Friday, 29 August 2014

Lizzie Wild Camping

I seem to be getting a bit behind with my blogs, so it's time for a catch up. And this one's a grand microadventure! At the beginning of July, Lizzie came to stay with me for a few weeks. One of the things I've been promising was that we'd sleep on top of a mountain, so as soon as we could, we did.

We started just around tea time from a layby near the foot of Tryfan. The weather was mild, high pressure, warm and still. We ascended from the car park, first following the path, then bearing left. From here we cut across and up the gully over the top of Craig Bochlwyd, heading for to the Llyn (of the same name) that nestles in between Tryfan, Glyder Fach and Y Gribin. The ascent was quite steep, but I was surprised how easy it was to motivate Lizzie up the steep slope. Even Tangfastics were not required! Once over the top, a small but conquerable patch of marshy ground slowed us briefly, more because I didn't have waterproof footwear on, than anything Lizzie couldn't cope with. Once beyond this, we arrived at the outlet of the Llyn, and continued westward.

On the west side of the lake is a perfect camping venue: a large and flat ancient moraine heap, deposited about 10,000 years ago by a dwindling glacier at the end of the last Ice Age. Since then, nature has taken it's course, covering the rock with enough soil and grass to get a pegs into. Close cropping by the native sheep and goats have transformed it into something of a perfect camping venue, where the grass is short and rivals most commercial campsites (even those elsewhere in the valley) and which charge for the privilege. The wind shelter is also pretty good from the mountainous amphitheatre surrounding the Cwm. I pitched my Wild Country Zephyros 2 quickly, then fed us both on my small but perfectly-formed MSR microrocket: First Lizzie had chicken noodles, while I prepared my usual roast vegetable couscous with a packet of instant potato and leek soup (700 calories right there!). A small circle of fire-charred stones, left by a not-so-environmentally-conscious previous visitor, acted as my windshield.

The ambience of this place is slightly strange at this time of summer. The shadow cast by Y Gribin onto the cliffs of Bristly Ridge and Glyder Fach doesn't seem to change very much. The angle of the ridge must exactly match that at which the sun sets. This means that half of the cwm is in shade and half in sun, all evening, right up until the moment when the sun disappears, leaving an instant, chilly twilight.

Despite wearing my down jacket, Lizzie was soon getting cold, so as the blue sky faded, we settled down in our sleeping bags.

Lizzie slept like a log right through until about 7. I, however, was awake just before dawn, and able to sample the sunrise, a spectacle of almost the same light as sunset.

The wind had stirred slightly in the night, and was now quite a stiff breeze. I wasn't keen to hang around with a potentially chilly 8 year old, so after a fairly basic breakfast of croissants and cereal bars, we headed back to the car and home, a little weary but happy.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Glen Coe Expedition

Over the long weekend, I was joined on an ambitious expedition around Glen Coe by recently-qualified ML friend, Rob.

Arriving on Saturday, we had a short walk in, set up camp, then bagged Sgor Na Broige on Buachaille Etive Mor at 10pm.

The next day, we had perfect weather conditions for a traverse of Aonach Eagach. At the end of the scramble, though, we realised that we had slightly over-estimated our abilities, so instead shortened the second day to camp above Glen Coe.

As the winds started to gain in strength on Monday morning, we packed up promptly, descended the path beside Clachaig Gully, before walking back to the van along the bottom of the Glen in a record 85 minutes!

Bye-bye, car...

Sunset over Ballachulish

Sunrise over Glen Coe

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Snowdon Summit with Lizzie

Daddy has said he'd take me up another mountain. When I was on holiday, I asked him, "Daddy, are we going up Snowdon?". Daddy hadn't actually thought about taking me up that one! So one hot, dry Monday, Daddy organised a trip.

Daddy wanted to park in the Pen y Pass car park, but we were on holiday and had bean having long lies in: This meant that all the parking here was full. Luckily Daddy knew of some parking down the road near the Pen Y Gwryd Hotel; unluckily, this meant a much longer walk to the start! And Daddy had made me wear my long sleeve base layer, so I was boiling hot! Not happy :(

Eventually we reached the Miner's Path and the lakes in the Snowdon Cwm. The water was so low! we walked around the path, and it started to go uphill again. I was getting hot and bothered, but Daddy managed to encourage me a bit by rewarding me with Tangfastics every so often when I reached a corner, or made it past a rock. Eventually, we reached another lake at the top of a big waterfall. At this point, Daddy asked if I wanted to walk, or to scramble. "Scramble, of course!" I said (I do like climbing!). We crossed the stream at the top of the waterfall, and Daddy led me up a scramble called 'Y Gribin' in Welsh ("Eeee Gribbin"!). I went first so that Daddy could catch me if I slipped. It was pretty easy climbing though, with lots of big flat shelves. Daddy is doing his Mountain Leader training, so I let him practice emergency ropework by belaying me up some of the steps. It's all good fun!

Eventually we reached a small lake at the top of the scramble. The lake had tiny froglets swimming in it. Daddy even managed to catch one in his hands.

The path upwards went into the clouds: brilliant, another chance to see if they still taste of Candy Floss!
As we went up into the clouds, I began to get a bit tired. Daddy said, "Come on, Lizzie, there's not far now. And when we get to the top we can have a drink in the cafe." "There's a cafe at the top of Snowdon? You didn't tell me that!" If I had known, I would've run up there!

When we got to the cafe, we went in side to warm up a bit, and the clouds cleared briefly to give us a view. Unfortunately they only had hot drinks or fizzy drinks, so I just drank my water. Even the vending machines were out of order so I couldn't get any chocolate. But I did get a badge that said "I made it up Snowdon the hard way"!

When we left the cafe, we went to the summit of Snowdon for a photo, then headed down alongside the railway line until a large stone showed us where the PYG track started. I prefer walking downhill to up. I could look at all the nice views.

As we passed through the Bwlch y Moch (Pig Pass) a mountain runner passed us. I thought, "that looks fun," so decided to run most of the way back to Pen Y Pass Car Park. Daddy decided we should continue running on the road too. We were back at the parking in no time. Thank goodness tomorrow is a rest day and another lie in!