Mach Loop Terrain, Bwlch

Scoping the Mach Loop

The Mach Loop in Wales

The Mach Loop is a set of valleys between Dolgellau in the north and Machynlleth in the south of Wales. The Mach coming from Machynlleth of course. The loop is used for low level flight training (as low as 76 metres from the nearest terrain) by the RAF. Geoff and I had heard that it was a simple matter to climb up a bit of bank and take some (nice) pictures of the Jets. Given that there had been heavy snowfalls, we wanted to scope out the terrain to see what might be involved in getting to a reasonable spot above the planes. So off we went to Bwlch to have a look.

The Weather was Against us!!

We checked out a few possible vantage points to visit from information on the internet, and off we went. We arrived at Bwlch at around 10:00am on the first of April 2013 (and it was no joke, even if we felt a little foolish). The temperature was just above zero, but felt about minus 30, due to the sharp wind. It was so cold that within no more than 3 minutes I couldn’t feel the ends of my fingertips. I scampered back to the car to re-group with a cup of coffee, before giving it another try.

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After the second chilling, and a closer look at the steepness of the mountainside, I realized that I would need a helicopter winch to get me anywhere near the summit even if I was travelling without heavy camera gear. So we left to look down the road, but quickly gave up as the snow seemed deeper there. No stamina I suppose, perhaps after a year or two working out?

Decamp to Bala Lake

So a wholesale change of plan was required, and onward we forged to Bala Lake for a few photos. Hopefully it would be warmer lower down? Sadly, in the end, it was still pretty cold so I went with an HDR approach rather than breaking out my Lee Filter Holder and Neutral Density Grads. I did use my tripod though, for a change, rather than hand-holding a high speed burst.

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I did think, afterwards, that I missed out an opportunity to try out my new Big Stopper. But hey-ho it was very cold, and I wanted to keep warm. I can hardly believe that a month has gone by since Bala and I’ve still to tell you about Ludlow and Martin Mere Wetland Centre!