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Leonard Cohen Walking Weekend, or Isn't It A Long Way Down?

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:57 am
by Tim
*re-edited this post to show the weekend has now been scheduled for Thursday 10th September to Monday 14th of September, 2009. Also note that we will probably be using our own cars rather than a minibus, due to not finding a suitable local minibus company when we visited this year. See Diane's post later in this thread on the 25th of November.*

Hi Folks,

We propose a Leonard Cohen Hike in North Wales, over a long weekend from a Thursday to Monday

Thursday

We will stay in Barmouth (Welsh name Abermaw), and we (Diane and Tim) will meet you at Barmouth train station, which is easily reached from Birmingham and Manchester Airports (and others). We will have hired a minibus locally, for the duration of the long weekend.

For Birmingham Airport, take the free Air-Rail link bus from the airport terminal to the station:

Based on the current time table, the first connecting train leaves Birmingham International Station at 8.04 and arrives at Barmouth at 11.52 (change at Birmingham New Street and Machynlleth), and the last train leaves Birmingham International Station at 14.05 and arrives at Barmouth at 17.52 (changes once at Birmingham New Street).

NOTE This and all other train times are based on the 2007/08 Winter timetable. The Summer 2009 Timetable (valid from 18th May to early December) is yet to be published. Since you can only book train tickets up to 3 months in advance, you're advised to book from mid-June onwards, by which time the summer timetable will have been published - but these train times should give you a good indication of how much time you'll need to allow, and which flights you can connect with. For both Manchester and Birmingham airports, a return ticket currently costs approximately GBP45 - hopefully this will not have increased too much by next year! Websites for booking rail tickets include qjump.co.uk and nationalrail.co.uk.

For Manchester Airport:

Based on the current timetable, the first connecting train leaves Manchester Airport at 9.07 and arrives at 13.48 (change at Manchester Piccadilly and Shrewsbury), and the last train leaves at 13.07 and arrives at Barmouth at 17.52.


Barmouth - Welsh name Abermaw - is a characterful town on the estuary of the River Mawddach and Cardigan Bay, where the mountains of Snowdonia sweep down to the sea. It has a wonderful wooden railway bridge, spanning the estuary, and miles of sandy beaches.

Railway bridge:
Image

Here's an aerial view:
Image

There are a number of B&Bs along Marine Parade, the sea front, and there will follow a selection, from which people can make their own bookings. Prices are from £25.00 per night pp.

Friday

A walk up Cadair Idris. Cadair Idris means Chair of Idris, a Welsh giant, so-called because the mountain resembles a giant chair. We walk from Barmouth, to the summit (2930ft). The popular Welsh anthem Men of Harlech includes the line, "Tongues of fire on Idris flaring". There are numerous legends about Cadair Idris. Some nearby lakes are supposed to be bottomless, and anyone who sleeps on its slopes will awaken either a madman or a poet.

Cadair Idris:

Image

Saturday

A drive in the minibus to Llanberis and a walk up Snowdon - Welsh name Yr Wydffa - the highest mountain in Britain south of the Scottish Highlands 3,560 ft.

Snowdon from Llyn Llydaw:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Snow ... Llydaw.jpg

Sunday

This day is open, we will have taken a vote on what to do by then. We can climb another mountain, or take a train ride on one of the narrow guage railways. Or visit any of a number of attractions, such as a copper mine, slate museum, adventure park where instructors teach you to climb ropes, Portmeiron, an amazing Italianite village, The Centre for Alternative technolgy at Machynlleth, old abbeys and castles, go-carting, etc.

Monday

Return to your airport.

For Birmingham, the first train leaves Barmouth station at 6.46(!) and arrives at Birmingham International station at 10.39. The last train leaves at 16.50 and arrives at Birmingham International station at 20.39.

For Manchester, the first train leaves Barmouth station at 6.46 and arrives at Manchester Airport station at 11.11. The last train leaves at 14.52 and arrives at Manchester Airport station at 19.52.


If you don't wish to do the mountain walks, you are still welcome to join us. There is a train to the summit of Snowdon if you want to do that on the Snowdon day, and Barmouth is a lovely place to hang out if you just want a bit of peace.

Approximate estimated cost for B&B: GBP25+/night

Estimated cost for minibus pp: GBP35-70 depending on numbers

We will have more information on both figures when we visit Barmouth in the Spring to check things out.

More info:

http://www.britainexpress.com/countryside/Snowdonia.htm

http://www.barmouth.org.uk/


Definites so far:

Tim
Diane
Henning
Eric (Birdon)

other persons who have expressed an interest:

Willy and Wijbe
Jarkko and Eija
Wens

If anyone is interested in coming along, please let us both know, by private message here or email (or carrier pigeon or other preferred means of communication) - also please get in touch if you have any questions.

cheers

Tim (and Diane)

Re: Leonard Cohen Walking Weekend, or Isn't It A Long Way Down?

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 11:18 am
by Henning
That sounds fantastic, Tim and Diane. I am looking forward to it.

Re: Leonard Cohen Walking Weekend, or Isn't It A Long Way Down?

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:02 pm
by Diane
Somebody asked about difficulty of the mountain climbs. We will take the "easiest" routes up both mountains; The Pony Path up Cadair, and The Llanberis Path up Snowdon. You will have to be reasonably fit, but we will go at the pace of the slowest persons, and take our time. Each day will entail about five or six hours of walking, moderately strenuous. Only some short sections are quite steep. You have all summer to prepare. As I read somewhere, the mountains of Snowdonia are barely bunions on a Himalayan foothill! The beautiful scenery from both these mountains, and the shared experience of the walks, will be wonderful. I have not climbed either for a few years, and Tim and I have decided to do a dummy run in March, so we know exactly where we are going. Of course, weather is unpredicatable, and the summits might be covered in clouds. And there is the chance the weather might prohibit the climb(s) altogether. We will have bad weather stand-by activities in mind in case of this.

So, to quote Edward Abbey, "get off your foam rubber backsides, stand up straight like men! like women! like human beings! and walk -- walk -- WALK upon our sweet and blessed land!"

You'll need the usual mountain gear - good socks and walking boots, spare fleeces because it will get cold on top, waterproofs.

Re: Leonard Cohen Walking Weekend, or Isn't It A Long Way Down?

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 5:40 pm
by damellon
Diane wrote:Somebody asked about difficulty of the mountain climbs. We will take the "easiest" routes up both mountains; The Pony Path up Cadair, and The Llanberis Path up Snowdon. You will have to be reasonably fit, but we will go at the pace of the slowest persons, and take our time. Each day will entail about five or six hours of walking, moderately strenuous. Only some short sections are quite steep. You have all summer to prepare. As I read somewhere, the mountains of Snowdonia are barely bunions on a Himalayan foothill! The beautiful scenery from both these mountains, and the shared experience of the walks, will be wonderful. I have not climbed either for a few years, and Tim and I have decided to do a dummy run in March, so we know exactly where we are going. Of course, weather is unpredicatable, and the summits might be covered in clouds. And there is the chance the weather might prohibit the climb(s) altogether. We will have bad weather stand-by activities in mind in case of this.

So, to quote Edward Abbey, "get off your foam rubber backsides, stand up straight like men! like women! like human beings! and walk -- walk -- WALK upon our sweet and blessed land!"

You'll need the usual mountain gear - good socks and walking boots, spare fleeces because it will get cold on top, waterproofs.
Diane - DON'T put me on your list for this one!! I'm cold and exhausted just reading about it and my bunions are not to be sniffed at. Terms like 'easiest' and 'slowest' are seductive until they are followed by 'strenuous' 'steep' and 'march'. However, in the best tradition of LC meet-ups, I would like to apply for the position of Hospitality Suite co-ordinator. I think I will be just about fit enough (I have all summer to prepare) for this demanding role, based either at the mountain-foot base camp (if the sun is shining) or the warmest hostelry in town. I can offer basic First Aid, the shared experience of a soothing foot-rub and a fluency in semaphore. I would bring my own flags and the usual bottom-of-the-mountain gear. Has Margaret beaten me to it?
Keep me on all your other lists, until I see how strenuous they are.

Re: Leonard Cohen Walking Weekend, or Isn't It A Long Way Down?

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:11 pm
by Christine
T&D, I think I can make this. Dam, I had higher hopes for us this time. Instead of skiing in the lodge drinking rumplemintz and cream de cacao, I thought we might manage this. Must've been those seductive words because the reality is that 'going at the pace of the slowest persons,' may very well mean not going anywhere at all. But could we not just have a quick sleep on Cadair Idris? Just think, we could wake up improved with almost no effort at all.

Diane, I have no confidence in climbing anything that looks like Damellon's feet. I've seen them. But I am applying for a spot in the flag dance troupe.

Re: Leonard Cohen Walking Weekend, or Isn't It A Long Way Down?

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:38 pm
by margaret
As much as I'd like to meet up with you walkers, I seriously don't think my feet or my legs are up to the task. I did some walking in Snowdonia a long time ago in my distant youth.

I could join you one day in Llanberis, an easy drive from here,and take the mountain railway up to the top!
Or maybe I could do a little research on alternative short walks for softies 8)

See you in Hospitality Damellon!

Re: Leonard Cohen Walking Weekend, or Isn't It A Long Way Down?

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:55 pm
by Byron
The driver of the mini-bus will be one of the walkers, I presume. This will mean that a seat is not wasted. The driver must hold the appropriate driving licence depending on how many passengers are being carried. I mention this because you'll need to be within the law.

It might mean that you will have to pay for a driver as well. This will increase the cost considerably.

Barmouth is a lovely little town.

Re: Leonard Cohen Walking Weekend, or Isn't It A Long Way Down?

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 8:07 pm
by Paula
As Dedrie has baggesed (?) the job of ground control I am more than happy to ensure she does the job correctly and keep her company.

Is there a Stanneh Chair lift in operation?

Actually I feel quite confident I could do the climb but I think the blindfold might hold me back.

And Tim's title of isn't is a long way down isn't helping :lol:

I have a fear of heights and a complusion to jump if I am up high. Weird eh!

Re: Leonard Cohen Walking Weekend, or Isn't It A Long Way Down?

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 9:29 pm
by Diane
damellon wrote:DON'T
OK!! Calm down, dear. You won't mistakenly get left upon the list and then be obliged to climb. Your postition as foot masseuse at the foot of the mountain, and with a plethora of assistants it seems, will be much appreciated by all.

Nice one, Christine and Paula!! Great! I have slept on Cadair Idris. Make of that what you will. I'm not a poet. Yes, there is a Stannah Stairlift - it's rather euphemistically called Snowdon Mountain Railway. Don't worry, we won't let you jump, Paula. Think of all the forms we'd have to fill in afterwards.

Be great to see you Margaret (and Byron?). As you have volunteered, Margaret, I will send you a link I have somewhere, to some less demanding walks in the area. All softies report to Margaret!

Byron, you can drive a minibus up to 17 persons on a car licence, unless you are charging people. Tim will be doing the driving. I will also put my name down, as it is a good idea to have a driver in reserve. But I am not used to driving large vehicles, so if anyone else wants to volunteer that's fine by me. If we are more than 17 people (unlikely) we will have to re-think. It might then be cheaper/easier to hire transport as and when we need it. Or, those of us who bring our cars there could drive also. Anyhow, we'll sort it all out once we know numbers. It will be handy if people make their minds up for sure as to whether you are coming by July.

Deirdre and Christine, there will be no seduction allowed on these walks - you might fall over and hurt yourself. You can wait 'til we get back to Barmouth:
One of Barmouth's star attractions in recent years has been the Arousal Cafe. Originally the 'Carousal Cafe', the letter C was stolen soon after the sign was put up. The owner replaced the C numerous times, only to find it stolen again. He has since ceased his attempts to fix the sign.

Re: Leonard Cohen Walking Weekend, or Isn't It A Long Way Down?

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:14 pm
by Byron
Perhaps you could hire a hot-air balloon as well? Then those people who come from East or West can wait and see which way the wind blows. Hop on board. Take some wonderful photos. Be carried aloft to the summits. And as an added bonus, be flown home by the prevailing winds. Eire or the Continent.
All aboard the skylark!!

Re: Leonard Cohen Walking Weekend, or Isn't It A Long Way Down?

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:59 pm
by Paula
Can I just say seven and a half hours to Wales from I am !!!!

Re: Leonard Cohen Walking Weekend, or Isn't It A Long Way Down?

Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:01 am
by damellon
I admit that the title and terrifying photographs set my gammy knee twitching, and my mind was transfixed by the 'easy' v 'life-threatening', 'slow' v 'would you get a move on or we'll never get down by nightfall' to such an extent, that I failed to consider the range (not mountains) of opportunities that might be available to cocktail-drinking non-climbers. Christine, I think your idea - But could we not just have a quick sleep on Cadair Idris? Just think, we could wake up improved with almost no effort at all. is a splendid one. I can't be alone in having on my list of things-to-do-before-I-die, to awaken a poet. My poet of choice is unlikely to be napping on Cadair Idris, but I'll take pot luck (while Paula mans the Rescue Station). Patrick Kavanagh, referring to Ireland, said that the standing army of poets never fell below 3000. I don't think he meant above sea level. Maybe the same applies to Wales. In a land where the train timetable for summer runs from May to December, anything's possible. Will the dummy run be in Autumn, Winter or Spring? And who are these fiery-tongued Men of Harlech?

Re: Leonard Cohen Walking Weekend, or Isn't It A Long Way Down?

Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:01 am
by Diane
Helen from Ireland is coming! And another couple of people are thinking about it. Tim, I think this idea is gonna work! It was Henning's idea in the first place - Henning you're so clever! I'll bring a guitar for you to serenade us in the evenings.

I know, Paula. It will take me three and a half hours to drive to Barmouth, and I live in Wales! It's a bit of a windy route to get there.
damellon wrote:I can't be alone in having on my list of things-to-do-before-I-die, to awaken a poet.
Gasp. Oh, Deirdre, I also want to awaken a poet before I die. Alas, I fear it will never happen.

Harlech is to the North of Barmouth, and has an impressive castle.
FYI From Wiki:
"Men of Harlech" is a song and military march which is traditionally said to describe events during the seven year long siege of Harlech Castle between 1461 and 1468. The garrison held out in what is the longest known siege in the history of the British Isles. Now some associate the song with the earlier shorter siege of Harlech Castle around 1408, which pitted the forces of Owain Glyndŵr against the future Henry V of England.

"Men of Harlech" is sometimes mistaken for the national anthem of Wales. This is incorrect; the Welsh anthem is "Hen Wlad fy Nhadau" ("Land of my Fathers"). Still, the song occupies an important place in Welsh national culture. It is often the regimental march of regiments historically associated with Wales. The Royal Regiment of Wales, now the Royal Welsh (UK), the Royal Canadian Hussars (Montreal) and the Governor General's Horse Guards, Canadian Forces are three examples.

The music was first published in 1784 as March of the Men of Harlech in Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards. It first appeared with lyrics in "Gems of Welsh Melody," edited by the Welsh poet, John Owen in 1860. The Welsh lyrics are by the bard John Jones (Talhaiarn), and the English lyrics by W.H. Baker. Since then, many different versions of the English lyrics have appeared.

English version by John Guard

Verse 1

Tongues of fire on Idris flaring,
News of foemen near declaring,
To heroic deeds of daring,
Call you, Harlech men.
Groans of wounded peasants dying,
Wails of wives and children flying,
For the distant succour crying,
Call you, Harlech Men.
Shall the voice of wailing,
Now be an unavailing,
You to rouse, who never yet
In battle's hour were failing?
This our answer, crowds down pouring,
Swift as winter torrents roaring.
Not in vain the voice imploring
Calls on Harlech men.

Verse 2

Loud the martial pipes are sounding,
Every manly heart is bounding,
As our trusted chief surrounding,
March we, Harlech men.
Short the sleep the foe is taking;
Ere the morrow's morn is breaking,
They shall have a rude awakening,
Roused by Harlech Men.
Mothers, cease your weeping,
Calm may be your sleeping,
You and yours in safety now,
The Harlech men are keeping.
Ere the sun is high in heaven,
They you fear, by panic riven,
Shall, like frightened sheep, be driven,
Far, by Harlech men.


The song gained international recognition when it was featured prominently in the film Zulu, although the version of lyrics sung in it were written especially for the film.

http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=TjvKZHJeayg

Re: Leonard Cohen Walking Weekend, or Isn't It A Long Way Down?

Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:31 am
by Paula
Anyone not from Britain will think England Scotland, Ireland and Wales are always fighting each other. For a small country we don't 'arf squabble

Re: Leonard Cohen Walking Weekend, or Isn't It A Long Way Down?

Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 2:04 am
by Sheila
Diane & Tim,
You can put my name on the list. Sounds like it could be a great couple of days. Look forward to seeing a bit of the Welsh countryside - both the highs and the lows.
Sheila