The Rhyd Ddu Effect

My heart leaps up - Moel Hebog from across Llyn Cwellyn
I have often wondered how certain places can inspire particular emotions in me, especially here in Snowdonia where every valley has its own atmosphere, every mountain its own personality. I’m almost certain these emotions are mental constructs; born out of the conditioning I have been subject to from the time I was conscious enough to form memories. Or is it that there is something inherent in these places that inspires something within me that I don’t understand? Is there a deep rooted connection that generations of modernity has tried, but failed, to breed out of me? Either way, the result is the same and regardless of the atmospheric conditions, which also play a large part in how a place feels, every mountain range I walk or climb on speaks to me in a very different way.

In Ogwen and on its mountains I feel primeval, like a caveman fuelled by instinct, bereft of reason, and in the wild Rhinogydd even more so, positively troglodytic in fact!

Conversely, in Nant Gwynant I become kind, tender and romantic, in much the same way I do when in certain Lakeland valleys. I imagine a little homestead and a simple life of tending the land and my flock with an earthy, beautiful woman and our children, wishing nothing more than to spend my forever there.

On Snowdon, in her cwms or on her sky-slung ridges I bear witness to supreme majesty, knowing humility and exaltation all at once. No other mountain in Britain –and I have climbed one or two- has come close to giving me a similar experience, that which borders on the religious.

Above are just a few examples of what I‘m on about, but there are many more.

Lately, and with a baffling frequency, I have been drawn to an area so unique in ‘feel’ that to me it has become almost drug-like. I just can’t keep away. Its epicentre is Rhyd Ddu, a sleepy village nestling beneath Snowdon’s quiet western defences. There is a duality in the dimensions of this place, or more correctly the feeling it engenders in me. In the valley, this feeling, which I will describe anon, extends in a narrower compass than it does when on the mountains which surround it. As long as I can see Rhyd Ddu I can maintain an emotion peculiar to this ‘place’.

For instance, I don’t feel this particular way in Betws Garmon, Beddgelert or beyond the pass of Drws y Coed, but I do on Moel Eilio, Moel Hebog, Mynydd Mawr or even Snowdon herself. It’s a bit of a ‘head scratcher’ but rather than ponder too much I just immerse myself in the landscape, listen intently and enjoy the places it unlocks within me.

So how does the ‘Rhyd Ddu Effect’ manifest itself? Well, for a start it makes me feel very peaceful and remote from worldly woes, or on a bad day it at very least dulls their effect on my psyche. Rhyd Ddu feels remote; forgotten but enchanted, it is redolent of magic and a folklore that is rich beyond almost any other area of Britain. And indeed magic is the prevalent law there, or so it seems to me. Sit beside Llyn y Dywarchen of an evening as the last rays illuminate Snowdon and tell me it’s not so, or ride the wild wind on Mynydd Drws y Coed one stormy day. In some places, spirits have flown…here, they are flying still. They are playful but not malicious, and with a keen ear and open mind you might hear them too. They like to inspire.

For those of you with more earthbound sensibilities, stately mountains, relative solitude and scenery that makes even the coldest heart ache should be enough reason to encourage you to sample the ‘Rhyd Ddu Effect’…just don’t tell everyone about it!
The Nantlle Ridge

Llyn Dywarchen

On Heartbreak Ridge

The coming of a Snowdonian Summer

Weather - Snowdonia


Wish you were here...

On Mynydd Drws y Coed


~ by nicklivesey on May 15, 2014.

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