Thursday 11 June 2015

Snowdonia and Ilkley Moor: a rather different trip

Snowdon from the slopes of Moel Siabod

Seven days away, twenty-three hours travelling, twelve trains (and two cars and one van), five nights indoors (outdoor centre, guest house, hotel),  three talks on three different topics (and listening to other talks), a day’s filming and getting sunburnt – it was not my usual trip. But amongst it all I did manage to grab one wild camp and some hill walking.

Setting up for filming

Snowdonia is a long way from the Cairngorms and it took eleven hours from my door to Plas Y Brenin outdoor centre where I would stay for three nights. Here I met Carey Davies, the BMC’s Hillwalking Officer, and, the day after I arrived, film makers James and Matt, with whom I had made some hillwalking videos for BMC TV last autumn. On that occasion stormy weather had limited how much we could do (see my post here and the two videos that resulted on BMC TV here). This time the weather was as good as it could be. The only risk was sunburn. We wandered up through the forest to the open slopes of Meall Siabod and great views of the surrounding hills, especially Snowdon. Here we spent the day making short films on everything from grid references to choosing footwear that will eventually appear on BMC TV. As the day wore on high thin cirrus clouds streaked across the sky, presaging the weather to come.

I had other duties in Snowdonia and that evening I gave a talk to the PALOES (Professional Association of Leaders of Outdoor Education in Schools) Conference taking place at Plas Y Brenin. After my talk, which included rather a lot of pictures of igloos, Tori James gave a really inspiring talk about her progress from doing the D of E Award to reaching the summit of Everest. 

Stormbound Snowdonia

The next day came with heavy rain and high winds. Dark clouds raced over the peaks. I was glad the filming was over. I had another talk to give to PALOES in the morning, following a double act from two MPs concerned with the outdoors, Huw Irranca-Davies from Labour and David Rutley  from the Conservatives. I followed their talk of Parliamentary procedures, outdoor education and the difficulties of promoting the outdoors in the political sphere with the Pacific Crest Trail. Tori James also spoke again, this time about her Beeline Britain adventure.

Up into the hills

The conference over I now had two days free before I was due in Ben Rhydding to give another talk, this time to the BMC Yorkshire Area meeting. Two days. Snowdonia. A wild camp obviously. And also some summits in an area I hadn’t visited for many years. And a wild camp I had, on a very windy night high in the hills. That’ll be the subject of my next post.

Back down from the hills it was another night inside, this time the very comfortable Mary's Court Geust House in Betws Y Coed, then back on the trains to Yorkshire on a beautiful sunny day. Arriving with a few hours to spare I took up Carey Davies suggestion and headed for the Cow and Calf rocks and Ilkley Moor. It was just a stroll and the sun was out so I didn’t take anything with me other than a windshirt in case it was breezy. The rain started just as I reached the top of the Cow and Calf rocks, heavy rain driven on a fierce wind. Quickly soaked I soon retreated, back down through green flower-strewn woods rich with that heady after-rain aroma to the warmth and dryness of the Wheatley Arms.

The rain approaches the Cow and Calf rocks

That evening I gave a talk on my Scottish Watershed walk, a walk on which it rained often. I was never as wet on it as I was on Ilkley Moor though. Several of those at the talk were TGO Challengers, most of whom I’d met before, along with some old friends and it was good to meet them and chat afterwards. Also there were old friends John Manning,  PCT hiker, TGO Challenger and currently Lakeland Walker editor,  and Chris Ainsworth who I’d shared a flat with in Skipton a long time ago. Whilst living there I’d given a talk on my Pacific Crest Trail walk to the Craven Mountaineering Club at the Craven Hotel in December 1984. Now I couldn’t actually remember where or exactly when I’d given that talk. Deidre Collier, secretary of the BMC Yorkshire Area who'd organised this night's talk, had been there though and she did remember. Sometimes I think the outdoor world is quite small.

The rain sweeps in

Another day on trains and I was home again after an unusual trip that seemed very long, the filming on Moel Siabod having faded into the past already.

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