Happy places

In the last few years of backpacking I’ve discovered there are places where I’ve camped that for some inexplicable reason have made me happy and have drawn me back. Next week I shall be returning to my favourite “happy place”, Maeneira in the Carneddau. I first camped here in 2004. It was my first experimental wild camp after a long lay-off from wild camping. I returned in March 2009 in the company of Alan Sloman, when we had a wonderful evening pitch in glorious sunshine after a marvellous walk from the Ogwen valley over Carnedd Llewelyn.

I was back again in August 2009, although my plans were somewhat altered by the arrival of a school group and the weather. The following year, I returned in April. Despite suffering from the worst migraine I’ve ever had, it was a joyous time as I had resigned from work and was starting a new life as a retiree. Last year I went to the Carneddau in June, accompanied by the usual mixed bag of weather.

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Maeneira slide show

What makes Maeneira a “happy place”? It doesn’t have spectacular views, but it does have a magical feel. There’s a ruined cottage and dry stone walls. Was it a happy place for the family at must have lived there at one time? On a summers evening it is idyllic, but the life must have been harsh in the winter. In the morning it gets the first light and on a couple of occasions I’ve been up to see glorious dawn with a blood red sun.

It changes with the seasons. I’ve been there when it’s been almost overrun with bracken and times when it’s looked barren. Last year in June, it was festooned with wonderful tall purple foxgloves. Sometimes the grass has been nibbled low by sheep. On other occasions the pasture has been rank and scrubby.

A highly unusual feature is the trees that grow on top of huge boulders. Whether they are natural or planted by man, I don’t know but I’ve not seen anything like it anywhere else. The mixture of wild and the hand of man is somehow harmonious here.

From the perspective of wild camping it is almost perfect. A small stream provides fresh water. There’s enough flat grass for several tents. It is sheltered from winds, but not enclosed.

There are many more spectacular places to camp, but for me, Maeneira has a special magic. A blend of homeliness and welcome, tinged with the wild. I love it and I’m glad to be going back soon. If you visit Maeneira, enjoy it, respect it, ensure it doesn’t get spoilt. Happy places should be treasured.

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10 thoughts on “Happy places”

  1. looks super Robin. We all have our camping happy places and this one looks a cracker. Hope the weather is kind next week and the company excellent 🙂

  2. been thinking about this one overnight and for me I guess it would have to be Twmpa in the Black Mountains. Great spot for camping, mooching, great views and right in the middle of a super long or short distance circular walk.

    I do however reserve the right to change my mind 🙂

  3. I agree Robin Maeneria is a special place.
    My happy place is Loch Etchachan in the Cairngorms, when everyone has left the hill it has special remoteness

  4. I thought Maeneira was pretty wonderful too. I totally understand what you mean about it being a “happy” place.

    Another great spot is Sandwood Bay in late June – hardly any night-time with the wonderful soft “plashng” of the surf a few yards away. Miles and miles away from anywhere…

  5. Lovely spot Robin. Can,t beat that experience …the day,s exertion over…..muscles relaxed and recharged…..food on the way…..the exquisite beauty of the surroundings can get to me sometimes…a bitter sweet gig,particularly when solo. Solution …..a drop of single malt. My favourite..Beside Lyn Hywel beneath Rhinog Fach

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