Sunday, January 14, 2007

New Year in Snowdonia

One round one of the festival of over indulgence is over it is traditional in some circles to combine yet more over indulgence with plenty of fresh air, activity and adventure. I have struggled to find somewhere as well situated as the Roy Bridge Hotel, close to Fort William. Scotland is a long drive so I was looking for a bunkhouse in Snowdonia or the Lake District, close to a pub with a pool table, jukebox (with crappy old rock tunes) and fine ales.

I guess I struck it lucky! We booked the Siabod Longhouse which is just outside Capel Curig in the heart of Snowdonia. The Tyn-y-Coed hotel is a 3 minute walk away and fulfills all of the criteria mentioned above.

Day One.
I was nursing a vague state of apathy heavily encouraged by a hangover when I was horribly startled by Ian calling for me. We managed to get out for a short walk across the fields to the Jackson's Boat Pub beside the river.

Day 2

All the best laid plans could not get us out of bed almost until lunchtime. We eventually got underway and headed of for a blustery walk in the Clwydian Hills.

The Clwydians lack the drama of Snowdonia but tend to miss some of the inclement weather that often plagues the mightier hills to the south. The Moel Famau Country Park has beautiful scenery and has some recently developed mountain bike trails. We walked to the top of Moel Famau where it was difficult to stand in the gale force wind, then headed off to the heart of Snowdonia to check in at the Siabod Longhouse, which was to be our home for the next 3 days.

The Bunkhouse is well equipped spacious and warm but with space for 8 to sleep, it seemed surprising to find that there was only space for 4 to sit around the kitchen table.

During the course of the evening more of our friends came to join us as we kept a large pot of Chilli con Carne gently bubbling on the hob.

Day 3

The forecast was amended by employing a combination of optimism and enthusiasm. Those qualities can have god like influence over the interpretation of high wind speeds and descriptions of heavy rain and hail. We decided to go for a walk up a mountain called Cnicht.

This picture was taken just after we had hidden behind a wall to avoid hailstones driven by 60mph winds. We were unsuccessful in our bid to reach the summit and had much more fun visiting my friends Franco and Joan who laid on tea and cakes under the watchful eye of Llyr the cat.

Day 4. (New Year's Eve)

The weather had got even worse! Outdoor activities were down to a couple of short walks before subduing the effects of cabin fever with mince pies and port. The evening meal was a terrific feast of 'Bangers and Mash', tons of fresh veg with lashings of gravy.

Before we had time to relax after dinner we made for the pub in a bid to get a foothold round the pool table. Successfully established, we spent the evening playing pool in teams from other groups. The Jukebox came in handy in keeping the mood flowing and at midnight the hotel put on a delightful firework display in spectacular competition with Cobden's Hotel 200 metres down the road.

Day 5 (The long haul home)

Tidying up is never all that much fun. We swept up and mopped out, packed our things and headed off. This time the weather had defeated us in many respects but the spaciousness and warmth in the bunkhouse made up for all of that. It was simply nice to relax.