Hello people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here reporting on a hike that we did way back in October 2018. My human dad had only recently started to take me out into the big hills and he decided to take me to Snowdonia to one of his favourite mountains. He chose a fairly straightforward route up Moel Siabod for us to tackle. The path we were to take was from the side of Plas Y Brenin, the outdoor training and activity centre, in Capel Curig. A layer of snow had been laid down on the higher peaks in the area and it was a bitterly cold morning. The mercury hadn’t risen above -2 degrees by the time we arrived at our car parking spot. We parked a few yards from the start of the path in a small layby that fills up early in the morning at weekends. This was a mid-week winter hike with only a few people and possibly, only one or two pooches, out in the hills.
I was wearing my brand new Hurtta harness which my dopey dad hadn’t adjusted properly. It kept slipping from one side to the other. If only he had spent five more minutes adjusting the straps it would have sat so much more comfortably on my back. He is not known for his patience! We had all of our winter hiking gear in his rucksack but, the weather was forecast to be cold and dry for the day. So, hopefully, the waterproofs could stay in the bag. Food and hot drinks were in there too so, we were prepared for our little trip.
On the way to Capel Curig my dad decided to stop off in Betws y Coed to have a quick look around a few of the outdoor shops. They are all dog friendly so, I had a good sniff around while my dad looked at all the stuff that he couldn’t afford. He took me in Canine & Co, a dog shop where he showed me all the things that I couldn’t have either. Meanie! I think that his pockets must be full of broken glass.
Plas y Brenin has been the place that, over the years, my dad has completed a few courses. Winter Skills, Mountain Navigation, Scrambling and Mountain First Aid to name a few highly recommended courses. The courses that he has done have all been residential and he has had to share a bedroom with other candidates. He told me about one occasion that a fellow candidate stormed out of their room, due to my dads snoring, and slept on the landing. I know how the poor man must have felt! My dad says that I snore too but, I doubt it. I have never heard it.
After passing through a gate by the roadside, the path leads along the side of the mountain centre, past the head of Llynnau Mymbyr, the twin lakes in the Mymbyr valley or Dyffryn Mymbyr. The lakes lie in a sandstone depression with the igneous rocks of Moel Siabod on one side of the valley and the southern slopes of the Glyderau on the other. Soon we crossed over a wooden footbridge over the Afon Mymbyr that feeds the lakes. The path climbed the hillside through woodland until we came to a stile that the big feller had to carry me over. My harness has a handle built into it to make this easier. We didn’t like using the handle because it made my back arch too much. I suppose that it would be ok in an emergency.
As we left the trees behind us the views opened up to our right and behind us. We could see the snow-covered Snowdon horseshoe and the Carneddau in the late morning sunshine. The path was steep and rocky in parts with ice coating the rocks and making it slippery, even for me with my four-paw drive. My dad was trying to concentrate on where he was placing his feet as I was concentrating on acting like a mountain goat. There were a few sheep on the slopes, tempting me to chase them. Now and again a swift or a swallow? would zoom past us and I had to chase them. My dad was getting a bit frustrated with me but, I was only doing spaniel stuff and I was still young. Grump!
We decided to have a short break on the hillside as we admired the snowy vista across the valley. The sky was deep blue with just a few wispy clouds. It was a beautiful day, if not a tad chilly in the southerly breeze. In the shade it was bitterly cold so, we sat in the direct sunshine while we had our food and drinks. Just then I saw the first person of the day. A fellow hiker was approaching us along the same path that we had ascended. I didn’t like the look of him so, I started to bark and bark and bark. My dad was surprised as this was the first time that I had ever barked at a person. My dad tried to calm me down as the man walked past us and said, ‘good morning’. I think that I saw him off. I was only protecting my dad, honest!
After our break we headed upwards and soon we came to a flatter area covered in rocks and snow. I loved being in the snow and I zoomed around in it, eating it and throwing it in the air. My dad threw snowballs for me to catch but, he soon replaced his gloves because his hands were frozen. Wimp! We were nearly at the summit at 2860 feet with the bright sun dazzling us as we headed upwards. We both slipped a few times as we climbed on the summit mound as we reached the frozen trig point. My dad took photographs of me and the views while the cold wind made his cheeks glow crimson red. The 360 degree views from the summit took in the Snowdon range, the Carneddau, the Glyderau, with Tryfan poking through snow-free, unlike the rest of the peaks in our vision, due to it’s distinctive shape. We didn’t linger long on the top as it was too cold for both of us.
We planned to return to the car along the same route that we had ascended. This is where my dad made an error. There were a few sets of footprints on the summit plateau but, the path was invisible due to the snow cover. We ended up passing the point where we should have started to descend the hillside and it took us a few hundred yards off our track. When my dad realised that we had overshot our path he had a look at his map and his GPS to confirm where we were. We had dropped below the snow line at this point so, we were able to find our way back to the path quite easily. This did entail crossing some boggy patches where my dad cursed because he ended up with a wet foot. I don’t understand why he was complaining as all four of my feet were wet.
Descending was quite difficult for my dad at times as the path was steep in sections and the rocks were still ice covered. I kept close to my dad as he struggled. He was using his trekking poles to steady himself but, it did take longer than we had expected. Once we were past the steeper sections and back into the woodland, we picked up pace and quickly returned to Plas Y Brenin. We could see the artificial ski slope and canoe slalom course just before the footbridge. The sun was about to set across Llynnau Mymbyr at the left of the Snowdon massif. We stopped for a few minutes to watch the sun drop before we jumped into the car to set off for home. We looked back to Moel Siabod’s summit to see that it was shrouded in cloud. I seemed that our timing had been good on that day.
On our way back we stopped at Rhug Farm Shop while my dad bought an americano. Rhug Estate sells amazing bison burgers in its butchery department so, my dad bought himself a couple. Further along the road, at the foot of the Horseshoe Pass, my dad decided to treat himself from some farm cider from Rosie’s Cider Farm. He was looking after himself. No treats for me. So selfish. So, I sulked and slept all the way back home.