Alken and I are out for another highly enjoyable day mountain climbing, low clouds have put us off inner Snowdonia today so we settled, no not settled, used up a contingency plan and headed for Bala, or as my Aussie cousin would say Balaah, and the Arenigs.
The twenty sixth highest mountain in Wales is Arenig Fawr, at 854 meters it is not going to be a pushover.
A some what lonely mountain, at least when compared to the height of the other hills around here. We start the walk from the thin lane north of the mountain, it is at first an easy walk, Eric would have no doubt pointed out it's ease of access by bike, a land rover would be quicker and it could be driven all the way to the edge of Llyn Arenig Fawr. The llyn is quite lovely, we could have sat and watched the wind pushing patterns across it's surface for far too long, but the top beckons, as it always does.
The top is hidden from view though by low clouds, and many false crests. It is here, as we start to gain some height that the Eeriness starts, there is not much wildlife at all, not even any sheep, the odd bird flits by about once every hour. I, we have been up mountains maybe what you'd call "lots of times" but ive never been this tired out, my legs hurt, my chest hurts, it is hard going, and the rest spots are coming all too infrequently. But we slog on. Soon the rest of Wales begins to disappear as we ascend into the clouds. Up on top of a subsidiary peak called Y Castell we have to cross over a wire fence and follow a vague path that looks like it's going the way want to go, the rain is falling and my hood is up, my only view is of the ground a few meters in front of my feet, I look up and notice the bright and vibrant colours of the grasses, pinks, oranges, reds and browns, so rich in hue that you want to bend down and inspect each plant individually. I had to blink my eyes, maybe something was wrong with me, looking at other things helped, my camera, my feet, Alken, no it wasn't my eyes, the floor was really that pretty.
We are up in the clouds proper now, there is no down, only up, with hints of sideways. We pass through a boulder field on the side of the mountain, some as big as a small shed, but all of them are as weather eaten, as gnarled as any ive seen, it is very much a lunar landscape, only with cloud and drizzle.
A couple of times we think were near the top, we even thought we could see the cairn above us, but it was always just a bit further, hiding in the mist, then showing us just enough to know where to go, and would you guess it, it was up.
Eventually the real, honest to god top of the mountain reveals itself, cairn, trig point and all. We've made it, but the usual elation, the wonder of it all has been replaced with cold wet hunger. We sit and consume butties, they've never tasted better.
Another climber approaches the cairn, he says hi, we give him one back and he sits in the other shelter in this cairn, yes it's big enough to accommodate two walkers shelters. He's soon gone though and we have the top to our selves again, cameras out , we do our best to show this place in as good as light as possible, which is hard in this drizzle.
It is a big cairn, despite the shelters and the trig point intruding upon it, and even though it is supposed to sport some kerb stones I saw none that I could comfortably say that is a kerb stone.
The views this way and that would I presume have moved me to some sort of poetic prose, but they were not here today, logic dictates that the rest of Wales and the world is still out there somewhere, but I couldn't swear to it. It's time to go now i'm not quite sorry to say, time to walk through different worlds back to our own, the high world in the clouds gives way to the lunar landscape, then through bright grassy world to the half way world, where here can sometimes be there. Not much sense to be had here today this is an eerie landscape, deathly quiet except for the wind which seems to come suddenly from no where then fade away, looking about us we can see mists being blown in several directions at once.
I wondered what ancient man would have thought of life and death on a mountain side, he could have hardly have thought it less magical than myself.
Posted by postman
8th December 2013ce
Edited 8th December 2013ce