To make a short story long, I’ve just got back from a long weekend at the Oread MC hut at Rhyd Ddu (or Rhyd-du on the station sign) on the West side of Snowdon (GW/NW-001.) Although Friday was very wet, Saturday was a really fine sunny day, and as surface water was still streaming off the hillside I opted to walk the slate quarry cart track to Blwch Cwm Llan, prospecting the route for a future activation of Yr Aran (NW-019) from Rhyd Ddu. A bad decision, as it turned out, I should have gone for it!
Yesterday was another warm, sunny day, the sort of day that makes winter shorter. The game plan was to climb Y Garn, opposite the hut, and then walk along the Nantlle Ridge to activate Trum y Ddysgl, NW-024. Those that have done it (and if you haven’t, you should!) will know that it is in places an entertaining easy scramble with a considerable drop on the north side, part of one of the classic outings of the area. So I set out after breakfast, and despite the almost lunatic path, which alternated between deep muddy trenches and greasy decaying slate outcrops, I made it to the top in good Naismyth time - I must be improving! However, as I neared the summit the wind rapidly built up and at the top it was blowing a hooley, in the picturesque Scots lingo! In plain English it was a blustering, bullying gale roaring over the rocks. I pushed on hoping that it was local funneling, but no such luck, in fact it was getting worse. The turning point (literally!) came when I was actually blown off my feet and finished up lying on my side with my head over a huge yawning gulf - not that huge, perhaps, just 30 or 40 metres to certain splat! OK, I thought, that is entirely too strong a hint to ignore, I’m too old to tap-dance on the lip of Hell. It was time to retreat. After all, it is OK to fail, isn’t it? If the alternative is a free hang-gliding lesson and a line in the local accident statistics?
Failure is a relative term: I didn’t get to Trum y Ddysgl, I didn’t pass Go and pick up some points, but I had got to a fine summit, a terrific viewpoint, especially across the Nantlle pass to the ruinous crags of Mynydd Mawr where my friends were having their own private epic on Sentries Ridge, a grade 3 scramble which, amazingly, hasn’t fallen down yet - although the gang left some useful bits of it lying on the scree in a haze of sulphurous fumes!
Oh yes, just to the left of the lunatic path that I referred to is a much nicer path that hasn’t lost much of its turf yet - where the obvious path steepens just strike out to the left, it is about a hundred metres away. Isn’t it funny how you can always find the best way in descent?