North Wales was the place to be with the number of MMC keen to escape the big smoke, necessitating the booking of a second bunkhouse at the eleventh hour.
As only one bunkhouse had a shower, competition for places was almost as intense as a Stella McCartney bunfight down Topshop. Several folk pulled the short straw including AG, Rick, Nikki, Jules and Chuck. Others called John Bradshaw actually chose the shower-less bunkhouse!
The -4 star accommodation (upmarket, thanks only to its superior hillside location) could only be reached after judicious use of the compass – at 320 degrees for 400 metres to be precise. A stern test for any mountaineer… JB rose to the challenge but just as he was making his midnight approach to the barn by following its lights, there was an inopportune power cut. Despite immediately veering off in a different direction, his experience shone through and after hand-railing a dry wall for the odd mile or two, JB finally arrived at the obscure location – only to find the lights in full working order. His only comment? Bastards!
Meanwhile in the luxury -2 star accommodation things were more straightforward but arguably less entertaining. A certain pair encountered difficulties finding the building however but this had nothing to do with compass work or mysterious power cuts. On with the weekend, and what was lacking in the heating and comfort department was thankfully made up for by the weather.
On Saturday, the sky was blue with a touch of frost on the tops – the Ogwen valley looked stunning! As Matt later commented, his bunkhouse was grim, but it seemed a lot better as soon as he walked out the door and saw the view. ‘Top marks for location,’ he said. ‘So, I picked my route for the day by it being the first mountain I saw when I walked outside.’
Simon, Brendon, Clare, Hannah, Matt Freake, Ian, Robin, Sarah and Silvia all agreed with Matt and after breakfast they headed out into the sunshine, no less.
Back to Matt, ‘Absolutely beautiful day and we made the most of it walking up Carnedd Dafydd and Carnedd Llywelyn. ‘Towards the end, I discovered that I’d lost my phone. Called it on Lou’s phone and it was answered by some Army guy we’d been chatting to earlier in the day. Luckily, he was just a mile behind us so we met up easily and got my phone back. I’m a lucky gent. Just discovered when I got home that they took a photo of themselves too.’
A smaller party of Jules, JB, Wendy and later Rick and Nikki – also completed the circular Carnedd ridge, lapping up the spectacular conditions. The north ridge of Tryfan also got a look in with Chuck, Kate, Ricardo, Nick and Fiona all bagging the summit.
Chuck particularly enjoyed scrambling up Little Tryfan but decided to back off when, two thirds up, he found himself in the position of having to scramble around a frozen rock climber. ( Hmmm, sounds more like K2 – ed) So back to the luxury bunkhouse where, although the showers were warm (and there were showers!), according to Caroline, there was also ‘significant evidence’ that they were sharing their accommodation with chickens. She added that a strange man had been spotted running around near the chickens wearing luminous attire and a vacant expression on his face. The vacant expression apparently remained vacant despite friendly overtures from the MMC.
Conditions were interesting in the hillside bunkhouse too where the polar temperatures proved too much for Rick and Nikki who retreated to a B&B on the Saturday night. And who could blame then when the B&B was above the Bryn Tyrch pub! This left five in the uphill but not upmarket bunkhouse – and with one degree equalling one person, the most pressing topic of conversation that night was would temperatures plummet to a chilly five degrees with Rick and Nikki’s departure?
Sunday dawned and the weather, unbelievably, was even better than Saturday!
The MMC were raring to go – walking, running, mountain biking, working (doh!) and faffing! In the words of Matt: ‘Got up with a hangover. Spent about an hour watching in amazement as one of the MMC’s best faffs took place. At one point, my bimbly plan of going up Little Tryfan actually had six followers. This incidentally after Chris had got back from running the previous day’s entire route (more of this later).
People eventually got sorted. And Lou, Simon and Wendy headed out for Little Tryfan! Then crossed the valley and bimbled in the sunshine.’
Sarah, Matt Freake, Ian and Caroline tackled a ‘low level’ walk, taking in Y Garn via the Devil’s Kitchen where they bumped into JB and Chris who had scrambled up a 2 star ridge up to the summit. A good scramble, not particularly long, but worthy of its grade and the two stars, came the verdict.
Chris was happy with the shortish route, thanks to already completing a hill run that morning. ‘Just ran the reverse of the route we walked the previous day on the Carnedds,’ he explained modestly. ‘Nobody about at that time in the morning and perfect weather, so just an amazing run! I’ll leave 1 hr 55 minutes as the target time to beat if anyone fancies a challenge!’ Had they known, some might have done. Instead, the other runners prepared for a different challenge – the infamous Sewards’ Slog.
Back on form after a decent night’s sleep in their B&B, Rick and Nikki were joined by AG and Robin on the run planned out by Rick. Billed as a 12-miler, the trail contained an extra 3 miles – slogtastic value all agreed! Over to Robin: ‘So the promised two hour and a bit route was going well when we reached the “half-way” point where the water bottles had been stashed. It was a pretty flat route from Beddgelert up past the lakes of Llyn Dinas and Llyn Gwynant – all very atmospheric being bathed in winter sunshine. ‘The second half promised a bit more hill back down a valley, which turned out to be a very long half! You always know when you press the route organiser about the distance and it gets longer, that it’s going to be one of those days. What started at 12 miles turned out more like 15. “Well, I hadn’t straightened out the wiggles” went Map-boy’s defence!’ After two and a half hours AG ran out of fuel due to not having had a luxuriously cooked breakfast in the Bryn Tyrch – so what was Rick’s excuse, asked Nikki? Still Nikki and Robin pressed on, Nikki gaining more strength as the time ticked past the three hour mark. Rick and AG walked back to the car and an immediate cafe stop was the priority for all concerned to re-hydrate (pints of tea mostly) and carbo-load with chips and chocolate cake, reported Robin.
Further south, at Coed-y-Brenin, the mountain bikers were also earning their cake by riding the Karrimor trail. Chuck, Kate, Ricardo, Clare, Brendon, Silvia and Hannah had great fun avoiding tree roots and rocks. There were a couple of small falls but it was Kate who returned with the most impressive bruise – a war wound to be proud of!
In all, a fantastic weekend in amazing conditions – why can’t North Wales be like this every time? Thanks to Matt and Ian for supplying their pictures and thanks to Chuck for booking a second bunkhouse.