Sunday, July 12, 2009

Midsummer Madness

Usually, when heading back to the UK, a healthy two-week window is necessary to really get over the jet lag and calm down properly. I didn't quite have that luxury this time, however, and was restricted to one week of British Summer Time, Tour de France and Wimbledon.


Super tent in the garden, filled the space to a tee!


Jess looks cheeky, as ever.


Just super to meet all the family members that I miss out on, while away! ... and play with a silly Holga lens mod present that I had bought for Abe.

However, what it lacked in duration, it more than made up for in intensity. No sooner had I landed, a pig had been slaughtered and spit-roasted in the name of my Dad's 60th birthday, family members had descended from around the UK and I had sunk a few 'test pints' from the professional-quality draft beer tap(s) installed for the event. And thankfully for my Dad, Andy Murray was not in the Wimbledon final, or the party would have surely been significantly less well-attended. A blur of catchings up and barely a moment of sitting down, and the first weekend was dispatched.


A nice cup of tea to round off a good ol' tea party.

After meeting up with Phil, Rich and a couple of other friends in London, I take the fast train up to Birmingham to meet with Mum and Dad for a couple of days of hiking. I had not spent much time in the north of Wales before, so it was great to sleep in the shadow of Snowdon; tallest mountain in England and Wales (I love how England feels it can claim other countries' mountains as its own... Month Blanc, the tallest mountain in England and France).


Sheep sheep sheep. Wales.

I had always thought of Snowdon as a particularly boring hill, such as it is plumbed-in with a train to the summit and images of Victorian ladies getting taking their afternoon constitutional. It was with such a false sense of postcard security that we attempted 'Crib Goch' - the most challenging of the approaches to the summit, and reading here, 'a Class-1 scramble in good weather, it should be considered a climb in poor conditions'.

Happily ignoring this, we attempted it anyway, and fell in behind a group of experienced climbers with ropes. Right then. Ideal conditions for Team Biddle to begin our ascent!

The climbing was not extremely technical, but as we gained altitude, our confidence in the available hand grabs and invisible foot-holds faded somewhat. Trusting yourself to lift yourself up and around tall pillars of rock, when there is a several hundred metre drop on one side was not for the faint-hearted. No matter how firm the holds seemed, we were glad to be shadowing an experienced set of climbers, and shook our head worryingly as we inspected the ridge heading off into the distance.


Starting off slowly.


Almost time for a breather


Planning ahead


Views from half-way along were formidable.


I barely dared take out my big new camera, relying instead on snapping away with my little Ixus!


Incredulous smiles!


Kinky boots


Clouds in the distance

And clouds. Having cleared the first section, and after wedging ourselves into the rocks at a minor summit to gorge and sandwiches and chocolate, the clouds descended and we lost contact with the leading group. An eerily expansive acoustic edge accompanied the final set of pinnacles, and we guessed that through the mist and clouds were drops ever increasing in height. It was with no shortage of glee, then, to happen upon the railway tracks up to the cafe at the top, and the best-tasting cuppa tea in England and Wales.


The North Face.


A long way down


Vultures circling


Looking back, as the clouds roll in


This was definitely a good idea. I am sure.


Edgy

Dropping in for a final night of food and drink in Birmingham with Jess, I took the slow train back to Cambridge, packed up, and readied myself for one more long flight back to Asia. Fair England, how I do miss thee.

... enjoy this video of some far braver souls, as they traverse the knife edge. Imagine, while watching it, me straddling the apex, legs both pointing straight down to different valleys. Not quite the dare devil!

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1 Comments:

Blogger PEI said...

Wow, real "Rocky" mountain! Thanks for sharing!

2:19 AM  

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