Each year, The Grange Therapeutic School take a group of their boys to Snowdonia for a week. Staying in a bunkhouse at the base of Snowdon itself, they spend time mountain walking, raft building, coasteering and brave it on a high ropes course. For the last three years, I have been invited to join them for their day of mountain walking which has involved an ascent of Snowdon by one route or another.
Due to larger numbers than in previous years, I also brought in another Mountain Leader for the day. Colin usually works for Outward Bound, but we have worked together several times in the past whilst freelancing for others. We met up at the bunkhouse for a quick briefing, weather and kit check before taking advantage of a minibus lift up to Pen y Pass.
Throughout the morning, the thick hill fog clung to the mountain side giving us little if anything of a view of this impressive looking peak. This is usually a great shame, but I wonder if it worked to our advantage on this occasion. Groups of teenage lads are often not overly impressed with the idea of walking long distances, or climbing great heights. However, if they can’t see what lies ahead, they don’t know what they’re letting themselves in for!
As with any group, some members where naturally faster than others, but I was actually quite impressed with the overall pace of our ascent. The sight of the cafe at the summit appearing out of the fog was a moment of great joy for some, as everyone piled into the warm for lunch after taking the mandatory photos on the highest point in England and Wales.
Having come up the Miners Track, our route down was to head south along the ridge towards Yr Aran, but turning east at the saddle and descending to join the Watkin Path back to the bunkhouse. Shortly after we set off from the summit, with the compass set on its bearing, the cloud lifted and we finally got the views that I’d been hoping for. With the improved weather, and being on the homeward stretch, everything relaxed as we gradually picked our way down the ridge, over several rocky sections.
Once properly into the valley, the more gradual slopes are dominated by grass. This area tends to be a bit boggy and, with the recent rain, today was no exception. This caused a few laughs as the boys jumped streams and slid on the damp grass slopes. Pretty wet, but great fun.