Editor's note: I foolishly forgot to include this article in the October WBMC Newsletter - sorry John!
Tempus fugit and so does the speed at which the club changes. An Aber to Ogwen (or vice versa) coach meet was an ever present fixture on the Meet Card for September in the years 19 and the coach would always be a full one, as this was the only chance to cross the largest area above 3,000 feet anywhere south of the Scottish Highlands and ‘bag’ the 2nd & 3rd highest summits in England & Wales.
So you can imagine my surprise when there were only 16 17? customers for this September’s meet, especially as it was the first time to had been on the programme for 5 years?
Admittedly the same day there were 9 members setting off for a climbing / sunbathing holiday in Croatia, but not all of them were ‘coach regulars’. Maybe the fact that the pub at Aber closed several years ago had a bit to do with it, or the fact that the forecast was for heavy overnight rain put people off. Surely it can’t be that club members have gone too soft and can’t manage a strenuous 15 mile walk with 3,000 - 4,000 feet of ascent! Well folks might have missed their chance to do this classic traverse, as I doubt it will re-appear on the programme for a bit considering the financial loss incurred this time.
The weather forecast was spot on and it was chucking it down as folk headed to Edward Street for the 7am departure but around that time it tailed off and we enjoyed warm and often sunny weather most of the day, if a bit too humid for my liking - the sweat was pouring off me even before I reached the beautiful Aber Falls.
4 different routes were walked, each fairly tough, taking 6 or 7 hours to complete with at least 3,000 ft of ascent. There was probably a 5th but Nigel didn’t fill in his route in the book! Naughty man, what would the Coach Sec say?! The first 6 passengers were dropped off at around 10.30 at Llanfairfechan to walk the North Wales Path to Conwy. Andy & Darren wanted to tick off a few Tumps including Clip y Orsedd, Moel Hafodwen, Foel Lus, Alltwen, Penmaen Bach, Conwy Mountain & Bodlondeb Wood that were not far off this path and they tempted Fred H, Mark S, Stephen C & Dave H to join them. They had the idea that they would then take the train to Betws-y-Coed, arriving by 6pm so they could have a meal and a drink before the coach left for home at 9pm. The only problem with this plan was that, for some reason, the Aviva Trains (Wales) service didn’t seem to be able to get them there that evening. Darren phoned to make sure this was correct and received a follow-up return call from some representative in Egypt - yes Egypt! The upshot of all this was that they had 3 or 4 pints in Conwy while sorting things out, eventually having to pay £65 for a shared taxi to get them all to “The Royal Oak” in Betws.
Most walk-only passengers were dropped off 15 minutes later at Abergwyngregyn, all heading south on the minor road to different destinations. Nick P & Greg M (on his first coach) did the clockwise circuit of the Northern Carneddau from Foel Ganol via Foel Fras to the Beras & Aber Falls. Dee S, Jo Ch, Adrian S, Dave J, Hilary J, John, D, Janet D & Rob T made the same start but carried on with the full traverse to Carnedd Llewelyn, dropping down the SE ridge to the col at Bwlch Eryl Farchog to Cwm Llugwy and Capel Curig, and so missed out on seeing Aber Falls. Yours truly wanted to revisit the latter and the smaller falls in Cwm yr Afon Coch close by the remains of an engine from a Blackburn Botha, which crashed on Llwytmor on 28th August 1943. This meant a tough sweaty pull up through the bilberry & heather to the Foel Fras trig point but from there the going was easy. I met up briefly with Rob T on the summit of Llewelyn but then veered west to Dafydd & Pen yr Ole Wen. From there I managed to text Nigel to let him know roughly when I’d be at Idwal Cottage, before setting off down the 2,000 ft, 1 in 2 descent of the south ridge to the waiting coach.
Everyone agreed it had been a great day. Hilary reckoned the traversers had covered 25km and climbed around 4,000 ft. My route took in 6 summits, 2 waterfalls and 9 plastic boxes and 2 geologically-interesting earthcaches and discovered at home that I’d lost 3 lb in weight, probably mostly sweat!