This photo blog is about my trip to the Mach Loop ( aka Machynlleth Loop) with Steve Hubbard of Bracknell Camera Club. The Mach Loop is between Dolgellau and Machynlleth. The area is used regularly for low level flight training by RAF, USAF and visiting NATO aircraft.
My thanks to Steve Hubbard for permission to reproduce some of his images from the trip. His images are all captioned appropriately.
Monday 5th June 2017
We left Berkshire after 10 am and had an easy journey up with a quick pit stop at the services on the M6(Toll).
As we neared the Mach Loop we stopped at the car park on the A470 for the Bwlch (pronounced the ‘bulk’). Neither of us had been to this vantage point before and we realised just how small the car park was there.
Further down the A470 is the Cross Foxes at the junction with the A487. The hotel car park was busy when we arrived. We checked and lunch was still being served so late into the afternoon. The rain had cleared and after a lazy lunch of sandwiches (excellent by the way) we ventured outside to check out the raging brook at the back of the hotel.
Then the rain started again!
As per my last visit, my Vodafone connected iPhone had no signal both inside or outside the hotel. The hotel does have three separate wi-fi networks – bar, restaurant and guest rooms. The networks on the ground floor do require you to re-connect quite regularly but as no passwords are required (and it is a fast connection) that isn’t a problem. I checked and wi-fi connect worked for my phone so at least I could make calls from my iPhone. Steve’s Virgin mobile worked perfectly with its network in the hotel and later up on the hills.
Checking into the Cross Foxes
Everyone at the Cross Foxes are so friendly and helpful and we were made welcome when we finally checked in. Then we braved the rain to get our bags. This is the cake and fresh milk for our rooms.
My room was ‘Cau’ pronounced as ‘kai’.
We had booked our evening meal for 8 pm. Booking is always a good idea as once again the restaurant was very busy. We sat in the bar area for our meal accompanied by local beers.
This Pale Ale was excellent – a first for me. Again an excellent meal with no spare room for starters or desserts!
We took advantage of the Cross Foxes packed lunch service and ordered a lunch to take with us for our first day on the hills.
Tuesday 6th June 2017
The rain had not stopped overnight as per the forecast from the Met Office app. Before breakfast we paused to take pictures of the reflections of the chairs and tables on the patio outside the restaurant.
We had breakfast with the other guests at 8 am. I ordered the Full Welsh Breakfast.
I ate everything but the laverbread (‘bara lawr’). This seaweed puree did not taste any better this visit than the last time I tried it! We picked up our packed lunches and hoped the weather forecast from the Met Office app held that the rain would stop.
We had decided that we would return to CAD West for our first day on the hills. This is the viewing point that both of us had been to on earlier visits.
Mach loop – CAD West
In the car park we chatted to another guy (Jason) who like us was around for a few days to try and catch some planes. After climbing over the sty and up a steep bank the path tracks back down the valley and slowly climbed up the hill. When you reach the fence line the hill raises above you with a punishing 45 degree or more climb straight up.
Our target was the sty almost at the top of the first summit, as then we could go onto the side of the hill facing where the planes fly into this part of the loop.
Jason followed us up and started to pitch his tent slightly above where we were sitting catching our breath. Crossing over the sty into a hollow did protect us a bit from the wind which up this high was blowing briskly!
Steve and Jason both had tents and I moved down the slope to watch them put the them up. Putting tents up in the wind was definitely different than practice sessions in gardens back home.
Seconds after I took this picture a strong gust blew both tents down the slope sending the tent pegs flying. First thoughts were that the tents were gone but after reaching 3 metres or more in the air they dropped as the wind fell. I ran down and stood uncerimonially on them until Steve and Jason caught up to grab hold of them.
Jason decided to try again but Steve decided that enough was enough and we settled on using the groundsheet only.
Lots of wind but no planes
We were joined up the hill by others but no-one stayed very long except for the guy who stood exposed to the wind on the opposite side of the fence by the sty.
His plastic mac made lots of noise as it thrashed around in the wind.
We did get some great clouds passing overhead and sometimes even a burst of sunlight on the opposite hills but no aircraft.
This is the view looking out towards the Cross Foxes. This is the direction that planes would have flown towards us.
The wind kept battering us all of our time on the hill and after 3 pm we finally decided that going back to Cross Foxes was the best plan.
Back at the Cross Foxes, one of the guests showed us an app that displayed aircraft in the air. We could see a flight of F-15 Strike Eagles passing through England on their way to the loop. Later we did hear them pass over the hills at a high level above the clouds.
Dinner was once again in the bar area but now we had our own reserved table. Another excellent meal served with more local beers!
We checked what was the earliest that we could have our breakfast and pick up our packed lunches. This would be at around 7.10 am.