For some inexplicable reason I find myself compelled to explain why I haven’t been out on the hills much recently. I don’t normally write expedition reports – rather I prefer to add details for the particular summit. In this case, however I thought I would make an exception.
In the past few months, every spare waking moment has been spent rebuilding one of our racing cars for another method of climbing hills. I had promised to get it going for a special meeting a couple of weeks ago. In the world of Speed Hillclimbing, it’s quite a famous car and it still has class records to it’s name despite my not having driven it in anger for six years. There was a lot of pressure to get it going again.
It was always going to be a difficult task getting it ready in time. We made it, but without shaking it down somewhere first – which is always risky. The only running it got was at home where it happily left two black lines on the drive.
At the meeting, I had to delay my first practice run while I sorted out a couple of minor problems but we finally made it to the start line an hour late. That’s where it all went properly wrong. As I tried to leave the line the engine died. Permanently. So now, rather than a sigh of relief and a relaxed return to hill walking, I’m faced with an engine re-build.
So, here goes. Tal y Fan GW/NW-040, 19-6-2010
The lanes up from the Conwy valley to the normal parking spot for this easy 4-pointer are narrow and a challenge in a big vehicle – like our motorhome. We had a few days of garden visits planned in North Wales so when Gill unknowingly booked us a spot on the Caravan Club CL closest to Tal y Fan, the temptation was too great.
The problem was how to get up to the summit and back without disrupting the day’s main activity. It was long before the sun had reached the depths of the Conwy valley when I started walking up the lanes and away from the site just south of Tyn-y-groes. The walk was about 4.5 miles with 1900 ft of ascent so having done almost no hill walking since the South Downs Way I allowed a little extra time.
I could see the summit on and off and it was in the mist when I left but as I walked, it slowly emerged and by the time I reached the summit it was in the clear with the odd glimpse of sun about. It was, however, very cold and I was regretting having left my balaclava at home. My face was going numb.
Lawrie G6XLL in London came back to my first call at 0615 gmt and I worked a total of 11 stations on 2m ssb before I needed to head back down. I was a little disappointed to have missed some old friends, but I guess it was a bit early for most.
My return route was the reverse of my ascent but I needed to get back and trying an unknown route using unknown footpaths at that point wasn’t a very clever idea. I was back at the site by 0845 gmt.
It was great to be back on a summit – albeit briefly. I don’t seem to have lost any fitness which is good news. I was also trying out some new boots in anticipation of using them on the Offa’s Dyke Path later this year. Actually, they’re more like trail shoes so I was anxious to give them a good test as soon as possible. They were excellent, giving a bit more cushioning than my hill boots on the tarmac lanes that made up 7 out of the 9 miles of the walk.
73, Richard (still pining for the hills)