She Keeps On Giving

Posted on: 20 May 2019

Yr Wyddfa I mean.

They come here in their droves. Swarming masses making their bee line for the summit. Because it's there. Because it's accessible. Because there's a train to the top. Because they've heard of it. Because everybody knows somebody that's been there. 

If it sounds like criticism, I don't mean it to. I'd heard of Snowdon as a child long before I knew the names of Ben Nevis, or Scafell Pike, or any of the Pennines you could see from our house.

Mountain folk don't like how busy it is, and heck, at this time of year especially it can feel like Christmas Eve in Tesco's on that mountain, there's just that many people up there.

But you can escape the masses, and if you really love your mountains, then you can't really ever forget, that Snowdon, even busy, is still one heck of a mountain, with something to offer everyone, from experienced alpine climber to less able tourist on the train. I've even pushed a wheelchair up there, ok, pulled, and as part of a team.

I can think of no finer mountain for a parent to introduce their children to the freedom of the hills. No need to flog 'em to death walking all 10 miles, you can take them on the train, or shelter them in the cafe if the weather has turned harsh.

I really do love that mountain, and I have climbed her many times. But she still has more to show me, she still has ridges unexplored and paths I have not used, and that's where I found myself on Saturday, over on Yr Wyddfa, exploring something completely new.

I don't know why I've not used this path before. I will certainly use it again.

The Watkin winds it's way up from Nant Gwynant, south south east of the summit if you're checking on a map. Where they feed you slices of orange and you can't unzip your gimp suit to eat 'em if you're a certain friend of mine running a certain marathon a certain time I'll never forget 😃.

Through the gate and up the steps onto a path through proper old deciduous woodland made of mostly oak, still carpeted by bluebells and filled with the songs of birds. Not a soul around. Just Molly and me.... a cuckoo..... this is Snowdon, on the weekend, after breakfast, it's never as quiet as this.

We do see other people on the path, but only once we've cleared the woods and are out in open valley. A lovely looking waterfall shows us roughly our pathway up the hill. Ok, the path is well established and easy for us to see, but the waterfall is prettier, I'd rather look at that. High on the hill another cuckoo, the 2 of them are having a chat

"What's for tea love?" "I dunno, make your own you lazy gobshite" "There's no need to be like that my lover" "You've not even taken the bins out and that's the only thing I asked you to do" "Don't you talk about me being lazy when you've left the children round at the Dunnocks".... My imagination is going off on one imagining what they might be saying 😃.

Sir Edward Watkin was a railway man with quite a bit of coin. He had the path constructed as a donkey track, and it was officially opened by that most persistent of Prime Ministers, William Gladstone, in 1892. 4 times Gladstone took that hot seat! Somehow can't see Mrs May achieving anything like that.

Neither Gladstone nor Watkin could ever have imagined that the path would become a star, in a sense at least, of cinema and TV. Carry On Up The Khyber was filmed on Snowdon's Watkin Path.

We saw a couple with their wetsuits on jumping into crystal clear plunge pools on the waterfall's steady descent. At the top of the falls, ruins from slate quarrying, and then a stunning valley opened out before us. In it, the Gladstone rock. I've read of legends of this rock rising from the ground as Gladstone addressed the people of Eryri here, and they sang "Land of my Fathers" with such passion it raised him, atop the rock, into the air.

Off the tip of Snowdon's south ridge, another new adventure revealed itself to me. The pointy peak of Yr Aran looks amazing. I need to get my ass over there.

We climbed to join the saddle between Yr Wyddfa and Y Lliwedd. Approaching from this side, when you see over into the bowl of Cwm Dyli and it's lake, Llyn Llydaw, the view is absolutely breathtaking. I've walked this part of the path before, but never seen it quite like this. It's worth every moment of the climbing for the impact of that view.

Clouds rolled in off the shoulder of Crib Goch. The dark cliffs of Y Lliwedd rose up into the grey. Easy to see in this light how they would make a man of Hilary that was ready for Everest's tests.

Yr Wyddfa kept herself hidden in the heavens too. A pretty normal day for Snowdon really. Her clouds stick to her almost as rigidly as our atmosphere clings to our very Earth. Rare are the days like last weekend, but she loses none of her beauty for being secretive with her summit view. She broods, and she smoulders, and who doesn't like a lady like that?

We climb the steep scree up onto Bwlch-y-Saethau, The Pass of the Arrows, so named for it is here that legend says King Arthur fought his last battle. Upon these very rocks stood a monument called Carnedd Arthur. It didn't survive into the 20th Century.

Snowdon's summit, by contrast, is supposedly built upon the body of Rhita, a giant slain by Arthur long before that final, fatal battle of Tregalan. 

Cup of tea, visit the summit, there's nothing to see here for in cloud we are enshrined. It is windless, really windless, unusual at this height, especially when there's threat of rain. It has stayed dry for us all day though, and I'm feeling somewhat spoiled.

We descend on the other side of the mountain, down the busier Pyg Track to catch a bus at Pen-y-Pass. Views are great once we drop out of the cloud.

A stranded lamb causes a stir. It is over on the cliffs at the other side of Glasllyn. Excalibur is rumoured to be in those icy blue waters with the Lady of the Lake. The Monster of Betwys-y-Coed was drowned in this lake too. Another story for another day. I'm fighting desperately the urge to crack a joke about a beaver 🤭.

I want to try to get the lamb. I want to climb Snowdon via Y Gribin. It's a grade 1 scramble and so not for faint of heart. We'll be an extra 2 hours at least on the mountain if I head over and do that. Not enough food or water to cover it, and a genuine risk of death. I'm sorry little lamb. I hope your mum can find you quicker than the crows.

Down at Pen-y-Pass neither of us really wants the bus. We set off running on the path down through the fields, and find a lovely path into the valley that joins up with the track you run down when you take part in Marathon Eryri. It's a lovely run back to the car, about 5 miles, and a great way to finish off a jolly over one heck of a hill 😊.

 

(I have no idea why Realbuzz is insisting that my pictures be upside down, Simon? 😠🤔)

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