Mountain Talk

Mountain Talk
Paul’s Blog – Posted 07/02/17

Well I knew a blog was overdue but has it really been 4 weeks since I last sat down to do one! So many good intentions such as writing about the Winter Trail Half Marathon in Coed y Brenin & the camaraderie with a girl called Sarah who kept on praising my pace as we continually swapped positions ending in a warm hug at the finish. But with this great event more than two weeks ago I’ll say no more than thanks to Matt Ward & his team for a great event & belated congrats. to fellow Eryri runners, Martin, Steve & Alwyn for winning their age categories when yours truly could only finish 4th in his.

The following week saw me in The Lakes for a walk with the Liverpool Trekkers where we got temporarily lost in a light Blizzard (is there such a thing) between Esk Pike & Bowfell. A good winter hill day nonetheless followed by a relaxed evening & a lovely early morning run to blow the cobwebs away.

Running has taken over again, 4 half marathons or more over the last week has seen me clock up 70 miles, injuries (knee, back & shoulder) are fading into the past, each day my spirit is lifting & confidence in my body growing, may the year ahead prove to be as good as last year, the plans are laid & I’ll detail these separately in the near future.

But now to more here & now issues:-

Moel y Ci race this Saturday, will I see you there? Good luck to race organiser Gary Porter Jones, weather looks like be crisp & dry.

Banda Bacana are playing at the Cafe (also this Saturday), things kick off at 7:30pm, promises to be as fun as ever, dancing in the ailes almost obligatory, free entry with extended drinks license until 11:00pm.

Finally I am pleased to announce that we have just made a major investment in our cooking facilities, food will still be cooked fresh to order but the super quick new kit should bring down waiting times substantially whilst not affecting quality. It may take a few weeks for Gaby & her team to be totally up to speed but already we feel sure that you will soon reap the benefits, of course once you’ve eaten you are still more than welcome to linger & plan your day at whatever speed you choose.

Finally we have two important announcements to make, so watch this space over the coming days.

Paul’s Blog – Posted 10/01/16

Firstly a reminder that this coming weekend brings plenty to look forward to here in Northern Snowdonia, things kick off with Cerdded Conwy Walks & their series of ‘New Year Walks’. A variety of walks in & around the Conwy valley from Friday 13th to Sunday 15th. Sandwiched in between is Buc’s presentation ‘Stories from a Local Shepherd’ here at the Cafe on Saturday evening. So why not join an organized walk & then relax in the Cafe in good company listening to Buc’s experiences in farming in the Ogwen Valley. For more details of the walks & Buc’s presentation visit our Events page.

How are your plans for 2017 going? Mine are still shrouded in a bit of fog, why, probably in truth due to recent injuries that are hopefully just a blip. Things are looking up having put in back to back 16 & 10 miler’s this Saturday & Sunday but near the end of the 10 miler my right knee felt odd so basically before committing fully to my thought processes I am still looking for some restored confidence. The mind & body are having a bit of a tug of war! So what are the plans & thoughts, I’ll let you inside my head a little (not a pretty place):-

Plans: Walking in The Lakes end of January. Skiing, Ski Tour & possible winter ascent of The Monch end of February. Wrexham Marathon early March. Goldrush Trail in April. Welsh 1,000 metre race in June, Wales Trail Marathon mid-June.

Now for those thoughts: Paddy Buckley. 24 hours up & down Siabod for Reach Out for Nepal in June. A 7,000 metre peak in summer 2017 or 18. An 8,000 metre summit in 2018. Walking challenge with Dorina this Autumn & closer to home Ice Axe & Crampons this weekend. We can dream but can we do, only one way to find out. Now out for a run to listen to that knee, back, shoulder & inner voice. Happy thinking & doing.

Buc ‘Stories from a Local Shepherd’ – Posted 06/01/17

Quick reminder that Buc (aka Gwyn Thomas) who farms in the Ogwen Valley is giving a presentation at the Cafe on Saturday 14th January. Full details are on our events page. It promises to be a fascinating insight to how someone manages the land & mountains that we love to play in.

There will be specials with meat supplied by Buc & an extended drinks license until 11:00 pm. Tickets available both over the counter or by phoning us on 01690 720429 at £10 per head with all monies frOm ticket sales & ‘Buc’s Specials’ going to OVMRO. We hope you can make it.

A Festivities thank you – Posted 06/01/17

Well I hope you were able to get out over the Christmas Period in what generally appeared to be good weather albeit a little lacking in Snow until New Year’s morning. As for myself it felt like I was tied to the Cafe but did escape on 3 occasions. Firstly on Christmas Day itself after a decidedly long lie-in I got out for my traditional run. It is rare that I shorten a plan but with no pre-run food, a hard run & wine the day before & the weather setting in I ditched the sting in the tail & returned home having clocked up 13 miles of the original 17 mile plan. A long gap then until New Years Eve saw me let on a long leash for a dash up Siabod with an important guest. The winds blew but at the summit the clouds parted to give our visitor the understanding of what it’s all about, she loved it, I returned to the pots. New Years Day saw Dorina on the computer for half an hour trying to enter me in the Snowdon Marathon, at 0:45 her efforts were rewarded & I was in! A sleep was soon followed by my joining 60/80 other like minded souls in the Llyn Llydaw race. Every year I try to avoid getting my feet wet in the puddles on the Miner’s track, why, as soon as you leave it you are running through ankle deep bogs & knee deep streams! My time was O.K., my psyche ecstatic, well done Harvey & your team for organising it once again!

Back on the Cafe front many of you will know we were busy & by that I mean very busy. I cannot remember 7 consecutive days like it so a massive thank you to all those who visited (3,000+ could be conservative), if you had to wait all I can say we did our very best to cope so hopefully your visit felt worth it. I must also thank Dorina, Gaby, Nick, Ady, Simona, Rebecca, Beth, Ady (No. 2), & Luca for working their socks off & cancelling days off in order to help. Last but not least thanks to John & Marion for once again giving their time to help clear tables & (here a little begrudgingly) allowing me to stay out back on the Pots for hours on end.

Now 2017, a plan is needed, have you made yours, does it focus on the Outdoors wherever it can?

Reach Out for Nepal – Posted 23/12/16

New update under the news section of our Nepal page, massive thank you to all who have made this update possible.

So this is Christmas………. Posted 20/12/16

Last week we were delighted to host three Christmas events so I am truly in the Christmas spirit (that’s relative for me you understand). Firstly we were delighted to welcome the Clwyd Mountaineering Club on Saturday 10th December, my completing the Wainwright’s the day before led me to be AWOL once again but I hear that only made the evening all the better. Cotswold Outdoor were not so lucky for their Christmas party as I was here to land a hand to Gaby & Dorina but that didn’t seem to stop them having a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Thanks to both Clwyd & Cotswold for choosing us as a venue.

The third event was Mike Lees’ annual Christmas Quiz in aid of Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation where we raised £400 for them. It was a fun packed night, full to the rafters & good to see many familiar faces & some new ones too. Mike did occasionally bring a more serious issue to light which in this quite frightening of times brought cause for thought. Put simply there are a lot of people in the world who are going through a living hell, be they a close friend who are ill or alone or Syrian refugees etc. etc. Christmas could be a time for us to reflect & help in anyway we can, even small gestures within this mad world can remind us & them that humanity is alive & kicking after all.

Sunday saw me out in Llanberis for Eryri Harriers fun run, with a continued bad back & left knee to match my first words on arrival were ‘I’m just jogging it this year’. Ellie Salisbury jumped on the band wagon ‘would you be happy to jog with me’. Me, Ellie & Elsie (her canine first aider) spent a glorious 52 minutes jogging around Llyn Padarn in balmy weather talking about the outdoor year ahead. My apologies to Dorina, Gaby, Ady, Nick & Simona who (whilst I was jogging) got blitzed by 70 cyclists & many others besides but come on guys jogging is good for my back so I was investing in the Cafe’s longterm staffing.

Eryri’s Christmas raffle saw the real athletes (Kean among others) choose the variety of chocolates whilst I honed in on the pickle onions, must remember to donate one litre of my apple chutney next year but on this years showing I’ll be the only one taking it home.

Christmas Day sees our doors closed (see previous blog for detailed opening times over the festive period), a run beckons & then Dorina & I sit down for our traditional goose. Hopefully I will be good enough to think of those who’s problems are so much greater than mine.

Sorry for any heaviness but Mike’s words are occasionally listened to & much understood.

New Stock – Rob Collister’s book – Days to Remember

After selling out our initial stock in just 2 weeks I am pleased to confirm that local mountain guide Rob has re-stocked us with further copies.

The book is a quick but enthralling read (I read my copy in a day) covering Rob’s detailed knowledge of Snowdonia alongside adventures around the world before a lengthy & thought provoking conclusion about our duties to respect the planet & the impact our passions for the outdoors have on it. I strongly recommend it, better still we have declined to take our cut & Rob has reciprocated by donating £2.99 of each sale to our Reach Out for Nepal fund.

A great Christmas present for anyone sharing a love of Snowdonia & the planets natural environments.

Mike Lees Quiz & the Silver Band

A final reminder that this weekend sees more than just our Xmas Specials on the agenda.

First up Saturday 17th sees Mike Lees’ annual charity Quiz in aid of our local mountain rescue team Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation. A fun packed evening for all generations in aid of a worthy cause.

Then on Sunday afternoon the Silver Band including ‘our’ own Rebecca Roberts will be playing Christmas Carols etc. to welcome you off the hills.

Full details are on our Events page, we hope you can make one or both once the Christmas shopping has been put to bed.

Paul’s Blog – Posted 28/10/16 – Doug, Tut & Dorina

Time flies still, can it be nearly 3 weeks ago that my nerves were fraying over preparations to receive Doug & Tut’s presentation?

What a great night it was, Doug & Tut’s tale took us back in time to one of the great moments in British mountaineering history, dry wit, relaxed delivery, full house, many friends in the cafe made it a really special evening for all of us at the Siabod. If you were here I can only hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. With ticket sales & sales of print & memorabilia on night in excess of £3,500 was raised for Doug’s charity, Community Action Nepal so the best thing was that enjoyment & helping a very poor nation can go hand-in-hand.

If you were/are unable to attend one of Doug’s lectures then remember you can still support Doug & his team by giving direct via C.A.N.’s web site.

Thank you Doug, Tut & all of your backroom staff (Denise, Ruth, Anne…) who helped bring this event to fruition.

But time waits for no walker & less than 48 hours later Dorina was setting off for Scotland chauffeured by Porter Paul for her attempt to walk the West Highland Way, it was of course payback for her support of my running it back in May.

The plan was to walk it over 5 days, the first four averaging 20 miles a day with a ‘short’ 15 miler to round it off.

She set-off from Milngavie on the outskirts of Glasgow on Tuesday 11th October & was frequently seen skipping & smiling at PP (Porter Paul) as he forced a smiled retort despite knowing just how long the 95 mile journey ahead was as he quickly realised how heavy a burden he had on his back was. The reason was that we were doing it un-supported so everything we needed (& more) was on our backs albeit I had succumbed to Dorina’s pressure to let her carry one of my light running bags, clearly PP had a kind client.

Reaching Balmaha after some 7 hours or so the skipping had disappeared but the smile was still there as we checked into the excellent value Oak Tree Inn.

Day 2, in my book, would always be the crux, the joint longest day at 21 miles over the most difficult ground (second half of Loch Lomond). More to the point it is after an initial baptism of a long Day 1 whilst you also have the knowledge of the long days yet to come, a mental battle as much as a physical one. All that said & despite the first signs of a duck like gate Dorina tackled it smiling enthusiastically. Lake views, goat sightings & walking into real mountain scenery all helped the day pass as did my pick & mix bag of dried fruit, chocolate raisins, M & M’s etc. but the key was Dorina was doing what she wanted & was enjoying her challenge. 9 hours after setting off we arrived at Beinglas Farm to a warm welcome & an excellent room.

Day 3 proved to be the toughest for both of us, Dorina’s was a bit self-inflicted as tired legs & weakening mind led her to over focus on the pleasing thought of a chance for famous Fish & Chips at Tyndrum for a late lunch. For me I knew how far Tyndrum was, early a stop was needed to put on Waterproof jackets for the first time & that bag was killing my shoulders & feet in equal measure. ‘Dorina, we could avoid the diversion to the Chippy & eat at the Green Welly which is en-route’ I finally suggested. There was a LOOK & we were soon eating the F & C! I had the runners knowledge & opted for the starters portion (still big), Dorina’s main course was massive, it went down well but settled badly. The combination of this & the 7 further miles to our stop at the Bridge of Orchy were memorable to Dorina only by the amount of discomfort to stomach, legs et-al. That night we sat down to eat together but only one set of cutlery twirled! The Bridge of Orchy has recently had a major extension added, less relaxed than our two previous stops but warm & welcoming nonetheless.

Day 4, weather closing in but I was still in shorts & in truth only light rain early on despite a poor forecast, we were being lucky. It could have been a very bleak day crossing Ranoch Moor but the rain drops & wind never really materialised & the Autumn burnt orange of the moor shone vibrantly despite the lack of sun. To Dorina’s disappointment the Devil’s Staircase lacked stairs as we both found this long day on paper arguably the easiest to date. That said as we walked the final tarmac into Kinglochleven with the promised rain finally catching us up PP’s feet were screaming ‘take that bag off’. In truth we both new that success tomorrow was now a given & we were feeling good.

The ‘short’ Day 5 saw us pushed along by a surprisingly dry tail wind & through a never ending remote high valley after the initial steep climb out of Kinglochleven. Dorina was still smiling as we made the long descent into Glen Nevis but the final tarmac section into Fort William almost wiped it of her face. Having failed to do so her Beaming face at the WHW’s end was soon being seen & tweeted (or whatever it is young people do) across social media (whatever that is), she had done it & done it well.

& then a surprise Day 6!

We had been discussing it but only decided on it when waking to good weather, The Ben was close, we had a spare day, we were off to do Ben Nevis. No car meant an extra 8K added to the tourist route, I had the luxury of a lightened bag but the real star was Dorina. Despite her previous exertions she made it from Sea Level to Britain’s highest summit without being passed by a sole & passing scores of other walkers, a wonderful way for her to round of a great few days in autumnal Scotland. The icing on the cake for me, to spend some relatively relaxed time with my smiling Angel, what a star! Well done Dorina!

Paul’s Blog – Posted 25/10/16

Back at the Cafe now after our sojourn to Scotland & The Lakes there is plenty to catch up with for both Dorina & I. For my part there is plenty to blog about but with several priorities & to spare you something that’s even longer than my normal waffles I am going to leave reflections on both Doug Scott’s presentation & our Holiday for another day. So here goes with those priorities:-

1. Open MIC Night at the cafe this Saturday, details on our events page, very relaxed atmosphere with extended drinks license & hosted by Alan Mannouch.

2. Delighted to announce that our next Quiz Night to raise funds for Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation has been agreed for Saturday 17th December, as ever hosted by our Quizmaster Mike Lees. Again full details on our events page, hope you can make it.

3. This Saturday also sees one of Snowdonia’s great sporting events, The Snowdon Marathon. Starting from Llanberis at 10:30 the runners soon climb the Llanberis pass so drivers please note there is a road closure starting from 10:00am. Having failed to register in time on New Years Day before it sold out I am delighted that I have actually secured my place in the starting line up. This has come about by a former athlete accepting the inevitable & handing the family batten to his much younger wife & basically begging me to take his place in an attempt to beat her. She’s apparently going very well, I’ve turned back into a walker in recent weeks, have I been set up, thanks MATE!

4. Finally we are delighted to once again be nominated for TGO magazine’s annual awards in the Best Outdoor Cafe category particularly because locally we are not alone to be shortlisted in one of their categories. Our local pub, The Tyn y Coed is nominated for best pub & to cap it all Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation’s book ‘Risking Life & Limb’, written by Judy Whiteside has also been nominated. If you feel inclined to vote for one or more of us simply visit, it only takes a minute, your support would be simply a great reward for our efforts. Be quick though as the closing date for voting is 10th November.

That’s it priorities done, next blog will contain the waffle, you have been warned!