Friday 9th April
Apart from the heavy traffic and the occasional brief stoppage, the journey up to North Wales was uneventful. My Satnav tried to take me an odd route, but I ignored it as I basically knew where I was going. My first attempt at lunch at Norton Canes services was thwarted by a queue at the roundabout and a full car park, so I decided to carry on a bit further. I had a late lunch at Keele services. I arrived at the parking place near Llyn Eigiau at around 4.00 pm to find it nearly full. Fortunately there was one place left.
After a faff around changing clothes and rearranging gear I was off. I headed for Maeneira, passing some other walker on route. I passed Maeneira and followed the track for another five minutes to the flood defences by the Dulyn hydro-electric power station where I camped last August. With only a slight breeze the noise from the power station was more noticeable than I remembered so I decided to go back to Maeneira.
It was a beautiful late afternoon with hazy sunshine. Descending the slope to the abandoned pasture was easier than last summer as the bracken had died off. I was a bit concerned there might be some midges as the breeze had dropped, but there was only the occasional fly.
Me and my Scarp
Now it was time for the big moment: the first wild pitch for the Scarp. I’ll do a more in-depth review later, but it was much easier to pitch than the Laser Competition and I achieved a nice taut flysheet with little trouble. Unpacking my gear, emphasised how incredibly spacious it is. I was able to put most of my gear in the tent, hardly using the porches.
In the Scarp
Not surprisingly, dinner was another Real Turmat delicacy: Wolffish Casserole, or more accurately Wolffish Pasta. After boiling the water to rehydrate my meal, I started to boil some more water for my post-dinner cup of tea. Disaster! I had left the tea bags at home. I drink a lot of tea, so I was concerned that I might have tea withdrawal symptoms on the next day. The Wolffish Casserole was very tasty and satisfying, but my body wasn’t fooled by the hot water without a tea infusion and I started to crave tea. After a bit of a poke around, I decided to go to turn in.
Saturday 10th April
I woke up at first light with a migraine, probably down to the lack of tea! I took some paracetamol in hope rather than expectation. Although it was not that cold over night (min. 6c), I felt a bit chilly. This was strange as I’ve used the Pipedream 400 down to freezing before. Perhaps I’m getting old. I had to answer a call of nature and took a picture of the dawn. I kept on the LIM Barrier to keep warm in an effort to have a further doze as I thought it might help with the migraine.
I didn’t finally rise until 9.00 am, which seemed a bit decadent. I had to wait another hour until I could take some more paracetamol, so I did some chores and then had breakfast so I could take some ibuprofen as well.
Morning at Maeneira
I was pleased to discover no condensation at all in the Scarp. While a light breeze helped, I suspect the high vents also helped. I took mine time packing so I didn’t leave until around 11.00 am, absurdly late, but, hey, I’m retired now! There is something magical but sad about Maeneira. The ruined cottage with hearth still intact adds to the air of abandonment and desolation. The pastures are gradually returning to coarse grass and bracken. Yet, this must have been home for someone. It’s difficult to conceive of a more beautiful setting. It is a wonderful place for a wild camp.
My original intention had been to head to Drum and then along the ridge to Carnedd Llewelyn and down to Llyn Llugwy to camp. Because of my migraine I decided to reverse the route and go to Llyn Llugwy via Llyn Cowlyd.
The famous tree on a rock
On the way back to the car park, I tried to send a blog post. The first failed but the second succeeded. As I was blogging a guy passed by and asked whether my pack was a Golite. No, Gossamer Gear, was my reply. He seemed interested, but I refrained from boring the pants off him with my encyclopaedic knowledge of lightweight gear. The next passers-by were a family with the husband striding out, leaving his wife and two young sons trailing in his wake. Looked like they wer going to have a fun day, not.
At the car park I had a quick clothes swap (Montane Terra Pants for my Berghaus Equilibrium Pants, which were too warm). I headed for Llyn Eigiau, pausing at the dam to consider whether to head up Cwm Eigiau. However, my migraine was still bad, so I headed to Eilio, with the intention of taking the easy route along the shore of Llyn Cowlyd and the leat to Llyn Llugwy.
The crow (or possibly a Raven)
Just before Eilio, I stopped for lunch. Just after I sat down, a crow, wings iridescent in the sunshine, swooped from behind my right should to land on a ridge about 50 metres away. I’ve never considered crows to be particularly attractive, but this one had a rather regal look to it. After a few minutes it flew off again.
After lunch I passed Eilio. Although it’s in better condition than Maeneira, it looks worse with rubbish strewn around and broken down doors. I had considered camping here last summer but was put off by the detritus. On the uphill pull from Eilio I met a large group of walkers. The numerous “hellos” added to the strain of the climb! It was OK for them, they were going downhill, I was huffing and puffing uphill.
Track down to Llyn Cowlyd
On the way down to Llyn Cowlyd, I encountered the sad sight of a recently deceased lamb with its entrails pecked out. That set in train a slightly morbid line of thought, which was reinforced when I saw a dead sheep half way along the reservoir. Thoughts of the fragility and preciousness of life kept coming into my mind.
Me looking back down Llyn Cowlyd
Near the end of Llyn Cowlyd, I started to find some litter on the path. In best Womble fashion I picked it up to pack out. When I reached the leat that runs on the northern side of the Ogwen valley, the wind freshened and the sun became hazier. I stopped for a quick break and then continued along the leat. This is great “long” short-cut as it contours around the mountain making for rapid progress. The hillside below was full of sheep and lambs. I tried not to dwell on the imminent fate of most of the lambs in a few week’s or month’s time.
I reached the Llyn Llugwy road at around 5.00pm. Although not steep, it was a bit of a pull up the road. Nearing the top I could see a group had occupied the flat area at the top of the dam. I investigated a pitch near a large boulder where I had seen someone camping last year, but it was not very appealing. Finally I settled on a pitch near a wall which was a bit more sheltered than some other areas. Although not strong, the breeze was quite fresh.
Pitch at Llyn Llugwy
Pitching the Scarp was straightforward despite the stony ground. I was glad that I had taken the thin titanium pegs as they penetrated the stones to give a secure hold. I slightly regretted not taking the crossing poles (left in the car) but even without them the Scarp seemed solid.
I still had a migraine, which was a bit worrying. After Game Casserole, I got in my sleeping and hoped that a good night’s sleep would get rid of my migraine.
Another Scarp picture