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Alex reports on the recent trip to Snowdonia...
The view from the Treks Bunkhouse is outstanding. The whole of the Vale of Ffestiniog is laid out before you, from the town and slate quarries of Blaenau Ffestiniog on the right, all the way down through woodland and riverside fields to the sea in Tremadoc Bay. On the other side of the valley are the Moelwyns, that great central range of Snowdonian peaks that jut out of a craggy moorland plateau.
Thirteen members assembled in this excellent bunkhouse for a Friday night of jacket potatoes and bean chilli in anticipation of our Snowdon climb the next day. Though there were definitely a few glasses of wine out, it was mostly an evening of checking walking kit, followed by an early night.
Saturday dawned clear and bright and we made our way to the western side of Snowdon to the start of the Ranger’s path, where we met Jake, who was to be the second guide for the day. The Ranger’s path starts from the YHA Snowdon Ranger and is one of the oldest routes up Snowdon, and the route many of the earliest travellers would have used. It starts beside Llyn Cwellyn before zig-zagging up to give excellent views into the upland valley of Cwm Clogwyn. It then joins the ridge above Clogwyn Du’r Arddu and makes its way slowly up the the summit.
With blue skies and a cool wind we all made excellent progress, and were able to celebrate on the summit with a sheltered lunch stop before beginning the descent. As a group we split into two on the ascent, which allowed everyone to choose a fast or slower pace and the guides to keep a tab on everyone.
Our descent was on the Rhyd Ddu path, which first heads out over the narrow but easy ridge of Bwlch Main and then bears west to descend the wide ridge of Llechog. It’s always preferable to do a different route in descent if possible – after all, there are thousands of miles of path in this country and it seems a shame to do the same bit twice. On Bwlch Main we even found some flowering Purple saxifrage, a plant that’s common in the Arctic but rare in the UK. Snowdonia is as far south as it grows. So our efforts in choosing a different route were immediately rewarded.
The other great thing about the Rhyd Ddu path is that it ends at a pub, and the group dutifully collapsed into chairs with tea and beer while I walked back the short distance along the road to get the car. It wasn’t too long before we were joined by the second group, and before long we were all back at the bunkhouse making that choice we all have to confront sometime in life – soup or prosecco.
Sunday was another beautiful day, but the challenge of Saturday had taken its toll, and after a late breakfast with the sun streaming through the windows, most people headed off for home, or to stroll around the local villages. I was joined by four members in a Sunday walk through the forests and crags surrounding Betws-y-Coed, a village in the Conwy Valley on the edge of the National Park. A few hours through these trees, with no summit to reach and no fixed path is exactly what you need on a sunny Sunday morning walk. Back in the village we gathered for one final meal before we, and the weekend, parted company.
Author: Alex Kendall
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