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.