Snowdonia October 2019

Monday 14th

I booked this short break when Carol was still alive. Arrived at Craflwyn Hall mid afternoon, staying in the stables again, a different stall from the last time I was there. That time I sustained an injury to my elbow and Carol looked after me from a distance, sorted out a GP appointment for me. Dinner was tapas which I enjoyed but some of the other guests didn’t. Some people are so gobby! Entertainment was a word square game. The team I was in won.

Tuesday 15th

Drove to Trawsfynydd which is mostly known for its ex nuclear power station. It was opened in 1965 after 6 years of building. Remained in operation until 1991. It will take 100 years to decommission. Just above it is Tomen y Mur Roman fort and small amphitheatre which was built in the first century and in operation for at least a hundred years and is still very evident on the ground but a hell of a lot less poisonous. After climbing the Norman motte and bimbling about I drove south from Talsarnau up tiny roads with green down the middle and branches hitting the car, out and in for a gate, continuing until the road stopped. Walked roughly 3 km along a fairly good level path, soggy and squelchy in places, to reach Bryn Cader Faner stone circle which was a delight (GR SH 64796 35329). Back the same way. This time I met a farm truck and a van coming up so I had to reverse quite a way. The evening entertainment was Benjie and Mev who are local birds of prey experts, not a C&W duo. They were knowledgeable and interesting.

Wednesday 16th

Car free day. Walked from the house straight up the hill behind, which is the lower slopes of Yr Aran, a sub peak of Snowdon. A nice mountain walk without going very high. Passed old mine. Some boggy bits. Eventually joined up with the Watkin path. Stopped in Caffi Gwynant for a coffee and a scone. Walked back to the house along the east side of Llyn Dinas on a very good well made path. Only one heavy shower early on. Sunny mostly. Unfortunately the best photos of the walk past Llyn Dinas were corrupted. Another very irritating woman staying here. I’m getting good at walking away. Entertainment was the quiz. My team came second. There are 31 guests in the house, some of whom are Brexiteers, some think it’s ok to make “jokes” about sexual violence, one thinks bereavement is the same as divorce and at least 7 who are decent human beings with respect for others and a developed sense of right and wrong. I have trouble with those who lack self awareness. I don’t expect everyone to be emotionally tip top all the time but I do think people could develop their interpersonal skills before letting themselves out of the house. My best shirt is wasted on them.

Thursday 17th

Leisurely breakfast. Heavy rain expected so I drove quite a way to a National Trust property, Plas yn Rhiw. I’ve really had my money’s worth out of the NT membership fee this year, at least twice over, if not more. Makes up for the years when all I did was park the car. It was a nice little house previously owned by the 3 Keating sisters who were an interesting bunch and rebuilt this house in a stunning location looking out across the bay. Then the rain came, on and off. Had my lunch in the car. Went and looked out over to Bardsey island. Through a torrential downpour to Betws y Coed to see if there were any outdoor kit bargains, there weren’t. The rain settled in heavily. The mental and emotional toll of grief is obvious but I hadn’t even considered the physical aspects, the sapping of energy, lethargy, continued poor sleep, fatigue, reduced muscle strength, low stamina. I am working on all of these. Feels like slow progress. At least my left leg muscles match the right leg, 6 months later.

Friday 18th

To Llannymawddwy through more downpours. However they more or less stopped as I parked up. This is a place Carol and I went to several times (misnamed by me as Pennant in that blog post) when we used to stay at Llanfechain. Carol liked it because we could be in the mountains without having to actually climb one. It’s a gentle walk up to a col, about 100m of up to 1 km of length. We never saw anyone else and I didn’t today. We last went there in March 2015, after getting our civil partnership upgrade. I buried some more of Carol’s ashes at the col overlooking the east valley. It’s such a lovely spot, with valleys east and west. Constant sound of tumbling waterfalls. Back at the car, the rain came on again. I decided it would be ok to do the mountain road and it was though I was cautious through the flooded bits. The really scary bit of road has had big new barriers put up which I was grateful for. Round Lake Vyrnwy and then to Oswestry to get some veg. On the spur of the moment I stopped at Chirk Castle, knocking up yet another National Trust property visited this year. I got wet because I’d failed to take my brolly. It took a long time to get home because of the terrible weather.

Cader Idris from the north side 30th May 2016

After leaving Borth I bought a salami, Emmenthal and coleslaw baguette from Matt’s (excellent) Deli in Bow Street. Had an espresso there too.

Got to Ty Nant car park near Dolgellau at about 10.30. I parked in the last space but was not happy as the vehicles either side had both parked really greedily. Then I saw there was an overflow car park so I took the motor in there. I went to buy a parking ticket. The machine took my money, failed to issue a ticket and failed to return my money. Cross! Went back to car and wrote a notice to this effect. All this buggering about meant I only started walking at 11.00.

Beautiful day, sunny and hot. Memo, must remember sun screen, P20. Managed ok with Bron’s sun screen on the way up and then I just covered up for the descent which was hot but better hot than burnt.

It’s a fairly steady and easy ascent most of the way. It took me 2.5 hours to reach the top. I had my lunch there once I’d got away from the crowds.

Descended using the same route and got back to the car just after 3.30 so only 1.5 hours down. About 750m of ascent.

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Llyn y Gader

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Towards Barmouth
Towards Barmouth

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Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

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Archaeology of North Wales – Mountain Leader CPD

Saturday 19th September

I arrived at Cefn Cae campsite in Rowen at 6.50, it only took 2 hours and 20 mins to get there. I had just enough time and light to get the tent up and my dinner cooked. I had a Look What We Found meal with rice cooked up in my Jetboil. The campsite cost £13 for the night and was a newly certificated Caravan and Camping Club site, it was very clean and well looked after. They operate an honesty system for buying quite an extensive range of supplies and I didn’t have to pay extra for a shower.

After dark, I read my book for a while. The stars were amazing and I could see the Milky Way.

Moon on Tay y Fan
Moon on Tal y Fan

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Dawn on Tal y Fan
Dawn on Tal y Fan

Sunday 20th September

I’ve never really managed to sleep properly in a tent but this wasn’t too bad. I was warm enough especially with my little blanket. It was cold in the night and there was a heavy dew when I gave up sleep about 5.30. I had a cup of tea and then 2 cups of coffee and my breakfast of granola and yoghurt. I got to see the red dawn on Tal y Fan which was wonderful.

I packed up and drove up to Caer Rhun Roman fort (Canovium). There’s not a right lot to see, don’t be misled by the photo on the website, but the church is nice although it wasn’t open.

Then I met up with the group in the lay-by down the road. Jane Kenney is a senior archaeologist from the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust. The workshop is part of the CPD made available to members of the Mountain Training Association. The requirement is for 5 CPD points over 5 years and this is my second point since gaining the ML.

10 of us in the group. We got into 3 cars and drove up to a small car park some way above Rowen. We set off and the first thing to look at was the Roman road.

We then looked at long huts (rectangular), cairns with cists, hut circles, standing stones, a burnt mound and then a very good stone circle where we stopped for lunch. Jane was very good at getting us to look more closely at the structures and how to interpret them. She also didn’t try to give us all the answers as there is a lot that is not known and subjective but she clearly has a great breadth of knowledge. We then moved on past a reservoir and up to a slate quarry which is hidden away. Then it was time to head back passing 2 very prominent burial chambers, back onto the Roman road again and another stone circle just near the car park.

Fabulous, informative day with an expert. And a bargain to boot!

Last year’s walk.

We got back to lay-by around 5.15 and I got home at 7.45.

Burial chamber
Maen y bardd burial chamber

Church at Caerhun, sitting on the Roman fort
Church at Caerhun, sitting on the Roman fort

I think this is a green man
I think this is a green man

Big standing stone
Big standing stone

And another, not quite so huge
And another, not quite so huge

A cist
A cist

Very cheeky pony
Very cheeky pony

Stone circle
Stone circle

Another big standing stone
Another big standing stone

A peat house for storing peat
A peat house for storing peat

Burial chamber, marked on map as such
Burial chamber, marked on map as such

Burial chamber but not prominently marked on map
Maen y bardd burial chamber

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

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Mountain Leader Assessment 2014

Day 1 Saturday May 3rd

Met up with Paul (assessor), Sue and Kev (fellow candidates) in Cafe Siabod. After a briefing we set off towards Moel Siabod and basically spent the day on micro nav on the lower reaches. I did some legs ok and some needed more attention. Quite an intense day of concentration.

Day 2 Sunday May 4th

Met up with all at Cafe Siabod. Paul introduced us to the assessor for the day who took us to Ogwen Cottage and we set off towards the lake and the same rocks I had been on the weekend before. It was hard for all of us to know when to bring the rope out as the rocks were all quite scoot up able. But we did and then we were asked to cross the scree and went back down to the path. We took another route up and did some more belaying. Also did confidence roping, abseil discussion. I had a difficult day and knew this would mean a deferral on the rope work.

Trying not to look provoked
Trying not to look provoked

How it should be done
How it should be done

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Day 3 Friday May 16th

We met up at Cafe Siabod towards mid morning. After a briefing we set off in 2 vehicles and parked up at the start of the Watkin path. We walked the first part and then veered off to the right to commence our circuit of Snowdon. An early lunch and then on individual  navigation legs. Towards late afternoon we arrived descended the Miners’ track to Llyn Llydaw and then went up to meet the PYG track which we crossed. We contoured round the start of Crib Goch and round to Llyn Glas which is a lovely lake nestled under Crib Goch. We set up camp, ate our boil in the bag meals and waited for the light to go. Sometime around 11pm, we set off for our night nav expedition. I really enjoyed this, so different from when I did this on the ML training. It was dry and clear and we pootled around quite near to the camp. To bed around 2am.

Lunch time
Lunch time

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Why Crib Goch is so called
Why Crib Goch is so called

Camp site
Camp site

Paul Poole photo
Paul Poole photo

Paul Poole photo
Paul Poole photo

Paul Poole photo
Paul Poole photo

Paul Poole photo
Paul Poole photo

Paul Poole photo
Paul Poole photo

Paul Poole photo
Paul Poole photo

Paul Poole photo
Paul Poole photo

Paul Poole photo
Paul Poole photo

Paul Poole photo
Paul Poole photo

Paul Poole photo
Paul Poole photo

Paul Poole photo
Paul Poole photo

 

Day 4 Saturday May 17th

After such a long day we all slept very badly, except Paul. The sea birds who live on the island in the lake were awful noisy all night long it seemed. We had a quick look to see the start of the cycle race, it looked a bit scary as they have to race with the traffic trying to get past them. Breakfast and then up towards the Llanberis path. We were now on the 1:50,000 maps. Discussion of route choice. Discussion of first aid scenarios. We crossed the path and moved over towards the Snowdon Ranger path. I was given another chance to demonstrate my rope skills on the cliff but was very nervous about it and made some errors again. We went down the path a bit and crossed to the Rhyd Ddu path. We contoured round and ended up next to a lake where we camped. This night we all rested well. It had been a good long trek round the mountain.

Paul on island in Llyn Glas
Paul on island in Llyn Glas

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Paul Poole photo
Paul Poole photo

Paul Poole photo
Paul Poole photo

Paul Poole photo
Paul Poole photo

 

Day 5 Sunday May 18th

It was a short step round to the Watkin path from our campsite. We stopped to discuss river crossings and use of GPS. On getting back to the vehicles, Paul’s battery was completely flat so we went back in Kev’s car to Cafe Siabod. Debriefing, the other 2 passed (congrats both!) and I got a deferral to work on my rope work. Everything else was fine, just the rope work needing more attention. This was no surprise and I came away feeling really pleased as I only need to do 4 more hours of assessment on the rope. I have to wait 3 months before re-assessment.

Day 6 Friday September 26th

I stayed the previous night at Pen-y-Gwryd hotel where I’m now a regular. I met Paul at Cafe Siabod and we set off smartly to park up at Ogwen Cottage and then went up and round to the lake.

I did 2 pitches of ascent and the rock was wet so slippery and greasy which was good because it made me concentrate. We then moved over to descend to the north and I lowered Paul to a ledge where there was a sheep who was in danger of falling off if we frightened it so we beat a retreat. Paul soon found me a pitch to descend by. I got all my anchors ok and could talk about the choices I made, my knots were fine and my belaying technique was fine, using both hands (because being a leftie, I wanted to do be able to as had learnt it for right hand).

That was it, I’m now a Mountain Leader. It’s taken me a while to achieve this and I am now immensely pleased that I’ve got the award. I’m hugely grateful to my family and friends for all their love and support, especially the practical bits dangling off ropes in the wet and dark! And also to the professionals who have shared their love and passion for our native mountains with me. What’s next? watch this space!

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

MAPandCOMPASS

 

Mountain Leader refresher

Friday 25th April

Drove to the Pen y Gwryd hotel arriving just after 9pm. I unpacked and went to the residents’ bar for a couple of halves of beer. I met 3 brothers and their father and some others who were staying.

Saturday 26th April

I had the full Welsh breakfast and got to Capel Curig on time to meet up with Paul (trainer), Chris, Adam and Branwen at the cafe.

Walked out behind Moel Siabod cafe and basically did hours of intense navigation practice on quite lumpy and bumpy terrain with lots of little knobbles and nipples! The Clogwyn and Crimpiau area.

I found at one point that my compass wasn’t working properly which could have been because of the big iron stanchion I was next to but on further testing it was affected by my magnifier.

So I know now to keep my magnifier well away from the compass. I’ve also tested all my jewellery against the compass and my necklaces are ok but some of my bracelets are a bit suspect so I won’t wear them when I’m out with the compass.

This was a very active day running up and down hills and I felt pretty tired at the end of it but also reasonably confident that I do know what I’m doing and am not too bad at interpreting contours.

I went to Cobden’s hotel for my supper and had a risotto which was a bit greasy but tasty and inexpensive. I was later told this was not the best place to eat and it’s true the place is a bit neglected but my meal was actually quite ok and I didn’t suffer after eating it. There were lots of photos of Dylan Thomas and although I’ve looked, I haven’t worked out why.

Back at Pen y Gwryd, I met up with the 3 brothers and their lifelong friend and their dad and had a nice time drinking beer with them (these brothers were just here for the weekend, and not the brothers who run the hotel) and also with a lawyer called Nigel from London.

My wash basin can be hidden behind discreet curtain!
My wash basin can be hidden behind discreet curtain!

Wally the MR bear looking towards Snowdon
Wally the MR bear looking towards Snowdon

On the nav day
On the nav day

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Tryfan the stegosaurus
Tryfan the stegosaurus

Sunday 27th April

Back to the cafe to meet Paul, also Chris, Tim, Dan, Ken and Branwen. We set off to the Ogwen cottage, parking up on the road, and walked up to Llyn Idwal with helmets and ropes. We practised indirect belays, direct belays and the 3 types of descent methods – angel wings, traditional abseil and South African abseil. I felt much more confident about doing all of these and Paul reminded me that there is no need to rush anything on the assessment.

We then did some confidence roping and tried this across different sorts of terrain. This was useful as this is something I can imagine doing if a member of the party was injured or needed help.

We then went back down. Branwen and I went to Idwal Cottage for refreshments and I used the new facilities before heading off home. I got home in 2 hours and 20 minutes which was great as it took me nearly 3 hours to get there so am definitely sticking with the A55 as far as possible route for the future.

Practise, practise, practise now!

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Practising on steep ground
Practising on steep ground

This was the rock we went up and down
This was the rock we went up and down