News‎ > ‎

Three types of Snowdonia fun

posted 31 May 2017, 02:22 by Andrew Dennis   [ updated 1 Jun 2017, 14:56 ]
Snowdonia meet, 26 - 29 May 2017
Organised by Ross
Article written by Natalie

Ah, the ‘Great British Bank Holiday’! Across the country mountaineers ventured to a range of National Parks scattered from North to South. Swindon Mountaineering club found themselves in Snowdonia for the final bank holiday of May. With over 823 square miles of diverse landscapes and 26,000 residents, Swindon Mountaineering club were bound to find something adventurous to do in Snowdonia over the long weekend.
Despite a glorious weather forecast of unrelenting sunshine in the week before the bank holiday meet; by Friday of the meet merciless wind and downpours threatened to cast a shadow on the meet. Early bird Andy was first to arrive at our home for the weekend, Gwern Gof Uchaf; a campsite situated at the foot of Little Tryfan and its larger counterpart, Tryfan. Whilst other meet attendees battled the bank holiday traffic, Andy summited Tryfan in the sunshine. On his return from the summit Andy took on the role of chief campsite navigator; fielding calls from lost, deliriously exhausted or just confused mountaineers. A job which lasted late into the night!

Rising with Saturday’s dawn it quickly became apparent that there had been a few navigational errors the previous evening. Instead of camping at Gwern Gof Uchaf, one member found themself at Gwern Gof Isaf. Arguably an easy mistake, especially as Ross (meet organiser) and I had found ourselves at the same campsite -about to pitch the tent- before realisation dawned. After a few navigational text messages, obligatory gear faff and a leisurely breakfast; Andy, Emily, Pet, Ross, Sarah and I headed out of the campsite to climb at Little Tryfan. Rather than climbing, Mark set out for a day’s walking around the Carneads. At this point Martin was also on route to the campsite; stopping to pursue some epics in Southern Snowdonia. After bidding Mark farewell, we donned sun cream, repellent and braved shorts (sun in Snowdonia!) The climbers managed several multi-pitch climbs before the heavens unleashed their torrents. Sarah experienced her first crowded ledge (at one point there was five of us) and the euphoria of finally topping out from a climb in the rain.

Retreating back to the campsite we headed in to Betws-y-Coed for dinner, some light gear window shopping and an evening talk at Plas-y-Brenin. Most weekends there is a talk presented by one of the instructors at the centre, this weekend it was a talk titled ‘Suffering for your art- Winter Climbing’ by Keith Ball. In the usual SMC fashion, club members travelled near and far to attend a good social. This lecture was no different! Simon ventured over from Bala to join us, Martin and Mark managed to tear themselves away from the hills –or should that be mountains?- and ex-member James was taking a break from a kayaking holiday to attend the lecture. Keith Ball’s lecture was honest, insightful and inspiring. Aside from learning about the journey which Ball’s passion for the outdoors has taken, his grading of fun was particularly memorable. Ball explained that in all pursuits there are three types of fun: Type one- fun at the time of the activity; Type two- not fun at the time, but definitely fun afterwards (the source of many great stories); finally, Type three- not fun at the time, never fun afterwards. ‘Typing’ our fun was quickly adopted into the rest of the trip.

Saturday night was blustery and rainy. Rain had managed to seep into my tent whilst we were at the lecture and the storm was reminiscent of a steam train whizzing past the tent. Type 2.5 fun. In the morning things had cleared considerably, but drizzle threatened. With the exception of Martin (who had an epic planned) the group decided to summit Tryfan. After an invigorating scramble up the north ridge (Type one fun) the group lunched at Adam and Eve and headed back down a friendlier path. Emily and Sarah headed back to the campsite to bag a hot shower whilst Andy, Mark, Pet, Ross and I headed up Bristly Ridge. After Ross’ Type three experience in a greasy chimney, the group completed the ridge and headed back to the campsite with rue smiles. Dinner was had in a local pub and the group headed to bed for a relatively early night (once Martin had eaten his sticky toffee pudding of course!)


After a damp start to Monday morning, Martin left the group early (before most had risen to greet the beautiful Welsh weather) to get breakfast in a local café and to plan another epic. Finally, the rest of the group parted ways, with Sarah and Mark visiting a relative. Andy, Emily, Pet, Ross and I headed to Eric Jones’ café in Tremadog with the intention of climbing locally. Once we realised that the drizzle was unrelenting, we then ventured on to Harlech to take a walk along the white sand beach, salt marsh and sand dunes. Mysteriously there were hundreds of jellyfish washed up onto the beach in a range of sizes; tea-cup to dustbin lid sized. As we were about to leave the beach, a pod of at least five dolphins made an appearance. Their graceful movements had caught the eye of Pet, who stopped Emily and I to watch their journey along the shoreline. Stunning (Type one fun)! Simon met us in Harlech and once again the group parted ways. Emily and Pet remained behind to go for a swim, whilst we headed back to Wiltshire. By the end of the day most of the ‘beach mountaineers’ had a light suntan (no, it wasn’t dirt).
In summary:
Meet attendees: Andy, Emily, Mark, Martin, Natalie, Pet, Ross, Sarah, Simon and guest appearance from James.
50% of the group went to the wrong camp site initially.
25% of the group actually camped at the wrong camp site.
3 types of fun were had during the course of the three day weekend.
600m is the accepted height of a mountain.
5 dolphins were sighted.
100s of jellyfish were poked.
100s of midge bites itched per person.
1 absolutely cracking weekend- thank you Ross!