Y Garn with Oswestry School

Today saw me working with three pupils from Oswestry School as part of an Adventure Education weekend. Six members of the CCF (Combined Cadet Force), were able to take advantage of their military connections and are based at Capel Curig Training Camp, giving them easy access to the mountains and rivers of Snowdonia.

Today, one member of the party had a 3 Star Open Canoe Assessment, two went scrambling on Bristly Ridge and three came mountain walking with me. The weather wasn’t very kind to us this morning, as the strong wind and rain made things hard going and uncomfortable, and the low thick cloud kept visibility to a minimum.

Looking up the Devil's Kitchen
Looking up the Devil's Kitchen

As we made our way from Ogwen Cottage, the light drizzle set in but we were still able to take time over discussing navigational issues and get the group to do most of the map work. By the time we reached the edge of Cwm Idwal, the wind picked right up and meant that standing around looking at maps for any length of time would result in everyone getting cold pretty quickly. As a result, we decided to keep the momentum going and headed straight for the ridge that works it’s way up to the summit of Y Garn.

The exertion of the climb kept body temperatures up, but the strength of the wind was starting to make me consider the possibility that we might be forced to turn around and head back down to safety. However, as we got higher the ridge to our south started to provide us with some shelter from the big winds and we were able to continue.

We took a break just before topping out onto the final summit ridge, as I knew we would suddenly be exposed again. So, after some food and drink, we made the final push for the top. Accommodating a brief stop for the traditional summit photo, we then made out way straight down Y Garn’s south easterly slope to Llyn y Cwn, a small lake in the saddle between Y Garn and Glyder Fawr.

At the start of the day, I had earmarked this spot as being the main decision point. Would we continue over the Glyders before dropping down near Tryfan, or would we cut the day short by heading back down into Cwm Idwal, past the ‘Devil’s Kitchen’? In the end, the fact that everyone was feeling quite soggy under their waterproofs left little enthusiasm for taking in two more exposed summits on this occasion, so we started to make our way down.

The cloud lifts over Cwm Idwal
The cloud lifts over Cwm Idwal

Having cut the day short, their was little time pressure, and as the cloud started to lift a little and the rain eased off, we took things slowly and took time to enjoy the views as we passed the Devil’s Kitchen. It was also an ideal opportunity to do a bit of geography revision by looking at the various glacial features that can be found in Cwm Idwal.

When we returned to Ogwen Cottage, we discovered that the scrambling group had bailed out before us and had already headed off to cafe. It would have been rude not to have joined them! I find that a wet day on the hill doesn’t seem so bad after a nice hot chocolate, and it seemed to have the same effect on the others.

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