12 Hours, Half a Plan, and a Heimplanet
With Heimplanet new to the shelves of our shops, and with just enough time to make an overnight trip to North Wales, I threw The Cave and a few other essentials (one flask of coffee, one bottle of water, two service-station energy bars bought en-route, two Thermarests and a laptop) into a less than ideal hiking companion – a Basecamp Duffle – and headed for the hills.
Thanks to a motorway diversion because my junction was closed, even the dusk light was beginning to fade as I left my car in Abergwyngregyn and set off towards Aber Falls. An easy, well worthwhile tourist route on a well surface path leads to an impressive cascade, but I was heading for what I’ve always felt was a ‘secret’ path running parallel…
This path – it’s not a secret – departs from the main route early on and takes to slightly higher ground through a lightly wooded area and then becomes a low level traverse of the hillside on what is much closer to open fell than the gravel path below. It brings you along to a steep scree slope.
At this point the path becomes a little harder to make out, especially when the daylight is just pre-headtorch. A couple of hikers, on their way down, had in fact lost the path and were adrift on the open sloping scree, descending carefully below me. I continued up, to a slightly precipitous mountain path that finally takes you - around a bend and over a slick slab of wet stone - above the falls and into the hills.
I was aiming for a grassy spot by an old crumbled settlement that had been a wild camping goal ever since a mis-guided fell running attempt had brought me up this way by chance a few summers earlier. I recalled the area as football-pitch-flat, but found it a little less perfect.
I found a spot that was just about big enough to fit The Cave without any serious mounds, and after a schoolboy error of pumping with the other valves open, I had the tent up in no time. I sat out in front until late, awaiting a moon that never showed from behind the clouds, and drank a full bottle of coffee before trying and failing to sort a comfy pillow from my jackets.
Wind made an attempt on the tent around midnight, but beyond the noise, all stood firm, and I slept well until morning. And I woke to rain. And to sheep.
As two early morning, wet weather, obscure route choosing ramblers – proper ramblers – ascended the hill to my side, I took a lap of the tent to take some photos and admire the weather. I packed up a drenched tent, and set off for home. As this was an out and back mission, I got to see on my way down what I’d missed in darkness on my way up – the river tumbling it’s way down the valley, towards it’s grand drop down Aber Falls. Never before had a pair of Gramicci Pants – my go-to for all situations – felt less appropriate…
And all there was to do from there was negotiate the slab of wet rock, now running with water, and traverse the all but invisible path across the scree, and hike on back to the car, and…dry the tent.
Words by Josh Rothery