Up here, love kills.
You may have noticed from my photographs, that the villages in the uplands of Wales are green and lush with life. Nearly all of them have big rivers running through them which you can hear from almost anywhere in the village. When I entered beautiful Beddgelert two days ago it was like entering another world. Surrounded by tall green trees, following rivers and waterfalls. I felt like I was swirling deep down into a place that time had forgotten. Maybe that’s why I got so drunk?
When you walk up from places like Beddgelert. Up through pine tree forests. Up past lakes. Up and up into the mountains. There’s a point where the lush green life ceases. Everything’s still beautiful. You get amazing epic vistas over the valleys. But there’s no more forests dripping with rain, moss and life. Everything’s a bit more barren.
Some people blame this on the sheep, literally chewing down the forests. Others say it’s all the rocks and wind up there. And some others, when pressed just say “I dunno mate! Do you want hash browns with your breakfast or not!?!”. Which just goes to show, its a pretty contentious issue so be careful who you bring it up with (canteen staff are particularly touchy about it).
I’m not gonna lie, after checking in at the hostel things got pretty dark. My back, oh my back! My feet, oh my feet! My crotch, oh my crotch! Everything hurt. And smelt. A lot. There was a beautiful woman drawing in her notebook in the hostel restaurant. I went to my bed, switched all lights off and switched on the only track I appear to have downloaded onto my phone – ‘who am I (what’s my name)’ by Snoop Dogg. This did nothing for my mental state. But then I had the best sleep of my life
At 6 am my alarm went off and woke a room full of snoring, farting bear men and me! I was reborn again! That huge looming mountain was still there outside my window, shrouded in cloud but I was ready. ‘I’m going to walk all over you mountain’ I thought. Just you wait. I’m gonna walk. All over. You. Mountain.
I hid my rucksack in a drying room and headed out. The sun was out, everything was out, it was fresh and beautiful. I got to my first little outcrop of rocks with amazing views for some photos and I got signal!! A text came in from golden haired, twinkling eyed barmaid and I skipped on up the mountain. Skippy, skip, skipping while texting, more skipping, then some texting, skip, skip, step step, stop, errr step, nervous skip, how many commas can you get in one sentence?… ‘WHERE THE F*CK IS MY MAP AND WATER!?!’. Of course, I’d left them back at those rocks, when the text came in. I went back down the mountain. Up here, love kills.
From that point onwards I was fairly organised. Earlier I’d had a really annoying conversation with the campsites owner for tonight on a Payphone which ate £3 just for me to say “I WANT TO STAY” and for her to say “I WONT LET YOU IN AFTER SIX”. Despite this I dawdled up, stopping to take many photos. I’ve never done Snowdon alone. It was eight in the morning the sun was sporadically appearing over cliff edges hundreds of meters over my head. Life was great.
One of the things I’ve loved most about this trip is getting a tiny glimpse into Welsh village life. In the pubs and ‘caffis’ overhearing conversations about who was gay this week and when everyone was going on holiday. When you are on you’re way up Snowdon anywhere between sea level and the top, life reflects that village spirit. At various points you overtake people whilst they rest for water and, well, rest. Then they overtake you whilst your eyes roll around in your head and you’re thinking ‘why the f*ck am I doing this!?! It’s worse than a poorly planned prequel!’. By the top you know all ten people you’ve been competing against. Shouting from crevice to poignant rock slab you can hear conversation along the lines of: “ALL RIGHT TESSA, HOW’S DAVES KIDNEY INFECTION? STILL WITH HIM YEAH?”. We knew each other that well.
But at the top everything changes. At the top. Oh at the top, of course! There’s a caffi! And a whole train line bringing tourists to it! Suddenly you find the populous of your moving mountain village has grown from 10 to 100! Suddenly you’re knocking over overweight people in flip flops just to have your photo taken clinging onto the dial at the top of the mountain. I earned this people! Not only have I walked from over there – Pointing towards the Llyn peninsula (hidden behind cloud). But I didn’t get a train up here!
At the top incidentally, was a guy with dreadlocks and a lovely jumper. We had a few on and off chats on the way up. But when I saw him at the top. He was clutching a very old small teddy bear and holding him against the dial thingy. My eyes caught his. Then I saw the bear. Then his eyes moved from the clouds to mine and he said “this is the highest he’s ever been”. I looked at the still bear again. It was kind of heart warming that at the point when you think you might have lost your mind, there’s always someone who will make you feel sane.
All joking aside though, the views at the top, when the cloud clears are absolutely amazing.
Relishing the opportunity to be a massive hypocrite and also a brew I went to the caffi. Also, I’m way too drunk now to point various things out but at the top I could see where I’ve got to walk to over the next few days. Maybe I’ll post it tomorrow.
Then I started the long walk back down to Pen-y-Pass. Then once back there I found my rucksack and headed even further down towards betws-y-coed. Back into the green lush valleys. Everyone I spoke to said “betws – that’s not far, you’ll definitely make that over zealous stupid campsite owners deadline” or something along those lines. But they were mountain liars. High on their own achievements. To cut a long beautiful but painful story short at about 4:30 I encountered an old guy in the woods with one tooth. Asked him how far my destination was and he replied “5 miles”. At the very beginning of my walk I was doing two and a bit miles an hour, I wouldn’t make it. So I scrambled for the nearest main road and caught a bus. Don’t worry I’m getting a bus back up there to finish the walk tomorrow. As I headed into betws we drove past the most magical campsite I’ve ever seen. Surrounded by beautiful evergreens. Set in the hills. Young beautiful well endowed campers laughed and frolicked as they set up there tents. I held my muddy face against the muddy bus window and shed a single muddy tear. I couldn’t get the words out but I mouthed slowly and softly with strings of saliva flicking down from the roof of my mouth ‘what… Have…. I… Done” still pressed against the bus glass.
The bus driver dropped me off in Betws and I limped painfully to my campsite. Once in, I trudged on past a row of caravans so clean and orderly it almost made me barf, if only to add something of interest to this absurdly suburban caravan park in the mountains. I walked up to a sh*t shed with a closed sign on it, bashed through the door at 5:45 and said “I’M BOOKED IN!”. After a few minutes searching for my name which wasn’t on the shed computer the receptionist gave me a key. I almost threw it in her face. I was camping. A man of the wild. “Why the hell do I need a key!?” I exclaimed. She started to tell me but I started day dreaming, I actually have no idea what this key is for! She then pointed me in the direction of where I was staying and advised me not to walk back through the ‘campsite’. To get to town I should take the back roads apparently.
I’m in town. My feet are not feet they are blisters with blister on them. They look worse than a witches wart ridden nose. A bit of rain just slipped onto my right bum cheek.
It’s my fifth beer.