Clyde's reintroduction to Fell Walking
Clyde had been threatening for some time to come walking with us again. If he was to come it would make sense for us to walk in Wales so that we could pick him up en route. After all, we’d not been walking in Wales for two years (which was incidentally Clyde’s last walk) and were surely overdue a visit. Perhaps this was something to do with Paul’s belief that it always rained in Wales. A date was set and after Gordon had once again dropped out (I gather he was doing as his wife told him and taking her to Scotland for the weekend) it was Paul, Mark and I who set off in crap weather to pick up Clyde. The night before I received a call from Clyde asking if he could take along his dogs. “Sure”, there would be no problem as long as they could cope. By near enough 08.00 we had found his new pad and the dogs Rock and Bracken had excitedly greeted us. After Mark had made a fuss over them and enough racket to wake Jayne (Clyde’s partner) we set off in two cars. Rather fortuitously this trip would be subsidised by Barclays. This was on account of my need to sign up a petrol station somewhere near Flint. As such we would have 280 free miles of petrol in the tank. Having called at this scruffy excuse for a filling station and declined his requests for free terminals we made our way along the north welsh coast in brilliant sunshine.
Having passed through the drab streets of Bethesda we parked up just beyond Llyn Ogwen and prepared for the off. Meanwhile Clyde was doing a fair impression of Stu (alias Gadgetman). Somehow he had acquired a couple of walky talkies and tuned them into a wavelength already in use. Once on the go we had very little time to settle ourselves in before we had to start the ascent. In no time at all we were making our way up the hillside opposite Tryfan and gaining height at a reasonable pace. The sun was out, the dogs were loose and darting all over the place and all was well with the world. Then all of a sudden when our backs were turned Mark yelled “they’re chasing t’sheep”. I could only see one of them which was chasing a bundle of white fluff down towards the valley floor. Clyde was now shouting for their return and one by one they returned, head bowed and looking rather sheepish. By now Clyde was in school teacher mode and reprimanding both dogs. Their detention would be in the form of a return to the lead. The gradient and warm climate were now starting to take their toll on Clyde. Slow progress was made to the Llyn at Ffynnon Loel where due to our early start we now chose to take an equally early lunch break. Again the dogs provided the entertainment when one of them helped itself to half of Mark’s sandwich. Mark had been sat their chewing one mouthful and holding the other half in his hand when the dog spotted the opportunity and a split second later the sandwich had gone.
This Llyn was reminiscent of many other welsh mountain tarns. Quite like the ones on Moel Siabod and Cadir Idris, it nestled in a great bowl and was surrounded on three sides by huge cliffs. It was at this point that Clyde raised concern over our choice of ascent. He didn’t like the look of the steep climb up to the ridgeline. As a result an alternative easy scramble was chosen up the adjacent ridge. This route initially involved a little rock hopping and then led to some mild scrambling. It was quite fun, however there were regular occasions where we had to manhandle the dogs from one to another to get them over the odd vertical clamber. As height was gained the views opened up, especially to the south where we could see Tryfan, the Glyders and Snowdon a little further beyond. Clyde in particular was knackered by the time we reached the summit. In fact the sight of his two dogs licking the sweat off his bald head as he ligged art recovering by the summit cairn of Pen yr Ole Wen was just about as funny as anything I’d seen on a mountain top.
The Joys of the Carneddau
Having spent some time just taking it easy by the cairn the time came for us to set off towards Carnedd Dafydd. This route would involve a small amount of descent followed by a gradual easy climb to the first of the Carnedds. Again Clyde was finding the going hard work, however he has a fair amount of extra weight to carry and had not been out on the hills for at least a couple of years. If you are reading this Clyde, we are all getting older and like walking at a more leisurely pace so you have to come along and give us this excuse. The alternative is that we will end up dashing around the hills without allowing ourselves any time to take in the scenery. The last time I’d been on the summit of Dafydd, Mark, John and Paul had left me on my own. The summit shelter of Carnedd Dafydd is not so much a shelter, more like a village. There are numerous cairns and semi circular walls that have been built in such a way to give proper protection regardless of the direction of the wind. I suppose up on that mountain top there is no shortage of building blocks. I chose one of the better structures, made myself comfy and ligged art to enjoy the total peace that a mountain top can provide. This really made up for those days when you find yourself battling against the elements simply to stand upright.
After spending twenty minutes taking it easy I chose to set off and follow the rim above Cwm Llafar which would ultimately take me to Carnedd Llewelyn. There were some cracking views down into the valley below and I could clearly see the route of ascent that Mark, Paul, John and I had taken a few years previously. Why hadn’t we done this walk before? By the time I caught up with Paul and Clyde (Mark had decided to put the gas on the peddle and spend some time liggin art on the summit) Paul appeared to be best buddies with one of the dogs whereas Clyde was milling around looking for his hat that had blown away. How he could loose it on this ridge was beyond me. A quick search revealed nothing and the steady plod to the summit was continued.
Anything to prolong the day
Carnedd Llewelyn was the high point of the day, however as time was moving on we decided to start the descent by means of a ridge that would take us towards Pen yr Helgi Du. Again I chose to lig art above a rockface for a while; however I gather that Mark and Clyde had their hands full negotiating this steep descent with the dogs. With these hurdles successfully negotiated there would be a choice of routes. We could either climb the steep looking crag Pen yr Helgi Du in front of us or alternatively follow the bypass track that appeared to skirt around all the hairy bits. By the time I reached the summit I was out of breath for the first time in the day. I suppose I really had pushed it in an attempt to catch up with Mark. This next fifteen minute section was probably the best walking of the day. We still had glorious weather; the gradient was gradually downhill and the turf springy. I just didn’t want the day to end. Unfortunately twenty minutes later we were back down by the road and walking back to the car with the dogs still straining on the lead.
Step forward Chris the impatient. We’d all got changed, both cars were ready for the off and so rather impulsively without consulting anyone else I set off and made a decision to go back via Betsw-y-coed. Paul chuntered a bit, but was still on a high from the walk whereas it took five minutes to learn the views of Clyde and Mark. Over a very poor mobile phone reception I briefly heard the comment “we’ve broken down”. This was highly unlikely given that the car was virtually brand new, however could we risk ignoring this comment? An about turn was made and back in the village of Capel Curig I was greeted by both Mark and Clyde doing a fair impression of Queen Victoria. They were not amused. However the real reason for their wish to return via Bangor was the need to fill up at a Tesco’s filling station (free petrol came as a perk of the job). Before eventually returning home at gone half eleven we met up with Jane for a bar snack and just for a change I scoffed far too much.
The sequel was the next day when I rang Clyde, he advised that he had only surfaced at eleven O’clock, rung in sick and then shared a quiet day with his two border terriers. This walk had turned out to be a cracking days outing and despite my comments about Clyde it was definitely improved by his presence and that of his two canine companions. Just let’s hope we see Mr H on the hills again soon.