Why do the British talk about weather so much? It’s a topic that never fails to kick-start a conversation, probably because we get so much of it! Things never stay constant for long, but the last couple of weeks have featured day after day of high winds, the kind of winds that make walking in the hills unpleasant if not dangerous. So, as there wasn’t much hill activity this week, I decided to delve into the archives to see what I was doing in April 2009.
Although living in West Yorkshire at the time, I had laid siege on Tryfan in North Wales, with the intention of writing up a route for Walkingworld.com – the problem was, every time I arrived in the Ogwen Valley the mist came down. Photos are quite important for Walking World, but after several wasted journeys Tryfan was still hidden in the clouds – Y Garn wasn’t though, so I took the opportunity to snatch a consolation prize.
As Y Garn on its own is a short day, my plan was to zoom round the route in quick time, recording the route and taking photographs – I decided on an ascent by the lake of Llyn Idwal, then up Twll Du (the ‘Black Hole’ or Devil’s Kitchen as we English have it) before descending from Y Garn by the North East Ridge. If I thought I was in for an uncomplicated trip, the mist had other ideas.
Anyone reading this who has the slightest interest in photography would probably agree that a grey, damp, misty day does not bode well for photos. Nor did it on this trip – my ascent of Twll Du was based on memory rather than on the extensive views. I had a coffee break under the big boulder on the way up, where I had to make the decision to carry on or bail out.
I didn’t bail out, and managed to record a route that was eventually published as Walk 5125 on the Walking World website. However, in 2012 I was back with camera, GPS and voice recorder, describing a route on Elidir Fawr for Discovery Walking Guides – the visibility was so good that I ended up writing one route for DWG whilst recording new photos for the Walking World route at the same time, but in reverse!
The Elidir Fawr trip went really well, with excellent visibility all the way round … until the summit of Y Garn! I couldn’t believe it as the cloud started to swirl round the summit, but I did manage to grab a shot that, whilst not exactly stunning, was a good representation of the view from the top looking north.
I’ve not quite become a ‘fair weather’ walker yet, but our fickle British weather does have an impact on the hill trips. Having said that, I’ve got another job waiting at home that needs to be completed before any more trips out – putting away the ice axe, crampons, skis, etc for another year. Oh well, there’s always the summer to look forward to……
Text and images © Paul Shorrock, except image tagged (JB) © John Bamber