Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

June 2015

Damp, but not Downhearted

Kings Hostel, Dolgellau

According to our trip list, we last went to Kings Hostel, Dolgellau, in 1986. True, itís a bit of a drive from Essex, but even so this is far too long between visits. What a superb location!

Our trip started on Friday 1st May. Some of us had contrived to travel part of the way on Thursday night, but Jonathan and Cynthia did the whole thing in one go. Owing to a spot of car trouble, they finally stumbled over the threshold around midnight. Of the rest of us, not everyone had time for a walk on Friday but those who did were treated to a sunny day of fabulous views, if a little windy. Unfortunately the dry weather didnít last and the reward for those driving up Friday night was to wake up to low cloud and steady drizzle.

As the forecast for Sunday was even worse, Saturday was the day we picked to attempt Cadair Idris, the mountain virtually on the doorstep of Kings Hostel. Gritting our teeth, we donned waterproofs and headed out along the beautiful riverside path taking us south to the foot of the mountain. I like to think weíre not that wussy, but by the time we got to the decision point to ascend it was steady rain and very windy. Iím sure, if he had been there, our safety officer would have backed our change of heart. All but the two Daves turned heel and walked back to the hostel via a different route. Whilst the Daves fought for their lives in snow on a summit they couldnít see, the more sensible members of the party sat down to a nice cup of tea and a warm up in the hostel. After lunch the weather was still a bit grim, so some decided to be civilised and visit Harlech Castle and a handful went for a second low level walk. Although still raining when we set out on the second walk, it did brighten up and by about 3pm the rain stopped and there were modest views: pretty much everything but the very tops, and the landscape had that lovely scrubbed-clean freshness you get after rain.

Back at the hostel at a very civilised 4pm, we met up with John and Judi and cracked open the scones that Judi had brought. Shortly after a snack and the first pot of tea, the bedragged figures of the two Daves staggered up to the hostel with tales of frostbite and survival. Luckily a scone and a pot of tea cures practically every trauma.

Sunday morning and the weather had re-set to drizzle mode. Still, it wasnít as windy and the forecast was now luring us out with the promise of Ďsunny spellsí. We headed west to the lakes a little way above the hostel and hit the bottom of the cloud-base pretty much straight away. Unsurprisingly, most of the group thought a low-level walk with the possibility of views across the Barmouth Estuary would be a good choice, but a hard-core group of †5 headed up hill to bag a couple of Nuttalls (no, that isnít a euphemism, itís a hill category).

I believe the low walk had the lovely combination of a pub and views that only improved as the day went on. The Nuttall group had the consolation that the low cloud was hiding exactly how much climbing they had to do. However, swirling cloud is kind of exciting when youíre on a ridge, and there were views on the return route.

This hostel is located in a gorgeous, wooded valley, with plenty of walks both on the doorstep and a short drive away. We really mustnít leave it so long next time. We just need to book better weather.


Poet or Madman?

Legend says that anyone who spends the night on Cadair Idris will awake either as a poet or as a madman. The day Dave J and I went up, in howling wind and driving rain, some might have said we didn't need to wait overnight to find out which we were...

But after a long slog through the mist and a while stumbling about in the snow and boulders on the summit, we found the trig point and took each other's photos. We hid in the shelter to eat our sandwiches and were joined by several other madmen (and a dog). It was a memorable experience, and we both felt a sense of achievement and satisfaction as the only people in the hostel who'd made it all the way to the summit. In the evening we joined in a sing-song led by the other group staying in at the hostel Ė starting with songs about rain - a very entertaining evening!

Dave P

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