I've taken a week off work and decided to get in as much as I can. Everyone else is working so it looks like it's just me. I'm not going to let that stop me. I spent the first few days doing a solo challenge called Kayak The Medway. This was great fun. I took a day off when I got back and chilled out at home. Cleaned my stuff and then packed for a few days in the mountains of Snowdonia in North Wales.
I love this place. Being in the mountains is fantastic. It's one of my favourite feelings. The mountains are so awe-inspiring and being in the elements is great. Come rain or shine I will climb that mountain. If you have the right kit and equipment and don't make any silly calls then there is no reason why this should stop you from having a great day in the hills.
I loaded up the van and set off on the Thursday morning. I packed my hill walking stuff and decided that I was going to spend the two nights and sleep in the van. Why not eh? It's pretty much a secure tent as friend called it. And it saves on hotel or camp site fees. Which means more money for a couple of cheeky beers in the evening. It's comfortable and I can get all my stuff in the back. Just find a quiet spot to park, to which there is an abundance of in Snowdonia's national park.
I got up there in good time and headed straight for a place called Betys-y-Coed. I love this little town and have been coming here for years. There is a chip shop right next to the bridge that I always visit. I get my fish and chips and sit on the rocks down by the waterfall and take everything in. It was quiet today. Kids were at school and most people were at work. Nearly had the place to myself which was lovely. After a bit of retail therapy I headed off to find somewhere to stay for the night. I drove to Llanberis. The route there is lovely. The views are spectacular as you approach Mt Snowdon. I had to stop to take a couple of pics and take it all in. I got to the car park in Llanberis and it was empty. Perfect. Right next to the lake which would make a great view to wake up to. Better than any hotel could provide. I parked up and found a pub that was open and headed in for a drink before bed. By about 2230 I was in my sleeping bag going over my route for tomorrow with the map.
Morning came and the view across the lake was lovely. The air was fresh and still and it was so peaceful. I could of sat there for ages taking it all in but damn, I was hungry. Now, this is my favourite bit. Going to the cafe. If you have been to Llanberis before or around the area you would have probably heard of a cafe called 'Petes Eats' Its brilliant. A climbers cafe. Around the walls are lots of photos of random people climbing things. Really gets you in the mood looking at the pics while you eat. The food is superb and really does the job first thing in the morning. Definitley recommend going here for breakfast.
After breakfast I headed off to Nant Peris where I planned to do my days climb from. The route I took was to the summit of Elidir Fawr and I followed it round through Foel-goch, Y Garn then onto the bottom of Devils Kitchen. From the lake I made my way back to the car park at Nant Peris following the track which was non existent in most places but made it good fun for a bit of navigation training. The views of the whole climb were absolutely fantastic. I could see all the way out to Anglesey and beyond. Superb!! Definitely worth the sore legs. For anyone that wants a good days walk with cracking views and to bag a couple of peaks then this would be a good one. I loved it.
After the climb I had a bit of a clean up. Some personal admin was needed. This is where wet wipes come in handy. Changed my clothes and off to the pub for some food and a beer. I wasn't on my own tonight which was nice. An old friend came to visit me in the pub. Have not seen her in years and was great to share stories and catch up. That night I headed back to the van for a good nights sleep. Cant believe how well I slept, must have been a combination of a worn out body, beer and a belly full of pub food.
Next morning I headed to a different cafe today. I like to mix it up now and then otherwise you never get to try out new things. The weather today was horrendous. I read the reports from the met office and they were not ideal conditions for climbing mountains. Far from the conditions of yesterday. I had my breakfast and headed out still determined to get a good days walking in. It's a big drive to get here and I want to make the most of it, at the same time I still want to remain safe. I headed for the Ogwen Valley today and my target was to climb a new peak. Pen yr Ole Wen.
I started out walking around the lake at the bottom as I've never done that and always wanted to for some reason. At least it got me warmed up before the climb. The weather was not too bad to start with as the mountain sheltered me. The plan was stay on the eastern side as much as possible to stay sheltered from the wind. The gusts were far too strong. This way I could climb the mountain and come back down in relative safety if conditions changed throughout the day. This was a tough mountain to climb I felt, but enjoyable, very enjoyable to be honest. The cloud base was about 750m. I was using Tryfan on the other side of the valley as a guide to the cloud level to keep check on the weather conditions. I've spent too much money on personal kit to not go climbing when it's raining. Also, in the army we had a saying. "if it aint raining, it aint training" as I'm here training I thought it was very fitting. Head down when it gusted and just keep going on. I still had a smile on my face with the rain washing away the sweat. Once I got to the top it was very apparent how windy it was. It's very exposed at the top but you're not on a ridge line so I pushed forward to reach the summit. A couple of times I had to stop and lay down until the gusts had stopped as I couldn't stand up when it did. Got a couple of summit photos then headed back off the summit as quick as possible. Time for a celebratory tea and flap jack before I made my decent.
I went off track on the way down and followed the valley straight back to the main road where my car is parked. Job done. Don't be put off by inclement weather. Make sure you stay within your abilities and you can still have a great time. Always best to let someone know where you are if you're on your own. I always send a message to my dad back home as to my route for the day as he knows the area. Then I check in that evening when I'm back down safe.
After a clean up again and some pub food and a drink, I headed off back home to Kent. What a great time I had. I can't wait for the next trip up there. If you have similar stories, I would love to hear from you and share. Always open to new routes and ideas from like minded people.