As per normal, I was running late – Friday seemed to have flown by and before I knew it, it was 6 o’clock and not only had I not set off for Wales I hadn’t packed! At this stage the plan was simple – don’t worry about packing light, just get everything in the car. So in it went… the tent, camping stove, down jackets, waterproofs, all my trainers, wetsuits, surfboard, rope, climbing stuff, a tonne of clothes… it seemed I had packed everything except the kitchen sink!
Waving goodbye to Tom, I had this slight niggling feeling I had forgotten something. Soon it occurred to me – it was the suncream! Relieved (as this was only a minor mishap) I journeyed on making good progress. Until about 2 hours into my journey when I remembered item number two I had forgotten… my sleeping bag – crap! Too stubborn to turn back I quickly convinced myself I would be fine for one night, especially given the amount of spare clothes I had brought.
Eventually, I made to Camping Llanberis, my base for the weekend. Now nearing 10ish, it was dark – a slight issue for scoping out a good camping spot. For those of you not familiar with this campsite, the location is great, the facilities are good, and the price is a bargain – but it is basic and not very flat! I distinctly remembered a conversation with my friend Steve, pointing out the best spot to camp was right at the top of the fields, so I headed there. Alas arriving late it seemed all the good spots were taken, so I took a bit of a gamble and punted for, what looked to be, a flat spot in the lower corner of the field. On arrival here it turned out I had guessed wrong and not only that, the way I had driven my car down to the spot it was going to be near on impossible to drive out in the dark (too many large rocks!) – so this was the spot! I pitched the tent with little hassle, put on both my down jackets for the night and smugly snuggled up – this would be fine, I was positively warm…
Oo how this changed! Soon I was freezing – all smugness gone I put on every piece of clothing I could find and was still cold. The only advantage of my sloping pitch was from the warmth I was getting pushing myself back to the top of my tent every five minutes after sliding down. All in all a very cold night – I shall not be repeating that in a hurry!
Unsurprisingly I was up fairly early, and after a quick breakfast, the first thing on the agenda was buying a sleeping bag! As it is an item I have been looking to upgrade I looked at a number of options, but I didn’t want to rush into spending that sort of money so ultimately settled for a budget £12 number – quality!
Sleeping bag sorted it was time to get back on track and head out running. After a quick coffee and the chance to plan a route on ViewRanger, I parked just below the Pen-y-Pass and set off scrunbelling around Dinas Mot up towards Crib Goch. From my memory Crib Goch was a little sketchy and exposed in places (perfect practice for Lakes Sky Ultra!) however the last time I went over it I was not climbing nearly as much. It was great fun, but I certainly had remembered it to be narrower than it was.
Over the ridge in one piece, I felt obliged to join the queue to the top of Snowdon before continuing around the horseshoe. It always makes me laugh – from flip flops and summer dresses to full on mountaineering kit you get all sorts attempting the summit. The best was a pair decked head to toe in some very nice looking gear, jumping off the train to make the brief walk to the top before heading straight to the cafe for a recovery drink (each to their own – I shouldn’t be harsh!).
So I continued around on my little journey, by now the weather had brightened up, and it was positively pleasant. I’ll get my excuses in now as the next thing I did was a tad stupid..! I was tired after minimal (cold) sleep, I hadn’t eaten enough for breakfast, and more than anything I was just having a nice time…
Anyway, in my mind, I thought I knew where I was going and dropped down heading back to the car (at Pen-y-Pass) so didn’t check my map… what I actually did was descend down into the wrong valley and end up running towards Beddgelert – big oops! Not only was I pretty tired and ready to finish my run, but I was also now a fair few miles for my car.
I convinced myself this was actually perfect training for race day as I would have to push myself then when I was tired. So after a big dose of courage-up and more malt loaf I started my journey back to the car! Plus points of this fun little addition to my run were:
- I can definitely go further than I think when I am tired
- I can map read (when I get the map out to read it!)
- It was pretty
Finally, back at the car, I headed to the campsite for a well-deserved pizza and a pint followed by an early night!
As the weather looked pretty good all of Sunday, I met up with Drew and Pete to head out climbing. The plan had been to climb in the Pass. However, we ended up setting off a little later than expected and by the time we got there it was rammed. A quick look at the map, plan B was formed and we rerouted to Craig Yr Ogof – Pete’s choice as it was his birthday.
This is a cool crag with a real mountain feel to it. There is a bit of a walk in as we discovered – 40 mins walk followed by a short trek up a very steep scree slope, but it is totally worth it for the views and lack of other people. My legs, however, had other ideas, and after their little ordeal, the day before were SO sore! Slightly sweaty we made it to the base of the route we were doing – a friendly looking four-pitch VS up the north face and got ready. After a pre-pitch-penguin (try saying that fast!) we set off. I haven’t climbed much on this type of rock before (rhyolite) however I enjoyed it. I found it quite grippy and really liked all the little edges and pockets I found along the route. It was also excellent to be on the end of a rope again, as much as I have loved training for these ultra marathons it was a welcome break from running.
Climbing as a three (with me going super slow with tired legs) we made it to the top just in time to catch the last rays of the day’s sun before headed down a very rocky and slightly dubious gully (which was potentially harder than the climb)! Annoyingly I managed to catch my ankle right at the bottom of this – it seemed to ease off pretty fast, but I was (and am) concerned this is a setback for Lakes Sky Ultra. I had thought it was getting so much stronger. But after a great day climbing it was hard to stay down in the dumps too long, and ending the day with tasty and well-needed curry was the perfect remedy.
As I am sure you can imagine, by Monday morning I was a little wiped out, to say the least! The original plan had been to head out on a short run. However knowing I would be out recceing the Lake Sky Ultra route the next day I decided to make the most of the nice weather. So after a great breakfast at Pete’s Eats, I packed up the tent and headed to the beach at Aberffraw. Sadly they waves were nowhere near big enough for surfing, so I ended up just swimming and relaxing on the beach (it’s a hard life!), before hopping back in the car and driving to the Lake District for bank holiday adventures part 2!