Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Sunday in Snowdonia

Most folks had crashed early so we were all up with the sparrow's fart on Sunday. We again split into 2 groups  - 1 for a waterfall walk and the other to do another mountain. Nigel, being very familiar with the routes thereabouts, led the second group.

So I went on the waterfall walk which centred around Swallow Falls.

 Sadly a recent restore on my iPhone has deleted a bunch of photos and I'm STILL waiting for folks to post theirs from the day. :-(

Weather was changeable, oscillating between fair and inclement via rain and hail. Inevitably by the time one gets ones weatherproofs on the rin has stopped so I just relied on the quick-dry properties of my clothing.

The walk was very pretty with springtime just beginning to brush the tips of the trees , loads of bluebells and tempting wild garlic flourished in the woods.  The river was in full flow and looked cool and refreshing. Indeed, one of my fellow hikers, while balanced on a large boulder about 1/3 of the way across, became a bit more acquainted with the landscape than he may have wished. Although tempted to snap a pic, I helped the poor man out instead. He was soaked through but thankfully faired better than his camera. And folks were carrying enough spare clothing that he was able to get changed into something dry straight away. Plus our walk ended at Betys-Y-Coed which is chocka with outdoors shops so he was able to get some fresh duds quickly (and on sale).

So by this time it was early afternoon and we decided to go for a cream tea. Although there were a bunch of places there that served afternoon tea, I knew that just a few miles down the road was the picturesque village of  Llanrwst where the is the most darling teahouse in Wales.

Inigo Jones Bridge - 1636

Tu Hwnt i'r Bont Tearoom

It was Sunday afternoon and the tearoom was busy so we put our party on the waiting list and dashed off to the Trefriw Woollen Mill to do a bit of shopping. I bought 2 gorgeous tweeds to have some skirts made.

Anyway it was a nice day out but I do wish I'd gone on the more strenuous hike because I really felt like I didn't get enough exercise over the weekend. Noone's fault but my own of course.

Dinner was a tasty pot roast but I didn't get a chance to try the dessert as I decided to retire rather than get into an argument with someone who had the nerve to give me a hard time over my smoking. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


Sorry I've been rather crap about finishing my write-up of the Snowdonia weekend. In my defence, I forgot my camera at home so I've had to wait for others to post their pics so I could snaffle them.

Anyway, we assembled at Hammersmith roundabout at 6pm. Things were slightly confused because there were actually 3 trips rendezvousing; my Snowdonia group plus groups for Dartmoor and The Lake District. Eventually things got sorted out and we piled into the mini-bus and left, only an hour late.

It's a very long drive - about 5 hours, and once you get to Shrewsbury there are no more highways. So we ended up getting to the bunkhouse about 1am.

I was originally scheduled to be in the larger bunkhouse with 11 other women but I refused and moved to another room that I shared with 4 other women. Still bloody awful but at least the ration for sharing the loo was better. And of course by that tie all of the lower bunks were spoken for so I had to take an upper bunk. Neither of which is good for a girl with Crohn's disease. The girls were all lovely and the bunkhouse was nice enough but I think that in future I will only book onto trips with the option for either private accommodation or, at most, sharing a room with one other girl.

On a pleasant note, it transpired that there were 4 people on the trip who are also going on the Romania trip in June including the trip organisers. This was great news because it meant that I would have an opportunity to get to know some of my fellows for that trip and therefore won't be with a complete pack of strangers. In the end we stayed up shooting the shit until 3am but I'd slept on the trip up so I only needed a few more hours of sleep and I was fine in the morning.

Saturday dawned with some fairly mixed weather. There was a communal breakfast and cleanup effort but I had brought my own stuff so that I wouldn't have to either cook or clean. Not really being a team player, I know, but I don't do dishes. So we all packed lunches and then got into the bus to go to the Pen Y Pass carpark where the walk would begin.

Also, my mate Nigel (who you may remember from the Mt. Toubkal trek) had driven up from his place in the Brecons to join us for the weekend.

At this point we split into 2 groups, those going up via the Pyg Track and the others via Crib Goch. I had a horrible cold and couldn't breathe through my nose so I went with the Pyg crew. But having now seen the pics from the Crib Goch crew I have to say that I'm jealous of them and must, at some point, return to give it a go.

The Pyg is about the middle hardest path and it took me ~3 hours to go up. In part this was because I couldn't breathe well and in part because the mountain was crazy crowded. Any number of times we had to queue to get through particularly narrow bits. And it was a complete scrum at the top. I barely managed to squeeze between folks to tag the top. But at least the weather was good enough that there was a view. Often it's too cloudy to see more than a yard from your nose. That said, it was quite gusty and there were snow flurries and the occasional bit of hail.

So we took a break at the top to have our lunch. And while the restaurant at the top of Snowdon is nice enough, I feel that I have to raise a complaint. There is no way to get water for free. Nor is water available via the vending machine. So if one needs to refill ones water bottle it is necessary to queue for the restaurant and pay for a plastic bottle of water. Not cool.

Going down my group took the Llanberis path which is the easiest. It's basically a mild trail that follows the railroad track. Not particularly taxing however the ~4 hour walk at a constant incline can (and for some people, did) cause foot discomfort due to the constant pressure of the toes against the front of your boot. The advantage of returning via this track is that you end up in Llanberis at the end and so there is the opportunity to grab a pint of beer in a pub because you're in a village as opposed to a remote carpark.

After a few pints we were ready to head back to the bunkhouse but there was a slight problem in that the Crib Goch group had managed to mislay 7 hikers. It all worked out in the end, the hikers were located a few hours later, but things were rather tense for a while and I think we all learned some rather valuable lessons that day about things like keeping track of who is on what walk, mobile numbers, etc.

Upon our return to the bunkhouse we had some time to shower and change and then dinner was served. It was a bit boring but perfectly edible cottage pie followed by an apple crumble. Most folks had brought along some beer or wine so it was a merry meal but generally folks turned in for an early night shortly thereafter.

I have to run up to Bletchley Park to attend the Loebner Prize competition right now but hope to finish off the Snowdonia write-up later and perhaps insert some pics if anyone gets them posted to the meetup site by the time I get home.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Today I'm off on yet another adventure although slightly more modest than my usual. The destination is Snowdonia National Park which has Mount Snowdon - the highest mountain in Wales as well as the Snowdon Mountain Railway (I love cog railways. Blame my father).

I'm going with a local walking group and we assemble in Hammersmith for our minibus at 6pm tonight. There will be a 4-5 hour drive (blech) so we're getting in pretty late. We'll be staying at a traditional Welsh farmhouse and it looks like we have 17 women and 19 men.

So I'm all packed and have made sure to bring a deck of playing cards as well as a copy of Set and I must make sure that I pick up a bottle of whisky

I copy the following from the trip description:


The Snowdonia National Park, which has the evocative Welsh name of 'Eryri' meaning ' the place of the eagles', is an area of outstanding natural beauty covering 838 square miles and containing some of the most magnificent scenery in Wales.
Mount Snowdon, in Welsh, Yr Wyddfa, meaning 'the tumulus', dominates the landscape of North Wales, soaring to 3,560 feet (1,085m) and is the highest mountain in Wales or England. The Snowdon range consists of eleven peaks, three of which surpass 3,000 feet.
A climb to the summit, on a clear day is rewarded with enthralling views of England, Ireland and Scotland. The mountain has been exploited for its copper since as far back as the Bronze Age, extensive Copper Mines were excavated in Victorian times.
The picture postcard village of Betws-y-Coed, pronounced betus a koyd, which translates as the 'chapel in the wood' lies in a magnificent fairyland setting surrounded by the dense coniferous slopes of the Gwydir Forest, where the rivers Conway and Llugwy meet.

Swallow Falls

Nearby is the spectacular Swallow Falls, the highest continuous waterfall in Wales. The picturesque Pont-y-Pair bridge, which spans the River Llugwy's swirling, rock strewn waters, was built in 1468.


The village was founded as a monastery in the the sixth century. Artists have flocked to the area since Victorian times. Betws-y-Coed is a popular inland resort, and offers a wide range of accomodation, possessing many inns, hotels, bed and breakfast establishments, cafes and tourist shops, selling a wealth of goods and souvenirs, and two museums. There are some excellent walks along the River Llugwy.
ACCOMODATION - our accomodation is located at a 18th century Welsh farmhouse in two rural bunk houses with ensuite rooms location on the edge of Snowdonia National Park.
Day 1: Depart from London to Snowdonia on 04 MAY 2012
Day 2: A full day hike (800m) or a chosen activity on 05 MAY 2012.
Day 3: A full day hike (800m) or a chosen activity on 06 MAY 2012.
Day 4: A half day hike (500m) and depart for London on 07 MAY 2012
Hike Ability: Easy / Moderate / Difficult
Hike Distance/Climb: Day2 = 10-20Km/800m, Day3 = 12-24Km/000m, Day4 = 10-15Km/500m