19th – 25th September

Highlights: Bangor visits for freshers’ week, Carneddau mountain biking, staff training

Summary: 2 days mountain biking, Bangor errands, moving house cottage, er,… more wet weather?

Sun beams grace the Dyffryn Mymbyr

Sun beams grace the Dyffryn Mymbyr

Monday

A trip to Pen-(puddle)-machno for some mountain biking with Dino. We completed both Loop 1 and Loop 2 on an exceptionally wet day! I’ve been falling off the bike more than usual of late and today was no different with a bizarrely mis-judged turn around a up-rooted tree which had me cursing (and nursing) a rather sore hand. Alas, no damage done, and we whisked back to the Brenin. P.S. wooden spoon award of the day was awarded to me for turning up without a helmet! (borrowed a spare paddling helmet off Dino)

In the evening, part 1 of the British Mountain Guide talks…

Tuesday

Mountain biking again, this time with Will and Dino – we attempted a journey of the Carneddau, negotiating a secret descent down via Conwy Mountain – a big day out 🙂

In the evening, part 2 of the British Mountain Guide talks…

Staff training on the Plas y Brenin low-ropes course

Staff training on the Plas y Brenin low-ropes course

Wednesday – Thursday

These two days were reserved for Bangor Students’ Union Freshers’ Fair and generally catching up with old friends/colleagues from Bangor. Great to see many old faces around Bangor University!

Friday

Staff training today – we were introduced to taking groups up (down?) the Abseil Tower, and around the Low Ropes course. It’s easy to forget these excellent facilities exist at the Brenin, hidden in the woods just over the road! In the afternoon I managed to get ‘sea-sick’ hanging around on the end of a rope I was prussiking up and down… *sigh*.

Another trip to Bangor that evening to catch up with Gemma & Gordon, Tom L, Gemma, and Domino’s Pizza! (free student special of course!)

A rainbow over the Llynau Mymbyr

A rainbow over the Llynau Mymbyr

Saturday

Reception/Outdoor Partnership helping! Generally helping around the centre today, and got to see two awesome talks/lectures off Zac Pierce (GB Jnr Ski Team), and Ioan Doyle (local sponsored climber). Helena and Oli, local orienteering gurus, also helped me with the ongoing orienteering course project by training me up on OCAD and Purple Pen (computer software).

In other news, the British Mountain Guide trainees (who have been referred to a few times in this blog already) completed their summer training!

Sunday

We’ve moved into the new cottage – it’s great! Nice to have a lounge, kitchen, and a longer-term pad!

Spooks…

Mountain biking sheep...

Mountain biking sheep...

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12th – 18th September

Highlights: 100mph gusts, Bivi-ing out on Moel Siabod, Phantom Rib (VS 4c**) in mountain boots, local orienteering event

Summary: Centre based for much of the week; orienteering, a spot of climbing, bivvying and plenty of films!

The reward for bivvying out

The reward for bivvying out

Monday – Thursday

‘Staying local’ – admin, orienteering, and a visitor: Anthony from Nottingham. Admin complete, (‘UKCC Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Paddlesport’ reg, rota, and calendar stuff), Lotte, Anthony, and I had a quick attempt at ascending Moel Siabod Monday afternoon – it was a no-go zone as we hit a mere 300m high with such powerful winds. Crazy! The back-end of Hurricane Katia’s existence apparently. A kitchen shift on Tuesday helped assist my finances, and a relax to some good old Ocean’s 12 and Van Helsing!

A bivi breakfast

A bivi breakfast

Wednesday and Thursday saw me embark on the first stages of orienteering course maintenance here around the Brenin’s fixed courses. There’s plenty to do and the orienteering ‘department’ is very much my project right now – I’m working hard to ensure the courses are brought up to scratch, and a few longer term strategies may be announced later in the year too :p Thanks to Lotte for her help on Thursday! Anthony and I also managed a wall session on Wednesday looking at top-roping and leading.

I had already packed a bivi-out rucksack for Thursday evening, but last minute the aspirant British Moutain Guides I was going to go out with pulled out 😦 So, I didn’t hang around too long before heading up the northern flanks of Moel Siabod on which I spent the night testing out a sleeping system of down jacket and some warm layers underneath inside a bivi-bag. Bit cold at 4am, but sleep for sure!

Bivvying Moel Siabod

Bivvying Moel Siabod

Friday

This morning I was out with the aspirant guides Matt and Tanja for some big boot climbing on Clogwyn y Grochan. We did Phantom Rib (VS 4c**) which in the sudden rain showers at around pitch 3 made for a slippy ascent! The rain was set in so climbing was closed for the afternoon 😦 Night shift that evening…

Saturday

A day on reception proved very productive conjuring up some new ideas for things from guest arrival information to laminating. Honestly, it’s as exciting as it sounds 😉 I escaped in the evening to The Heights in Llanberis to see old work colleagues from Cotswold Outdoor Royal Oak, which made for a pleasant evening out.

Evidence of the 100mph winds (and Autumn!)

Evidence of the 100mph winds (and Autumn!)

Sunday

Braich Bryn Engan – orienteering with the Eryri Orienteers. Today I helped with the start before running the course myself. I came 3rd! Outrageously I would have easily won had I not spent 5 minutes looking for control 1… stupid. Alas, in the afternoon I attended a 3 hour British Orienteering Safety Workshop which was valuable, before settling in for an evening of Spooks! It’s back!




Snowdon Group from Plas y Brenin, originally uploaded by Tom Hecht.

Snowdon Group from Plas y Brenin


  • Cake of the week – Millionaire’s Sponge
  • Interesting Fact – Chomolungma (Mount Everest) is apparently 8850.1728m tall
  • Best Thing – CA Team playing on open top kayaks in the jetty
  • Worst Thing – Injury from falling off the mountain bike!
  • Work Highlight – IML Speed Nav course setting – great fun!
  • Best Outdoor – Passed my 2* ahead of BCU UKCC Level 1

Summary: Lots of variety this week, oh, and wet…

Brenin Bridge  (usually 6ft clearance!)

Brenin Bridge (usually 6ft clearance!)

Monday – LOCAL
Lie-in, blog, and planning day! Visited Cotswold Rock Bottom to purchase some new climbing shoes! In the evening a talk by Adam on the Yukon Challenge (kayaking) was of good interest.
Tuesday – LOCAL
Water day! Eager to see how the promised overnight flooding had left the Brenin bridge, Will & I snuck out early to see if ultimate excitement had been achieved – that the Llugwy may have broken over the bridge entirely. Alas, it was only teasingly lapping against the very top edge! We drove down to see the usually Grade 5-6 rapids under Pont Cyfyng – absolutely torrential as this video proves!
In the afternoon I made some purchases for the bike off Wiggle and worked the bar in the evening (cashing up went much better and balanced perfectly – whoop!)
Jim's bridge flooded

Jim's bridge flooded

Wednesday – STAFF TRAINING
Morning session: Mountain Biking photoshoot on the new £40K skills/pump track around at Bryn Engan – brilliant time until I fell off + it was rainy! Stupid fall = grazed arm 😦
Afternoon session: training on the new centre database system!
In the evening, I snuck over to see the new cottage coming into shape, we watched The Social Network – great film! – and I managed to finish the Wedding photography for Geth & Kirsty!
Thursday – STAFF TRAINING
3 lots of paddling today!
  1. 2* Kayak skills training
  2. Rafting canoes on the lake (very wet activity with 8 CAs and 2 instructors!) and taking the open tops down for a spin in the jetty!
  3. Rolling Pool – technique session two, getting there – very close now!
Photoshoot on Plas y Brenin's new mountain bike skills course

Photoshoot on Plas y Brenin's new mountain bike skills course

Friday – STAFF TRAINING

The morning was spent over at the coral learning about the boat sheds, different boat types and general hands-on tips. Fixed lots of canoe seats! Thereafter, I was assessed for my BCU 2* award which I passed!

In the afternoon I knuckled down to go over the IML speed nav preparation with Carlo – that evening I spent quite a number of hours getting 10 reasonably standardised courses out of my 12 master controls for the weekend event…

Saturday – BAIML (British Association of International Mountain Leaders)/MLTA/PYB weekend
This ‘taster’ weekend to find out if the IML (International Mountain Leader) award ‘is for you’ was being hosted at Plas y Brenin. I’d been drafted in to help run the speed nav element of the 2 days – a 1hr 45min (approx) course to find 5 control points on a 1:25000 map.
I left the Brenin just before 7am to set out the course on the Crimpiau – with a light jog between points this was done in two and a half hours back in time for the morning sessions which I was able to join in with. The rest of the day went well.
A PYB control kite battles in the gusty morning weather on the Crimpiau

A PYB control kite battles in the gusty morning weather on the Crimpiau

Sunday – BAIML (British Association of International Mountain Leaders)/MLTA/PYB weekend
Day 2, and a morning run only took 1 hour to get round and check all the controls were still there and had not taken off in the high winds! Setting off the speed nav in the morning session, I was then able to join in with the rope-work workshop which was certainly very useful.
A bit tired but I enjoyed the challenge, with it being similar to my passion for orienteering, and thankfully it was well received with good feedback on the courses.
A great weekend! Plus, I was able to decide for myself whether or not to embark on the IML scheme – we’ll see!

 

The view along from Castell Helen, Gogarth (near South Stack)

The view along from Castell Helen, Gogarth (near South Stack)

  • Cake of the week – Danish pastry
  • Interesting Fact – Mountains are home to approximately 1/10 of the world’s population
  • Best Thing – Full ascent of Amphitheatre Buttress including pinnacles!
  • Work Highlight – My Mountain Navigation quiz went live on the PYB website
  • Best Outdoor – Blue skies, sun and top climbing at Gogarth

Summary: Plenty of climbing this week…

'Walking with Nature' course

'Walking with Nature' course

Monday – COURSE
Had a free day so asked to go out with Lou on a course entitled ‘Walking with Nature’. I joined with 3 others who were booked on the course: Dave, Dave, and er, Dave! Two of them also shared surnames with two of the full-time Brenin instructors. Bizarre. Alas, it was a day out at Cwm Idwal and the Devil’s Kitchen. Fascinating what geological features and flora/fauna I’ve been ignorantly walking past all these years!
Tuesday – CLIMBING
Matt, an aspirant British Mountain Guide had rung me last weekend to see if I could join him in some days out ahead of his assessment in a couple of week’s time. Today, was a wet day so an ascent of Amphitheatre Buttress was on the cards. I hitched a lift on a Brenin minibus heading out to the coast along the A5 and met up with the guys at the Llugwy reservoir access road.
This classic VDiff had been on my to do list for a while, (albeit in the dry!), and it didn’t disappoint with some excellent pitches of top-end scrambling and some harder sections (especially in mountain boots in the wet). All in all, a great day for the Scarpa Charmoz.
Gogarth - Castell Helen, from North West Passage (E1 5b **)

Gogarth - Castell Helen, from North West Passage (E1 5b **)

Wednesday – CLIMBING
Another training day – this time not so much guiding as coaching lead climbing. I’ve done barely any trad leads, and so after building up tips throughout the day I led a nice VS 4c with a slack top rope, great! We were at Holyhead Mountain all day and got 4 routes under our belt; Andover (VS 5a), Tension (VS 4b **), Black and Tan (VS 4c *), and Bruvers (HVS 5a **).
Thursday – CLIMBING
3rd day climbing, this time very different situation and scenery again – Castell Helen, Gogarth was the destination after an easier (later) start in the morning. It was the first truly sunny day for a long time in North Wales which made the sun-facing cliffs of Gogarth very amicable to be on! We did 2 quality routes – Blanco (HVS 5a **) and North West Passage (E1 5b **), the latter was certainly one of the best climbs I’ve had in North Wales yet!
In the evening, we watched a DVD – whilst I revised a tad for my PCV theory test tomorrow!
The mysterious 'Tunnel' key at Plas Y Brenin

The mysterious 'Tunnel' key at Plas Y Brenin

Friday – BANGOR

With me having to go to Bangor in the morning for my PCV theory tests (multiple choice & hazard perception), I thought I’d combine it with as many visits to old friends/colleagues as possible in and around the University/local area. Thankfully I passed (98/100 for multiple choice – woop!) and so embarked on various errands and visits in the afternoon.

That evening, the night shift involved a drive to Llandudno Junction train station to drop off some students, thereafter an improvised circuits session at reception!
Gogarth - Castell Helen, Blanco (HVS 5a **)

Gogarth - Castell Helen, Blanco (HVS 5a **)

Saturday – CENTRE DAY
Knackered this morning so we watched Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest. After sitting in the bar for lunch, watching the local kids ski team practice on the slope I was inspired to have a ski myself and spent an hour making the most of  the Brenin slope!
Sunday – CENTRE DAY
Stores shift today! An hour lunch break gave plenty of time for another half hour’s training on the ski slope refining slalom technique with cones. After the stores shift finished I settled down to some Doctor Who and had a nosy round the new cottage we’re moving into soon (the old team have finished moving out!)
Gogarth - the view West towards Ireland, beautiful evening skies

Gogarth - the view West towards Ireland, beautiful evening skies


  • Cake of the week – Birthday Cake!
  • Interesting Fact – At some point on 22nd August 2011 I was 789,573,062 seconds old
  • Best Thing – Birthday!
  • Work Highlight – Open top kayaking on the Llynnau Mymbyr
  • Best Outdoor – A day out on Idwal Slabs

Summary: Birthday and a mixture of activities this week…

Minigolf on the Great Orme, Llandudno

Minigolf on the Great Orme, Llandudno

Monday – Tuesday – BIRTHDAY!
Mum and Dad were staying at the Brenin (B&B) so it was pretty convenient for a chilled morning opening presents and making a plan for the day. We set off via the backroads of Llyn Geirionydd and co. to make our way to the sunny coast – Conwy! A mooch around the castle walls followed by a stop in a café was most pleasant. Thereafter we made tracks for the big event of the day – MINIGOLF on the Great Orme (Mum and I won – a draw!)
That evening we travelled down the road to the Ty Gwyn for a lovely meal – Lamb Wellington 🙂 – and spent the evening back in the Brenin’s Snowdon Bar over a game of Yahtzee!
Tuesday saw us take a familiar (to me) route up the south side of the Ogwen Valley to Gwern Gof Isaf, then over to the North up the Fynnon Llugwy reservoir access road and back along the leat. After stopping for the lovely view across Llyn Cowlyd we headed to Pinnacle Café for refreshments.
A game of Yahtzee in the Snowdon Bar, Plas y Brenin

A game of Yahtzee in the Snowdon Bar, Plas y Brenin

Wednesday – FELL RUN & CLIMB
After breakfast with the folks and bidding them farewell, a bad forecast didn’t stop Tom & I going for a run around the Eilio circuit today, post Padarn car-park antics. In the afternoon I was pleasantly surprised to find I still had 3 pre-paid Beacon climbing wall entries left to use – some lead climb crushing!
Thursday – CLIMBING
Outside today – Josh had promised a grand day out on the Idwal Slabs – 3 climbs, 8 pitches… Tennis Shoe (Direct Start) E1 5a**, Rampart Corner (E1) 5c**, Continuation Crack HVS 5a – brilliant day!
Topping out of Tennis Shoe Direct, Idwal Slabs

Topping out of Tennis Shoe Direct, Idwal Slabs

Friday – CENTRE
Observing Taster Sessions today – the first was paddling on open-top kayaks with Nicola and a small group – good fun! Next was skiing on the Brenin dry-slope with Ailsa – pretty funky!
In the afternoon I had to run a double pickup down from Nant Gwynant via Pen y Pass which made a pleasant drive.
Late-afternoon the CA team decided amongst ourselves what rooms we’d get in the new cottage we’re to move into mid-September.
Later in the evening I’d invited the usual crew for a quick excuse for a meal out in Bangor – belated birthday meal! A drink in the Tap & Spile and a good catch up was in order afterwards.
Open top kayaking!

Open top kayaking!

Saturday – COURSE
SPA training today – we visited Lion Rocks to look at bottom-roping and abseiling at single pitch venues
In the evening, a surprise (ish) visit from Simon and Jess was a lovely opportunity for a catch-up since 2007 when we last saw each other down at Windsor Queen Scout Parade.
Sunday – CENTRE DAY
A rough night but better by the afternoon, just in time for the night shift!
The beautiful Llynnau Mymbyr

The beautiful Llynnau Mymbyr


  • Cake of the week – Chocolate Eclairs!
  • Interesting Fact – About 18,000 years ago the Migneint area in Snowdonia was covered by an ice sheet c.1400m depth!
  • Best Thing – Geth & Kirsty’s Wedding!
  • Work Highlight – Canoeing on the Menai Strait
  • Best Outdoor – Joining 6 Brenin instructors on a MTB downhill course…

Summary: Full week’s course this week – Canoeing with Dave Luke! Legend…

Poling a canoe on the Menai Strait

Poling a canoe on the Menai Strait

Monday – Friday – CANOEING
I was lucky enough to spend a whole week as a student on a Brenin Canoeing course. Starting off on the Brenin pond and lake on the first day we ventured much further afield for the rest of the week…
The Menai Strait was incredible; noticeably ferry gliding from pillar to pillar under the Menai Bridge whilst getting caught in rogue fishing lines and observing our instructor Dave boulder around a pillar in an effort to avoid further entanglement! Phew! P.S. the swellies are scary. In the evening I attended my first (weekly) Snowdonia Mountains & Rivers talk at the Brenin hosted by non other than environmental expert Mike Raine.
Moel Eilio circuit - fell run fun! Courtesy of Tom Livingstone

Moel Eilio circuit - fell run fun! Courtesy of Tom Livingstone

On Wednesday we spent time on Llyn Padarn learning more about solo paddling, trim, sailing canoes, and various rescues. The sailing looked promising as we battled against the wind to construct the vessel, however immediately upon launch the wind died and it simply rained lots!
(Wednesday evening I escaped for a run up Moel Eilio with Tom – some great photos can be seen here…)
Thursday saw us embark on a white water mission with Karl on the river Dee – starting from near the Chainbridge Inn just below the Serpent’s Tail we made our way down to JJ’s (Mile End Mill) – some great Grade 2 rapids, and I didn’t get wet! Woop!
In the evening I joined quite a few of the instructors on a local downhill MTB track! With some donning full face helmets, and looking more like American Football players, I looked perhaps slightly less than prepared in my beach shorts, waterproof jacket, and cleated hard tail! ‘Cross-country whippet?’ Still, a controlled descent – I’m still working on the downhill stuff…
Later on was the old CA team’s leaving party in Bryn Engan; much drink and merriment!
Ready to sail the canoes down the Afon Dwyryd

Ready to sail the canoes down the Afon Dwyryd

Friday, the last day and what a cracker – we set off from near Maentwrog area and set off down the Afon Dwyryd. Learning the dark art of tracking was fun, but racking up for lunch and getting a Kelly Kettle on the boil for a coffee (and some freshly picked blackberries) was a splendid end to the week.
In the evening I had my second shift on the bar – particularly proud of the cappuccino 😉
My first cappuccino effort from the Snowdon Bar, Plas y Brenin

My first cappuccino effort from the Snowdon Bar, Plas y Brenin

Saturday – WEDDING!
So, there’s nothing like being made an official wedding photographer just 3 days before a wedding 🙂 Today was Geth & Kirsty’s big day! Good friends from uni, I’m really happy for them both and the wedding was a great excuse for a lovely ceremony in a church near Bethel, Anglesey. Thereafter food, drink, and a dance! Thanks to them for a great day.
Sunday – CENTRE DAY
A quiet day – after a lie-in, I sorted some stuff out around the house and awaited the visit from Mum & Dad that afternoon. With an hour to go before their arrival, I realised I needed to deliver a card to Bethesda! I can now confirm that my new road bike is worth its (light) weight in gold as I pushed 1 hour 5 mins to Bethesda and back (20 miles, and plenty of up and down over the Ogwen Valley pass).
Wedding Presents - Geth & Kirsty's Wedding

Wedding Presents - Geth & Kirsty's Wedding


  • Cake of the week – Eccles Cake!
  • Interesting Fact – Golf was banned in England in 1457 because it was considered a distraction from the serious pursuit of archery.
  • Best Thing – Ice Axes (Quarks) & 60m Rope purchased
  • Work Highlight – Starting maintenance work on the permanent Plas y Brenin Orienteering Courses
  • Best Outdoor – Mountain Biking with Dino at Pont Scethin (Southern Rhinogau)

Summary: Young Person’s Week 2/2 – helping out with the week in general, running orienteering sessions, and some party time too…

Orienteering Course Maintenance - the rich forest floor of Bryn Engan

Monday – CENTRE DAY
Wake up duty – all round the centre at 7.30am – kids are entitled to a compulsory wake-up call!
Caught up with admin today, and spent some time on a new PYB online quiz (Mountain Navigation). In the evening, Lotte and I spent some time on the Brenin pond going through some kayaking stuff, I’ll make a paddler yet! Later, we put ‘Up’ (Disney Pixar) on for the Young People which proved popular!
Tuesday – MTB
Mountain Biking! Joined Dino on the legendary Pont Scethin route (Southern Rhinogs). An incredible route heading out from Llanbedr area (just North of Barmouth) took us just a few but very worthwhile hours to ride. Super fast descents, non too technical, on mainly grassy slopes. Back for the 5pm shift (Cars was the film of choice tonight!)
Wednesday – CENTRE DAY
Another centre-based day, but interspersed with climbing at the indoor wall with Brendan. Set 20 kids off orienteering at 5.30pm with Ailsa (they all came back thankfully), and in the evening Al’s party over the road went down a treat; cheese & wine!
Thursday – MTB
Nant BH & the Marin Trail with John leading the Young Person’s Mountain Biking group. We had a great time on skills sessions around the Nant BH track up in the Gwydyr Forest and on the way back negotiated some sections of the Marin Trail – kids very happy.
In the evening, the Climbing Wall Competition took place for the Young People – helped out for the hour or two and then later watched Torchwood: Miracle Day with Will (slow plot eh?)
Snowdon on a better weather day this week

Snowdon on a better weather day this week

Friday – MTB
After a morning of practising bunny hops (new skool) over the bridge, we loaded the bikes on the minibus and set off for Telegraph Valley, Llanberis. I dropped the group off above the Youth Hostel to save them the hard slog out of Llanberis and parked the bus back down in the Padarn Lagoons car park. Caught the group up half-way up the valley and with the weather turning nasty we hopped into a group shelter at Bwlch Maesgwm (top of the valley) for a spot of lunch. On the way down one of the kids got two back-tyre flats, and another both flats and a bent rim (at the same time!) – apparently a rogue sheep was to blame!
Chaos over, Pete’s Eats proved a strategic rest-point, before we headed back to the centre.
Before dinner I nipped down to Cotswold’s to collect my new Petzl Quarks (axes) and a new single rope! whoop whoop 🙂
Saturday – ORIENTEERING
So I’m reasonably keen for Orienteering, thus I’d offered to do some course maintenance – i.e. find missing controls, reset controls, re-do descriptions etc. Looks like I’ve got my work cut-out (and Lotte offered to help too) with this, as there’s a fair few bits and bobs need doing. Fun times though – it took me 3.5 hours to go round the permanent 27-control course today! Bramble-bashing, note-taking, and wrongly-placed-control-hunting included!
In the evening Rich (Cotswold’s) had his house-warming party in Dolwyddelan so we had a great BBQ and drinks over there with the old team.
Oggie 8 prize collection (minus ale & trophy!)

Oggie 8 prize collection (minus ale & trophy!)

Sunday – Airport run today – had to take one of the instructors out to Manchester Airport on their way out to do some IML assessment in the Alps.
In the afternoon, I tapped into Mum’s computer remotely to re-configure the mysteriously broken printer/scanner which I was relieved to get working after an hour!

  • Cake of the week – Fresh Scones!
  • Interesting Fact – Plas y Brenin hosts over a third of all outdoor qualifications in the UK (via Sport England)
  • Best Thing – Mountain Biking from Coed y Brenin to Bala via the Bwlch y Groes
  • Work Highlight – Will’s car cleaning services at the Brenin = shiny car!
  • Best Outdoor – Winning the Oggie 8 Challenge (and setting a new course record!)

Summary: Most of the week off camping near Bala & scampering around Snowdonia…

Ascending Moel Sych with a group, Berwyns

Ascending Moel Sych with a group, Berwyns

Monday-Tuesday – AROUND THE BRENIN
Lie-ins, admin, CWA & SPA registration (haha finally!) – plenty of downtime. I also took a trip to visit Sam (North Wales’ best car mechanic!) – handbrake now doesn’t stick and car does more MPG, yoo-hoo!
Tuesday afternoon I drove down to Bala to say hi to the gang, and spend the evening catching up with folks from Nottingham High School & Derbyshire in the local Library Pub.
Wednesday – MOUNTAIN BIKING
Looking forward to the new Blue trail (easy) at Coed y Brenin (Mountain Bike Centre), I took 3 groups of Year 9 boys for hour loops – plenty of fun! To get some mileage in, I continued out of the south end of the trail centre (after taking in some cracking red/black descents), cutting the corner off Dolgellau, and carrying on over a lovely section of bridleway to the top of the A470 saddle at Bwlch Oerddrws (14% gradient down!). A whizz down (50mph!) and a lap around the Arran’s heading back North over Bwlch y Groes, the highest mountain pass in Wales (545m), gave a sufficient workout to arrive back at the campsite in time for a hearty carb reload 🙂
Biking up the Bwlch y Groes

Biking up the Bwlch y Groes

Thursday – MOUNTAINS
An almost annual trip up Penygadair with the best team of 7 year 9 kids I’ve ever had! They walked and managed themselves as a group all day in a text-book manner; it was a joy to simply shadow them and reinforce some skills they’d need to employ themselves on the unaccompanied walk the following day.
An equally traditional visit to Barmouth for Fish & Chips & an ice cream, then back to camp for a campfire and entertainment!
Friday – MOUNTAINS
A slightly haphazard day of communication! Joe joined me for some remote shadowing and checkpointing of the 4 year 9 groups traversing the Berwyns N-S/S-N. With a scattering of 2-2ay radios and plenty of “No Signal”, we had a lovely time on Moel Sych, observing at one point all 4 groups moving along their routes. Even time for a cheeky ice cream at Pistyll Rhaeadr.
I dashed back to the Brenin to meet Andy that evening who was staying over to in preparation for the Oggie 8 Challenge the following day…
Bwlch y Groes, 545m above sea level

Bwlch y Groes, 545m above sea level

Saturday – OGGIE 8 CHALLENGE
So, we’ve won 2 times, time to break a record time *and* make it a 3rd? Oh yes! Team C’est La Vie were on fire on Saturday 8th August – the 4th Oggie 8 Challenge since it began in 2008. We had an even better team fitness and knowledge of the area than ever before this year, with the aim to break the 6 hour mark. Start time 7am – pace chaps! Burning a little bit over a sustainable pace, we raced off and finished the Carneddau legs in under 2.5 hours (Yr Elen, Carnedd Llewellyn, Carnedd Dafydd, Pen yr Ole Wen), arriving at Idwal Cottage c. 9.30am. Some excellent banter (& sweets) at checkpoints, and flavoursome soup and flapjack, the Glyders were next (Y Garn, Glyder Fawr, Glyder Fach, Tryfan) – 3 hours for this section approx, arriving back at Oggie base at 12:40. Total time: 5 hours 40 mins – new course record beating the old one we set by 1 hour 12 mins 🙂
A trip to the cinema in the afternoon, and return to base for a Hog Roast and presentations, all in all a successful day & a big thanks to Ogwen Vallery Mountain Rescue for hosting the event again! We raised quite a bit of sponsorship this year – total to be calculated soon 🙂
Sunday – Lie-in 🙂 Will washed my car for some £s and a night shift in preparation for Young Persons week (2/2)…
Camping on the lakeside near Llanuwchllyn, Llyn Tegid

Camping on the lakeside near Llanuwchllyn, Llyn Tegid


  • Cake of the week – Banana Cake
  • Interesting Fact – 70% of Snowdonia is privately owned – (Forestry Commission 16%, National Trust 9%)
  • Best Thing – Filming for the new BMC Rock Essentials DVD
  • Work Highlight – 3 days of MTB with Young People
  • Best Outdoor – MTBing Conwy Mountain, and Reade’s Route on Crib Goch

Summary: It was Young Persons Week (1 of 2) at the Brenin this week…

Sport Climbing at Castle Inn Quarry, Conwy

Sport Climbing at Castle Inn Quarry, Conwy

Monday – MOUNTAIN ROUTE
Lawrence had suggested a day out climbing. With us both favouring mountaineering routes, we headed up Reade’s Route (HVD) on the Crib Goch Pinnacles after scrambling up the first gully behind the Mot from Blaen y Nant, Llanberis Pass. The route was pretty sound, with great situation and a fantastic top-out – a traverse back East along Crib Goch and down the North Ridge.
8pm – I had to be back to run an orienteering session with the D of E Gold Residential Group. Seeing as they were Gold standard, I took them over the bridge to try the harder courses!
Tuesday – SPORT CLIMBING (FILMING)
A change from the usual Brenin shifts, I was lucky enough to spend the day sport climbing with Jill from Bangor University under the watchful eyes of Martin Chester & Jon Garside (BMC). The BMC are currently shooting for their new production ‘Rock Essentials‘ for which Jill and I were starring for the day 🙂 Great fun, and I look forward to the finished product next year sometime…
Reade's Route (HVD), Crib Goch

Reade's Route (HVD), Crib Goch

Wednesday – MOUNTAIN BIKING
Back to normal, I joined the Young Persons MTB team with Brendan – we drove over to Llanfairfechan to take in a traverse over near Moelfre down towards Conwy. Very sunny! Ice creams by the Smallest House(!) and a shuttle up the Sychnant Pass for one more descent!
5pm – a swim in the lake before another orienteering session with the kids
8pm – met up with some friends to finally see Harry Potter 7 part II!
Thursday – MOUNTAIN BIKING
Chris took the group out today – we spent the entire day around the skills courses of Nant BH up in the Gwydyr Forest – some cracking skills coaching and some table-top clearing 😉 My x-country pedigree is threatened! We got back a bit early and having videoed all day I quickly put together a film to show the group at 5pm.
5pm – orienteering session #3!
Friday – MOUNTAIN BIKING
A day that almost didn’t happen, however, due to Paul’s amazingness(!) we took both the pickup and his car to make numbers work for us to all enjoy the trails at Coed y Brenin – got beaten by a 12 year old kid on an uphill race, and the kids generally weren’t far behind on the red trails either!
Mountain Biking on Conwy Mountain

Mountain Biking on Conwy Mountain

Saturday – After stepping in to do a night shift ending this morning, a Stores shift was the order of the day – in the breaks Jim helped fix my bike (tyres/brakes etc.)

5pm – indexed the gears and took the bike for a quick spin down the last section of Moel Siabod (knarly single track)! In the evening, another Torchwood episode – I’m still not sure about this latest ‘Miracle Day’ series :s

Sunday – Reception shift followed by a paid bar shift (have to pay off the new road bike debt see :p)

Some Irish Whiskey to celebrate the end of the week

Some Irish Whiskey to celebrate the end of the week



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