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This morning the wind woke us up before the alarm clock got its chance! Our little refuge is getting a battering from the elements and as I made coffee the rain arrived, drenching the windows, making it difficult to see more than a few metres. A bush on the edge of the property provided a useful wind gauge as I could watch it shivering as each gust hit. I pity any birds planning on nesting right now! Stormy weather no longer seems unusual nowadays, it’s become the norm – a worrying thought.

We’re driving back to Yorkshire today, which might be ‘fun’. The weather forecast has just appeared on the TV news and heavy snow is predicted for the North – and not just limited to high ground. Our plans for doing some sightseeing before we head home may have to be binned…


Packing the car in a howling gale was fun but at least the rain has abated and nothing got blown away. We’re now ready to sally forth from the warmth of our little retreat and brave the elements to indulge in a spot of weather-watching. Our first stop was just outside Beaumaris, where we spent some time observing a pair of vessels fishing close to shore in the Menai Strait, which was at high tide. This isn’t a sight you can normally get so close to. Watching them zig-zag up and down over a small area of the strait as they deployed and collected their dredging nets was really quite interesting. We worked out that they were probably after shellfish, but we’d no idea what. It was only when I looked up this trawler on the internet that the answer was revealed. Mussels.

According to internet records, the Belfast registered Mare Gratia is a 43 metre long, 315 gross tonnes mussel dredger built in Holland in 2003. The boat’s been a regular visitor to Wales for many years.

I’d hoped to have got some more shots of life around the Strait and the suspension bridge but the combination of high tide and low cloud didn’t lend itself to the sort of shots that I had in mind. Ah, well – we’re just going to have to come back another time! Mind you, as we’re planning to have a crack at that Penrhyn Quarry zip-wire in the summer…


We’ve made our way back through the Ogwyn valley to Betws-y-Coed and boy is it wet! It was bad enough around the town itself, but then we headed North up the Conwy valley to get back to the coast and really hit the flooding. This is the B5106 across the valley to Llanrwst! The valley’s effectively been cut in half as this is one of only two few river crossings between Betwys and Conwy.

Here’s another view showing how badly the river Conwy has burst its banks. The actual bridge over the river is that hump in the road in the distance!
Here’s the fields to the left of the last picture. The fields are flooded to a depth of 1-1.2 metres. There’s a hell of a lot of water out there.


We’ve made it home with little incident, despite the weather. Once we left the Conwy valley the weather actually brightened up and for a period we actually had some sunshine! Even so, the countryside on both sides of the border was absolutely sodden. I’ve never seen so many flooded fields.

Bowling along the M62 we were fine until we passed Manchester when the leaden skies opened once again. Leaving the motorway at Ripponden the roads resembled lakes as the water was running off the hills in torrents. The only consolation was that the torrential rain had washed away the dusting of snow the area had received first thing this morning. We didn’t see any, which was a relief.

The pair of us are now relaxing at home in the warm, unpacking our kit and grateful the journey back wasn’t as fraught as it could have been.

Tomorrow I abandon the roads (flooded or otherwise) to get back on the rails as I’m heading back to London for the George Bradshaw address tomorrow evening at the IMechE. It’s always a great excuse to catch-up and gossip with friends and colleagues from the rail industry and media and – more often than not – hear from an interesting speaker. I’m staying overnight at the home of a friend, so my trip will allow me to fill some picture requests from clients and catch up with the latest changes to the capitals rail network, which I’ve neglected recently as there’s been so much happening up in the North. At least the weather in my old home’s looking better than it has been here in the North recently so the camera should be kept busy. No doubt there’ll also be time for a rolling blog…