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View down to Llyn Nantlle Uchaf (Lake Nantlle), Snowdonia, North Wales

Sometimes you just need to know when to give up!  On my recent trip in North Wales, the day before I was due to leave was my last chance to have a go at climbing a tantalising little 653 metre hill in the Nantlle valley (in the foothills of Mt Snowdon) which had been laughing at me all week: it’s a minor peak, though it has an impressively long-winded name: Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd (no, I don’t know how to pronounce it either!). I’d managed to get half way up earlier in the week when I had a couple of hours spare and in glorious sunshine.  As is the way, this day dawned damp and grey (though not cold) and the clouds had dropped onto the top of the hills, so the Nantlle ridgeline walk I had earlier thought of was out.  Instead I thought I’d aim for the obelisk on top if Mynedd Tal-y-mignedd. The path petered out once I got up on the hills above all the ancient dry stone walls, but with a trusty ordnance survey map, I bashed through some heather, clambered VERY ungracefully over the last stone wall to cross a burn (creek), then slogged ever upwards to a knoll with spectacular views up and down the Nantlle Valley.  And then the (horizontal) rain came.  And the (gale-force) wind.  And the rain and the wind together.  And the cloud. And of course, as only happens on those British Hills, the world dropped away around me, and it was just me and the cloud (and did I mention the rain and the wind?).  It fact the weather was so foul as to be ridiculous, and I couldn’t help but laugh like a mad woman! Talk about flash backs to mad walks of my misspent youth – it was fantastic! But, with visibility so low, after slogging onwards and upwards for another hour, I just had to bail, and head back down.  Though – of course, as it turns out – just 100m short of the obelisk. Another day ….

View across the heather to the knoll on the way up Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd. The first photo overlooking the lake is taken from the top of this outcrop. Slate covered Craig y Bera (698m) is in the cloud on the left.

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Kata Tjuta Sunset (c) JP Mundy

Perhaps the most spectacular walking in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is at Kata Tjuta – just 90 km from Uluru through spectacular red dune country. Sitting on the landscape like a group of huddled sisters, it’s no wonder Kata Tjuta translates as ‘Many Heads’.  The rock here is very different to the coarse sandstone of Uluru – it’s a munched up conglomerate which once formed part of the sea bed – yes, the land in the centre of Australia was once covered in ocean. The mind boggles!  Large boulders are spewed out from the rock at irregular intervals, looking much like glacial moraine spattered over the land. Here there is the opportunity to wander between the towering walls of the impressive Walpa Gorge, to again find permanent waterholes carved into the base of the rock. But perhaps my favourite walk of this whole weekend was the Full Circuit walk which climbs for 8km up and through the aptly named Valley of the Winds, then descends treacherously down through a gap in the rocks to walk out around the dry back country, with huge domes of red on either side of you.  In the late afternoon it was nothing short of magical. The walk is closed off at the first lookout point (Karu Lookout) when temperatures are forecast to reach 36C, so winter is the perfect time to pull on your books and head for the Red Centre.

Kata Tjuta backcountry on the Full Circuit Walk

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So, autumn is here already and I have been busy writing up the final chapter of the Geelong, Bellarine and Brisbane Walks book.  I love the rhythm of writing, but autumn is also my favourite walking time – mild days, crisp skies, fresh air with a bit of a bite, glorious colours, and fewer slithering friends to worry about. By June, I hope to be started on the next book, which will cover the Great Ocean Road and the Otways: I can’t wait!  I don’t know about you, but sometimes, my feet just itch to get out walking, and when I am wandering along, I think there is nothing more joyous than to be out walking in our beautiful land.  My walking buddy, Karen, epitomises this in a way my dodgy knees and hips can’t express: here she is on our recent walk to the Jarosite Headland near Point Addis. So what about you?  How does a great day out on the track make you feel?

‘This is how happy walking makes me!’ (Pt Addis in the background).

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