Saturday, 5 November 2011

Snowdonia experiences - "Best thing I've ever done" moments

New post - Alpine experiences - Stage 1
Snowdonia Experiences - Time doesn't matter Wilderness
Snowdonia experiences - Battered by wind

“You ready man?”
“Yeah, but you might want to close the boot”
“Oh yeah, right”

So we’re walking away from the car, leaving it by a letterbox in Nant Peris (old Llanberis), the small village between Llanberis and the Llanberis pass. The path is getting very steep, very quickly. Climbing a stile right next to a cottage, we say hello to the owner as he opens his front door.

I’m wondering at this point what part of this hill is back garden and what part is common land and also, quite how I got so hot so quickly; Anthony stopping in front and pulling off layers is obviously wondering the same.

It’s twenty minutes later and we are on steeper footing, on a path that is meandering in, around and over stone walls as the landscape allows, roughly following the more direct watercourse.

Looking up, I’m wondering quite how anyone ever decided that they would be able to use their feet and legs and bodies to create a path up a slope like this.

I consider that despite being quite a cool day, it is very still, considering the mountain terrain, so perhaps that is why I’m hotter than usual – plus we are carrying over 10 kilos each - so it’s definitely worth a dunk in the stream.

“Mate you gotta try this” – says I
“What a place to be and thing to be doing when we’d both be in an office any other Wednesday” – says Anthony

We’re now at the steepest part of the climb, the path is a lot more loose. I cross a metal bridge, wonder how the hell it got up there, (helicopter I presume) then I take the ‘photo of the holiday’ on looking down the valley, using the bridge as the subject. Say something rediculous to Anthony about, “the juxtaposition of the man made bridge and nature hewn valley is what makes this photo” then continue on.

Anthony is coming across his first challenge of the vertigo kind 20 metres above and ahead. Anthony vs mountain! Anthony wins.


I’m quietly thankful that the climb has finally plateau’d out as we head onto the saddle grassland – the very boggy saddle between Y Garn and the Glyders. Consulting the map I finally make the connection between the actual position, look and layout of this part of the range. I look down towards Twll du (the devil’s kitchen) and Llyn Idwal. I can’t quite see across to our stopover from two nights before, near Llyn Bochlwyd or Australia lake as it is known.


Heading straight up Glyder Fawr the slope is scree and steep, but never unsettlingly so. I sneeze, whilst looking down at a runner who’s progress Anthony and I have followed for a few seconds. The runner stops and looks up, clearly unsure what the noise was. Not long later he is close behind us as we stop on a switchback, we say hello. He says hello.

He introduces himself, with an interesting accent, as the guy who we said hello to at the front door of the cottage below. Before too long we are into a long conversation about ultra marathons. We are finding out that he has taken part in the Ultra trail du Mont Blanc and completed it in 41 hours, along with various other European events. He certainly has the wirey look of a mountain runner and we find that he has lived all his life in the mountains, growing up in the Alps, with a short break to live in London, before moving out to Nant Peris with his wife. He is currently going between Nant Peris, Caernarfon where his restaurant is and Europe, taking part in Ultra Marathons. A very cool guy! A very cool guy with a French/Welsh accent who is keen to sell us his house.

Its time to move on. We’re making steady progress upwards. I begin to understand why they say 'lunar landscape' and to be careful if the weather comes in up here. There are no reference points. There is a light mist, but the path, or paths are clear enough. Cairns (thanks Anthony) are playing their part as well. And there’s the summit of Glyder Fawr.

Time is getting on, thanks to a late start and with the nights drawing in, so I suggest getting a mushti on back down.

“Let’s get a mushti on back down bro” – “okay”

So, I’m now leading Anthony back down the exact way we just came up, honest!

“Eeerrrrr, this isn’t right, my compass is well out. We’re going West and the compass is reading East. Bloody thing. It’s been fine up till now. What the hell!”
We continue.
“Errrr, I don’t remember this, do you?”
“Not sure”
“Errrr, just don’t get why the compass is buggered”
We continue on. The gradient levels out.

“Errrrr, this isn’t right, what the hell, I’m well confused now”

I look to the left and see the big drop down the crag, and then make the connection. We are now on the ridge top between Glyders Fawr and Fach. I have actually, used my judgement and headed off in exactly the opposite direction to intended and then I have convinced myself that it is more likely that a compass has broken, or the magnetic field of the earth itself has reversed - It does happen you know, every few hundred thousand years, the earths poles switch - so it is probably that which has happened. Well it is either that or you are telling me that a man’s directional skills have failed...stupid to even think that...I KNOW!

So now concentrating on navigation a bit more, I get my bearings and we decide that as we’re already on the way, we may as well check out Glyder Fach. After all, we are prepared to stay up on the mountain overnight if required. We climb around on Glyder Fach for a while, unsure of how to progress in the mist, so decide to leave the summit for another day. We’ve lost the route again, but quickly get back on track. Mine and Anthony’s respect for the mountains is increasing with this experience as is my awe for this place. I love it! It is such a good place to spend time!

We’ve reached the Fawr summit again. I’m eager to find the route down, but at the same time loathed to get off somewhere I have really loved being, despite a few moments of navigational uneasiness.

Visiting the Glyders, one of the best things I have done! And even though this theme is likely to come up a lot on this blog, I suppose that is what all this is about. Trying to get myself in as many of those “This is one of the best things I’ve ever done moments” as I can. I suppose the sensible thing is to hope that I become exceedingly repetitive! 

Frenchman's front window. Goat enjoying a good vantage point

New post - Alpine experiences - Stage 1
Snowdonia Experiences - Time doesn't matter Wilderness
Snowdonia experiences - Battered by wind


  1. Good post i enjoyed that. Thanks, we love the Glyders.

  2. @Alan R
    Thank you Alan. Spectacular up there isn't it! Next task is to make it round to Tryfan. I love your blog title!

  3. Oh man. I am sat at my office desk but this just moved me to a whole other place. Reading this, and Anthony's, has got me checking online OS maps for high points within striking distance of Bristol. Serious inspiration, thank you! PS, I would love to trek with you at some point, with or without my two wheels!

  4. @Daniel E
    Great to hear, thanks! I know exactly what you mean. I find myself doing the same at my desk, wishing I was on some mountain somewhere! I don't know what you mean by striking distance, but the Brecon Beacons aren't far and sufficiently high!