Titled ‘The 2 Paul’s (& Tim) Carneddau 2,000′ Challenge’ the aim was to take in the 22 peaks on the vast Carneddau (biggest mountain mass in the U.K. outside of the Scottish Highlands) in a single day. Between computers & I (never a good mix) we reckoned it would amount to 73.9K (46.2 Miles) with 13,674 feet of ascent (& of course descent) & would take approx. 13 Hours (my best guess against the computer’s 54 Hours but of course they don’t always run well do they!).
Be warned it’s a long blog, make a cup of tea or coffee & then settle in to an insight of our day but remember this is only my version, Paul & Tim will have their versions of how it evolved & what they experienced.
Tim Watson, a late addition had begun to waver a week before (‘maybe I’ll just go to Tal y Fan’) but this Gazelle like runner who is looking incredibly lean & mean (in the best sense) strode into the Café at just after 4:00 am with Paul Jones & a face that shone ‘Game on’.
Suitably breakfasted, photo shoot by John & Marion, farewell to Dorina, it was 4:50 & we were off. Many things contributed massively to what lay ahead but it was the weather from the gods that helped make the day shine so brightly.
This was not a day for running fast or even running many of the ups but it was a day to keep going steadily & with purpose.
As we climbed & bypassed Crimpiau the views opened out & comments ‘look at that’ ‘stunning’ were accompanied by clicks of Tim & Paul’s mobiles, the treats had begun early but you had to be there to appreciate just how lucky we were, we dallied, I dally now, time to move on!
Our first peak was a mistake, Craig Wen (not a 2,000′), which we soon realised when we hit the summit of Craiglwyd but only a few minutes had been lost. Summit number 2 was Creigiau Gleision with it’s majestic views of the dark waters below of Llyn Cowlyn & across to the Moel Siabod, Glyderrau & Snowdon beyond (there are winter photo’s in the Café that give you an idea of it all). A look at the watch 1 Hour 15 Minutes against my estimated 1 Hour, oops. It was from here that we took in the first of our ‘journey’ views, Tal y Fan lay far to our North, ‘Peak No. 3’ looked very far away. In truth I knew this hence devising an anti-clockwise route to avoid taking on this 15K section with no peaks in between, late in the day, would have been pretty soul destroying. By taking it early & ‘fresh’ it would be a good phycological barrier done & dealt with.
& indeed it was but not before a few points of ‘interest’. I found a lovely hidden bog to clean my right leg up to the knee, no thanks from Tim for my pointing it out, just some gibbering giggle. The heat of the day began to build as we traversed around & out of Cwm Eigau. I had bowel movements so found a sheltered spot before catching up with a somewhat jealous Paul & Tim & then Tim led us to a glorious short cut that soon saw us retracing our steps to my chosen road. In truth we were all loving every moment of it although the brief steep road section did it’s best to wipe away our smiles.
We hit Tal y Fan after a total of 4 Hours & 5 Minutes, 20 minutes down on my schedule & were greeted warmly by Andy Pyatt with food & water a plenty (the 3 of us had made up 4 stash bags one for each of our 4 designated rendezvous’, Andy being at the first of these had added an extra 2 litres of water which was very welcome indeed). Photo’s taken we moved on.
As I descended with care a shout from the Gazelle behind ‘Chuffs, 5, 6, more…’, Tim nonchalantly took photo’s & kept up with me at the same time, bloody annoyingly impressive stuff!
The long climb to Carnedd y Ddelw saw us reach our first peak on the main plateau, a new one for Tim & Paul, they were impressed. Then Drum ‘that’s 5’, we were counting without stopping ‘now guys, big out & back here to Pen y Castell’. Tim led over grassy terrain, I followed, Paul veered left to a fence line path. Tim & I found a slight rise, ‘this’ll be it’ he said’ ‘yes Tim’ I think it’s that stone’, map out, ‘yep, where’s Paul?, ‘Paul, Paul…..’
Eventually I moved to a lower view spot, saw Paul far below & called him back before I re-joined Tim at the summit where we re-consulted the map ‘oh’, we headed off to Paul who was stomping back to us, ‘stop Paul, you were right’, I might be wrong but there was a look of sheer love & respect in his eyes, we kept our distance.
The true Pen y Castell looked a long way off but in truth it came & went quickly but we had time to take in our journey through Cwm Eagaiu & over Tal y Fan, ground had been covered & we could see it.
The Foel Fras climb after a good contouring traverse led by Tim was long & hard but we were rewarded at it’s summit by a waving George Manley at depot Number 2. It was here that we got the first feel of a cooling breeze that would be a frequent blessing as the day progressed. We were now a little over 6 hours in with approximately half the climbs done & still only 20 minutes down on my schedule. Food & water consumed, photo’s taken, ‘by George’, we moved on.
The Llwymor climb went well, ‘maybe more left Paul’ the Gazelle muttered to me, I kept stubbornly right & was more than a little surprised when my line brought us almost directly to the summit & earlier than any of us dared hope.
From here Tim spied our traversing line to Yr Arag & what a traverse it was, all made possible by no clag. Wild & remote, bright green bog, rocky screes & to Tim’s wildest delight clear water springs almost everywhere, he drank the nectar & soon Paul was following suit, we were in a special place & they were connected.
Yr Arag soon passed as I led the way on my terrain (aka easy & flat ground) to Bera Bach. On the ground it looks like Bera Mawr should be tackled first but the map shows otherwise, I’d first sought Tim’s agreement & readily got it.
Tim led the scramble to Bera Bach’s summit & then spurted across & up Bera Mawr the rock god was strutting his stuff leaving us ‘Paul’s’ in awe of his abilities.
The traverse over to Drosgwyl was more my style as I took an opportunity to lead the way whilst the Gazelle & his mate stopped at another watering hole. Two people looked down on us, ‘are they waving, is that a whistle’, I tacked my line & soon we were upon them with my hunch being confirmed it was Ali Bramall & Steve. An un-expected & extremely pleasant surprise, they had come to this remote corner of the Craneddau to support & fuel us. I had grapes & water from heaven, Paul & Steve fearing to touch ‘my’ grapes scoffed crackers & cheese, we were 3 very lucky lads.
The views of our journey behind & in front were astounding from here, we knew we were in an epic & in the company of two new friends, then we moved on.
An initially rocky descent led to an easy ‘Paul’ path, for the first time were Paul & Tim thinking ‘shit we could be in trouble now’. I was enjoying myself reaching the far out summit of Gyrn Wigau feeling great, the views to Yr Elen & Carnedd Dafydd were dramatically impressive, their size & distance toyed with our minds as we turned around & began the long climb back up to the higher plateau.
My early thoughts as Tim & Paul led on, were I think we should be running this bit were soon replaced with ‘shit I’m losing energy’, I was soon holding on, just, to Tim & Paul giving it everything I had, I needed to eat & the grapes seemed ages ago. Pulling an energy bar out of my bag I chewed on it for what seemed a lifetime & eventually got it all down before using all of my remaining Electrolite to give an extra boost knowing that planned re-fuel No. 3 was not too far away, thankfully it worked & a serious trough was overcome.
Carnedd Gwenllian eventually became our 14th 2,000′ summit, we didn’t dally ‘Tim follow me there’s an easy path just over here’. The rock god stuck to his rocks, Paul followed him, I found my grass & ‘flew’ into the distance to the base of the climb to Foel Grach. Now Paul & Tim I will clarify my apology for not stopping & waiting for you here:-
Firstly Tim as you acknowledged you did hear my advice & chose to ignore it, secondly I had been trudging after you both in a deteriorating state not long before whilst frequently thinking ‘shit they are running again’ & thirdly if I stopped & waited I was pretty sure you’d soon be showing me your heels all over again. & just for clarity, I never once thought ‘if I carry on Brian & Hazel will see me leading two far better runners a merry dance’, but also for clarity it did feel good!
Brian & Hazel were marvellous, food & water laid out, extra banana’s, 3 litres extra water but they do have a dog who is not photo shy & has a nasty habit of eating my dropped crisps! Photo’s, Hugs & thanks we moved on.
Tim & I had both cooled as I stopped to put a jacket on in a stiff breeze before I led the frustratingly long out & back descent to Craig Eigiau, an innocuous raised mound of grass in the middle of absolutely nowhere. It’s saving grace is it gives a great vantage point of our behind & forward journey over the Eastern aspect of the Carneddau in much the same way as Gyrn Wigau had done in the West.
I sensed Tim was suffering as for the first time he fell slightly of the pace as Paul closed the gap on a now rejuvenated me. This temporary blip (probably phycological due to our heading away to a ‘pointless’ peak) soon passed as Tim was soon leading us strongly on the traverse & steep climb (we had lost a lot of height bagging that ‘peak’) towards our days high point. Now it was Paul’s turn to take a dip as Tim surged seemingly effortless ahead Paul went for his remaining fuel whilst I sat in behind thinking this is a nice pace I’ll stay right here.
With Tim bounding over Carnedd Llewelyn’s summit plateau Paul, being a runner I knew he’d have to, picked up his legs into a run & we trotted over to join the Gazelle who was now back in the company of Brian & Hazel for an un-official but nevertheless planned pit stop 3b. Paul scoffed anything to hand including one of my Mars bars, Tim went for some of my Soren, ‘that’s a first’ he chimed & I thought I may have overloaded Brian & Hazel but I’m glad I did as we collectively finished off that extra 3 litres of water. Hugs & thanks, we moved on.
Paul soon began to recover & we made good progress to the ever airy & lovely peak that is Yr Elen passing a mother & daughter on the way whom I think might use the café but by this time the mind could have been playing tricks on me. They caught us up at the summit & mum offered to take our picture before asking us to reciprocate & announcing that her daughters name was Elen & she had just climbed Yr Elen for the first time. Well done Elen & Mum, nice anecdote that! Again the views of our journey behind & forward were creating this continuing epic
Tim led the traverse towards Bwlch Cyfryw-drum with Paul coming past me on the early rocky section. Darkening clouds were forming above making Carnedd Dafydd look both menacing & very far away even thou’gh our collective logic knew differently.
We were on a ‘busy’ highway now but kept the length of our journey to ourselves as we passed the walkers, most, at least, withheld open looks of madness as we passed. A final passing & photo from Brian & Hazel as they crossed towards their descent line with Brian’s passing shot ‘it’s not as far as it looks’ seeming not to impress Tim, then the first telling sign. I think the sensation that Dafydd had planted on us had got under Tim’s skin. Suddenly this incredibly graceful runner began to knock his toes on stones creating yelps of pain as we made our climb to Dafydd’s rocky summit. I can remember thinking, we’ve covered 60 Kilometres with no falls at all for any of us, we need to be careful now, tired legs……..
Un-scathed other than sore feat & having all suffered the odd short dip we reached the summit of Dafydd after a little under 11 hours, a still & very pleasing only 20 minutes behind schedule. Here we were greeted by Dafydd Thomas our planned supporter at 4 as well as Peter Durkin who’d come up with extra water etc. & to join us for the remainder of our run. By now we knew we were ‘almost there’ despite Tim’s comment climbing Dafydd ‘Pen yr Ole Wen next’ a peak that my tired mind had chosen to forget about, ‘thanks Tim, lovely bit of news that’, I thought.
So I end Part 1 – the pre-fall. This may be a very long blog but I assure you it hasn’t done justice to my memories but thanks for staying with us & showing an interest.