So the weekend just gone, some old school friends and I, moved by some perverse need to spend some time together, decided to meet up and climb a number of mountains in the Snowdonia national park in Wales. Some people would call this ‘quality’ time, but really it’s just normal time, spent in the company of friends. I could tell they were friends, because we could insult each other, our weaknesses, even our mothers, and not feel in the least bit guilty.
Unsurprisingly however for this part of Wales, any confidence we had in the weather holding out for us was quickly smothered, literally, by the thick, wet, blanket of cloud that swept in within seconds of us reaching the first peak. One minute I was moaning that I had should have packed sun cream and shorts, the next, as dewy raindrops hung from my eye lashes, I was hurriedly putting on my waterproofs and wishing I’d packed a warmer jumper.
For the next 7 wet, grey hours, we roamed soddenly around the Carneddau range, smoking hand rolled cigarettes, sucking boiled sweets, and trying to pick out the next peak through the dense dishwater cloud that hung all around us. It was wet windy and cold, and we were pretty sure the compass was broken.
We were never really lost or worried. Even when, at one point as we sat on top of a cloud covered mountain top, I accidentally gave a praline chocolate to one of the group who suffers from severe nut allergy, we were pretty sure that most of us would make it down alive. Luckily he had medication with him, though that did make us quite aware of how isolated we actually were. Despite a half-assed attempt to find the next summit, we soon decided that down was probably the best direction to go in, and apart from a regrettable incident involving a treacherous bog, a slippy rock and a very inconvenient dry stone wall, within a couple of hours we were able to startle another group of walkers by stumbling onto the right path out of the gorse and rocks.
As I said, it was wet, windy and cold, but despite the aching thighs, blisters and scratches, it was also a thoroughly enjoyable, and bizarrely beautiful day. Not that we actually saw much of the mountainside we’d walked through, but, personally, after months in London without a break, being that far from the buses, the coffee cups, the bustle and the general throb of humanity, it was a fantastic feeling to be able to disappear into the fog, miles from anyone else.
Oh – and how many of the 14 peaks did we manage in nine hours?… Erm…Four. Toma!!