Friday, August 29, 2014

Hollibobs part 1: Queens of the mountain

I can't tell you exactly why me and Little Sis decided to climb Snowdon. I think I was just tired and weary of work and motherhood and the city and I wanted to escape it all for a couple of days and Lucy had some time off work, so we thought we'd go on an adventure. 

We could have gone to a spa or on a pub crawl or to a shopping centre. We're city girls and these are our habitats, after all. But, for the first time in my adult life I sort of heard the call of the wild and said that I quite fancied walking up a big hill. Lucy said she was up for it and suggested Snowdon because it's about as big a hill as they come. She knew someone who'd done it once, she said. 'How hard could it be?' we thought. And just like that, super casually, we'd planned to walk up a mountain.

And so a few weeks later we found ourselves in a little B&B in North Wales with no wifi and no proper walking boots and no knowledge of hillwalking or map reading and no plans to do anything other than to walk up a mountain. It was extremely exciting. 

We woke up the next morning, ate an excellent Welsh fry-up, drove to the foot of our randomly chosen path, the Pyg track, and felt like we were heading to Mordor. And then we started walking up, up and up, over jagged rocks and scree and streams ... and it wasn't like Crystal Palace Park one bit. 

I didn't expect it to be so scrambly. We had to get on all-fours a lot and kind of bound across boulders with all the grace of concussed Labrador puppies. And I didn't expect it to be so dangerous. Surprisingly, mountains don't conform to the sanitised health and safety regulations of the attractions that I'd generally visit. Literally one misplaced foot on the wrong slippery stone and it's goodnight Vienna. But there's nothing like the very real risk of death to make you feel alive, and I didn't expect to enjoy that as much as I did. 

A bit under three hours later and we were up at the top, knackered, soggy and with legs that felt like Cheese Strings but absolutely buzzing with a sense of achievement. We shuffled up the terrifying steps to the summit on our arses and caught a quick, beautiful, glimpse of the Irish Sea and, you know, all of Wales, before the clouds descended and we were in a white out. 

And then - utter joy - we went in the cafe. At the top of the mountain. It sold lattes and postcards and novelty fridge magnets and made two townies like us unbelievably happy.

And then for the descent. It poured down and our socks were soaked through, but it was easier in some ways because the pressure was off. And I also learned that you must never underestimate the pleasure that comes from passing shattered-looking people on their way up when you're on you're way down and telling them cheerily, 'Don't worry - you've only got another hour to go!' 

Honestly, the air, the exercise and the views - it was ace. And addictive. I'm desperate to get out of London more and climb more hills. I want to collect the other two of the Three Peaks and I'm already half-planning a trip to the Lakes next year. 

The only real problem we had was that when we got back down the mountain we couldn't announce to anyone that we'd been up it. No phone signal or wifi, you see. Annoying. You can take the girls out of the city ...

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