Friday, 24 February 2012

Moelwyn Mawr

Going up mountains, or trying to, is the normal holiday ambition. (I know, it begs the question whether the practice can indeed be called normal!) In the summer it can be simple: the weather's good, the weekend's free, so we throw a suitcase into the car, add a bag of supplies for the dog, and head off to Wales or the Lake District (the dog can be presumed to have hopped into the car by herself as soon as she saw the suitcase.)

In the winter it's a bit more complicated.  Free weekends are at a premium, so the booking has to be made in advance, and the weather taken on trust--and, of course, the weather in Wales and the Lakes is never trustworthy.  Sometimes it seems to take a malicious pleasure in teasing you.

The first time we attempted Moelwyn Mawr was last Spring.  It was a beautiful sunny day when we set out, walking from Tanygrisiau, up through the slate quarries and ascending an easy grassy slope.  Alas, as we went up, the hillfog came down, and when we struggled on to the summit all that was visible was hill, fog, and one departing hiker.  We told each other it was bound to lift soon, and stood about for about twenty minutes looking stupid and waiting for the show to start.  It didn't.  We sighed and started down--and when we were about halfway, the hillfog shredded and the mountaintop smirked at us against a blue sky.

We tried again last weekend, staying in a lovely little eco B&B called Bryn Elltyd, right at the foot of the Moelwyns.  The forecast, however, was for heavy rain.  We set out anyway, and within the hour the rain stopped; a little later the sun came out. We walked up the Croesor valley noticing all the reasons we like to go to Wales.  Then we turned onto the path towards the mountain, telling one another that this time we might  make it after all.

As we approached the pass, however, the skies lowered, the wind got up, and then a blast of stinging snow swept up behind us.  At six hundred metres, where the path to the summit diverged, the top was covered in cloud, with more snow threatening in the west.  We sighed, skirted the summit, and came down past the slate mines, the dog hauling dangerously on the lead and making frantic endeavours to chase sheep all the way.

It cleared, of course, by the time we reached the bottom.  Moelwyn Mawr triumphed again.

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