We left the sunny Midlands just before midday and headed up the A5 into the gathering gloom. The sun was lost as we crossed the M6, and the rain had set in by the time we arrived at Beddgelert (after a detour to Wrexham, as Ella the Navigator missed the Llangollen turn-off).
After meeting up with Paul, Beth and Jake the Dug, we mooched around the site for an hour or so trying to decide where to pitch - the Forest Holidays site's not particularly level or well-drained, and it looked like we were in for another weekend like the Braithwaite Mudbath one a while back. Terry arrived and we scouted the site together, he had gone for a pitch with an electricity hook-up, so he was banished to the top end of the site where the posh people hang out. Eventually I decided to pitch in the lower field, where Simon and Russell were already set up, and which was soon nicknamed "the submarine pen" for obvious reasons. The rain was incessant while I was pitching the tent and I was soon soaked right through, Ella sat in the car watching and thought that this was hilarious. Well, it wasn't cold, and I wasn't going to get dry if I donned waterproofs, so I just didn't bother with them.
Jerome and Sharon arrived just as we were finishing up, so we helped them pitch and then it was pub-time. Having no other dry clothes except for the proper walking gear, I reckoned that my soaked clothes would dry quicker in the pub than in the tent, it seemed like a good idea at the time. We passed the newly-arrived Matt and MoS on the way out as we went down to The Tanronnen for a pub meal which was OK but nothing spectacular. After getting some minor hassle from the landlady regarding the ordering of our meals and also about payment by plastic, I didn't feel quite so guilty about my clothes soaking every seat that I sat on. To be honest, I was glad to leave there and head over the road to The Prince Llewelyn to join the other half of the group, and where I met more new faces (Lawrence and Rachel) mixed in with those of the usual suspects. I like the Llewelyn, it's much more my sort of place.
Anyway, soon it was time to head back to base for some shuteye.
Saturday morning was much better weather-wise. Low cloud but no rain to speak of. The tide had gone out by the time we emerged from the tent, and plans were soon made. Ella was feeling a bit poorly, so the original plan of going up either Tryfan or Moel Siabod was ditched and we decided to have a gentle stroll around Cwm Idwal. Jerome was up for this too, so we went off together while Sharon had a day of shopping and other lowland stuff.
The walk around the cwm was good fun. We watched the helicopter above Tryfan (we thought that the chopper was on exercise but it turns out that it was up there for a real emergency - they aided in the recovery of a Worcestershire teenager who was rushed into intensive care with head injuries and broken limbs, it was on the news on Monday (this info is courtesy of Jerome, there's a report on the Grough site here)), we watched the climbers on the Idwal Slabs, and we took loads of photos. We even found some sunshine!
The view up Afon Llugwy, snow above Cwm Lloer
Idwal Slabs - count the climbers.
I make it 16 in view, many others are out of sight at the foot of the slabs.
Lunch was taken at the back of the cwm in the lee of the large boulder, where we introduced Jerome to the delights of flying the Imp. The kite-flying was challenging in the swirling, gusting wind, but I'll certainly be taking it into the mountains again.
Too close for comfort
Back at base, there was time for a quick SS&S before socialising with the others and heading off for Mike's BBQ, where we ate royally and had much fun talking banter and b*ll*cks before the warden decided that the BBQ had become a dangerous forest-destroying wild inferno to be extinguished without delay. Which was bad timing, really, as Helen and Colin turned up to a wet steaming mush rather than the homely fire that we had just been enjoying.
We held out for a while longer but a light rain started so we headed back to the tent for the night.
As usual, Sunday started with more rain. IIRC, all of the OM meets that I've been on have had rainy Sunday mornings. Coincidence? Probably not. Anyway, we packed away and cleared up, said our goodbyes to friends old and new then headed off, pausing only for a few photo-opportunities at Llyn Dinas and a small shopping session in Betws (thanks here to Matt for his kind help at Cotswold Rock-Bottom), before finding somewhere for lunch (the nearest Little Chef).
Boathouse on Llyn Dinas
Of course, it rained all the way home after leaving Betws, and it's hardly stopped since. It's now Tuesday and the tent's still in the wet-bag awaiting the chance to hang it out to dry.
So, no grand peaks surmounted, no classic ridgewalks, no daring deeds done. Nevertheless, it was a great weekend. Thanks from us to all you others that made it so.