Again, this was not a real backpacking break, but a combination of camping and walking. My autumn holiday from work was in the first week of October, this was the earliest that my employers used to allow it to be. My wife was studying on Monday evenings for her career, while I baby-sat, so I did not leave home until the Tuesday morning, when my journey from north Middlesex took six hours with breaks. In those days my route was the M1, M6 and A5 (the M40 and M54 were yet to be built).
Using the old cotton ridge tent once again, I pitched at Snowdon View Camp Site, to the west of the village of Deiniolen which had myriads of smokey coal-fire chimneys. It poured with rain and blew hard all night, but the morning was fine, with the summit of Snowdon visible later on. An elderly man told me that a couple of nights ago the wind was so strong that it had swung the end of his static caravan around, while the previous week Snowdon had received its first snowfall of the autumn.
That day I drove to Gwastadnant at the foot of the Pass of Llanberis, where I toiled up the steep valley of the Afon Las on the west flank of Glyder Fawr, to reach Llyn y Cwn (Lake of the Dogs) at 2,400 feet, before walking 200 yards to view Twll Du (the Devil’s Kitchen) from above. The latter I had always wanted to see, as it looked so dramatic when pictured in books, and I was not disappointed. The montane flora of bryophytes and clubmosses on the boggy flat area in the vicinity of the lake also fascinated me. I saw two or three other walkers around, but what absolutely filled me with awe was the sight of a lone man who was slowly and carefully picking his way down the stony slopes on the misty upper flank of Glyder Fawr, which soared above one side of the small plateau on which I was standing. Here I was, having exerted a lot of energy that involved much puffing and blowing, to reach a goal at about 2,400 feet above sea level, yet beside me there stretched upwards a further 900 feet of vertiginous mountain, with its top invisible in cloud, and this daredevil had actually been up there, and was now calmly walking down the rocky precipice! It was with a sense of resignation that I pronounced to myself that I would never have the guts, or the energy, to do anything like that myself. (In fact, I was to follow in his footsteps 14 years later!)
After darkness fell, it again poured with rain that lasted most of the night, but there was misty sun in the morning. It was my intention today to climb 2,265-foot Cnicht, in the Moelwyns. Nicknamed the “Welsh Matterhorn”, many authors describe it as the classic beginners’ mountain. I parked near Blaen Nant, a converted chapel on the old Nanmor road, from where I made my way up the slopes to Llyn Llagi at 1,238 feet. Here I was surprised to spot a frog amongst the rocks at the water’s edge. From this lake I made my way eastwards up slopes on a sketchy path that followed a stream and a wall, but I made a navigational error due to lack of experience and poor route finding. As I found out later, I failed to turn sharp right at a white quartz outcrop to make my way up steeper, rockier slopes to reach Llyn yr Adar. I was following instructions from Route 39 in Poucher’s “Welsh Peaks” (7th edition, 1979) which simply says, “Ascend the grassy hillside to the L of the wall and turn R along the skyline.” The moral is, try not to rely solely on the directions given in just one guidebook, look for the same route in other books. Too many authors, I find, can be rather vague and imprecise, although at the other extreme a few meticulously include lots of unnecessary details.
So I ploughed straight on up the path without turning right, to arrive, eventually, at the largest of the three Llynnau‘r Cwn (the Dog Lakes – no connection with the similarly named lake I visited the previous day) which I thought was Llyn yr Adar. I was a bit puzzled at first, for not only was my lake somewhat smaller than I had expected, it also had no little island on it as shown on the O.S. map. It was only after orientating the map with a compass (another relic of the 1971 holiday in Scotland) and spending some time studying it, that I worked out that my intended destination was the large lake I could see far in the distance to the south. As for Cnicht, well, the light was already fading, and I had to return to my van, so it would have to wait for another time.
Yet another wet night was followed by a fine morning, but I was cold and damp, and beginning to miss my home comforts, so that was the end of my second camping-and-walking experience – I was going home.
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