and through the cattle had me back at the car within 25 minutes. A quick snack and a drink and I was on my way towards one of my favourite locations, Llyn Gwynant.
The weather was still dull but small patches of blue sky were also starting to show through as I parked the car by the lake. I loaded up my equipment and decided to do the full circuit of the lake for once. I decided to carry the tripod as I thought I might need it to shoot some long exposures. At the bottom end of the lake I came across a couple of old boathouses which I’d seen recently on another photographer’s website and thought I could make something of them. I walked around for some time trying to get a good composition but found it quite tricky as the lake and sky were extremely bright by now. I made a couple of exposures from the tripod and a few more were made hand held, some of them in the square format to try and remove unneeded detail from each side of the frame.
Half an hour was spent on this location before I moved on and followed the small footbridge over the outflow from the lake which lead to some old cottages lying nicely at the foothills of the mountains beyond. I realised that this was perhaps the best opportunity of the day so spent some time making images from various angles with different focal lengths.
No more images were made as I walked on around the lake due to the dense tree cover and limited views . I did attempt a few long exposures from the near the main campsite using both 10 and 6 stop filters but these were lacklustre and did not respond well during processing. I decided to call it a day and walked back to the car where I sorted out my equipment and set off on the two hour drive home. Whilst the trip was not one of my finest I still managed a few decent shots but more importantly added a couple of new viewpoints to my list for the next time.