August 05, 2013

Wakestock 2013

Sometimes my holidays in north Wales coincide with the Wakestock wakeboarding and music festival.  Wakestock is not as mainstream as the big UK festivals, like Glastonbury, Tea in the Park, or Reading and Leeds, but I’m sure no other festival is set in such a lovely location with easy access to the beaches and the sea.

The Wakestock festival site is between Abersoch (where I stay when I’m in the area) and Pwllheli, and has music stages, camping, food outlets, etc. and the wakeboarding competitions happen in Pwllheli harbour and Glasfryn Parc.  I’m not into water sports, but as the festival site is a short bus ride from where I stay it’s a good opportunity to see some live music.  Especially as I can do it without the need to camp!

2013 was my second Wakestock adventure, and it’s sad to say that it seems to be suffering from the poor economic conditions in the UK as the site was about half the size it was when I went a few years ago.  Still, that didn’t seem stop people having fun and the atmosphere there had a real buzz.

On the Sunday when I went the headline acts were Kids in Glass HousesZane Lowe and Example, both acts certainly drew in the crowds.  I’ve seen Zane Lowe previously and knew that his set would be really high energy and a great performance.  I’d not seen Example live before, so he was a bit more of an unknown.

I only took my small Samsung camera as I didn't want to carry around my big camera and lenses.  So the pictures aren't the best quality, given the low light conditions.  But a friendly security guard did allow me onto the sound stage for a couple of minutes to get photos from above the crowds – it’s occasional luck like that which sometimes you need as a photographer to get photos a bit different from everyone else's.

Next time I go I’d be tempted to take the big camera to get some much higher quality photos.  Wakestock has a safe feeling to it so I wouldn’t be too worried about the risk.  Of course, if the Wakestock organisers read this and want to give me a press pass for next year’s Wakestock I’d definitely take the big camera!

Looking down on the Wakestock site.

Kids in Glass Houses take to the stage. 

Zane Lowe really knows how to get the crowd moving.

Example had a big stage set.

Example on stage.

The Wakestock-ers loved Example.

August 03, 2013

Aberglaslyn Pass Walk

It's been a few weeks since I last blogged some photos - I've been away on holiday in north Wales, and the next few blog entries are about that trip.  North Wales is a beautiful part of the world, with a rugged mountainous terrain which drops to some stunning coastal shorelines; an ideal place for photography.

I've been to north Wales many times and have experienced the rainy climate the mountains bring, but on this holiday I didn't see rain once.  I wanted to walk along the Aberglaslyn Pass whilst I was there and deliberately chose the coolest day of the week.  Unfortunately the cloudy skies don't make for a great backdrop in some of the photos.

My walk started at the National Trust car park at Nantmor (grid reference SH597462 - where you can park for free if you're a member), taking me to Beddgelert and back.

The majority of the walk is alongside the river Glaslyn, which gives great opportunities for some photos of the river and its surroundings. The river is home to some otters, but I didn't spot any on this walk. 

Looking downstream towards the bridge at Nantmor, where the National Trust car park is.
Parts of the river are very rocky, which meant I could get into the river for some long exposure photographs to catch the movement of the water.
The footpath along the river gives easy access to the river, but wearing quality shoes is a must as it's uneven in places.
Close to the car park, a bench shaded by some big trees.

Close by the river is the railway track of the Welsh Highland Railway, a heritage railway that runs between Caernarfon and Porthmadog.  A few years ago I spent a weekend helping to lay track for this railway (just here, I think), and it's great to see the trains in action and hear and smell the steam engines.

The river path crosses the railway track and eventually reaches Beddgelert, a village with a lot of history.

As I reached Beddgelert I was greeted by this hotel, nestled in the greenery of the mountains where RAF pilots were out in Tornados and Hawks practising their flying skills.
A Welsh dragon, spotted outside one of the shops in Beddgelert.
Chatting to the girl who works in this shop I found that her family in Nantmor have seen the otters in the river, and there are plans to introduce beavers to the river too.  The shop sells lovely fudge, I recommend calling in if you visit!

As well as some shops and pubs, Beddgelert is home to the resting place of 'Gelert', the faithful hound of the medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great.  The story, as written on the tombstone reads:

"In the 13th century Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went hunting without Gelert, "The Faithful Hound", who was unaccountably absent.  On Llewelyn's return the truant, stained and smeared with blood, joyfully sprang to meet his master.  The Prince alarmed, hastened to find his son, and saw the infant's cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood.  The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound's side, thinking it had killed his heir. The dog's dying yell was answered by a child's cry.  Llewelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed, but near by lay the body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain.  The Prince filled with remorse is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here".

The Beddgelert tombstone can be found under this tree in the shadow of the Welsh mountains.
The tombstone has text in both English and Welsh.

After  stopping for some lunch at Beddgelert, walking up to the station for the Welsh Highland Railway and onto Gelert's Grave, it was time to walk back along the river.

A map from the Endomondo smartphone app shows the route I walked - a total of 5.15 miles in 4 hours 8 minutes.

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