Heading for the hills.
Beautiful sunny weather accompanied us all the way down to the North Welsh coast and around through Bethesda to our starting point of Gwernydd. Mark as per usual was intent on slowing down our departure. This time it had nothing to do with his contact lenses, or bootlaces, but the fact that he hadn’t packed enough snap and chose to stock up in the corner shop down the road. I recall that everyone seemed to speak in welsh and as a result it appeared a little hostile in this shop. The shopkeeper also appeared to serve all the locals before Mark. Maybe we were off the beaten track and they were not used to the English parking in their village, waking everyone up with their early morning banter and generally disturbing their peace.
Anyway, having extracted Mark we were all pretty keen to get out into the sunshine and get walking. Our route took us initially through the village, past several farms, the latter of which appeared to hold a huge population of sheep (after all it was Wales) and then onto the open fell side. Pretty soon we were making headway up Mynydd Du and had plenty of encouragement from the sunshine and distant skyline views, which were of course our goal. Unfortunately and slowly our joy over this cracking weather was to disappear. Yes, we still had visibility including views over Anglesey but it was starting to become cold and the wind was picking up. The other problem we had was that once again John was doing a pretty acceptable impression of “Puffing Billy”. As per usual with most big hills the terrain had changed from tarmac to bog land, to heath grass and in turn the inevitable rock was reached. Although there was no scrambling I felt brilliant and romped to the summit of Carnedd Dafyff. Paul, John and Mark seemed content with taking shelter from the wind, however I wasn’t satisfied and left them there whilst I took the trip out to Pen yr Ole Wen. It really was windy up there. There were rocks everywhere, many covered in a thick crust of snow and although the sun kept making an appearance it was damn cold. Of course it was worth it, but “bi ech” I had to battle against the wind to regain my bag that I’d left in the shelter of Carnedd Dafydd.
Wibble, Wibble, Wibble
Getting ready to go over the top. John, plodding on towards the summit.
By the time that I’d returned to the shelter the rest were at least fifteen minutes in front of me. The visibility was still there and the three little dots could be seen making their way across the rock and snow of this great ridge. Eventually when I had caught them up it was clear to see that Mark was feeling surprisingly tired, John was totally knackered, Paul was doing well and I was feeling on top of the world (well, the Carnedds). Rather surprisingly given the climate we had when we set off we were now walking within the clouds and not only that, as we plodded on towards Yr Elen each one of us was literally blown off our feet by the strengthening wind. As a side issue, it was whilst ensconced within the summit shelter of Carnedd Llewelyn that for some reason I unbelievably posed for a photo with a pair of mini sweet corn wedged up my nostrils. On a recent Blackadder TV serial I had seen that soldiers in WW1 in an attempt to feign insanity used to stuff a pair of pencils up their nostrils utter the words wibble, wibble, wibble. This practice in theory gave them an excuse for not going over the top in the trenches. Perghaps on this day circumstances had deteriated a little too much and I didn't want to leave the summit shelter. The question is, will this bloke ever grow up? And p.s. please don’t tell my boss.
Deteriating weather conditions
By the summit of Yr Elen the weather had really taken a turn for the worst and so after taking a compass bearing we set off on the descent towards Cwm Caseg. It really was treacherous negotiating our way through the snow and all that loose wet rock. This descent although literally a pain in the buttocks soon took us down into a hidden valley. Having been walking for quite some time and likewise being soaked for a great chunk of the duration Mark took the initiative and decided to extract us from this lost world and return us to habitation in double time. This yomp through the reeds and bog land was more akin to an army exercise. Perhaps Mark was reliving his days in the TA. He simply put his head down and strode away using his massive stride in such a manner that the rest of us could hardly keep up. This wouldn’t have been that much of a problem but for the fact that we continued at this pace in the face of a deluge of wind and rain for at least an hour. I suppose he was right to drag us out of there, but he did make one big mistake. He brought us out on the wrong side of the Afon Caseg. The result was that we had to wade through it. The funniest thing though, was the state of John. Not only were both his walking poles bent like a pair of elephant’s tusks but also the sole of his shoe was now hanging off. I suppose this goes to show that it is impractical to think that you can take an expedition over such terrain at this time of the year wearing a pair of overgrown fashion trainers. John’s problem was that he had brought these boots with him from The States and was passionately proud of them. Needless to say when he was on the receiving end of a little micky take he wasn’t that amused. Bless him, as well as his gear falling to bits he was almost on his knees.
Anyway, having made one more detour around a field full of thick squelchy mud we were at last able to hobble down the tarmac and return to the car. What a day we had had.
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