Last Thursday Pete, a good friend of mine, called. Did I fancy heading off for a walk in Wales to celebrate the New Year. He had a plan, leave early on the 1st, get to Wales and walk to Crieglyn Dyfi below Aran Fawddwy, wild camp and the following morning climb to Aran Fawddwy and walk the Aran ridge back to the car. On the face of it, staying up till 3am was probably not the best preparation, but I got some sleep in the car. Pete and Kath did the driving, I supported them all the way. Coffee on route started the recovery, and discussing the details of his plan helped with the headache.
I have been out on the mountains many times with Pete and his wife Kath, so when we arrived to high winds and heavy rain we quickly shifted to plan B, Cadair Idris. After all there is a mountain hut at the top, we could stay there overnight walk to the far side and back in the morning.
We choose the pony track on the northern side, joining a couple of others braving the weather to get out and about. As we reached the large rock marking the summit plateau we caught up with one of the Snowdonia national park wardens. He was getting into wet weather gear and dressing for the worst, “Gets windy after here” he said, smiling happily. Not just windy it turns out, wet as well. Welsh weather at its best, sideways rain, low cloud, and wind. Combining to make an interesting time of it for us, after strolling through the rock fields and over the last rocky outcrops to the summit we were ready for coffee and food. There are not many pictures of Cadair Idris as my camera is not waterproof, sorry, just some low cloud.
Cadair Idris at the southern end of Snowdonia boasts some great views across Barmouth, North to Snowdon, or, as an alternative you can sit in the hut listening to the wind and rain clatter across the rocks and roof, while you hang dripping waterproofs etc up to see if you can prepare for the rest of the day. The floor was a puddle, the roof was leaking, and the benches narrow, all the while we contemplated waiting 17hours for sunrise tomorrow.
After chatting with some friendly locals who came out for a stroll, and eating and drinking coffee, then looking outside to confirm it was still getting wetter out there, we listened to our inner sane alter egos and decided to forego what was going to be a cold and windswept night and head for lower ground, and at worst a Bed and Breakfast. The trip down was, apart from the slope going down, like the trip up. Wet, windy and little in the way of a view.
Next morning after listening to the wind from the comfort of a warm bed, while eating a full English, we made plans for the day. The Aran ridge, plan A, modified. The forecast for the day was winds with wintry showers, much like yesterday. Arriving at the car park though the cloud was high and breaking with wind ragging the tops of the trees. Kitted for anything we set off up the zig-zag path to our first summit of the day, Glaswyn with its small Tarn. It’s a long pull to the col, and the sight of a road at the top makes you wonder what you’re doing sometimes. But it was worth the walk. The cloud had stayed high although the wind still meant shouting at each other.
We stopped for lunch half way down Glaswyn on the way to Aran Forddwy. In a small hollow out of the wind. There is something quite primeval about the battering from a really good bit of windy weather. Hard work but satisfying to compete and win. There was some mixed snow and hail around, but not enough to worry about. As we took in the views today we could see Cadair Idris in the distance, white at the summit. And streamers of sleet and rain passing into the valleys around us. Today we were smiled upon by the walking gods, and only had a few hail showers to deal with.
The summit of Aron Forddwy was icy and the wind picked up to make sure we didn’t stay too long. Just a Mars bar and a biscuit in the shelter at the side of the trig point. The footpath down was more a muddy stream, making our balletic skills shine, pirouetting gracefully back down to the car. Two completely different days, changed plans, but up and down safe both times. Maybe next year we’ll get the right weather to camp in the wild.
Thanks to Pete and Kath, who once again let me tag along on their trip. It makes a pleasant change for me to be walking with others, and these two always make good company.