Sunday, 26 February 2012

Walk: Cadair Idris West Ridge

A cracking walk!  One of the first long walks of the year, now the days are drawing out again.  This walk took me from Penmaenpool to Ty Nant, then up the Pony Path to the saddle.  Instead of turning left for Cadair Idris, instead turned right and followed the west ridge over Tyrrau Mawr.

Despite the reasonable weather forecast, I knew there was a high chance of mist along the way, but this broke and drifted away before I reached the ridge, only to reform once I'd come back down.

Total Distance roughly fifteen miles (feet tell me more, but that might just be due to fitness slipping over the winter).

Pictures below:

A very early start, I left Penmaenpool the moment I had light enough to see the ground.  First pause above the woods.  This shot is looking across the Mawddach towards Diffwys, presently in cloud.  The ground below me was cleared and replanted a good few years ago and the trees are beginning to obscure the view.

Looking towards Y Garn, which is also across the river from my viewpoint.  I've deliberately picked a long walk in, this ensures all my muscles are properly warmed through before the real climbing begins!

Mist filled valley, usually a sign of a good day to come.  For me, a good sign!

Looking towards Cadair's west ridge from Llyn Gwernan.  The morning mist is breaking up nicely for me.  Summit of Tyrrau Mawr poking through the mist to the right.

Picturesque road bridge over the river at Ty Nant.  Now the real uphill starts!

Looking inland while heading up the Pony Path.  The lake is Llyn Gwernan.

The broad west ridge leading towards Tyrrau Mawr.  The bump ahead is called Carnedd Lwyd.  Though the north face of this ridge has some impressive cliffs, there is little or no exposure anywhere along the route.

Looking east along the ridge towards Cyfrwy, with Pen-y-Gadair (summit of Cadair Idris) peeping shyly over its shoulder.

Looking at Llyn Gwernan from Tyrrau Mawr.  The ridge is now completely clear of cloud and mist.

Looking over Llynnau Cregennen and toward Barmouth from Tyrrau Mawr.  Mist still shrouds the distant Lleyn Peninsular.

Looking ahead to my next objectives: Twll yr Ogof (left) and Braich Ddu (right).  There's a good bit of downhill, followed by a punishing (ie, steep) ascent of Twll yr Ogof.  Shouldn't complain: I'm a volunteer!

Phew!  Summit of Twll yr Ogof, which is surprisingly rounded after the steepness of the ascent.  Looking back along the ridge towards Cadair Idris.

Looking towards Craig yr Aderyn/Birds' Rock in the Dysynni valley.  Note the mist below me.  Later, this will help form clouds that'll cover this ridge.

Looking ahead along the rest of my ridge walk.  The pile of rocks just ahead is a likely looking lunch spot.  I know it's only 10.30 am, but I did have a very early breakfast!

On Braich Ddu, looking back along my route.  The small bump on the ridge above the strip of white quartz was where I ate lunch.  So far, I've had nothing but skylarks for company, often the way on this comparatively unfrequented corner of the Cadair range.

Looking down directly on Barmouth and its railway bridge over the river from Braich Ddu.  Just a downhill, then the long walk back to Penmaenpool.

Cloud rolling over the west ridge.  As you can see, I'm safely back in the valley :o)

Though much of my return route was along quiet back lanes, there were some interludes of footpath.  My route took me through this delightful wood.

Well, that was a long day, but a very satisfying day.  First long walk of the year and great views from height.  Until the next walk, be well all.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Extract from Markan Sword - WIP

The following sample is from my current work-in-progress, Markan Sword.


Teven had a small, but select, number of soldiers loyal to him personally.  He had his ways of earning their loyalty, which included extortion, bullying, threats and blackmail.  These men were always discreet and very effective.

Right now, three of them played cards against the guardsmen in charge of the cells.  And playing very badly indeed.

Soldier Lemble, one of Teven's men, had chosen soldiery over mutilation after being caught cheating at cards.  The man's hands were quick, his cheating almost impossible to see.  Lemble had continued his previous career while soldiering, until Teven had found out.

Lemble's instructions had been specific: seek and befriend the senior guard working afternoons.  He'd been given a lot of information, such as the target's name - Fulson - and even the card games the three duty guards liked to play.

And, after a couple of morning ales, passing time before the inconvenience of working afternoons, Lemble had thrown down his challenge.  The three of them against him and two mates, at cards, winner takes all.  Fulson, with his morning ale already having a slight effect, probably thanks to the neat alcohol Lemble had used to "fortify" the man's drink, accepted the challenge.

Even so, in Lemble's view, Teven's instructions seemed strange.  He and his companions must lose the challenge, make it look convincing, and offer to stand the shift for the guardsmen.

'Ranva's breath, but they were soldiers, not guards!

Lemble had made it convincing.  All six sat around the lone table, four light-crystal lanterns in the center, and gambled.  Coins passed to and fro, laughter filled the small room.

The corridor beyond led to the cells.

Two of the guardsmen were eliminated from the card school first, wild cards popping up at random, slipped into the deck by Lemble's quick hands.  Then two of the soldiers surrendered all their coin.

Now just Lemble and Fulson remained.

"You'll be losing next month's money," chortled one of the guards, a skinny beanpole with a scraggly mustache.  Called Dwilt, he had been the first out.

Lemble grinned.  When you finally find out what we're about, you'll be losing more than that, chum.  Aloud, he said: "All in from me."

Grinning, Fulson pushed an equal quantity of coins into the middle.

Lemble glanced at his cards.  Not a single named card, thankfully no wild card (though because they were all up his sleeve, thankfully was perhaps the wrong word), but a good run of six, seven and eight, if of different suits.  A good flush, but that would be beaten by...

"Nine, ten and eleven of Trades," chortled Fulson, reaching out for the coin.

Lemble swore.  "Another round," he said.  "Another."

"You've not got the money!"  Fulson shook his head.

"All right," said Lemble, "here's the deal.  If I win, we three get all our money back and walk away; if we lose, you can disappear the rest of the day and we stand your shift here."

The guardsmen were instantly wary.

"That would be irregular," said Dwilt, still young enough to believe in rules and regulations.

"If anything went wrong, we'd be in deep trouble," said Alew, almost as bad a card player as Dwilt.

Lemble shrugged and exchanged looks with his fellow soldiers.  "What could go wrong?"  he asked.  "You've only got one prisoner."

"Don't offer them that," protested Clyfe, as arranged.  "I bloody hate afternoons.  Rather work nights."

"I want my money back," said Lemble.  "And you two owe me favors anyway."  He continued to shuffle the cards and stared at Fulson.  "What do you say, Fulson?  A free afternoon, or stuck in this stinking dinge-hole?"

The guards held a muttered conversation.  Unsurprisingly, Dwilt proved the most reluctant, but the other two slowly won him around.

Lemble watched, shuffling the pack over and over.

Fulson eventually turned back.  "All right, we accept.  If you lose, we keep your money and you stand our shift."

Lemble winked.  "That's the deal."

"Cheers Lemble," muttered Clyfe, the sarcasm again prearranged.

Lemble dealt quickly.  He had no idea what cards Fulson received, it didn't matter.  He dealt himself an eliminating wild card, the Zeutian of Wands.

The guards would get their free afternoon.

Moments later, Fulson chortled in triumphant pleasure.  Lemble smiled and congratulated the man warmly.  Clyfe looked like he wanted to punch the card sharp.

"Right," said the winner, still grinning from ear to ear.  "We're off then."

Lemble and his companions waited until the guardsmen had left before he turned to the youngest.

"Go get the boss, Vin."

Vin left, returning in minutes.

With Teven.  "Any problems?"

"As hard as pinching choca off a sylph," replied Lemble, "but we managed it in the end."

A smile ghosted across Teven's face.  "So I see.  Wait here, the three of you.  I've arranged witnesses on the far side of the city, so you don't get caught up in the lies those three are bound to spread when they're caught, but wait for me before you leave."

"Will do, Boss," replied Lemble and passed the keys over.

Teven took the keys and one of the light-crystal lanterns.  He ambled along the corridor until he reached the only locked cell.  Unlocking the door, he stepped inside with lantern held high.

These cells were not meant to be comfortable, but a heap of blankets in one corner must hold Yaan.  A smell from the slop-bucket hung in the air, but Teven paid that no mind.  The blankets moved and the prisoner sat up.

Teven waited for the man's eyes to adjust to the light.

"What do you want?"  demanded Yaan.

"I'm your guardian angel," promised Teven.  At least the prisoner did not sound broken.

"You're one of them, General Teven," replied Yaan.  "Certainly unworthy of any trust."

"Really?  After all the arrangements I made to free you?  I hope your hand gets better soon; I've even arranged for a touch-healer to sort it out for you."

"How do you know about that?"

"I have spies in low places everywhere."

Yaan grunted.

"I met with some, ah, colleagues of yours last night," continued Teven.  "Seems they really, really want you dead.  You ought to be more careful who you choose for friends."

"They believe I betrayed them?"

Teven smiled.  "They believe you might, sooner rather than later and, despite all you've done for them, they would rather see you dead than take the risk."

"I can put them right about that," said Yaan.

"So glad to hear it."  Teven smiled.  "Well, I meant what I said; you're free to go.  You've got about three hours before the farmers start to leave the city and seven hours before the guards are due to change in here.  Take the chance, Yaan."

"How can I trust you?"

Teven laughed.  "Perhaps you can't.  Perhaps this is a trick.  Stay, if you wish."

"No."  Yaan stood and extended his left hand.  "Thank you.  And if there is anything I can do for you, let me know."

Teven looked apologetic.  "Actually," he said, "there is something you can do for me."

Yaan waited.  "I hope it won't take you an hour to tell me," he grumped.

Teven's smile returned.  "About three minutes.  Would you like to sit for a few moments?  I'll explain what you can do for me.  In Turivkan's name, of course."


Teven smiled to himself after attending Dervra's evening conference.  Captain Shais was understandably incensed by his prisoner's escape, and threatening dire consequences for his erring guardsmen.

Teven had done something there, so he might end up with three more spies and another organization infiltrated.

He had told Dervra nothing.  No mention of a brand new spy placed high in the rebel camp, and one who mistrusted his former companions.  A man who believed those fellow rebels wanted him dead and that Teven was now his only protector.

But Teven would decide what, if anything, he passed on.

He had always played every side, waiting until it became clear which would prevail.  Every side believed he stood with them.

Teven had betrayed Prefect Adelbard, but also arranged escape for his children.  One of the sylphs had been foolish enough to return to the palace, though that small problem was quickly - and fatally for the sylph - resolved.

Yet Teven had betrayed the location of Adelbard's descendants, though not to Dervra.

And now the game grew interesting again.

Dervra looked and sounded like a man preparing to move on.  Perhaps he was one of the Gifted, or some sort of sorcerer, but Teven remained unconvinced.  And to claim to be one of the Ten was nothing short of suicidal, if such a gang of humans truly existed.

For now, Teven backed every side, as he always had, and waited to see what might happen.  If Dervra stiffened, Teven would loyally hand the rebels to him; if not, then Teven would back the rebels against Dervra.

Until one or the other side moved, Teven remained safe - and uncommitted.


Saturday, 18 February 2012

A Walk to Clogwyn Cyrau (Gwydyr Forest)

The appalling weather forecast for this morning turned out to be correct.  I laid low in the car for a couple of hours waiting for the promised break in the rain.  Thankfully, this is a short if steep walk, so time was not an issue!

Clogwyn Cyrau overlooks Betws-y-Coed and despite growing trees, is still a good viewpoint for the village.  Pictures below:

Plenty of rain means plenty of water in the rivers; here is the Afon Llugwy in excited mood.  There are times when I've seen the rock in the middle of the picture covered, but I still would not have enjoyed a swim in this today!

Snowdrops, usually the first sign of the approaching Spring.  I can hardly wait!!

Betws-y-Coed and the upper Conwy Valley from Clogwyn Cyrau.  I used to be able to look west and see the peaks of northern Snowdonia, but the trees have all but obscured that view.

 Zoomed in on Betws.

Looking across the Conwy Valley.

A short yet enjoyable walk, making the most of the window in the weather.

Until the next walk, be well all.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

A Walk Around Llyn Dinas

Today's very short walk around Llyn Dinas was intended to keep me busy until the promised break in the cloud.  By one o'clock this afternoon, I gave up waiting for it and went to the pub :-)

A chilly start to the morning, though perhaps I should have just done a longer walk instead, but I did enoy the short round of this glacial lake.

Pictures below:

 A view of the falls on Afon Goch, nicely framed by a trio of handy trees.

Llyn Dinas in a reflective mood.

And still looking moody a little further on.  The higher peaks are all hidden in the cloud.

Looking down on Llyn Dinas from the only rise on the path.  Better than nothing I suppose!  What appears to be ripples on the lake surface are in fact patches of ice.

Not so much to offer this week, but hopefully there'll be the chance of a better walk next week.

Until then, be well all.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Writing Update

After almost titling the post "Weekly Writing Update", I looked back and realised "monthly" might be a more accurate description!

Gifted Hunter is now live on Smashwords and Amazon Kindle.  I'm very pleased with the way this novella turned out and I hope it becomes as popular is its predecessor, Gifted Apprentice.

Work on Markan Sword is progressing well and now has the added benefit of my undivided attention during my daily writing periods!  Ten full chapters are down on word processor and I'm getting a good 2-3 thousand words written each day.  I'm hoping to have this out by summer's end, but don't quote me!

I'm also re-reading the earlier books, making slight amendments to sentences and picking up typos the editing process overlooked.  There's always something that slips through the net...  Amended versions, with updated links lists, will go out as each edit is completed.

That's all for now; time to put my nose back onto the (highly enjoyable) writing grindstone.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Friday, 3 February 2012

Cover Art for "Gifted Hunter"

As promised, here is the cover art for Gifted Hunter.  As always, Joleene has done a great job; thank you!

Over the next 2-3 days, I'll upload to Amazon (should already be available on Smashwords), and update the links on this blog and my webpage.

All comments are welcome!