So it’s been a while, and I can only say a big SORRY for that! It’s been a mad mad mad few months, from losing my job to getting a new job to holidaying, working on location, moving into a new house, passing my driving test (just slipping that one in there WOO) and the list goes on.
Destination – N. Wales, Yr Elen Ridge.
Gear – Thermarest Trail Pro, Alpkit BigDog, Nalgenes, Merrell Capra Sport, FiveTen Guide Tennies and so many more.
But this post is about a big day of walking we did in July on a hot hot weekend, after a night of campercar-ing in possibly one of the best places so far. Inspired by Trail Magazine (cos being a grownup with a job I now have money to buy that kind of shit you know) we decided to try out the Yr Elen Ridge in North Wales.
As with anything, camper-car’ing has got easier the more we’ve done it – with every trip we get a bit more organised, a bit more efficient and a bit less creeped out by sleeping in isolated places. We now have one-pot dinners nailed and are working on everything having it’s place in the car to limit mad amounts of mess. But anyway, this adventure started off like many others, and driving to N.Wales the weather was lovely and we were buzzing to get out of the city and breath some fresh mountain air. We spent the night in a lovely little carpark which happened to be very popular with vans/campers behind Joe Brown’s Capel Curig shop next to the river – it was very cute and we had our morning coffee on the little grassy mounds overlooking the rest of the valley.
Come the morning we packed up and drove towards Bethesda, turning off just before into a ‘place’ (long road) called Galen, where we parked up and after some serious layer-rearranging (my god it got hot!!) we started up the stoney path, and then turned off right which took us through the valley towards the bottom of the ridge. Although not the most thrilling start to a walk, we did find some secret tunnels and more wildish horses 🙂 always a good thing. I had been forced to wear my non-waterproof walking shoes, and this slowly became more of a problem as we had to traverse a huuugely boggy valley floor, jump a stream and ascend through yet more bogs to get to where the ridge started. I was not a happy bunny (and maybe might have blamed J for his route choice… ) Let’s just say there were some mild domestics and map-reading blame being thrown about for a few hours…
Anyway, we stopped at the bottom of the ridge for sandwiches & to snack on some homemade no-bake Trail Balls (pinterest eat ya heart out!) for the ascent ahead. The ridge was steep, make no mistake. I’m talking, hands on hands on hands for parts of it, and I wouldn’t advise standing up straight at any point up the initial scree/grass section. It was a bit of a slog but as long as you kept putting one foot in front of the other it was very bearable. When you get to a crown of spikey rocks, you know you’ve reached the ‘start’ of the ridge properly. It was very impressive, and I felt like I had wandered into a GoT/LOTR film. The views were totally awesome – in my lack of spacial awareness I hadn’t realised we were anywhere near the sea hahaha. The second half of the ridge is more level, but there’s a lot of scrambling up and over rocks as you go up. This was such a cool little walk in itself, I highly recommend!
Anyway, we got to the top, scoped out the cairn and took some pictures, as you do. It was at this point I saw J eyeing up the neighbouring hills. “If we just walked along there and then along that ridge we could do 2 more summits today…” he suggested quietly. Before I narrate the oncoming mutany I should explain – I am a bit of a water freak, I never go far without a bottle of it and I wouldn’t dream of not having enough for a day in the hills. So I was mildly concerned for our supply when he suggested this. I soon saw that this had been his plan all along – to extend the day when we topped the first hill, and although I agreed in head i was like ‘NOOOO H2OOOOOOO’.
We traversed another ridge and reached Carnedd Llewelyn with relatively short descent/ascent. Success! But it was here that I started feeling a little light headed. I knew I was thirsty but stopped myself from gulping it all down – we only had a litre each. We then walked down towards the next ridge to cross to Carnedd Dafydd and by the time we had picked our way across the final rock strewn ridgeway, I was pretty grumpy. In hindsight I should have probably just downed all the water I had and battled through, but for some reason I just kept taking sips and feeling a bit shit. I blamed J for making us come farther than planned and after getting mildly separated round different sides of the hill top, we ended up descending at completely different points. I was hot, tired and felt like my head was about to fall off. And it took quite a long stumbling descent down the valley floor before we were in any way friends again…
It was knackering, boiling and thirsty work, but a good day of walking to tick off. By the time we’d dragged ourselves back to the car we stripped off into shorts, drove to Spar, downed a couple of litres of water and ate a whole tube of pringles all in the space of about half an hour. A very large McDonalds on the way home helped put the deyhdration and hunger to bed for good, Maccys to the rescue as per.
Conclusions? Always take more water than you think you’ll need. Try not to get into domestics at the top of mountains. And we really really really want a van…