Lauren’s First Mountain

Lauren had been desperate to join us on a walk for some time, so we planned to pop up to Betws-y-coed for the weekend and find a suitable wee mountain she could claim as her first. We took Friday off work to get up to north Wales early as she (and I) needed some new boots. Cotswold Outdoor don’t publicise it very well but they do operate a childrens boot exchange program – when kids (inevitably) grow out of their they’ll buy them back, so Lauren got the equivalent of 30% off a shiny new pair of Meindl’s.

Michelle hadn’t been feeling well so it was going to be me and Lauren only for her first walk. I’d hoped to find a small peak she could comfortably reach the summit, but lack of knowledge coupled with the need to choose somewhere convenient for Michelle to mooch around waiting for us led me to the car-park at Capel Curig, just behind Joe Brown’s and Pinnacle Stores. I had it mind to head up the path just behind and up the spur heading towards Y Foel Goch at the east end of the Glyderau.

We set off and immediately by-passed the established path and picked our own way up through the crags and boulders, allowing Lauren to choose the route, eventually climbing a gully which brought us to the top of Cefn y Capel. It’s always surprising how quickly you seem to gain height – Lauren measuring it on how the cars in the valley looked smaller and smaller. Heading south-west the bwlch drops slightly and as a result is pretty boggy meaning plenty of detours to keep our feet dry. The route then rises over a couple of stiles to a steep drag up towards Foel Goch. It was around the 650 contour mark when Lauren began to complain about her new boots rubbing so we stopped for lunch, sheltering from the breeze between a couple of rocks. The hot ribena was a recent tip and went down well.

With her boots rubbing and the fact we couldn’t actually see the summit from where we were I guessed she wouldn’t be up for continuing upwards. She’d done really well so far and was enjoying herself and whilst I could have probably encouraged her further I decided to quit while I was ahead. Telling her the hills would still be there for another day she agreed it would be better for us to turn back while she was still enjoying herself – so we headed down, finding a few remnants of snow lurking in the shadow of a wall.

We re-traced our steps a few hundred metres then headed s-w down towards the gloriously named ‘The Ricks and Racks’ crags. The path was pretty steep at times but Lauren seemed quite confident following in my foot-steps and using the pole for support. In fact I had to override her choice of route a couple of times as she sought out the steep, rocky option. It was Lauren’s longest walk by far but her only moan was during the last half mile, along the floor of the valley just opposite Plas y Brenin back to Pinnacle Cafe. She clearly takes after her mum, preferring the challenge of the climbs and descents to the walk-in/out. It was with a big smile on he face that she proudly told mum all about her day on the mountain and couldn’t wait to write in her diary.

The next day we’d hoped to catch an indoor rock-climbing taster session at the Beacon climbing centre but they were fully booked so we headed up the forest road north-west of Betws y Coed to reach Llyn Geirionydd – a beautiful spot well worth further exploration. We only had time for a saunter around the lake before heading home but Lauren insisted in taking the more difficult route at each opportunity, hopping between the boulders along the shore. I think she might have the bug!

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