The pre-trip email from our recently winter-skills-educated co-president describing in stark relief the extent of the winter conditions above 600m in the Cwm Dyli environs was a prudent and commendable reminder regarding the force of nature and necessity to plan safe routes. Fortunately for us, the forecast was wrong and the weather conditions throughout most of the trip were highly enviable.
On Saturday, most of the group ascended Snowdon via the perilous Crib Goch route. This was made all the more interesting by the acquisition and subsequent guiding of a less experienced hillwalker who they met casually vaping on a rock. His recounting of his life story was cut short by his mysterious disappearance from the summit of Snowdon and his assurance that he would be attempting the Matterhorn next. The other two groups (comprising Luke and Chris in one group and Paul solo walking in another) both decided to cut their walks short - some wet weather earlier in the day partly to blame. By the evening, and the arrival of Patrick, Cameron, Bill, Gabor and Brigitta, the bunkhouse was the most full this trip would see and we were treated to a delicious meal organised by Chris.
Sunday saw the majority of the group perform another day with a large ascent, this time further to the North. Having parked at Nant Peris we climbed up a footpath off the A4086 up to Llyn y Cwn, whilst discussing the radius of the earth and the merits of Naismith's Rule. Three of our number took a dip in a small lake, whilst the rest decided that gnawing on spiced biltong was a more sensible idea. We then navigated the steep and rocky descent of Devil’s Kitchen, where unflattering photos were taken, before lunching at Llyn Idwal. Our next ascent to Y Garn saw the deployment of a walking technique which served us well throughout the trip. Some may call it walking slowly, others hail it as a revolution which decimates the number of rest stops needed to climb a mountain. On reaching the summit, we struck out North-West along the ridge line towards Marchlyn Mawr before diverting early down the valley back to the car to make sure those who were travelling back to Cambridge that night returned to the bunkhouse in good time.
Unfortunately, on returning to the bunkhouse, we were not met, as expected, by the impatient cries of drivers champing at the bit to drive down South, and given the group containing the drivers was two hours behind their expected time on the route card, we became rather worried. A daring rescue mission had just been launched in the form of a car driving up the road to find some signal when they were met approaching the other way.
Most of the group agreed that Monday should be a day of rest after the strenuous preceding days… and so decided to climb Snowdon again. Before starting the climb we had to walk 4km along the valley. During my two minutes at the front of the group I managed to take a wrong turn and lead them across a field of large rocks beside a lake rather than the well-defined (and well-signposted) footpath further up… sorry. On our way up we passed some beautiful waterfalls with sparkling blue pools as well as ‘Gladstone Rock’, where the eponymous prime minister had made some speeches in his old age. After this, we took our time climbing the Watkin Path and only two breaks, including one for lunch, were taken before reaching the final steep ascent. After much puffing and panting we finally arrived at the summit to be greeted by a multitude of people and glorious views over the valley. We returned via the Bwlch Main path and rejoined our outbound route at a campsite. The final walk to the bunkhouse was slightly miserable given everyone’s exhaustion, although the “bad chat” which ensued contained many novel ideas from John on how to consume alcohol, ideas which were greatly enjoyed by some members of the group the next day but do not bear repeating here.
Tuesday was our final day of walking, and was, finally, a rest day. Again, a large fraction of the group went on a walk with the outliers being Paul, who headed to Bangor for some shopping and a walk, and Gabor and Brigitta who drove up to Anglesey to see some castles. The rest of us headed down the valley to Beddgelert, on the way becoming lost in a forest, being scared by an abandoned raincoat and a dead fox and seeing a steam train. At Beddgelert we saw both the grave of a falsely-accused dog, named Gelert, and a first-rate example of a Royal Observer Corps nuclear monitoring post before heading to the pub. An hour and a half and a couple of drinks later saw us madly running to catch the bus, in which a jovial driver taught us some Welsh pronunciation and pointed out ‘Elephant Rock’ where we’d taken a wrong turn yesterday. We were dropped at Pen-y-Gwyrd where many shenanigans took place whilst trying to coordinate four groups of people between three different locations without mobile phone signal.
Paul C, Miriam G, Luke H, Prab M, Chris K, Brigitta S, Gabor K, Patrick T, Cameron R, Alex L, Emma W, Sarah Mi, Bill C, John R, Oliver N.