As you drive from Bala along the A4212 to Trawsfynydd, if you look up to the right, you see a scar running along halfway up the hillside, quite distinct, and obviously an old railway line – very obviously, when you see the big viaduct that sits up there. I’ve driven that road forward and back countless times over the past year, and almost every time, look up and think ‘I must go for a walk along that disused railway line’… Well, last weekend I finally did.
The line is a permissive footpath, so it’s OK to walk it, and I parked at the entrance to UPM Tiphill’s forestry site at the top of the hill, and walked from there. The nature of the walk meant it was going to be a there-and-back job, so I thought we’d just see how far we got, how much we were enjoying ourselves, and turn around when seemed sensible to be back in time for tea.
Well, it was absolutely lovely. I got slightly wet feet at the start, wading through a boggy section, but that was compensated for by the riot of butterwort that was clearly loving the conditions. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many in one place. And the other thing that really marked the day was the butterflies. All the way along the walk small heaths were flitting up in front of us; we were accompanied most of the way by a succession of pearl bordered fritillaries and speckled yellow moths, as well as seeing a pair of lovely blues.
And it was great, being up high above the traffic on the road down below, looking down along the valley towards Trawsfynydd and back up the hill to the way we’d come. We crossed over the viaduct, and walked as far as Prysor Castle – nothing more than a mound of rubble, in truth – seeing a blackcap and house martins, yellow pimpernel, water avens and purple vetch; walking through shady woods and along gravel shingle, through cuttings and under one of those bridges that carries nothing to nowhere…
I spent rather a lot of time chasing butterflies, willing them to stay still long enough for photos, while Bert chased imaginary squirrels and hunted for rabbits. We were having so much fun we were rather late home for tea. The delay was caused by butterflies on the line.