A couple of weeks full of family and travel and no blogging! This last week we have had younger son and his wife here with their black labrador. Son and his wife are both keen cooks and lots of fabulous food has been cooked and eaten. It has been great just to have time to catch up and to chat, to sit by the woodburner and drink tea and wine and talk and read and snooze.
Chris has never been up Snowdon so on Tuesday we decided to have a go. Snowdon, for anyone reading outside the UK, is the highest mountain in Wales at 1,085 metres or 3,560 feet. If you live in a mountainous part of the world this might not sound like a big deal but Snowdon is a true mountain, the highest in the UK outside of Scotland, and people die on it every year, mostly by making mistakes about weather conditions. In fact there was a rescue only yesterday.
The Welsh name, Yr Wyddfa, means the tumulus. The mountain is within the Snowdonia National Park, a spectacular mix of lakes and mountains and coast. In Welsh, Snowdonia is known as Eryri, variously translated as land of eagles, or simply highlands. It is certainly a much higher, wilder land than our own softer hills. I love to visit but inevitably I suppose, I am glad I live here in the gentler landscape of the Clwydian hills.
Winter hasn't lost its grip even here and we knew there would be snow on Snowdon but we decided to go and have a look. This is less cavalier than it may sound. While we knew there would be snow, Ian has done a lot of walking in snow, on his own and in groups, and we have all walked a fair bit and were properly equipped. The idea was to see how far we could get with due regard to the weather conditions. Today it is iron cold and the snow outside my window is blowing in wind that cuts to the bone. Nobody in their right mind would go anywhere today. Today is a day to sit by the stove. On Tuesday though it was considerably warmer with practically no wind. It was worth a try, principally because Ian knows what he is doing. Don't mess with mountains in snow if you don't. Mountain rescue crews all over the world risk themselves to rescue those who have got it wrong!
Down by the carpark winter had bleached all the green from the grass, leaving multiple shades of brown and grey. Grey also lay around in pieces of slate. Slate was mined all over Snowdonia and there are slate workings higher up the mountain. We were walking up from Rhyd Ddu (black ford) where the Welsh Highland railway cuts through the spectacular heart of the mountains, running from Caernarfon on the north coast to the west coast at Porthmadog.
In the summer I am spending a week building dry stone walls as a volunteer for the National Trust with the friend with whom I walked the Offa's Dyke Path four years ago . I need to be able to work all day handling stone and also to walk in and out to Cwm Idwal, a high hanging valley in northern Snowdonia. I am pretty sure most of the participants will not be small, slightly overweight women in their fifties with a love of knitting and a weakness for a glass of wine or two (this description is me, not my younger, slimmer and fitter friend!). Better get some training in so as not to embarrass myself entirely. Tuesday was both training and a reminder of how much fitter I need to be. Son and daughter in law practically skipped along while I slogged away determinedly at the back. There is nothing like that extra thirty years to slow you down!
Keep climbing steadily and you are walking on snow while the valleys and mountains open up around you.
Flora the labrador loves snow. She also loves water, sticks and balls and food. But snow is a particular source of fun.
Sometimes, if you are a dog, you just need to run round in circles for sheer joy.
The top of Snowdon was covered in cloud and the snow was deep. Time for discretion to be the better part of valour. We turned back. This is the second time I have almost climbed Snowdon and been defeated near the summit. Ah well, the mountain will always be there for another attempt!
Today driving snow and bitter wind are keeping us inside. It was the vernal equinox on Wednesday, the first day of spring. Somebody needs to tell the weather.