The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
Bogs, Boulders and Alcohol (hand gel)
Tales of Snowdonia
It said it was the coldest August Bank Holiday on record. It certainly was a bit nippy. But how can you complain when the rain gods have let up for a few days?
Having taken Friday off work, we met up with Trudi and Tae at the railway station for the long drive to Wales. August Bank Holiday traffic is always heavy, and this year was no exception, but apart from a sticky patch around Shrewsbury we made fairly decent time – time enough to squeeze in a short walk from Betws-y-Coed. On the map it looked like a pleasant riverside stroll, but in places the path was steep and slippery so we soon generated a bit of steam. Then coats removed for heat had to go back on for the only bit of rain we saw all weekend. Still, it was great to get out and, after all the weeks stuck at home, the mountain air seemed particularly fresh and clear. Returning to the village we then undid all the good work of the walk with a round of fish and chips (well, you have to support local businesses!) for us and Doug and John, who were waiting at the lodge.
Glan Dwr Lodge is superbly located in the centre of Capel Curig, with a large veranda overlooking the River Llugwy. Although it will sleep 20, we were just seven in total (Karl joined us after dinner), which did make it a bit easier to manage the social distancing. We placed alcohol hand gel in the entrance, kitchen, lounge and upstairs. There was soap at every sink and spray cleaner and kitchen roll for regular wipe-downs. The kitchen was always going to be the most difficult to manage, so we restricted access to just the cooks until it was ‘released’ for washing up duty. Still, enough of our Covid-secure arrangements, the best bit was the chance to get out in the mountains.
Saturday we hit the slopes of Moel Siabod. I’d done this before and remembered it being a lovely, easy walk with great views. The views were as excellent as I remembered, but this time we took to the scrambly route along the bristly boulders of the summit ridge. It’s been a long time since I did anything like this and I don’t think I was alone in finding aches in muscles I’d forgotten I had. About half way I was tempted to duck down to the easy path, but I’m glad I persevered – it made a nice walk exciting. Lunch was on the summit and it was bitingly cold. Hunkered down in a sheltered nook, we tucked into oat cakes and cheese triangles (aka the Knoydart diet) and it felt just like old times.
Sunday we headed for Pen Llithrig y Wrach, which roughly translates as slippery peak of the witch. The rain in the previous couple of weeks ensured that it was still pretty boggy. It’s supposed to resemble a witch’s hat, so that gives you a clue about how steep it was to climb. Lunch at the top again, and if anything the views were better than Saturday. Tryfan and the Glyders, even (with a big zoom on your camera) all the little ants queuing up on Snowdon.
The next peak was Pen yr Helgi Du (hill of the black hound) which was another stiff climb. From the top there was a very tempting knife-edge ridge on to Carnedd Llewelyn, but it was time to turn back so that will have to wait for another day.
For those who remember her from the group, Evelyn was doing Crib Goch whilst we were tackling the witch and the black hound. After a quick shower and confirming that they had survived, Dave and I dashed down to the Siabod café to congratulate her & her friend in person. They tucked into scampi and chips whilst sharing their photos of the day with us. Eek! It all looked pretty hairy.
Monday we did a “short walk with not much climbing”. Dave may never be trusted again. It might have been short and not all that high, but blundering about in groin-high tussocky bog resulted in a lot of un-Christian language. Still I suppose this is all part of the experience. It was a great weekend, lovely to meet up with everyone and a reminder of how much I’ve missed all this over the last few months.
Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer