I arrived home at about 20.10 last night, having spent the previous three evenings sleeping in a tent to the south of Snowdonia in mid Wales.
My first trip away with and experience of camping with a walking group. Previously, I’d only been camping with one friend at a time. It’s passed by very quickly and there are many things I could reflect on.
I had it in mind to leave early, beat all of the Bank Holiday traffic and to stop somewhere in Shropshire, as a means of dividing the four-hour drive and allowing myself to have something more than just ‘a journey’ on this day off work.
Having driven past this place last summer, I arrived at Attingham Court in time for lunch. A very hot and humid day. I’d already made the mistake of pulling in to a service station to use the toilets, where it then took ten minutes or more to rejoin the A-roads, thanks to a bottleneck of traffic trying to squeeze through at once.
One National Trust sandwich, a packet of crisps and sausage roll later and I felt more content with a wooden seat in the shade. I didn’t enter the house – I was conscious of time, it was a busy Friday and I feared it would be unbearably warm inside. But I did find the Ice House – the perfect space in which to escape temperatures of 23°C or more!
I woke up on Saturday to the roar of thunder, preceded by the visible flash of lightning through the peak of my tent. I’d slept quite well, by my own standards. By the day began in a dismal manner and I wasn’t feeling up to leaving my tent, let alone attending either of the walks with their early starts.
But I found a way to forgive myself for missing out on Day One by heading off alone and staying local to discover the unfinished ruins of Cymer Abbey (I imagine it’s pronounced something like: “Ki-mur” Abbey).
I also explored a brief network of footpaths leading to and from the campsite above Dolgellau. Few of which were waymarked and would’ve been near-impossible to find or follow without an OS map or compass… Wales’ right of way network appears to be more ‘rugged’ like this, the further north you explore.
We were supposed to have a group barbecue that evening. The morning had been mostly dry and I’d been able to do some reading outside. But, as I returned from my walk at 14.00, the heavens opened. One hour later and our event shelter was close to taking off in the high winds! If not for the combined help of neighbouring campers, we might’ve lost a few tents, that afternoon!
Actually, it speaks volumes for the cheap tent pegs supplied as standard with too many tents. I would encourage anyone to invest in something better because you may never know in advance the true state of the ground beneath you..
After a ‘day off’, I was ready to take part in a group walk where we would hike and climb to the summit of Cadair Idris.
It’s not Snowdon and I’ve yet to tackle that one. But it was a great mountain to explore – and, clearly, it also attracts a fair number of visitors to its summit:
On Sunday evening, we did have a barbecue and the weather was fine, compared to what had been forecast.
As often is the case; our final night came and went too quickly. It was time to pack up and begin the long journey home, on return to average and mundane everyday life.
A select few people made the direct or indirect drive home, while the majority of the group followed me across the border to Church Stretton in Shropshire. From here, I led a six-mile walk along Carding Mill Valley and up to the Long Mynd… Conditions on top were less than desirable but, I’m pleased to be able to say that we got where we need to be without suffering a loss of numbers.
Having already drive a good ninety-minutes to reach Shropshire, there was now a little more than two-hours of driving left for people returning to Bristol.
This weekend was my first attempt at using the Luxe Hexpeak V4A tent shelter, complete with the inner tent and optional groundsheet. Although, I’ve yet to seam-seal it, I’m pleased to say it did not leak. Condensation may be an issue and I need further practice at setting it up but it could be perfect for backpacking and, perhaps, ideal for camping in general, if I can practice to leave more of my kit in the boot of a car.