Postcard from Snowdon

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I lace on my climbing boots and adjust my thick socks, leftovers from school days playing hockey.  The day is hot and cloudless, the grass baking beneath the sun, so we slap on Factor 25 and I add a straw trilby for good measure.

The first twenty minutes is hard going.  The path slopes up steeply, and my thighs are already aching.  I worry that 6 hours of this is going to be impossible.  S reassures me that the path levels out soon; eventually, he is right and I begin to think that actually, I can do this.

Half way up, we stop for a cereal bar and an appreciation of the scenery around us.  Sheep dot the landscape and all we can hear are lambs plaintively bleating for their mothers.

The final climb before the summit is the hardest.  The path is almost vertical and is covered in shale.  A climber in front of me sends down a shower of gravel – a gravalanche, as S wittily calls it – which kicks up a cloud of yellow dust.  After only a couple of minutes, I hurt and even with the sugar rush from the bar, I’m tired.  My thigh muscles are burning and I don’t think I can make it.

I strike up a conversation with a girl next to me, to try and take my mind off the pain.  Her name is Plum; she is doing the three peaks challenge in aid of the Red Cross, and so this is her third mountain in 24 hours.  Her knees are encased in support bandages, and she is exhausted, but determined to finish.  Her attitude spurs me on; if she can climb three mountains, I can do one.

Finally the summit is in sight.  The last five minutes’ scramble is easy now the cairn is visible.  We climb up the steps amongst a horde of happy three peakers – there are lots of them here today due to the good weather – and a fellow climber snaps our photo.  We are, for a moment, the highest people in England and Wales.

The next morning I wake up cold and cramped in our tent, but any discomfort disappears as I unzip the door and see the view stretched out before me.  We are on a slope in the bottom of a valley, surrounded by rolling hills and field carpeted in a thousand shades of green.  We drag our aching limbs to a nearby cafe for a full English – or should that be a full Welsh? – and drink in the view at the same time as our coffee.  Afterwards we walk down the path to the waterfall, an easy trek after the ardours of yesterday.  The river tumbles over slate rocks and forms a wild pool at the bottom, a fizzing and fermenting mass surrounded by pink foxgloves.  It feels like we are the only people in the world and despite my sore feet, I am happy.

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3 responses »

  1. Pingback: Reverb 10, day 25 – photo « Postcards from the Edge (of the West Country)

  2. Pingback: In which we climb England’s sixth highest mountain | Postcards from the Edge (of the West Country)

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