Sunday, 31 January 2010

Western Priorities

For the West, democracy, corruption, sexual sins, family values are all considered more important than OUR violence, aggression and occupation of countries that, in the process, we turn into enemies.

Dealing with poverty, ill health ignorance and malnutrition just do not figure when compared with bringing Western values and beliefs and Western patterns of consumption to failed and failing nations - like Afghanistan!

Bomb Baghdad with bikes not bombs; kill Kabul with kindness - caring not killings!

Who are the real failed or rogue or terrorist nations round here? Who are the real axis of evil nations?

Sunday, 10 January 2010


I had the whole farmer's family meet me on my return from a late winter's walk up Glasgwm and back. Having completely missed their newly created car park in Cwm Cywarch, I parked in the only spot I could find by their farmhouse.

It was 6.20 pm and they were obviously looking out for me, having seen the light from my headtorch coming down the hillside. I apologised if I had taken the wrong path through the farm but I hardly got the words out before they laid into me for starting the walk so late (2pm) and coming down in the dark. The farmer said that he hated people like me for putting the rescue services to such inconvenience and never having insurance. "If you can't find the car park, your map reading is crap and puts you in danger up the hill." The wife said that there had been a rescue of a walker further north in the national park that very day. I replied that I knew what I was doing and this afternoon's walk was part of my training . They were not impressed.

"Yet another stupid hill walker going out in bad weather with snow and ice everywhere", they must have thought.

Complete incomprehension by the locals for the sheer delight that some, like me, have for going out in what they think is a white hell, is a sheer white heaven for me!

What I should have said was "This is part of my continuous training in completing all the high hills in the UK and Ireland. I'm doing this kind of thing all the time; I'm properly equipped, with the right clothing; I'm qualified as a mountain leader in non snow conditions with the MLTB and I know this area like the back of my hand, having been here over many years in summer and winter conditions." I said none of that, however! Perhaps, that was just as well 'cos I had forgotten to take the ice axe out of the car, I was using instep crampons with my mt approach shoes, I didn't have insurance with the BMC and I very nearly didn't bother with taking the map (that I knew I didn't need to use, anyway). This was also my first major walk after four months of limping from an inflamed, weak tendon.

Three years ago, one of my party, in this very same valley, dialled 999 from her mobile when I lost my party who went steaming off without waiting for me to catch up. Aberdovey Outward Bound Mt Rescue were called out. We met them at the Red Lion in Dinas Mawddwy.

As I walked to the car after this harangueing, I saw that the farmer had put his Land Rover across the back of my car to make sure that I would have to call at the farmhouse to get out, anyway!

I then could not get the car started. I said to the farmer, "I now can't get the bloody car started. Could I make a free phone call from your landline, please?"

"It's a diesel isn't it? Try pumping the accelerator pedal up and down as you keep the key turning over the engine."

And that did the trick; no going into the farmhouse; no walking to the red kiosk 2 miles down the lane; and, no waiting for breakdown rescue. Brilliant! I didn't stop until I got to the the Brigands' Inn to change out of my mountain approach shoes and to take my coat off for the rest of the drive home.

1 January 2010

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Struggles in snow plastered Wales

Fri 1 Jan 2010
This week, for the first time since August 2009, I've not been limping from my weak rht tendon. I thought I would try a quick up and down of Glasgwm from its nearest start. I was using my mt approach shoes with the cut away heel. They worked well with instep crampons in a walk a little over 4 hrs with an unexpected reception party from the farmhouse on my return!

Sun 3 Jan
A drive to within two miles of Pistyll Rhaeadr and an abortive walk 'cos of the deep, soft snow; a sheep caught in a fodder cage; and then a drive up to the old quarry at the top of the pass from Llangynog to Bala at 486m spot height.

Wed 6 Jan
Snow in Wales and the W Mids yesterday. Today I took JP back to uni on a fast run on empty roads with snow ploughs and snow blowers on the A44 over the mountains that rise to 420m south of Pumlumon. We enjoyed the snow on the ridge top trail at Nant y Arian. I very nearly came to grief with a very stupid attempt to drive down that very steep and ice covered side road near Jono's digs.

Sat 9 Jan
A gruelling walk from Llangynog to Post Gwyn at 665m in deep, soft snow that demanded snow shoes that I didn't have. Far too long at 6hrs with my weak tendon and without snow shoes. Four walkers ahead of me, I noticed, took the more sensible decision to walk over the hills from Llangynog to Pistyll Rhaeadr and the cafe there.

At times, I was up to my thighs in soft snow that meant I had to climb out of those steps! Eventually, I reached the road at a point where there was a low stone wall to jump down onto the road and on the upward side of a nearby cattle grid. On that ghastly descent, there was not one fence or wall to climb over, either and, I managed to avoid the crags to the NW and the cutting to the SE. It was a sheer fluke or, my guardian angel at work! Weeks of strong NE winds had piled the snow onto the lee side of the slopes, including the one I descended.

Sun 17 Jan
Back to Llangynog while the cold weather lasted. This time, I parked next to the road, below the high point of the pass near the track that I walked up towards the Berwyns. This time I did get further but the soft deep snow made me turn back. Lunch in the car and then down the road to park in Llangynog to walk up to circle contour GR 059278. Rusty metal post almost filled with water and nothing memorable when I examined Bedd Trynddyn; then, long descent, despite the thaw of the previous week, a deeply filled snow laden ride down steep slopes to three ponds in the heart of the forest - Tre-y-llan. It led to a track, an abandoned Land Rover, a magnificent looking house off to the left and then the road back to the village.