Work commitments meant most of The Rabble were already one day into the expedition by the time I arrived in Dollgellau. After half a day of flat bimbling, they were too tired to wait in the pub for me (rotters!) so we all had a relatively early night.
In the morning I was very pleased that our intended mountain was hidden behind a tree, thus allowing me to kid myself that the contours on the map were just for illustrative purposes. It was already quite hot so I zipped my legs off and put 2.5 litres of water in my pack. Yes, 2.5 kg of water is quite heavy but I didn’t think we’d find much once we started heading up the hill.
The first couple of miles were on minor roads with unhelpful names like “Steep Hill” (but in Welsh, obviously).
The next umpteen miles were up, then up a bit more, then up. Being the youngster of the group, I could obviously have dashed ahead on my own but I thought I’d show some respect for my elders and betters by agreeing to rest every couple of steps. Even when the old b*ggers were two hundred yards in front of me, I still agreed to rest every couple of steps. That’s how respectful I am.
On a flat grassy bit we all stopped for a water break. Two day-walkers appeared on the other side of the fence and confirmed their location and direction of travel with us. Then, after an interesting acrobatic display utilising the wobbly stile, we shared our First Aid kits with them. They assured us that they had everything they needed for a day in the hills. (Hm? Everything but a map and a FA kit.)
Water was starting to become a concern for me so I was very pleased when the more intrepid members of the group scouted ahead and found a delicious free-flowing spring. I drank two mugs full and filled up with three litres for camping. We looked ahead to a potential camping site and answered Laura‘s “But won’t that area be a wind tunnel?” with cries of “Nah! S’dead calm, innit?!”
We found a decent patch of flattish grass with a marvellous view and pitched our tents. While JJ ran a bath Pieman decided to set fire to the hillside and pour half of his water away. I spent the first hour in my tent licking chocolate off my rucksack….and everything in my rucksack. First Aid kit . Insect repellent Rucksack . [Note to self: Do not put chocolate in top pocket of rucksack. Or, put chocolate in top pocket of rucksack but eat it ALL at the first snack break.]
After snoozes and dinners and chatting, some people retired to bed whilst others stayed up to watch the sun set.
I woke at midnight and the wind was definitely getting stronger – but nothing to fear. I’ve used my Laser Comp in some pretty rough weather. It’ll be fine.
I woke again at 2:37. Well, when I say “woke”, I mean I became even less asleep than I had been since midnight. The wind was now battering my poor little tent and I was not enjoying the experience. I thought I saw lights so I looked out and saw Dawn baling out. I went out to see if I could help (and check if all of my tent was still there.) My tent was fine, so I went back inside but decided to get dressed and pack a few loose items away. Through the darkness came a comforting smell of chocolate as I loaded up the rucksack.
At some point (by now, time was just a wierd concept with no basis in reality) my tent door burst open and the side of the tent started billowing frantically. I repegged the corner of the tent and tried to work out what was wrong with the door. I’d pegged the loop at the bottom of the door to the floor but the wind had ripped the loop off and I now had no way of securing the door against the wind. The little plastic clip was nowhere to be found – and I wouldn’t have fancied getting my (chocolate scented) sewing kit out in that sort of weather – so I put a peg through the zip puller itself and tried to go back to sleep. (I now have a genuine use for the cocktail stick tentpegs supplied with the tent; they’re the only pegs small enough to fit through the hole in a zip puller!)
It was light at about 4:10 and I pondered packing up but didn’t really have a plan beyond cowering behind the tumbled down dry stone wall. At 6-ish, Mike’s dulcet tones cut through the wind and suggested that we may wish to move on. 7 of us helped each other take down the tents and pack up. One of us failed to get the message and spent the next half an hour making his breakfast and listening to the news on his LW wireless.
We made breakfast in a sheepfold further down the hill. After the heat of the previous day, it was pleasantly cool and breezy and I finally got a chance to try out my new Mountain Warehouse softshell (review to follow).
For reasons I still don’t really understand, our party split into two and camped about 4 miles away from each other. The heat was now unbearable again so I used my dormant Girl Guide skills to rig a sun shade from an old groundsheet and a few lengths of twine. That provided just enough shelter to get a comfortable couple of hours kip and recover from the night before.
Refreshed, I took my time walking slowly over to the Barmouth side of the estuary and – after two ice-creams and a paddle – joined the others in the pub for Veggie burger and chips.