After over 15th months since our last camp, we were all delighted when the NYA announced residential trips of up to 6 people could commence again. In true WWESU fashion, the minibus was acquired; the plans and risk assessments were submitted and in less than a week after the COVID rules were relaxed, 4 of the units Patrol Leaders and 2 Leaders were headed off to one of our favourite haunts: Dolgam Campsite in Snowdonia.
By 6pm on Friday, having all received a negative result on our lateral flow tests and having packed up the minibus, we were on the road for the roughly 6 hour drive to North Wales. After stopping at McDonald’s – a service station tradition at Wild Wolf – we were back on our way and at around midnight quietly pulled in to the campsite to set up our tents and head straight to bed. There was something so exciting about being in a sleeping bag for the first time in over a year and we quickly fell asleep ready for the brilliant next day ahead.
After blaring alarms woke us up far too early, we hastily packed daysacks and hopped into the minibus for the short drive down to Ogwen Valley. Here, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and put on our waterproofs, preparing ourselves to set out up Tryfan in the driving rain.
The route we were aiming for was Tryfan North Ridge, the classic Snowdonia scramble. It started with an hour or so of heather bashing trying to work out way up onto the crest of the ridge. Once we arrived here, we enjoyed a few hours of enjoyable scrambling. The highlight of the scramble was undoubtedly the cannon stone; a large rock protruding from the side of the mountain. We rested here and enjoyed a brief snack, but the unfortunate weather conditions made even simple tasks difficult, including getting on gloves. Here, John gave us all an invaluable hill tip:
“It can be really difficult to get gloves onto cold hands. Buying some fleece or silk liner gloves which are easy to put on with wet and cold hands is wise as once on, they make it easy to put on thicker gloves. Additionally, they double as a spare pair should once set blow away.”– John (Mountain Leader)
From the cannon stone, the scrambling got a little more exciting, we continued working our way up the ridge, enjoying stunning views of the Carneddau and the Glyderau as the weather slowly improved. Upon arriving at the top, we all enjoyed lunch in the conditions, now much improved.
Following the short lunch break, we pushed onwards, heading down the South Ride of Tryfan towards a saddle, where we followed some steep loose path down to Cwm Tryfan, where we joined a much larger path which took us quickly to the minibus. We all agreed that it was a fantastic experience; we’d ticked off an absolute classic route, and had a wonderful day out on the hill!
After our hike we were dropped off by the river and we made our way back to the campsite, it was so great to be away from the city we thought, and quickly dived in for a swim in the River Afon Llugwy that flowed next to the campsite. It was lovely and refreshing and after some throwing of a tennis ball and swimming in the cool water, the chips and John arrived. We ate the hot steaming chips watching the river flow past us; and decided to go for a walk up along the river to enjoy the last bits of light before dinner.
We travelled alongside the river upstream, passing a series of crashing waterfalls which we watched from the bridges. We thought about how difficult it would be to kayak down them and eventually came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be a good idea – though it was thrilling to imagine. With the river now on our right, and the dewy hills rising to our left, we ambled up further, enjoying the woodland life. Roots of trees criss-crossed the path and tall grasses swept up into the hills. We tried a game of Pooh-sticks, but it was quite hard to see through the whitewater. We even saw some wild humans who had had the same idea as us to go for a walk in the woodland. We skimmed and collected some bluey-grey stones on the riverbank. And travelling back now in the evening light, with a clear sky and a bright waxing gibbous moon overhead. Passing the turnstile with the smoothest handles you could possibly imagine and those wonderful roots covering the ground, we headed back to camp.
We went into Sunday knowing that the weather was unlikely to be good so the plan had been to do some navigation practice in the morning then set off before the worst of it really kicked in so long as it wasn’t too bad when we woke up. However, when we awoke, it was already pretty windy and pouring with rain and we knew it was only going to get worse (the forecast said it would be ‘tortuous’) so it was decided that the best option would be to pack up and drift off.
Once the tents were down and everything was back in the minibus, we left the campsite, having breakfast on the way. The weather cleared up somewhat so we paused in Betws-y-Coed for a quick stroll through some woods to stretch our legs before the journey and to appreciate the area once more before leaving. It was a lovely end to the trip. We then went back to the minibus before heading off on the long drive home.