The weekend didn't start off too well – delays on the way back from London left me with 45 minutes to buy, cook and eat dinner, sort out what food to take, shower, change, find my boots and finish packing. It was 7:30 when I headed off with Jamie & Trevor into the wilds of Wales. It turned out I wasn't the only one to pack in a hurry and the conversation moved on to what we'd all forgotten. The list included waterproofs, gaiters, maps and a sleeping bag left down in Cornwall.
On arrival at the hut we discovered there was a fair amount of wildlife inside! No I’m not referring to OMCers here, but to the swallows flying around the bedrooms. They had nested on the outside of the hut and had managed to slip in when the door had been left open. They were eventually chased out, but not before they'd left a few souvenirs – including one on Clare's sleeping bag.
Next morning we were woken by the sound of sheep in the field – nearly as good an alarm clock as the cocks crowing at my last meet. The weather didn't look too promising so there was a lot of debate about climbing v walking v gear-shopping... and whether we could spot a break in the clouds in the distance somewhere. Eventually we all dispersed in different directions in search of sunny mountainsides of one sort or another.
Maria, Dave, Jim, Trevor & I set off to walk along the Nantle ridge. There was a fairly heated debate along the way about whether our destination was before or after Beddgelert. The guys in the front (with the upside-down guidebook) were adamant it was before, whereas the girls in the back (with the map) thought it was after. The car fell strangely quiet as Beddgelert came and went.... Who says women can't read maps?
We arrived at the start point and set off up the hill for a fine day's walking. Fine in the sense of enjoyable that is, not a reference to the weather - as the rain came and went and came again, the wind blew and the clouds descended. Fortunately it cleared for a while on the way down so we were able to enjoy some great views over to Holyhead and around.
We set off home reasonably early to pick up a few items for the barbeque and Maria & Dave were soon hard at work in the kitchen – with a little help from the rest of us.
Other groups started drifting back and soon it was time to get the barbeques started. At this point Dave all of a sudden realised that he'd forgotten to put theirs in the car. Just as well I brought mine after all then since there was quite a hungry crowd starting to gather. At this point I'd like to thank Jim for assembling it and Therese, Jamie & Paul for cleaning/dismantling it on Sunday. All I had to do was remember to bring it (easy) and take it home again (not so easy) – it was only as I started writing this that I realised it's still in Trevor's car!
The largish group of climbers who'd gone to Holyhead Mountain came back last with tales of a day of glorious sunshine. We'd have been tempted not to believe it if it hadn't been for the distinctive helmet-tans sported by Aldred & James! It was a long way to drive, being at the far end of the Island of Anglesey, but well worth it. There were stories of delicate moves up beautiful white quartzite slabs, with superb views out to sea, and apparantly you could even see the mountains of Ireland if you looked carefully enough. There were also stories of Therese rescuing a Polish climber who was stranded half way up a cliff face where she'd been led by an over ambitious boyfriend. I wonder if they're still together?
The rest of the evening was spent enjoying the food & company, while huddling round the barbeques for warmth. I made a mental note to revisit Cefn in the summer some time!?! Someone produced some sparklers which we waved about enthusiastically as you do, and we also sang happy birthday to James, who claimed to have forgotten that it was his birthday.
Next morning I got up to discover some keen people almost ready to set off for the hills. Eventually everyone dispersed & Kate, Michelle, Jamie & I set out for a scramble up Tryfan. We had a great day scrambling up the North Ridge in slightly blustery but otherwise pretty good conditions, and arrived back at Betws-y-Coed in time for tea before the trip home.
As the forecast wasn't looking great, most of the climbers had headed for some crags just behind Betws-y-Coed. Apart from a brief bit of drizzle it turned out to be dry day. Many routes were climbed, the most enjoyable being the three-star classic Conwy Corner (S), although they had to work around a large group who had set up top ropes on the cliff for the whole day.
On behalf of everyone I'd like to thank Maria for organising the weekend and particularly for all her work (with Dave's help) in putting together such an excellent barbeque - it certainly seemed as if everyone was enjoying themselves on Saturday night. And despite a dodgy forecast an excellent weekend's climbing and walking was had by all.