Saturday: Melynllyn – Lyn Cowlyd – Capel Curig – Gwern Gof Isaf (11.7 miles)
Although the snow/sleet/hail petered out in the early hours, it was still very windy. Around six o’clock I decided that I needed to answer a call of nature, donned some extra layers of clothing and got out of the tent. The glowering clouds were not very welcoming and the tops were still shrouded in mist. Fortunately, I found a sheltered spot behind a large boulder.
I went back to the tent and lazed in my sleeping bag for an hour before boiling some water for a cup of tea. The wind had shifted in the night so that it was blowing obliquely into the front of the tent, which made cooking a bit testing. Nevertheless the new Primus windshield protected the flame well and I was quickly sorted.
After breakfast we decided it was time to pack. One disadvantage of the Comp is that its small interior size means that packing is more difficult in the tent, something that Alan mentioned that other Comp owners had remarked on. As a result I was somewhat slower than Alan in breaking camp. About a hundred yards away, Mick and Gayle were also packing.
All the tents had stood up well to a battering in the night, with small drifts of snow against the bottom of the flysheets. Gayle measured winds of 35mph on her anemometer, but I suspect some of the gusts were stronger than that. Alan seemed to have no problems in Wanda, while my only complaint was the noise. However, Mick and Gayle’s tent had suffered a slight bending to their poles. I felt somewhat smug that my minimalist tent had suffered no problems compared to the seemingly more robust, three pole geodesic.
The glowering skies above Melynllyn
Alan and I decided to accompany Mick and Gayle down to Dulyn bothy. There’s a steep but easy track down from Melynllyn. The bothy itself was quite pleasant, if a little dark. There was a large dining room table and some plastic chairs. Stoves were fired up and coffee and tea made. Mick repeated a story that he had told us the previous evening until Alan interrupted him, much to Mick’s chagrin, and told him that we had already heard it the night before. It must have been the whisky inducing amnesia.
There was much merriment as I decided to remove one layer of leggings, as you’ve probably read on Gayle’s blog. After around half an hour of banter and idling we set off down the valley. As we reached an isolated stand of trees, we decided to split. Alan and I headed across the stream and back to the car park via the track we used the previous day. Mick and Gayle headed up the side of the hill, despite Mick’s protestations the previous evening that he would like to accompany us to Capel Curig to a pub. It’s clear who wears the trousers in that relationship!
The parting of the ways, midget Mick hitches a ride on Gayle’s pack
By mid morning, we were back at the car. I swapped boots to the Salomons and then we were off on the walk proper. Alan remarked on the long wall on our right, broken in several places, which were the remains of a dam. On reaching the stream, I filled my new Travel Tap bottle and we headed towards Eilio. Eilio is a slightly sad place. It’s a broken down shepherd’s cottage, which would make a good bothy. The padlocks on the door indicated that it was still used occasionally, although looking though the broken window, it looked a bit of a mess inside.
There’s an easy path over the shoulder of Pen Llithrig y Wrach to Llyn Cowlyd Reservoir. If you ignored the reservoir paraphernalia, it had a Scottish Highland aspect to it. We followed a surprisingly broken path along the north-western shore of the Llyn. The wind was bitter blowing down the valley, but was at our backs, fortunately.
Llyn Cowlyd Reservoir
At the head of the valley, we crossed a bridge and headed down to Capel Curig on a well defined path with small plank bridges over numerous peaty streams. After a short road walk we were in Capel Curig, where the first building was Pinnacle Sports with the Pinnacle Café, which seemed ideal for a lunch stop.
Looking towards Tryfan and the Glyders from above Capel Curig
The Pinnacle Café is a bit odd. There was a notice on the counter loudly proclaiming that there were no customer toilets. As you looked around there were further notices prohibiting a) this, b) that or c) the other. The effect detracted from what could have been a nice welcoming café for walkers. However, the two girls manning the till were very pleasant and two gammon, egg and chips were ordered, together with a tea and a Sprite. The food was good. I was hungry so I wolfed my meal down, well before Alan.
Alan showed me his blogging phone and proceeded to do a live blog slagging off the Welsh (a recurrent theme of the weekend). Further (modest) entertainment was provided by a group of Japanese (or possibly Chinese) teenagers playing a strange card game.
We managed to avoid any gear purchases despite having to walk through the gear shop to get outside. Alan decided we needed to investigate the pub. I clearly cramped Alan’s drinking style as I don’t drink, being a migraine sufferer. He had only one pint, sorry Alan!
We decided that the Glyderau would be a bit difficult as it was still windy, so we elected to use the track to Ogwen along the valley and pitch at one of the camp sites along the way. We passed Joe Brown’s climbing shop, tucked away behind Pinnacle Sports. Alan remarked that it was surprising that there was no sign post to Joe Brown’s. Unless you knew it was there you’d miss it.
Initially the track was gravelly. We passed several groups of youngsters who were on some kind of expedition, possibly from the Plas y Brenin Mountain Centre. Various salutations, grunts or silences were exchanged. The weather turned increasingly unpleasant, with frequent hail showers.
By the time we reached the camp site at Gwern Gof Isaf, we decided we’d had enough. The green pasture was just too inviting. After ascertaining from a farm hand doing a good impersonation of Benny from Crossroads that we could camp here and it would cost £4 each, we pitched the tents. For the first time in the “wild” I achieved the almost perfect pitch for the Comp.
The perfect pitch ? (picture taken on the Sunday morning)
Fortunately Alan road tested the showers first and was able to warn me of their idiosyncrasies. The toilets were also a little bizarre with only one sporting a light. During the day Alan had been warning me that the Mountain House meal he’d had the previous night was only one step away from disgusting, so I decided to sample the Adventure Foods Mince Hot Pot, rather than the Mountain House meal. Although a little bland it was acceptable, but not up to the standards of Real Turmat.
By the time dinner was consumed, the weather appeared to be clearing. The clouds were breaking and the wind dropping. It had been a reasonable day’s walk, but it was disappointing not to have been up the Glyderau.