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.

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