Last week we managed to spend a few days wandering around the mountains of Snowdonia, making a really pleasant change from being out on the sea, off Jersey. I lived in North Wales for a few years towards the end of the 1970's, working in a number of outdoor centres and spending every available day meandering around the hills, from Cader Idris in the south to the Carneddau in the north.
We passed a relaxing day heading up Cnicht from the Gwynant Valley, with views stretching from the coast off Porthmadog to the crags on the south side of the Glyders.
Our second day involved a rising traverse from Cwm Idwal to the summit of Foel Goch, a mountain I have largely ignored in the past, followed by a reasonably steep climb to the snowy summit of Y Garn. In retrospect snowy is too generous a term, it was more like closely compacted ice pellets. Lunch sheltering in the lee of the summit cairn was as cold a meal break I can remember for years. It wasn't a place to sit and savour the gastronomic delights purchased in Capel Curig. As we headed down via the Devil's Kitchen I couldn't help but remember a bitterly cold January day in 1979 when all of the streams were frozen and we had a really memorable day ice climbing.
For the final day, there was only one real option, Tryfan by Heather Terrace. I have lost count the number of times I have reached the summit of Tryfan, it must be in excess of 50 times, but each time it just re-inforces my belief that Tryfan is the finest mountain to be found almost anywhere.
Reading the walking magazines one gains an impression that British mountains are so crowded that it is almost impossible to find space for your feet. In these 3 days we saw 4 people and only one was close enough to speak to. So the moral of the story is if you want the hills to yourself then midweek in December is a good starting point.
Moel Siabod from the car park at Tyn y Coed. Lovely start to the day but not the best conditions for practicing navigation.
Pete below the final slopes of Cnicht. It must be one of the best little mountains anywhere.
A perfect reflection in Llyn Gwynant.
Heading up the final slopes of Y Garn, a bit slippy underfoot.
The route from earlier in the day. We followed a sloping route to the summit of Foel Goch.
A picture from an earlier decade. Cwm Idwal in January 1979.