Also working at my place of employment were three young lads who lived in a special home for boys, up near the Tilehurst Road/Russel Street junction. These lads, if I recall rightly, had been taken away from their homes due to trouble with their parents or some similar problem. They were very nice lads and never caused any trouble, I feel that I should have been in the home and they should have been free. Nevertheless, they shared the home along with a host of other unfortunate young lads, being allowed to go out and earn their way, but only being let out into the town on Sunday afternoons. I liked the three lads who worked with us and I often larked and joked about with them when the boss wasn’t looking. They, in turn, liked to play little pranks on me and we used to have some good fun.
The oldest of these three lads, who’s name was Brian, approached me just before the Easter holidays and asked me if I had any plans for the short break. Lucy had already arranged to go away with her family before I had met her and, as I had insisted that she shouldn’t let them down just because I’d come on the scene, she had agreed to go with her family as arranged. I had expected that Alan and I would find something to do although we had planned nothing definite. Wondering why Brian had asked me what I was doing for Easter, I told him that I’d probably be wandering around doing nothing in particular.
Brian then told me that the man in charge of the boy’s home was looking for a driver for the Easter weekend. The three boys had suggested to the man that they approach me and, if I had no plans, ask me if I would be interested to help them out. Feeling confident that I could handle any driving job that was required, and feeling pleased with the chance to do something ‘important’ for Brian and his pals, I arranged to go up and meet the man in charge that evening. The lads assured me, with an air of mystery, that I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Wondering what the mystery was all about, I arrived at the door of the home and was introduced to the man in charge, who’s name was Mr. Greer (I never did know his Christian name). Although he had a strong air of authority about him, I would soon realise that this man was a very nice and patient person. But I’d try his patience to the full before that long weekend was through.
Mr. Greer thanked me for coming and for my offer of help. He then went on to tell me that he required a driver for a trip up to a mountainous area in North Wales, adding quickly that, of course, the driver would be allowed to accompany the group up any mountains that they climbed.
There immediately sprang to my mind a picture of a man hanging desperately on to a sheer rockface with stormy-looking clouds and black mountain peaks all around. To me, the thought of doing such a thing was more than terrifying. I told Mr. Greer that I’d willingly drive a vehicle up to that mountain area to help out, but nothing would get me on a mountain with his group. He smiled, explained what he wanted me to bring along with me and I left with the promise that I’d be there on the evening that we were to leave for the trip.
I’d never seen a mountain before, except pictures of them in books and when I saw films of them at the cinema (our whole classroom was treated to an afternoon at the local cinema so that we could watch the film of Tenzing’s and Hillary’s triumph on Everest - after we’d watched the film of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation). I’d never been to North Wales, The Lake District, nor Scotland. The old familiar excitement welled up inside me as I thought of the coming trip and the new pastures that I’d see. I looked forward to this new adventure, willing the days to pass quickly, and hoping that nothing would go wrong to prevent me from taking part.
At last the day arrived and, after saying goodbye to Lucy, I stopped by my house, washed and changed, grabbed my case, said goodbye to the family, and almost ran up to the boy’s home. I had quickly changed into my best suit, a shirt and tie, and my best highly-polished shoes. When the door was opened to my knock, I saw that all the lads were wearing scruffy clothes and jumpers. Not being used to the casual way that mountain folk dress, I decided to stay dressed as I was and see what happened. I probably gave all those lads a good laugh as I stood there dressed up like a dog’s dinner.
The boys were full of great excitement at the thought of the coming trip. Most of them said that they had been before and I felt a little out of my depth amongst them as they talked about climbing mountains as if they were talking about strolling down the street. I had wondered if these lads really climbed up mountains or were pulling my leg. Mountains, to me, were sheer rock faces with a point at the top and horrendous drops down all sides, something that real men climbed up, not these young lads who were laughing excitedly at that home. All I could do was to wait and wonder what was in store for me.
As well as Mr. Greer there were three other lads with good mountaineering experience - their names as I knew them were 'Jim the Burtle' (I never knew where the 'Burtle' bit came from), 'Big Jim' (he was tall), and 'Little Mick' (he was short).
Outside in the yard was an almost new Hillman Super Minx and a Morris mini-bus. My case was thrown up onto the roof-rack of the mini-bus along with a heap of boxes and rucksacks. Mr. Greer then said that he would drive the mini-bus while I drove the Hillman. He picked out four lads to accompany me, including Brian, and at last we were off on our adventure.
As we followed the mini-bus up past Oxford and on through Stratford upon Avon, the lads told me of previous adventures they’d had up in North Wales. They talked of the Pyg Track, the Crib Goch ‘knife edge’, the Watkin Path, the Llanberis Pass, the Ogwen Valley, and a mountain called Tryfan. I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about but my excitement grew as they reeled off these and other strange names. It soon dawned on me that all the lads in the car really had been up into the mountains before and I really was the beginner. But, I was determined to see as much of what they had named as was possible, even if I wasn’t going to be mad enough to climb up any mountains with them, so that I could share some of their tales after the trip.
As darkness fell, we travelled on into the night, chatting and listening to the car radio. I remember a song being played that night called ‘Do The Hully Gully’ which someone had recorded, probably hoping to start a new dance craze, but I don’t think it ever got off the ground. The four lads were good fun and we laughed, joked, and sang until our voices were hoarse. We passed many towns as we plodded on through the evening, then finally we joined the A5 trunk road at Shrewsbury. This road, the lads told me, led straight to the Welsh Mountains.
A short while later, still following the mini-bus, we crossed the border into Wales. As we swooped down a hill, the boys told me that it was a tradition to cheer like mad as the border was crossed. A few seconds later, on a sweeping road bend in a small, dark valley, we saw the border sign and cheered out loud as we raced by, sweeping up the other side of the valley and on through the Welsh border town of Chirk. Full of joy, we passed through the town of Llangollen, and it wasn’t long before we reached Corwen where, the lads informed me, we were to stop for refreshments at an old railway station. I followed the mini-bus into the station car park and soon we were ordering pies and chips at the cafe counter.
That station car park was the first place that I set my foot down in Wales. I believe that the station was disused by that time except for the cafe, which stayed open all night in those days. The man behind the counter was a jovial chap who made us very welcome and busied himself with our orders. I think that he was an Irishman and the warm, happy atmosphere of his cafe gave us all an oasis of relaxation on our journey through the night.
Fortified by our meal and rest, we left the dim lights of the little railway station in our wake and drove out into the darkness once more. After a while, we began to descend a steep, winding hill, with sheer rockfaces on the right and a stone wall on the left. The lads became really excited and told me that we were almost at the town of Bettws-y-Coed where the ‘real’ mountains were. I was too busy watching the rear of the mini-bus and couldn’t look around much, but the road definitely looked like it was clinging to the side of a mountain and the blackness on each side of us suggested to me that we were hemmed in by soaring peaks. (On the way back, in the daylight, I’d realise that we had only been driving along the side of a steep, wooded valley.)
At the bottom of the hill, we swerved left, crossed over a bridge and swept through the lovely town of Bettws-y-Coed (I recall that the lads pronounced the name as ‘Betsy-Co-ed’, I’d later find out that it was pronounced as ‘Bettissy-Coyd’). Once through that town, we struggled up a fairly long hill between thick woods. The lads were shouting out the names of the local attractions as we passed them. I heard that there was some writing on the arch of the bridge that we’d just passed over and, as we wound up the hill after passing the town, my companions pointed out that we were passing the Swallow Falls. Then there was the Ugly House in the beam from our headlights as we crossed over another bridge until finally, there was a wild cry that we were in the village of Capel Curig. The road apparently, carried on through to the Ogwen Valley and Holyhead or, we could turn left at this village and head towards the Vale Of Gwynant and the Llanberis Pass. We turned left.
Almost immediately, a large, square building appeared on the left in the glare of my headlights. This was, the lads said, the Plas y Brenin Snowdonia National Recreation Centre. Owned by the Central Council Of Physical Recreation, based in London. The centre was established to provide residential training in outdoor activities such as rock climbing, mountain walking, canoeing, and other outdoor pursuits. I later discovered that, before 1955, the year that the C.C.P.R. purchased the building, it had been the Royal Hotel, a well known haven for climbers and walkers of days long past.
Upon leaving Plas y Brenin behind, we crossed over a few miles of moorland. Once again the lads shouted out features that were hidden nothings in the blackness of the night on either side of the road. There was Llynnau Mymbyre (Twin Lakes of Mymbyre) on the left, and The Glyders (mountain range) on the right. Then I was told that the Snowdon Horseshoe (whatever that was) could be seen dead ahead. I strained my eyes on past the mini-bus, expecting this feature to be right beside the road, but could only see the blackness. My mates laughed and explained that the sight could only be seen in the daylight.
As we approached some more buildings, the lads came alive again. I had the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel pointed out to me, then the road on the right that led up to the Pen-y-pass and on down the Llanberis Pass. We wound down another tight, twisting hill that seemed to cling to the side of a valley. The boys yelled that we were ascending down into the Vale of Gwynant, the Snowdon Horseshoe was over on the other side of the valley in the darkness (I was wishing that it was daytime so that I could see this mysterious ‘Horseshoe’ that they kept on about. The lads wouldn’t explain what it was, they wanted me to have the full surprising pleasure of the sight when we went up the valley in the morning). Then Llyn (Lake) Gwynant was on our right, and I was informed that our journey was almost over. At the bottom of the long hill, just past the end of the lake, we crossed over an old stone-arched bridge, turned right onto a gravel track, then drove into a yard and stopped outside of a gaunt, grey-stoned building. This building was ‘The Chalet’ where we would make our base for the weekend.
I can’t remember much about the inside of The Chalet. After the boxes, cases, and rucksacks were unloaded from the vehicles and taken inside, we all settled down for the rest of the night on very large bunk-beds. I used a sleeping-bag for the first time in my life, I recall that it was a large, heavy canvas affair but, the nights were cold and it kept me quite warm and cosy. Soon there was the sound of heavy breathing all around me as the group quickly fell asleep. But, I lay awake for a long time thinking about all the new and wonderful pastures that I was going to see as soon as it was daylight. I had thought that the dawn would never come.
As always, time plods on and it was suddenly early morning. I had dropped off to sleep and, all at once the real adventure had begun. Brian was pulling at my ear playfully and urging me to get up, he couldn’t wait to get me outside and start showing me the sights. I think that he was the only one who recognised how excited I really was about the whole venture. I dived out of my sleeping- bag, threw on some clothes, and followed Brian outside. It was a cool, sunny-looking dawn as we crossed the yard and walked out of the entrance. Then I was gazing at my first daylight view of North Wales.
We were looking up the Vale of Gwynant, a wide valley with a large lake spread across the valley floor. The lake, Brian told me, was called Llyn Gwynant. My eyes were immediately pulled to the left of this lake where very steep slopes fell, from somewhere up in the sky, right down to the water’s edge. The colours of these slopes were drab greens, browns and greys and a few stumpy trees clung precariously here and there on those soaring heights. I’d never seen such massive, sheer-looking slopes before, and I had a feeling that, behind the visible dome of the top slopes was something far greater than what I could see. That feeling was substantiated when Brian informed me that the main mountains were hidden behind those slopes. On the right of the lake were more gentler slopes and, here and there along those slopes, we could see twists of light grey which was the road that we had wound down at the end of our journey the night before. The whole area seemed to be criss-crossed by streams and rushing water, and the dull roar of the many waterfalls around us was in our ears all of the time.
Another sound that seemed almost as continuous was the bleat of the many sheep that seemed to be scattered everywhere. Being used to seeing sheep and cattle in their own enclosures and fields, I was amazed to see that sheep wandered freely anywhere that they chose in amongst those hills, from people’s gardens to the roads, and I could even see little white specks, that were sheep, right up on the highest slopes visible.
Around the shore of the lake were scattered groups of tents, and some people walked along the road nearby with rucksacks on their backs. Dotted here and there were grey-stone houses nestled in amongst the trees and Rhododendron shrubs. The sky was a silvery blue with a few wisps of cloud although the sun was still behind the far mountains.
This scene was beautifully reflected in the still waters of the lake, which helped to make the view so completely full of interest. I gazed in wonder and took every little item in. I wasn’t expecting to go up to North Wales again so I was determined to remember every detail. In the end, with that first scene firmly etched in my mind, Brian managed to drag me away.
After a wash (in the stream that ran down behind the Chalet) and a hurried breakfast, Mr. Greer handed me a pair of thick gloves, a woolen bobble-hat, and a jacket with a hood, that he called an ‘Anorac’.
I already had on my own warm clothes and strong working boots, and I reminded Mr. Greer that I wasn’t going up any mountains so I wouldn’t need any extra gear other than my own. He smiled and said that I’d be better to take it all as the weather could be very cold up in the pass, especially while sitting around in a mini-bus doing nothing. I tried the gear on, Brian took my photograph to record the occasion., then I put the gear into the back of the bus so that I could use it later if the weather really was cold up in the pass.
Then we were off, all squashed into the mini-bus as the car had to be left at the Chalet so that it could be used, at the end of the day, to get the mini-bus back. I was given no explicit orders about the bus retrieval procedure at the time, but Mr. Greer seemed to know what he was doing so I left it up to him.
As we wound back up the valley towards a pass, the lads told me to keep my eyes open for the ‘Snowdon Horseshoe’. They explained that it would appear very soon over the other side of the valley on our left. Although I was eager to find out what the Snowdon Horseshoe was, I still didn’t want to miss anything. As I was sitting at the rear of the mini-bus (Mr. Greer was driving), I was looking back at the lake as it grew smaller while we were travelling up and away from it. The mini-bus was labouring up around the bends that clung to the side of the valley, but I barely noticed this as I gazed back down the valley. Suddenly, the lads shouted excitedly for me to look across the valley, and there, exactly opposite us, was the Snowdon Horseshoe that I’d lately heard so much about.
I looked across the valley into a semi-circle of green, grey, and brown peaks, with long ridges strung out between them. The sun had risen a bit higher and the drab greens of the great bowl in the centre of those peaks only seemed to accentuate the light sparkling greens and greys that washed over the summits. With a few wisps of cloud up above the massif I thought the sight was perfect and etched it into my mind along with the valley scene.
High up on the left, as we looked into that great semi-circle, was a soaring peak that, the boys told me, was called Lliwedd. Opposite Lliwedd, across the open entrance to that great bowl (Cwm Dyli), was, so the lads said, the famous summit of Crib Goch with the ‘Knife-Edge’ ridge behind going along to ‘things’ called The Crazy Pinnacles. From this point a ridge carried on along to the peak of Crib y Ddysgl. The ridge turned left from this peak and soared even higher to the apex of a great pyramid thrusting up into the blue. This was the summit of Snowdon (or ‘Yr Wyddfa’ as I prefer to call it), the peak that Mr. Greer had planned would be the group’s aim that day. The ridge fell sharply down the left of that great pyramid, then suddenly soared up again to join the summit of Lliwedd. There were two more minor peaks, one each side of the entrance into the bowl, called, the lads told me, the First- and Last Nail In The Horseshoe. All these peaks and ridges made up The Snowdon Horseshoe. I was very impressed by the sight.
With this view photographed in my memory, we reached the top of the Gwynant Pass at Pen-y-Gwryd. At this point, we turned left and struggled up another hill, the road looking very exposed as there were no trees on this steep mountainside to hem us in and make us feel a bit secure. But the views across the Vale of Gwynant and the mountains behind were marvellous, we could now look down upon the road that we’d plodded up a few minutes earlier from the Chalet. The mini-bus rounded one last bend, laboured up one last steep bit of hill, then turned left into a large car park.
We were at the top of the Pen y Pass, the road plunged on down through the wild and rugged Llanberis Pass and dark mountain slopes soared up into the sky on all sides except where the ground fell away into the Vale of Gwynant behind us. There were a few old buildings in the car park beside the road and, right opposite the car park across the road, was a large, rambling hotel nestled under the slopes. This was the Gorphwysfa (or ‘rest and be thankful’) hotel.
Joyfully, the lads took me over to a spot where we could look down into the top end of the Llanberis Pass, and I could see right through the valley to the bright greens where the sun was shining on the plains way below in the far distance. At least that brightness, in amongst the drab colours of those wild slopes, suggested that there was still a normal civilisation out there, already the trip was beginning to take on a dream-like atmosphere.
Mr. Greer had been right when he’d insisted that I take some warm clothes with me. It was quite cool at the top of that pass and I’d need something warm if I was going to sit around for most of the day, although, I had already promised myself that I was going to do a bit of exploring as soon as the group had gone.
I watched the group preparing to get ready for their climb. There were a couple of older lads in the group, with more experience of the hills, who did a last minute check on the emergency gear that they carried in their rucksacks. I began to realise that there was a lot more to this mountaineering than those carefree lads had led me to believe. I became very curious as I watched those preparations with increasing interest and, while I was taking it all in, Mr. Greer was about to ‘take me in’.
I think that Mr. Greer had already decided that I was a cocky young individual by that time. I was enjoying myself, and making the most of the interest that the lads were taking of me. I had become boisterous and noisy as my confidence rose and I don’t think that Mr. Greer was very impressed at all. At first I didn’t realise, I was just making the most of my happiness at being in that strange, new environment. But, by the time we’d all arrived back in Reading, I’d be fully aware of the fact. Meanwhile, Mr. Greer had a plan worked out for me. He was obviously very determined that I’d get more out of the weekend than I’d bargained for, or maybe he was going to try and take me down a peg or two, either way, his plan worked perfectly.
Amongst the rucksacks were a pile of ex-army water bottles with webbing shoulder-straps attached to them. Mr. Greer came over and asked me if I would be willing to do them a favour as they had a problem that could jeopardize the day’s trip. I agreed to help if I could and he went on to explain that everybody had their allotted load of gear to carry but, he needed somebody to carry half a dozen bottles of water. As I’d already decided that I was going to explore around a bit, I thought that I might just as well take those bottles up a little way for them. I told Mr. Greer that I would carry the bottles up until I’d had enough, then I’d turn back and he could decide what to do with the bottles at that point. Mr. Greer said that it would be a big help, no matter how far I carried them.
And so, with the half a dozen bottles of water hanging about my person, I set off up the track with the group, thinking that I was doing Mr. Greer a favour when, in actual fact, he was doing me one of the greatest favours of my life.
While we plodded up the first few hundred metres, I was told that we were on the Pyg Track (Pig Track) and that, when we reached Bwlch y Moch (Pig Pass), we’d turn right off that track, head up over Crib Goch, and along the Knife Edge Ridge. I wasn’t expecting to go that far but, I let the lads chatter on while I concentrated on trying to stop those bottles from swinging about my body.
As we slowly gained height, some lakes came into view right down at the bottom of the Llanberis Pass. I was told that they were Llyn Padarn, near the town of Llanberis, and Llyn Peris, which was a bit closer and inside the foot of the pass. The sun was still behind the great mass of mountain slopes on the opposite side of the pass from our vantage point, but everything glistened a light green down on those plains around the far lake. Again I thought of the word ‘civilisation’ and knew that I’d much rather be up in this rugged pass than down there.
Soon breaths began to labour as we plodded on up. Those bottles of water felt fairly heavy with the straps biting into my shoulders, and I was constantly moving them around for a bit of relief. Mr. Greer set a nice, slow pace and, on the steeper sections he zig-zagged up the slopes with us following as if we were the body of a snake and he was the head.
I was beginning to enjoy the walk and was looking forward to seeing what was over the other side of Pig Pass. The lads had told me that I’d be able to look down into a part of the great bowl (Cwm Dyli) in the centre of the Snowdon Horseshoe, and they talked about a big lake with a causeway splitting it into two. But, before we reached that point, I discovered that I’d been tricked by Mr. Greer.
It was at the first stop for a rest, half way between the car park and Pig Pass. We all sat down gratefully and the lads came to me for a drink from the bottles. The realisation suddenly hit me that at least eight of the lads were not carrying anything at all. I pointed the fact out to Mr. Greer and he grinned over at me with a knowing smile. It was then that I saw how I’d been tricked and I was soon laughing along with the other lads, who all seemed to know of Mr. Greer’s plan to get me up on the slopes with them. He told me later that he’d been surprised at how easily I’d fallen for his trick, and that he had hoped that I wouldn’t have noticed it until it was too late to turn back.
I think that, deep down I’d already decided that I was going to try for the summit of that great pyramid that I’d seen from the Vale of Gwynant. I had just needed that initial prod in the right direction. Even after the small distance that we had travelled up the track, I was feeling an acute desire to get up on that ridge and test myself. It was beginning to run through my mind that, if my companions could do it, then so could I. I was suddenly determined to give it my best.
But, I don’t think that Mr. Greer or any of the other lads in that group (or even myself, for that matter) would have ever dreamed of what an impact that friendly trick was to have on my life. All too soon, the rest ended and we trudged on up the rugged track until we reached Pig Pass. I followed my friends up onto the saddle of the shallow ridge and a view opened up in front of me that made the slog to this point all worth while.
The slope on the other side of that tiny pass fell away steeply and I looked down into a great yawn with a slate-grey lake far below, almost looking like a village pond. Sure enough, I could see the thread of a causeway going across the near end of that lake. I was gazing down into Cwm Dyli, a hanging valley that fell from that semi-circle of ridges and almost gushed out into the side of the Vale of Gwynant. Llyn Llydaw, the lake that I could see below, was trapped in the confines of that valley, near the exit over to our left. It only took a few seconds to record that lower scene in my memory before my eyes were drawn up and across the cwm to giant cliffs soaring up to jagged summits opposite. These were the cliffs and twin peaks of Lliwedd. To the left of these two peaks is a minor peak called Lliwedd Bach (Little Lliwedd) and, further left is the so-called 'Last Nail in the Horseshoe', Gallt y Wenallt, before the ridge plunges down the slopes into the Vale of Gwynant. Immediately to our left as we gazed at this view was the ‘First (or ‘Last’ depending on which way you were going around the semi-circle of ridges) Nail in the Horseshoe.
The steep slope on our immediate right led up to the Crib Goch ‘Knife Edge’ and the Pyg Track carried on through the small pass then turned right to easily cross the middle slopes towards that great pyramid. After a brief rest we turned sharp right and headed up the steep slope towards the summit of Crib Goch.
The slope was steeper than anything that we had been up so far, and soon our breaths were labouring worse than before. Although a fraction of the water in the bottles had been used, I still felt the burden of them as they swung about my body. But, I was determined to get up to that ‘Knife Edge’, so I struggled on with my mates and tried to forget my sawing breath and aching legs. The wind was blowing quite strongly by then and it helped to cool me down a bit but, I was still fairly hot and had taken my thick woolen jumper off and tied it around my waist along with the anorac. To me at the time, it was an exciting slope to climb, even if it did make me hot and my legs were aching. In places it was just steep enough to force us to use our hands and toes as we edged upwards. It almost felt like I was doing the real thing and I was already thinking of how I’d be able to share the story of that steep slope with my companions as we travelled home.
Then, without warning we reached a thin, level part of the ridge and I could see the chaps throwing themselves down onto the ground for a well earned rest. We’d gained the summit of Crib Goch, and were three thousand and twenty three feet above sea level. The Pen y Pass car park is one thousand, one hundred and seventy feet above sea level, so we had only climbed just over eighteen hundred feet to attain that summit. But, it was my first summit and I was thrilled. Before I was given a chance to look around, Mr. Greer told me to put my jumper back on so that I would conserve my body heat. This I did, then, with a handful of nuts and raisins, I was free to gaze at the view on all sides while I munched the energy-giving morsels.
My eyes were immediately drawn along a sharp, orange and brown rock ridge right in front of us. It had a steep slope on the left that dropped down into the great bowl of Cwm Dyli but, on the right an almost sheer wall fell away and vanished into unknown depths as far as I was concerned at the time. The ridge was about one hundred metres long, ending in a jumble of steep, grey rocks. I was looking at the Crib Goch Ridge, the famous ‘Knife Edge’, with the Crazy Pinnacles at the far end. It really looked as exciting as the lads had led me to believe and I was filled with a wild desire to get out on that ridge to feel what it would be like in such an exposed position.
Containing myself, I gazed past those pinnacles and saw that the ridge carried on, rising up to another summit called, I was informed, Crib-y -Ddysgl. To the left of this summit, the eye was led on up to the lofty summit of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) itself, the great pyramid that I’d seen from across the Vale of Gwynant as we’d driven up earlier.
To the left of Yr Wyddfa the ridge dropped steeply down low, only to rise sharply up again to the peaks of Lliwedd across Cwm Dyli from where we stood. Almost the whole of the Horseshoe was visible from that point and I recall thinking that I’d have a good story to share with the lads if I could do the whole circuit. I’d also thought that this would be a wonderful one-off adventure to remember for the rest of my life.
On the right of that ridge, we could look way down into the Llanberis Pass, with the great dome of what the lads called ‘The Glyders’ on the other side. I had never seen such magnificent scenery from such a lofty perch. My eyes took everything in, from the tiny cars winding up the pass below, to the wonderful subtle shades of colour in that wild, rugged defile.
I remember thinking back to a time when I had crossed over Dartmoor. The area had looked so wild and barren, giving me a strange feeling that I’d wanted to do more than just drive along through those hills. For a long time I’d been promising myself that I would go back there again but, I’d never got round to it. Now, with this new, even more rugged area below my feet, Dartmoor seemed plain in comparison.
All at once, I was brought out of my musings and sight-seeing by the group standing up and preparing to move out on to the ridge. The moment had come and I felt the butterflies - nay, pigeons - fluttering in my stomach. The wind was blowing harder now, roaring in our ears and making our clothes flap like mad about our bodies. We had all cooled down while sitting up there after the hot climb up and I was glad that Mr. Greer had made me put my extra clothes on. But, it wouldn’t be long before we’d take anoracs and jumpers off again as we warmed up once more.
There were two tracks across the ridge, one just below and to the left of the crest, and one along the sharp crest itself. Mr. Greer took the one along the top of the crest. I brought up the rear of the group and watched my companions as they balanced themselves against the wind and slowly crept out onto that jagged, uneven ridge of rock with the great drops on either side. Soon they were strung out like birds on a fence and, with a feeling of excitement and anticipation, I followed behind them, adjusting my balance as the wind plucked at my body.
As I reached the ridge proper and the rocky crest narrowed almost to a point, I looked down those fearful drops on either side of me. The wind was trying to blow us off the ridge towards the right where the ‘bottomless’ sheer drop was. I knew that if I was blown down there, I wouldn’t be worth looking for. This was almost proved a few minutes later when the wind whipped a lad’s hat off and it went spinning down into that great gulf. The hat was abandoned and forgotten about even as it went out of sight and long before it hit the bottom rocks.
But, I began to thoroughly enjoy the open feeling of exposure out on that ridge and I remember slowing down so that I became a bit isolated from the main group. I felt that I wanted to get the full impact of that ridge without anybody near at hand. In front of me I could see that some of the lads were actually sitting astride of the crest and were pushing down on their hands to move along. This gave me the opportunity to linger out on that exciting position. To me, it was as real a challenge as I could have imagined and I needed to prove to myself that I could get across that span without any problems, after all, this ‘Knife Edge’ had been the most talked-about dificulty that we would encounter on our way up to the top of Yr Wyddfa.
All too soon we reached the far end and, full of new-found confidence, I asked Mr. Greer if it would be possible for me to do it again as I had enjoyed it so much. I think that Mr. Greer thought I was trying to be funny or something for he snapped that we didn’t have time and he set off again. I shrugged my shoulders and followed.
We climbed around the Crazy Pinnacles, walked along, what seemed, miles of easy ridges and struggled up to the summit of Crib-y-Ddysgl, at a height of three thousand, four hundred and ninety three feet.
From that point we could look down to the coastal plains that I’d noticed at the far end of the Llanberis Pass. We were now bathed in bright sunlight and those plains didn’t look so brilliantly green as they had earlier. Beyond the plains was the large island of Anglesey spreading out across the sea. On our left was the great pyramid of Yr Wyddfa, seeming so close now that I had felt that I could reach out and touch it. More left and down below in the great bowl of Cwm Dyli, we could see Glaslyn (blue/green lake), another lake higher and closer to Yr Wyddfa than Llyn Llydaw. We were already looking back at Lliwedd on the far ridge beyond Glaslyn, then our gaze was taken across the great bowl to the prominent peak of Crib Goch behind us and at the far end of the ridge that we’d just struggled along. One last sweeping view further left took our eyes deep down into the Llanberis Pass, then soaring up again to the great rounded tops of the Glyders before dropping back down to the coastal plains once more. I was trying to take it all in so that I would be able to remember everything and have something wonderful to look back on. But, I was also very excited at the thought that the final summit of Yr Wyddfa was within our grasp and I wanted to get there.
Then at last, we were off on the final stage of our climb to that point. Mr. Greer led us down a long, open slope where we came across, of all things, a narrow railway line. The lads had failed to mention the Snowdon Mountain Railway that went from the town of Llanberis right up to just below the summit of Snowdon. I can’t recall seeing a train on that trip but, we did follow the tracks until I had another surprise in the shape of a long, low building where the tracks ended. This building, the lads informed me, was the Snowdon Summit Hotel. A hotel up on a mountain top? A train that could get to the summit from the valley? I hadn’t expected anything like that and I had wondered to myself if that day of surprises would ever end. As we reached the hotel at the end of the railway line, we turned to the left and struggled up one last steep slope. There appeared a jumble of small rocks with a stone and cement cairn on top, then suddenly there was nowhere else to go but down. We had gained the summit and, at a height of three thousand, five hundred and sixty feet, we were the highest people in the whole of England and Wales.
It was bitterly cold up on that exposed peak and the roaring wind made the coldness bite through our clothes as we topped the summit. Once again Mr. Greer told me to put on the warm clothes that I’d gradually taken off as I’d warmed up since leaving Crib Goch. With my woolen jumper and the anorac and gloves back on my body, I was able to look around at last.
To me at the time, it was the view of my life. The panoramas spread out below us were magnificent in all their splendour. Down in the great bowl of Cwm Dyli, I could see Glaslyn with Llyn Llydaw behind, both flanked by the jagged ridges of Crib Goch on the left and Lliwedd on the right. Out through the opening to Cwm Dyli beyond the lakes, and over the other side of the Vale of Gwynant, was the shallow peak of Moel Siabod surrounded by green and purple hills that stretched far away to the horizons. Moving left of this wonderful view, beyond the Crib Goch to Crib-y-Ddysgl ridge and over the hidden Llanberis Pass, I could see the great rounded tops of The Glyders, with more rounded tops of The Carneddau group of mountains behind them. Another left turn brought the eye down to those coastal plains again with Llyn Padarn and Llanberis below us and to the right, and more peaks on the left marching away to a distant sea. A further turn to the left had me gazing over the roof of the hotel at the long ridge and cliffs of Llechog, before my eyes were pulled over to the right in the direction of a great lake that I could clearly see way down in a wide valley. This lake was Llyn Cwellyn, the largest lake in the Snowdonia area. Then my eye was pulled to the left again, up that broad valley, beyond the Llechog cliffs, where I could see forrested slopes rising up to a peak called, I was told, Moel Hebog. One last slight turn to the left showed more peaks, more distant hills, a shining sea on the horizon, and a quick glimpse down into the Vale of Gwynant before the eye was brought back to the Lliwedd ridge again.
I stood upon the rocky cairn and it seemed that the whole world was at my feet. There were mountains, valleys, and lakes as far as the eye could see. I felt such an elation, and I didn’t care that thousands of people had been there before me. I’d been scared at the thought of climbing a mountain ever since Mr. Greer had asked me to go on the trip, and now, through his friendly trick, I was standing on a real summit. I felt so extremely happy that I thought my chest would burst. To me, it was a splendid position to be in and, before my companions went down a bit to shelter behind the hotel wall out of the cold wind, they told me that the Isle of Man, and even the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland, could be seen from our lofty peak on a clear day.
Left up on the cairn by myself, I scanned the horizon above the sea in the direction that my pals had pointed out, but, I couldn’t see any distant lands. In the end, I scuttled down to join my friends in the shelter of the hotel wall where I was soon eating thick cheese sandwiches while being congratulated for climbing my first true peak.
That bitterly cold summit wasn’t a place to linger and soon the party began to stir as they prepared to head off down. I’d been told that we would be descending via the Watkin Path and it didn’t sound too exciting to me. I was a bit disappointed that we were not going back over the Knife Edge until I was informed that the Watkin Path was a very steep track down a sheer mountain face nearby, that had to be negotiated before we would be on more level ground. I suddenly had visions of a vertical cliff with a tiny ledge zig-zagging down it, and the Knife Edge paled in comparison at the fearful thought of such a route. All too soon, our lunch was over and it was time to go and tackle that horrific path that I had conjured up in my mind.
Mr. Greer vanished over the edge of a huge drop and the rest of the group followed after him. Finally, it was my turn and I walked to the edge and looked down to see that there was a fairly good path winding around small rock outcrops and down stone-covered slopes. The face wasn’t all that steep after all, nothing like I’d imagined a few minutes earlier and I began to enjoy the descent. There were a couple of steep sections but, the foot- and hand-holds were all there. Then we were at the bottom of that great slope and I glanced back in wonder at the enormous bulk of the pyramid, it looked even more massive from the bottom of that long descent.
We plodded on along a low section of the ridge, at a pass called Bwlch y Saethau (Pass of Arrows). The ridge still plunged down into the great bowl of Cwm Dyli on the left but, by then we had the shallow, almost featureless bowl of Cwm Tregalan on the right. After some of the rugged views I’d seen that morning, Cwm Tregalan hardly warranted a second glance. The great cliffs of Lliwedd, on the left in front of us, were a lot closer now. Our position was about level with the two-thirds mark of those heights and I was told that rock climbers could often be seen scaling the fearsome-looking, sheer rock faces that soared from the very depths of Cwm Dyli right up to the twin summits. I remember shuddering at the thought of clinging to those huge walls with nothing between my feet and the ground far below. As we progressed along that low ridge, I could see the track racing up to the top of Lliwedd. My legs were tired and aching, but I was very determined to struggle up that track and watch the new views unfold.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. Almost at the bottom of the ascent up to those thrusting twin peaks, Mr. Greer branched right and we all headed down into Cwm Tregalan. We meandered down this new track for a while, gradually leaving the main Horseshoe Ridge behind, and moving left towards a lower opening out of Cwm Tregalan. As we entered the narrow defiles of this lower gorge, the lads told me that we were now in the top section of Cwm-y-Llan.
After the relatively quiet walk through Cwm Tregalan, the lads came alive again as they pointed out new items of interest. We passed a large, deserted slate quarry that was situated over the other side of the small valley on our right. Then the lads pointed out a large rock that stood beside the path. Cemented to one side of the rock was a stone tablet with writing on it. This was the Gladstone Rock, marking the spot where Gladstone addressed the assembled Welsh Nation in 1892, although why he should have done so from such a rugged spot is beyond me.
Then we passed a ruined building on the left called, I was told, Plascwmllan. The lads pointed out many pock-marks in the walls of that building and solemnly explained that they had been caused by bullets during an inter-Welsh uprising. I recall looking very hard at the ruins and imagining the tragic events that surely must have unfolded there to have caused such graphic evidence to be left behind. Later I would learn that the building, already ruined anyway, had been used as a stronghold by Commandos while training for D-day during the Second World War.
We crossed over a bridge and then trudged down beside a series of very fine cascading waterfalls, most dropping into deep blue/green pools. I remember, as I stopped and gazed at one of those falls, wondering to myself if the wild but beautiful sights to discover in those hills would ever end. It had seemed to me that there was something new and interesting around each corner and over every ridge and I had suddenly begun to feel very grateful to Mr. Greer for giving me the opportunity to see those 'new horizons'.
We left the waterfalls behind and walked on down a relatively easy track. The tug of the wind at our clothes had now gone, the roar of the falls had turned to a quiet murmer, we were hemmed in by nearby green slopes, the lads had gone silent again, and we were almost walking on level ground. I was just beginning to wonder if any more interesting sights would unfold when we walked around a corner and there was the entrance to The Chalet grounds on the right. Mr. Greer and I went up to Pen-y-Pass in the car and brought back the Mini-bus. Even when I'd insisted that I would stay with the bus all day he hadn't told me to drive back to the Chalet, knowing full well that he wouldn't be going back to that car park after the day in the hills. Had he known that I would fall for his trick so easily? Or had he recognised all along that I was the adventurous type and that, with a bit of prodding I would happily join the group as they wandered amongst those peaks?
Our adventurous day was over and we could all relax apart from the chores of getting tea, washing up, tidying up, and preparing for sleep and the next day. I let myself go with a vengeance, I had the whole day's experiences under my belt to talk about. No longer was I the 'complete beginner' - now I had something in common to share with the lads. I was extremely satisfied with how I'd performed, I hadn't let myself down through being too scared up on the heights (that day's 'mountaineering' had been nothing like what I'd imagined when, on our first meeting, Mr. Greer had told me that I could accompany his group up any mountains that they climbed), the lads entered the spirit of my triumphs, and, through that satisfaction, my extreme happiness, and my rising over-confidence, I became boisterous and loud.
I can now look back and see that my behaviour wasn't acceptable, especially to Mr. Greer. But he didn't say anything - he was very experienced with handling people and had 'ways' of taking a young upstart like myself down a peg or two. Finally I settled into my sleeping-bag for the night and contentedly dropped off to sleep.
There was a different kind of adventure the following day - a bit 'touristy' but still interesting to me. Mr. Greer had promised that we would 'wander' up another mountain on the last day of that long weekend so I was quite happy to have a look at something different.
We drove down into the wild Llanberis Pass and stopped for a while to watch some rock climbers doing their stuff up on the cliffs. Mr. Greer lent me his binoculars and I gazed through them at those 'madmen', seemingly like flies on a wall. Nothing but nothing, I had thought to myself, would ever get me to go to those extremes of madness in my search for further adventure.
Passing on down past Llyn Peris we reached the small town of Llanberis where we had a look at Dolbadarn Castle, the Snowdon Mountain Railway station, and Llyn Padarn, before driving on to Caernarvon to spend the afternoon going around Caernarvon castle.
Back at The Chalet, and after another boisterous evening, I finally fell asleep with the promise of another day up in the mountains to look forward to. I was excitedly wondering what new sights and adventures would be presented to me.
The morning arrived and we packed everything up, for we wouldn't be going back that way after this last day up in the hills. The whole place had to be left clean and tidy and we all set to with a zest - me especially as I had recognised that the sooner the place was clean, the sooner we could get on with the adventures. Finally the jobs were done, the vehicles were loaded and we set off.
After again driving up through the Vale of Gwynant we reached Pen y gwryd and, instead of turning left to head up to the Llanberis Pass as we'd done twice before, we went straight on towards Capel Curig - the road that we had originally come along in the dark on our way there. But now it was daytime and I could see the sights I'd missed that night - the lower slopes of The Glyders on the left, the twin Mymbyre lakes on the right, Plas-y-Brenin on the right at the end of the lakes, the views of the Horseshoe behind, then the village of Capel Curig itself.
At Capel Curig, instead of turning right to head back towards home along the way we had come, we turned left. This road, I was told, would take us to the Ogwen Pass where we were to climb a mountain named Tryfan. Concentrating on my driving with the occasional glance around at the hills on either side, I was quite content to let my mates chatter on. Apart from the new views and discoveries, I wasn't expecting that this day up in the hills to be any different than the slog up to the summit of Yr Wyddfa.
And then I saw Tryfan!
It gradually came into view from around the shoulder of a hill as we approached along the road to Ogwen. To me at the time it was the type of mountain that seemed to 'thrust' itself up into the sky sharply just as mountains should. Although the left side of the peak was attached to the main bulk of the Glyders massif it seemed to still stand out stark and alone - like a black knight guarding the top of the pass is how I think of that mountain now.
I called out in surprise at the sight of that 'real-looking' peak. It fired my imagination to the full. At first, due to my concept of the subject, I'd imagined horrific fears and situations usually associated with mountaineering and, after climbing up to the summit of Yr Wyddfa I'd suddenly realised that there are such things as 'easy' mountains. I'd been amazed that those young lads had talked about mountaineering as if they were just doing a walk down the street and now I knew why - Mr. Greer gave the lads plenty of 'easy adventure' but he didn't over-step the safety mark nor the capabilities of his group. I had been pleasantly surprised to be able to walk up to the summit of Yr Wyddfa so easily and safely, and I'd expected our day at Ogwen to be very much along the same lines. But now this peak had come into view and I suddenly had a bursting desire to reach its summit.
The lads laughed at my enthusiasm and, much to my amazement, then sheer delight told me that the peak was Tryfan and its summit was our aim that day. Once again I became boisterous and noisy as I wallowed in my happiness and the continuing friendship of those lads. After stopping for a photo we were soon parked at the bottom of the peak and ready to go. I was a bit apprehensive but I now trusted Mr. Greer and was satisfied that he had the experience to get us safely up and down the peak.
Upon leaving the vehicles we climbed over a stile, walked along the side of a stone wall, and reached a spot where we could look up at a series of rock faces on the right called, the lads told me, the Milestone Buttress. Mr. Greer pointed out some climbers up on the face and again I could only think of those climbers as madmen.
Continuing on, we turned left and struggled up a very steep slope that had most of us gasping furiously for breath. It seemed even harder than the struggle up to Crib Goch, but finally we came to a ridge and turned right. That point, to me, was where the real stuff began.
The path in front of us rose steeply and sometimes we had to climb up over short, easy rock faces where we could use our hands to help to take the weight off our feet a bit. As I scrambled on up Mr. Greer gave me advice as to the correct methods of ascending those rocky outcrops. More and more I felt as if I was doing the real thing as we slowly gained height and the views opened out below us. My confidence soared as I listened to Mr. Greer's advice and I bubbled over with the thrill of it all.
But, as has happened with many young upstarts, I was gradually becoming too over-confident as I found myself easily negotiating the short rock faces up on that peak, which, in mountaineering terms, are really only scrambles. I feel that Mr. Greer, in all his wisdom, had recognised this fact and had seen the need to take me down a peg or two before I killed myself. He had introduced me to the area and some of the knowledge that is associated with going up into the hills. In a few hours time we would all be heading home to go our separate ways. Seeing my fierce enthusiasm for a bit of adventure, and my over-confidence coupled with my relative inexperience, and not knowing whether I might head for the hills again in the future, what else could he do but show me that I wasn't all that clever?
We reached a very steep rock face high up on the peak. It was about thirty feet high at the point where we stood, but immediately to the right the ground plunged away to great depths. Mr. Greer swarmed up to the top followed by Jim the Burtle and Mick. I was to be next, then Big Jim, followed by the lads. As Mick went out of sight over the top of the rock face Mr. Greer called down for me to climb and I threw myself at the face, trying to remember all that I'd been taught so far.
All went well until, about four feet from the top I seemed to run out of safe handholds. I couldn't find any decent holds on the bare wall above that would give me the satisfying grip I thought was needed to further my ascent. There were a couple of thin cracks but I wanted something that I could get hold of with my hands, not something that only the tips of my fingers could be used to pull up on. Feeling a bit unsure and insecure I looked down to get a better toe-hold on the tiny ledge that I was standing on. As I did so Mr. Greer called out that I shouldn't look down. But his call was too late, my glance travelled straight past my boots and on into the horrific depths below - and I froze with pure terror.
I couldn't move up and I couldn't move down, I was, in mountaineering terms, 'gripped to the eyeballs'. There was advice being shouted at me from all directions and I became confused as to who was shouting what. I recall looking to the left and thinking that I might survive a jump back to the path if my mates could catch me before I rolled off down into the depths below. I knew that I would probably break my legs or be badly injured by jumping from even that height of fifteen to twenty feet, but I didn't want to fall down the huge drop on my right.
Then Mr. Greer told everybody to stop shouting and, when the noise had stopped, suggested to me to keep calm and stay still. His voice was quietly commanding and I did as he had suggested. Suddenly the rope dropped down with a loop tied in the end and I was told to place the loop over my head and shoulders and pull it down around my waist. With great difficulty I managed to do as he'd asked, then the rope went tight.
With that rope secured around my waist and Mr. Greer hauling it in from above, I easily climbed up to the top using the thin cracks as handholds. Soon I was thankfully lying safe and sound on the track above while a grinning Mr. Greer rolled the rope up.
As I regained some composure I noticed that most of the lads were now up above the rock face with us. I had thought that I'd made a right fool of myself - these lads had swarmed up the face and I'd had trouble. Then I noticed that the last few lads were approaching our position up a path that went up around the left edge of the rock face. But even this fact didn't make me feel any better after my failure. We carried on towards the summit with me being a lot quieter and the lads happy with the show that I'd put on for them. Finally, after two or three false summits, we reached the top of that peak. Still feeling the frightening effects of hanging about on that wall, I thankfully threw myself down for a rest and pondered on the thought that I still had to go back down that steep path.
But Mr. Greer hadn't finished with me yet. It was as if, having shown me that I wasn't as good as I'd thought, he still wanted to encourage me to enjoy myself to the full and not miss out on any of the fun.
On the summit of Tryfan are two upright blocks of rock named Adam and Eve. It was the tradition, I was told, that nobody could say they'd climbed Tryfan unless they had jumped from the top of one rock across to the top of the other. All the lads said that they had done it on previous trips so I was the only one who was required to do it if I wanted to say that I'd climbed Tryfan.
I looked over at the rocks and they didn't seem all that high - probably four or five feet from where we were sitting. But, after scrambling over to them, I discovered that the summit rocks on the side that we were sitting had hidden their true height. They were probably more like eight to ten feet high with a huge drop only a few feet from their base on the other side from where I had been sitting with the group. But, if it was at all possible I wanted to say that I'd climbed that mountain.
Slowly I clawed my way up to the top of the block that Mr. Greer had said would be the easiest to jump from. As I stood up, I concentrated on looking straight at the top of the other block in front of me rather than down into the great drop on my left. I knew that the lads had already recognised that I'd had the failure on the rock face earlier so I didn't have to worry about making a fool of myself in front of them. At the same time I didn't have to prove anything to them as I'd done everything that they'd done and, as I'd at least attempted the rock face, a bit more. If I did the jump it would be because I wanted to, not because I felt had to prove myself or make up for anything.
I suppose that the gap between each block was only about three and a half to four feet, but, knowing that the great drop was just below my left boot made it look a long way to me, especially as there was no room for a decent run-up on the top of the launching block, and not much room for mistakes on the top of the landing block.
But I need not have worried. I just leaned back then threw myself forward, using one foot to push my body on over the gap. Within an instant I'd reached the other block and steadied myself as the group clapped and cheered at my triumph. I didn't feel overly elated that I'd safely completed the traditional jump, I just felt that I could now truthfully say that I'd climbed Tryfan.
Back with the group, I finished my lunch and soon it was time to go. I had expected to return to the vehicles down the path that we had ascended, but Mr. Greer led us on over the other side of the summit and I had wondered why. Shortly his intention became clear as we turned right and descended a path which took us down very easy slopes around the side of the mountain. Within an hour we were back at the vehicles and packing up ready for the trip home, or so I thought. But there was still one tradition that had to be partaken of before we were allowed to leave the area.
At the far end of Llyn Ogwen, where the water drained out of that lake and down the Ogwen Falls, was a small, green shed that served as a wayside tea-hut. It was, so I was told, another tradition to have a mug of tea from this tea-hut at the end of a day spent in the Ogwen area. It wasn't long before I had the traditional mug of tea in my fist and the lads were urging me to go and see another sight while we drank up.
They led me along the road to the other side of a stone bridge that crossed over the top of the Ogwen Falls to where there was a gap between the end of the bridge parapet and a large roadside rock. We climbed through that gap and scrambled down a short steep slope until we stood beside the racing torrent of the upper falls and the lads asked me if I could see anything peculiar about the underside of the bridge. I took a look and could see that, under the main bridge arch was another, smaller arch completely separate from the main bridge but still spanning the banks. I had wondered aloud why the small arch was there and the lads informed me that it was the original arch built across the spot when the Romans had constructed a road through the area. In later years there had been the need to construct a new and wider bridge but the old Roman arch had been preserved under the new one. I was suitably impressed and slotted the sight away in my memory bank.
Finally it really was time to set off for home. But there were still stops on the way so that other sights could be pointed out to me. There was the Ugly House, the Swallow Falls, the beautiful town of Bettws-y-Coed, and the bridge with writing on its arch (which said 'This arch was constructed in the same year as the battle of Waterloo was fought'). Even when driving, there was so much to take in that I seemed to be swivelling my head all over the place in between glances down the road to ensure that I kept track of where I was going. After the traditional stop at the Corwen station it was all driving, chatting, and singing as we followed the mini-bus on our journey towards home.
Then, as we reached the Reading side of Oxford Mr. Greer waved me on by so that I could drive at my own speed instead of being held up by the Mini-bus. In those days there were no speed limits out on the open road such as there are today and I sped by with a will. It wasn't long before we were entering the gates of the home, where a last photo was taken, then there was just the wait for Mr. Greer so that I could thank him for such a wonderful and exciting time.
But Mr. Greer wasn't very happy with me when he finally arrived there. He'd obviously been more than concerned when I'd raced on by the Mini-bus after his wave and, what probably made things worse was the fact that one of the lads with me had immediately bragged to him that I'd gone up to speeds of eighty five miles an hour along the straights (I hadn't realised that fact). Very coldly Mr. Greer had thanked me for my help then turned away as I was trying to stutter my own thanks in return. I stood around for a while, feeling very awkward, as I still wanted to thank him properly. But He'd obviously had enough of me, so in the end I said goodbye to the lads and took my leave.
Nevertheless, that good man had opened up a whole new world of adventure for me which was to change my life. I'd thoroughly enjoyed every moment up in those hills and it had gradually dawned on me that this was the 'something' I had been seeking.
But nobody seemed to know of any hill-climber's clubs around Reading at that time so it would be a while before I got into the pastime proper.
Meanwhile, having felt as if I'd been to a new and exciting world while on that first trip to North Wales, I came back to reality with a bump as I reached home that evening and it seemed that the trip had been but a dream.
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