The last place on my UK bucket list was Wales, and after a five-hour drive we were there.
We wanted a camping getaway where we could go hiking, so we set up our tent at a quaint farm at the foot of Mount Tryfan. The man who lived in the ancient farm house charged us £5 each per night including hot showers, toilets and drinking water – bargain!
I quickly realised that when you have nothing (no phone reception, mattress, YouTube etc.) you begin to appreciate the little things. Like, having dry feet, a warm shower, a solid sleep and a hot meal. Those little things are all you hope to accomplish daily – outside of having an enjoyable time of course. They make you feel happy and content, and the world of technology and social media soon becomes irrelevant for a while. Which is very relaxing.
After a peaceful night’s sleep beside a stream with sheep nibblingat grass around our tent, we began our hike up the nearly 1000 metre tall mountain. The initial incline nearly killed me, but we soon got our rhythm. We passed beautiful purple flowers, squeaky birds and friendly bumble bees on this very hot summer’s day.
“The long way is easier… But it’s longer!” (Big Fish)
But about a quarter of the way up we had a decision to make: go the long way around the base of the mountain to hike up the side with the softer incline, or climb straight up the middle of a near vertical cliff face. At first I thought the long and safer option would be best, but then I looked up the steeper mountain face to see mountain goats jumping from boulder to boulder. It made me think that it could be okay once we get going, so we stepped off the trail and began crawling up.
We scrambled through the pollen-dusted flowers and goat poo-sprinkled boulders as we clambered through what would be frozen streams during winter. It was steep and I was a tad apprehensive:
Reece: “Remember, three points of contact at all times.”
Me: “I’m doing one better; I’m aiming for four points of contact.”
Reece: “Well you obviously need less that four points of contact in order to move.”
But after crawling past some intrigued goats, we soon found ourselves on the top of the mountain. We made it.
I was filled with pride and relief as we enjoyed the incredible view from the top of Mount Tryfan. The clouds were spilling over the peaks around us and flowing down to settle beneath our eye line. It was beautiful, especially the blue lakes against the green hills below us.
A very loud noise
Suddenly, a long and unwavering roar began to echo around us. It was a pulsating sound that rippled through the thin air making it impossible to figure out the source. After looking up and all around, we realised the sound was coming from beneath us: two fighter jets wove between the mountains we were standing on and down the valley. They were a remarkable sight, especially from our perspective! They could turn on a dime and reach remarkable heights in an incredible amount of time. I’d never seen anything like it, but they were soon to become a common daily sight as the military use the valleys to practice their manoeuvres. They were so quick that we were never able to catch a snap of them, sadly.
Reece: “Ready to push on?”
After enjoying a few minutes at the top, it was then that reality hit me; we had not yet reached the peak. I slowly gazed up another 50-odd metres worth of rocks. There was no purple shrubbery to hold on to here, it appeared too high for even the goats to climb, and more importantly we had passed my comfort zone about 300 metres ago.
However, I was soon persuaded as I watched a 70+ year-old sprightly man spring past us and up the rocks with minimal effort. I figured that if he could do it, I could do it. So we pushed on.
It took plenty of strategic planning and a few wrong turns before reaching the official peak.
It was worth it.
After taking a few snaps to prove our achievement, we began clambering our way down. This took longer than expected as the adrenaline had subsided, and all I was left with were jelly legs and sore knees.
Nevertheless, after pigging out on more snacks than was probably necessary, we soon picked our way down to the lake at the foot of the mountain for lunch. It was a brilliant trek and I felt like I’d achieved a great deal.
By the time we reached camp it had been five hours since we started, and I soon found myself fast asleep in the sun by the stream.
A fancy dinner
For dinner, my generous mother and father paid for a very fancy dinner for us both at a beautiful old coaching inn from the 1600s called the Ty Gwyn.
The food was tasty – just what we needed after a day on rations – and the building was enchanting. Coincidentally, my family and I holidayed at this very hotel back in 1999. I didn’t remember much of it, but I did recognise the front of the building.
Our first proper day in Wales soon came to an end, and we slept soundly after being totally exhausted by our hike in the sun. The following day brought something that I found to be really rather exciting, and if you’re a Harry Potter fan I’m sure you’ll find it exciting too…