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Last updated : Nov 2009
Easter in Snowdonia
Rating: (5.0)

Fridd Uchaf, Wales, United Kingdom
April 17, 2003


Pros : Great Hiking
Cons : None

With a four day Easter weekend, like most people in London the last place we wanted to be was in London. So, what better way for the six of us (Steve, Wayne, Davin, Chris, Bianca and I) to relax than on a sheep farm in northern Wales?

We'd hired a place at Fridd Uchaf in the Snowdonia National Park region.
By the time we'd packed with 16 bottles of wine, two cases of beer, and enough food to run a humanitarian relief operation, not to mention clothing (no, no velcro gloves), our Renault Laguna hire car resembled a speedboat. Nonetheless the traffic was okay and six hours later, we pulled into our farmhouse. A few celebratory arrival drinks and then an early night, since tomorrow we were going "scrambling".

Scrambling, for the uninitiated is defined as "more than straightforward walking but not quite full-blown rock-climbing". Being a fan of both, I thought this was a pretty good suggestion.

We set out early and started with a brisk walk up to the summit of Mt Snowdon, the mountain giving its name to the national park. Being the UK's tallest mountain south of the Scottish highlands, we thought this somewhat of an acheivement. However, at only 1300-odd metres (Mt Buller is over 1800) and boasting a bar on the summit and a train running up one side, it's hard to feel too in touch with Edmund Hillary.

The summit of Snowdon sits at the bottom of a horseshoe track - a popular walk around the ridge of three glacial bowls. From the summit we made our way along the Crib Goch ridge - a thin traverse across razor-sharp slate with steep cliffs either side. Thinking back to the definition of scrambling, I could now see that the key part is the "not quite full-blown rock-climbing". I suspect the only reason it was "not quite" full-blown rock-climbing is because you didn't have a rope. Much the same way that leaping to your death off a bridge is "not quite full-blown bungee jumping". Sufficed to say I loved it.
After a long downhill we made our way across a causeway and started the steep walk up the other half the horseshoe. We were overtaken by a number of "scree runners" - very fit, though obviously mentally unfit, guys who don't find moutainous hikes challenging enough and so elect to run them instead.

Another ridge walk, a slate quarry (North Wales is supposedly reknowned for it's slate), and countless sheep later, we got back to the farmhouse, some ten and half hours later and craving some alcohol-based anasethetic for our legs.

Saturday morning and the farmhouse resembled the impaired mobility section of an old people's home. And what better thing for aching legs than a bit of mountain-biking? We hired some bikes and went riding in the woods around Beddgelert. Despite a puncture for Dav, a faulty-front-brake-induced ejection for me and some disgruntled bike-throwing antics from Chris, a good time was had by all.

After a great meal at the local pub, the night was spent playing offensive card games and drinking red wine, safe in the knowledge that Easter Sunday had been designated official day of sloth.

There were few signs of life before noon on Sunday and, after another exceptional fry-up for breakfast, the day's athletic efforts were limited to backyard cricket (sheep on the full is six and out), frisbee and beer-raising bicep curls.

Wayne, Chris and I headed out, cameras on hand, for a pre-dinner sheep safari while Davin lovingly roasted one of their compatriots for the final night's feast. And what a feast. Roast lamb and chicken, gravy (made to an authentic Paul Kelly recipe), more red wine, more offensive card games and drunken guitar-playing, water-cooler impressions, and eventually bed...

Monday, and a long drive home. Our rental car was now sporting a grazed wing mirror, and a replacement wheel after the second puncture for the weekend. So, to the hypnotic beating of the "STOP" dashboard light, we made our way home, grateful for the ability of rental cars to endure, indeed to expect, hours of sub-standard treatment...