The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Sunday 29 March 2009

Carneddau Quickie – Part 2

By the time we made it to where Alan and Robin were pitched they were ensconced in their tents cooking tea, so just a quick hello was had we started looking around for somewhere to pitch – which was not as easy as it might have been with the soft, wet, tussocky and sloping ground (Alan had resorted to using his trekking pole as the rear peg for his tent – and it was sunk to three quarters of the way down its shaft – eek!).

After much faffing, we opted to perch upon a man-made lump which the others had discounted for being too hard a surface to get the pegs in. However, we only had titanium skewers with us, which would have been less-than-ideal in the bogginess, but were fine for working between the gravel and stones about an inch below the grassy surface of this flat-topped knoll.

Now, I should probably mention that it was a bit breezy. Even having put two pegs in the back of the tent before we started pitching it a hearty gust just as we had raised the poles tried to blow the tent off the hillside and in the process removed both of the pegs. When we couldn’t find one of them, we assumed that it had been catapulted down the hillside and was thus lost forever – a trifle annoying as this was the first outing of Susie and thus these were brand new pegs!

Water proved to be a tiny bit of a problem as the deep streambed next to which we were pitched had obviously for a long time been dry. Still, it was a lovely evening for a stroll up to and around the llyn to find a good stream, which is exactly what I did whilst Mick went to assist Alan with his surfeit of Whisky.

Much chatting was then had until simultaneously the light faded, I got cold and my stomach started rumbling so off I toddled to sort out some food, apply a down jacket and put on a head-torch (although not in that order).

By 8pm we were snuggled up in our sleeping bags, with an earphone of The Subtle Knife each, watching the tent periodically flattening on us from the tail end and with the sound of rain (or so we thought) hitting the nylon.

At 10pm the rain hadn’t let up and I was in that horrible camping scenario of really needing to use the en-suite whilst being very reluctant to do so in the rain. My procrastination was long enough that a brief respite in the weather finally came and Mick and I simultaneously dived into our clothes and for the door. Then we stopped dead as we saw the snow on the ground. A good blanket of an inch or so. Didn’t expect that!

In terms of the amount of sleep achieved, I think that the night has to go down as the second most sleepless of my camping life. The noise of the wind combined with a lack of exhaustion (if I’d walked 15 miles over hills the day before then I’m sure it would have been a different story) conspired to stop me from doing anything beyond occasional dozing.

Finally, at about 6am I dropped off and knew nothing until I woke up at 7.10, when I opened my eyes to find the front pole of the tent bent down to just above my face – which is most certainly not its correct position. It took me a few moments to work out that the wind had got stronger and had swung around in the night such that it was now hitting us head on (the anemometer held out of the front vent recorded 35mph; with hand freezing we didn’t wait for a big gust to measure that). Lying there watching the tent deform every few minutes, I suspected that we may have incurred a few curves in our poles!

Trying to make a cup of tea in the porch seemed futile in the absence of a windshield so the decision was made to make our way down to nearby Dulyn bothy for breakfast.

With uncanny timing we found ourselves ready to do battle with the wind and a flysheet just as Alan and Robin emerged to do the same with their tents. Depitching proved that we had indeed incurred curved poles in the night: every single one of them – one quite remarkably (but thanks to having taken the old poles from Vera I didn’t have to suffer the distress of a lost new peg and bent new poles!).

Wandering over to Alan and Robin we shared our immediate plan with them, and they opted to join us in the bothy for a cup of tea, so off we all set together and not long afterwards we were indoors and out of the wind – and questioning why we had all just spent a disturbed night in our tents when there was a perfectly good bothy less than a twenty minute walk away! (The answer being of course that if we had stayed in the bothy we wouldn’t have such a story to tell about our night of snow and gales.)

With tea at the forefront of our minds, Alan and Mick went off to gather enough water for thirty cups of tea (getting a bit carried away there), whilst I faffed with a stove and tea-makings and Robin decided to modify his layering. As a result of the latter two activities when Mick walked back into the room it was with the question “Should I be worried about walking into a room to find my wife alone with a man stripped down to his pants and just getting dressed again?”

And I think that’s as good a place as any to break the tale for now.

To be continued*…

(*My goodness, how much can a 20 hour trip to the hills be strung out?!)


  1. REALLY p****d off not to have been there. 'Hyper' would have loved those conditions!

  2. Alas Susie Superlite didn't quite relish the conditions, even though she withstood them admirably. With the benefit of hindsight, Wendy Warmlite would have been a better choice - much quieter and sturdy. But, of course, Wendy isn't new and wasn't begging for her first outing.