Wilderness Camping

Present: Claire & Alan (organisers), Bruce, Keyna, Paula (plus Laura and Andy H for the Saturday night booze up)

Location: Black Mountain, Wales

Following the wettest June on record, the forecast for the weekend was dismal – with yet more severe weather warnings, but perfect for testing the waterproofness, stability and durability of our kit. “Unexpected last minute business” to attend to meant some members were unable to join us as planned.

The journey down the M4 was in glorious sunshine, and it was still dry when we set off from the car park. After crossing the road, we found our intended path closed due to an unsafe bridge, and a diversion was in place. A 40 minute detour found us on the correct side of the bridge, and so we at last set off at 9.30pm (having already walked 2 miles).

By the time we had climbed onto the Black Mountain ridge, a thick damp mist had set in, it got very dark, and we stumbled blindly on until we eventually reached our lonely camping place beside Llyn y Fan Fawr just before midnight. After erecting the tents, we stood with our drinks, peering into the mist looking out for Bruce, who due to his late departure from work, was to join us via a shorter route in. There was much excitement when we spotted a light moving erratically about the mountainside, so we made lots of noise to attract it – and luckily it was indeed a slightly off-target Bruce, and not something more sinister. The rain started, as forecast, at 3am, sending the last of the revellers (Alan and Bruce) to bed.


Sheltering from the rain

In the morning we were very surprised to find 3 other tents camped just 50 feet beside us; how they hadn’t been disturbed by our evening activities was a mystery. When we finally decided that the rain was here to stay, we packed up our soggy belongings and headed cross country (rather than up the mountain), and went to see where we would have camped on Saturday night had it not been for the risk of flash flooding. Small streams were now raging torrents. At one stage Claire disappeared up to her waist into a bog, and Keyna jumped in to rescue her. Neither noticed a difference to their level of wetness (even the best Goretex doesn’t work in these conditions). After a visit to some impressive swallow holes, and to the site of a crashed wartime Wellington Bomber, we arrived at Dan Yr Ogof Campsite at 4pm with the promise of hot showers and dry clothes (which didn’t stay dry for too long). Gourmet meals of several courses were consumed along with copious amounts of wine, huddled together in the porch of Alan and Claire’s tent into the early hours – and still it rained and rained.

Drowned rats

Not rain, but still soaking

We finally gave in and headed for home Sunday lunchtime, but not before a final soaking at the spectacular Henrhyd Waterfall. Believe it or not, a great time was had by all… and we hadn’t let the rain win!!!

Claire White

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