Sunday, August 30, 2009


I arrived on Monday after taking a long drive, going via lake Vyrnwy pretty much my Christmas route and I had a little paddle in the lake for old times sake.

Anyway I got to the site about six pm and struggled to put up the tent. Thing is it is so long since I did it I had forgotten how and I got a bunch of guys in on the act. Eventually I got it sorted enough to withstand a gale the following morning.

So after getting the tent set up it was quite comfy apart from the rain in the night and the wind flapping everything. Well it is cosier than the small tent I had last year and this site is completely different as radios are banned. Last year's site had all sorts but this is strictly for outdoors people. In the evening I went down to Beddgelert to get some beer in, find the shops have some fish and chips. (Kebabs are not local to Wales methinks) and at the closing of the day I was sitting in front of a camp fire enjoying a beer with the mist rolling off the mountains could it get better?

On Tuesday I went into Llanberis, not a bad day, I had a decent breakfast there but decided the mountain railway was too expensive. I have spent enough as it is but it is a long time since I have taken a longer break like this. So later on I did a little mountain scrambling around the milestone buttress of Tryfan. Got quite high, not been anywhere up there since mum was alive. I went up in a vest, running shorts and sandals not exactly mountaineering gear. I was terribly out of breath of course and struggling but I did have a rucksack on my back in case the weather turned nasty with food and warm clothes. Mind you, I passed another couple and they thought they were overdressed.

For the campsite however I needed my wellies . This is the downside of the site as it was very wet and muddy and the rain made things worse. Not that I was bothered about the mud, I can be as dirty as I like here, and can wash everything when I get home.

I also went for a walk that turned out to be more difficult than I thought at Aberglaslyn. I thought it would be a pleasant riverside walk, but turned out to be a bit more than that. Since I had only paid to park for an hour I just walked out half an hour and back.

In the evening I just wandered by the lake at the campsite a bit, and then settled down to beers and my camp fire .

The next day the weather was terrible, completely different, rain in the night and a howling gale, no way I was going up Snowdon in that so I took a long drive instead, ended up at the Sychnant pass in Dwygyfylchi, where I stayed when I was about 7 years old. I climbed a small “mountain” Allt Wen because it was there, nearly got blown off and again terrible out of breath doing it, but in stages stopping regularly I actually got to the top. Seems I was there when I was seven as I have photos. Quite pleased I did it, but got rather wet and was difficult to take pictures in the constant drizzle covering my lens in spray whenever I tried.

So later on I though of going to the beach but it was too cold wet and windy. I drove down the tiniest and most difficult track I have done so far to a remote lake and campsite at Cym Bychan (near Harlech) which I suppose I could stay at one day but maybe it is too remote. Definitely having a 4WD is handy on roads like that even though I met a hairpin bend so steep and tight I could not take it in one turn even though I met a lorry coming the other way! Well at the top they seemed to be widening the road so perhaps this is the last time to experience that track as it is. Every year the roads get straightened and widened a bit more, but there are still some very challenging drives.

My final day turned out to be a bit of a disaster in some ways. The morning started off OK with thr promise of better weather and I went down into Llanberris for breakfast again and bought myself a waterproof jacket from an outdoor shop which had a sale because I was very unhappy with the performance of my existing waterproof the day before as hydrostatic head of 8000mm or not it let water in the sleeves!

Anyway for the day I intended to take the long way round to Snowdon and rather than starting from Pen y Pass but I thought I would walk the back way from Llyn Gwynant to start with to see how it went and then if it was ok and I was not done in I would try Snowdon itself. Well it started out ok, I was dressed properly for it this time, long trousers, walking boots, gaiters and my new waterproof as well as other stuff in the rucksack.

The First mile was ok, although it took me longer than my usual walks because of the climbing. However after that it very nearly turned into a disaster as I lost the track, at some point I was supposed to turn left after I crossed a stream, but the trouble was which stream as I seemed to have crossed several? It all went pear shaped and I regretted the so called sensible option of walking boots as I had to ford a stream and before long it was over the top of my boots, so I had waterlogged boots and there nothing worse than waterlogged waterproof boots cos if the water gets in it stays in. ( I have had to dry them out with a hair dryer since getting home)

Worse was to come as the path was very indistinct. You might have heard stories about people falling into bogs and being sucked down and I never believed it till now thinking it was a literary exaggeration but I took a wrong step and my right leg sank up to my knee and I was literally sucked down and got stuck. There was no solid ground and for a moment it seemed like I could not get my leg out, and I was fearful of what might have happened it I had not been able to pull myself out.

Well wrong route or not, I was never out of sight of the road, but being as I had lost the track had to guess the best way. Trouble was all the ground was similar and so you can imagine I took great care to test it before making every step from then on. Ultimately the main road curves round the area where I was walking and the way out was to climb out of the valley, but it did not get less boggy, and just got steeper and steeper. I was out of breath and just making a few steps at a time before resting, it took me over an hour to cover that part and it was not more than a mile. The worst was that at the top mostly there was a high stone wall keeping the road in and a fence on top of that, I could only see one point where the wall looked lower, and I still had to climb up the wall and over.

In the end I was a good way off where I should have been so had to walk round the road to get to Pen y pass. Well worse to come, I was hot of course and sweating, I had long ago taken off my coat and packed it in my rucksack before I even fell into the bog. However the bite valve from my camel back hydration pack (yes my rucksack is very hi tec) came off and I lost it somewhere on the road, in order to stop leaking water, I had to tie a knot in the tube. That was the last straw, when I got to Pen y pass there was a bus in, and I just caught it straight down to Llanberis, on the bus I changed out of my wet boots and socks, and put my sandals back on. (good job I had packed them just in case) I thought maybe I could get the train up to Snowdon instead because I was not going to walk it in my sandals, or with a leaking hydration pack. So I eventually found a shop to replace the bite valve, (from a platypus not a camelback, but who cares) it cost me 6 GBP which I thought was over the top.

Then to my annoyance I discovered that the train was fully booked all day, and so that was out, so I thought maybe I would go along the lake railway instead for something to do. That too was fully booked so I felt really pissed off. So I managed to repack my rucksack with the wet boots at the bottom and everything else on top and I waited for ages for a bus back to Pen y Pass.

When I got there I figured I did not have time to go up Snowdon before the last bus back to the campsite so I figured I would walk as far as I could get in about half an hour chosing what turned out to be the most arduous track up and wearing my sandals after all. As it turns out my sandals were perfectly suitable, there is a lot of bull talked about wearing the proper walking boots, much good they had done me already I don’t think. Thing is it was a hard climb as you can see from the photos, but was worth it for what I could see even if I only got no more than about two miles up the track but I reckon I could have done it in an hour and a half to two hours if I had not wasted all that time earlier.

So I decided discretion was the better part of valour and walked down to the café as I was really dying for a cup of tea and something hot to eat as it was getting later. What then pissed me off was the time of the next bus, an hour and three quarters away, I figured I could have climbed further if I had known that.

Then the weather broke and it started raining again. However I decided that I was not going to catch the bus and figured I could walk the long way back to the campsite in about an hour. Well it took me an hour and a quarter and I got absolutely soaked, no waterproof is up to the sort of rain that Wales can deliver, blowing at you with the force of a gale. However coming back the long way it was possible to see from above just where I had gone wrong on the way up. It’s funny that you can make out the tracks from way above when you can’t on the ground.

(A note from my return home, apparently the reason I could not find the bite valve for my hydration bladder, was because it had miraculously fallen into my trouser pocket, I found it there when I was unpacking)

Well of course none of that will seem much to most readers but do not forget, to heck with the autism, I am 53 and arthritic.

There are pictures here.

As for you cynics and naysayers, it is my life and I will do with it what I will!