Monday, 28 April 2014

The Return


I had returned to Snowdonia. Who was it said 'never go back'?

Towering ridges pressed upon the Llanberis Pass. I halted amid huge boulders and craggy buttresses. Fifteen years had passed since my last visit. Gill's death hung over me.

I would again traverse the Snowdon Horseshoe, scrambling up and along the narrow ridge of Crib Goch. I'd cross the pinnacles to the bwlch and then the place would be near - a steepening of the ridge that marked the start of the ascent to Crib y Ddysgl.

She had fainted then fallen. The post mortem could find no cause. We built a memorial; scattering her ashes over the cairn on a wet, windswept day.

In the sun it was an innocent place, a pile of stones under an outcrop. I repaired the cairn and sat in a landscape formed by glaciers millenia before. Far below, Glaslyn shimmered under the rugged peaks of Snowdon and Lliwedd. In the distance the Irish Sea was calm and cloudless.

I collected a stone from the cairn, it was shaped like a pinnacle from the ridge, and went on. Tourists were massing at the top of the Pyg Track. A place where we had hugged and kissed in mist. The sinuous trail to the summit now flagstoned to protect the fragile earth from all those feet: some in boots, many in trainers, a few in wedges.

I crossed Lliwedd with my heavy load digging in and descended slowly to the Miner's Track, hillwalkers and tourists mingling on their way back to Pen y Pass.

It had taken seven hours, but on my return I could not rest. I drove back down 'The Pass' and stopped by the Cromlech Boulders. I remembered sitting on top with Alan in evening sunshine after we'd done routes on Dinas Mot, limbs heavy with success and reluctant to begin the journey home. I grinned, thirty years had flown.

I carried on down the road to Flying Sheep Gully, where, one winter, I'd almost been knocked from my perch by a mountain sheep less sure-footed than its companions. I stopped again at Nant Peris, the simple campsite where you washed in the stream and one morning at ten to six I'd felt my first earthquake. Then into the Vaynol Arms, scene of many an evening of story and celebration.

A pint of Robinson's Best. The day had gone well.


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