When an outdoor enthusiast wants to escape the city and get out into a spectacularly wild space, it often requires either regimental planning ahead or complete spontaneity.
It’s Friday evening and I’ve suddenly found myself with a weekend with nothing on. I can’t let this opportunity go to waste. Chancing my arm, I drop a tentative message into my friendship group’s WhatsApp chat.
At 8:10 the next morning I’m on the train from Euston to Bangor with two mates, having quickly thrown together everything I’d need for a weekend adventure – including my pair of fail-safe Merrell Chameleon 7 walking boots. I’d sold a hastily formulated plan to them: we were going to North Wales to seek out something that I’d seen dozens of pictures of and longed to visit. It’s a lighthouse, quite possibly the finest-looking lighthouse of the British Isles, and it’s perched right at the end of a narrow island called Ynys Llanddwyn with Snowdonia forming a dramatic backdrop. I lay out an OS map on the table in front of us and, with my index finger, sketch out a line we can potentially follow – our own trail, 20 miles in length, that will lead us to our picture-perfect final destination.
From Bangor the route takes us across the Menai Bridge and onto Anglesey. We follow the island’s edge along the meandering Menai Strait, the water heading eastwards while we make our way west. In the space of four hours, we’d swapped the familiar London skyline for a much less familiar one; all the 3,000ft mountains of Snowdonia, not just snow-capped but snow covered, made all the more stunning because of their reflection in the water alongside us. It’s a view that stays with us for most of the day, then eventually, as the sun sets, we settle down to make camp.
“When Monday comes around, despite the miles walked and the night slept on the hard ground, I don’t feel worn out…”
Sunday morning, and there’s more urgency to today’s hike. We’re racing the tide before it cuts off the only path to the island and its lighthouse. After rushing through the pine trees of Newborough Forest, the island appears and our way ahead is clear. We reach the lighthouse, take the briefest of moments to enjoy the view of the mountainous shoulder of Wales and the long arm of the Llyn Peninsula, and then we turn back to make sure we aren’t cut off by the rising tide.
A quick bus ride to Bangor and then it’s home to London on the 18:08 train. When Monday comes around, despite the miles walked and the night slept on the hard ground, I don’t feel worn out. In fact, I feel refreshed, glad that I’d managed to get exactly what I’d like to get out of a weekend, and as is nearly always the case, reassured at just how straightforward it all turned out.