With all of the hot weather we were having in June, I was really looking forward to a nice summer camping trip to Wales where I could enjoy the summer weather and the mountains, swim in mountain lakes, and take night shot of the stars. Unfortunately the British weather didn’t cooperate, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying a great camping trip.
The original plan for the trip was to leave London on the Friday night and stay in a campsite on the way to Wales, then continue to Snowdonia on the Saturday, where we would climb a mountain and camp. Then I saw an instagram post of Three Cliffs Bay in south Wales where the waves were glowing with bioluminescent plankton in the water. I did some research on what conditions are need to be able to see the plankton, and decided it was worth visiting the bay and camping there on the Friday, on the chance that we might be able to see something.
When we left London the weather was really hot and sunny, but by the time we crossed the Severn we were driving through heavy rain, which had mostly died down by the time we reached Three Cliffs Bay.
The walk from the the car to the bay was very dark and we couldn’t see the sea, even when we were right above it. I had to rely on the map/gps on my phone to keep track of our location and find our way to where I thought we’d be able to camp. While walking my friend spotted a faint green light in the long grass that turned out the be a glow worm. I was really surprised as I didn’t even know we had glow worms in the UK. As we continued walking we kept spotting more glow worms which made the hiking experience magical.
After climbing down and back up some big sand dunes, we reached the location where I’d planned to camp, and found a good spot to setup the tent.
We woke to some dull weather, but a great view of the bay. I cooked some bacon for breakfast before we packed up and went explored the area more and took some photos.
We walked over more sand dunes and past lots of wild flowers and overgrown ferns to a castle ruin up on the hill.
After out wanderings, we headed up to Snowdonia and stopped at a few places on the was, including Harlech Castle.
The drive from the south coast was a little longer than I expected, which made me feel like we were packing the trip a little too tight and we probably could have split it into two separate trips. But I think all the driving was worthwhile in the end.
We arrived at the bottom of Cadair Idris around 6pm, and headed straight up the mountain. It was a steep and tiring hike, with a little too many steps, but we made it to the lake below the summit after about 1.5 hours. The summit ridge forms a horseshoe shape around the lake and it’s quite an amazing view on a clear day. Unfortunately the low cloud cover blocked the view for most of the evening.
With all of the rain, the ground was very wet and quite marshy in places. After a bit of searching, we found one of the few spots of ground that was mostly flat and wasn’t too wet. Once we has the tent up, I made a start on dinner – gnocchi with bacon and a few herbs. It feels a little fancy for a wild camping meal, but it was very easy to make and tasted great after the hike up the mountain.
The next morning the rain seemed to be coming down heavy, and I think had been for a lot of the night. The ground where we pitched our tent was no longer as dry as it was; it had become very soggy and the water had started to seep though the tent to make the camping mats wet.
We were both a little too cold to want to get up and pack away in the rain, so we waited for a gap, which eventually came, though it was short lived. When we finally made it out of the tent, the cloud had lifted enough to be able to see the lake, though we still couldn’t see the top of Cadair Idris. But it was still an amazing view to wake up to.
With the cold and wet weather, I decided to abandon my plan to swim in the mountain lake, so we headed down the mountain as the rain started again.
As we got further down the mountain, I had warmed up a lot and began to regret not swimming in the lake as I was so warm that a dip in cold water sounded like a great idea. So once we were down the mountain, we changed into swimming clothes and took a dip in the stream. The water was very cold, and I stumbled around a lot while trying to walk on the stones, but the water felt great and it made me think that I should try to include a wild swim into more of these weekend adventures.