Our November joint MAM/SMC meet at the excellent Glan Dena cottage in the Ogwen valley was a great success. Many thanks to Dawn from the MAM for her trip report and photos:
Mushroomy Mystery Tour
The clarion call had been unequivocal “bring any spare ice axes you have”! Packing up the car ready for the joint MAM / SMC meet at Glan Dena, I crammed a couple of extra layers into my bag. It was going to be a chilly one, better safe than sorry.
That afternoon, winding our way along the A5, Pam and I could see the snow glistening on top of the Carneddau. A mixture of excitement and trepidation stirred in my stomach: would we get more snow tonight or would it have turned to mush?
The hut gradually filled with a vibrant mix of people from Solihull MC and the MAM, including a healthy contingent from Worcester MC (me, Pam, Ian, John, Andy, Bernard, Rupert and Steve). Pretty much all 32 bunks taken. Old and new friends caught up around the wood burner and plans were hatched for the weekend.
The next day, after the customary early morning faffing, twelve of us (WMC crew plus Clare, Pete, Andy and Adrian from SMC) bumbled along the road to Ogwen Cottage as the soft drizzle misted our faces. We cut through the ‘canyon’ behind the visitor centre, then snaked generally north-west following a narrow path across the boggy ground. The route rose gently, for a while running alongside a moss-encrusted stone wall before taking a sharp left to turn directly up the steep hillside. A quick headcount revealed we were missing one man in the murk. Phones were quickly pulled out to call him, before common sense prevailed and Ian resorted to old-school methods yelling “Hello Adrian, where are you?!” Instantly he appeared beside us, having simply cut the corner.
The long grass and sphagnum squelched and sucked at our boots as we trudged ever upwards through The Mushroom Garden. Spirits were subdued as Ian regaled us with the Welsh word for miserable weather (‘diflas’), the thought of ice-axes now a distant memory. Mushrooms huddled in clusters beside the footpath, their tiny umbrellas dripping in the damp air.
Maps were consulted and a long, cold conflab ensued about which route to take up onto the Y Llymllydd spur. Eventually the zigzag footpath was agreed upon. Before long we were up on the ridge, half way between Foel Goch and Y Garn. The path was pockmarked with pockets of snow, sometimes a mere dusting, other times a few inches deep crunching crisply beneath our boots.
The air was deliciously cool, filling our lungs with a sharp, pure freshness as we moseyed on up Y Garn. After a quick lunch in the summit stone shelter, we headed down into a pristine white world. The deep snowfield and silvery sky blurred into one, making it hard to tell where one ended and the other began. As we bounded down the powdery mountainside the sky began to clear and the verdant view opened out below the snowline.
At the top of the Devil’s Kitchen we parted ways with Andy and Steve, as they headed up onto the Glyders in search of more adventure while the rest of us clambered down into Cwm Idwal. A raggle-taggle string of Welsh Mountain Ponies huddled beside the lake. We just about resisted the temptation to snaffle one for Pam (perfect size!) as we headed back along the valley bottom and the promise of hot drinks at Ogwen Visitor Centre.
Evening brought a smorgasbord of delicious delights at the communal meal in the hut, with vegans, vegetarians and committed carnivores all catered for royally. All topped off with spectacular puddings and lively chatter.
Sunday was a more relaxed event. After cleaning the hut many of us headed for Betws-y-Coed and an easy amble along the river to Swallow Falls. Vibrant autumn colours were illuminated with occasional splashes of watery sunshine as we meandered up to the falls. The sodden ground squelched beneath our feet as the rich aroma of damp leaves, fern and pine filled the air. Mossy mounds glimmered with water droplets, creating an otherworldly atmosphere where it was almost possible to believe in wood sprites and pixies.
At last we were at the falls. A cascade of icy cold meltwater bubbling and boiling over the boulders, spilling over the edge and crashing down the rocks in a cacophony of watery chaos. All that remained was the return route back to Betws and swift stop in the chippie for chips, mushy peas and tea. A scrumptious ending to a perfect weekend.
Dawn Metcalf, MAM & Worcester Climbing Club member