Monday, 29 September 2008
Craig Y Mwn...
Early Saturday morning: You are driving up the Rhaeadr valley in Y Berwynion. It is a lovely, fresh autumn morning, sun drenches the gentle rolling hills which gradually steepen as you head further up the valley. Minor rocks and scree start to outcrop, and then in the distance...
...you get closer...
...and see this on the hillside...
...do you think:
1) Fuck yeah, I've gotta climb on that?
2) Fuck yeah, I've gotta climb on that?
3) Fuck yeah, I've gotta climb on that?
Well, I did ;).
Craig Y Mwn is one of the many inspiringly essential crags in the Meirionydd guide. That's essential as in personally essential "wow that sounds/looks so cool I gotta go there" not the mundane socially essential "I must tick this because it's so classic / popular / rite of passage / in a book etc etc". Like last week's Meri visit, I approached it with a certain amount of trepidation: steep climbing, a steep approach, a seemingly shady north-east aspect and an expected lack of traffic lead to many qualms during the cool early morning.
Naturally all of those qualms vanished when I saw that dramatic face, it's beacon-shine an irresistable lure in the morning sun. Those qualms further mellowed when we parked up at a chilled cafe/retreat beneath Pistyll Rhaeadr, the largest waterfall in Wales. Also home to Mr Biggles, the largest dog in Wales:
10+ stone of half-St.Bernard half-ox fluffiness. His stoicism in the serious business of chilling out inspired us to similar stoicism in the short but heinous 50° slog up to the crag. Suitable established I rattled off 3 of the easier classics in fairly swift order, helped by a generous partner - thanks Squirrel. This left us plenty of time to stroll round to the waterfall (it is spectacular) and head up to Snowdonia, via some excitingly lonely moorland driving, at a timely hour.
Aside from the climbing quality, the beauty of the surroundings, and the glorious weather, this crag again was notable for the feeling of....rareness to be climbing on it. Great climbing that few other people do. According to the cafe owner: "Oh, it probably gets two or three visits a year, aye". I like that.
Sunday we started the day with showers, drizzle, and low cloud....Sunday we finished the day with bone dry, crisp sport climbing in the glowing evening sun and fresh breeze! An inauspicious early start was nimbly outwitted by visiting the rather nice Cafe Seren in Bethesda. Well-fuelled with a black pudding roll and a cappucino (with extra froth), we headed to the newly developed and scarcely publicised Penmaen Head to get a mileage day in. If you've ever wondered what this is...
...then this is it. 56 routes mostly from F5+ to F6b+ promised plenty of choice even for those with chronic injuries, and indeed delivered. In the vein of Castle Inn Quarry, an easy access McClimbing crag that manages to combine urban convenience with surprisingly pleasant climbing - the flowstone and concreted rock being particularly nice. Plenty of other teams popping in and out, and the background hum of the A55 provided a good contrast with the previous day - it's a broad church.
So... Another good weekend following inspirations. More great climbs and more great climbing. September might have started dismally but it has finished most pleasantly and reassuringly.