“I don’t think you’ve thought this through bruv”

I’m informed that the best place to see stars in Britain is the Brecon Beacons because of the low levels of light pollution – shame it’s cloudy! Nevermind, the scenery is far more captivating. We’re staying the night at Middle Ninfa Farm just outside Abergavenny. It’s a small but interesting site that has pitches dotted about on the hillside at various secluded spots. The showers are solar powered and the toilet is of the composting type.

We pitch the tent then head off up the hill in search of a man-made lake that’s hidden somewhere above. After an hour or so we stumble out of the trees into what appears to be a natural bowl that has the lake at its middle. Sheep graze on the far bank while some geese stretch their necks to inspect the new arrivals.

After a stroll along the hillside we head back down. Next to our pitch is a small circle of stones for us to set a fire – it takes a few matches but eventually, we’re ablaze. We cook dinner then get comfy on our log near to the fire. It’s blowy and every so often we’re engulfed in smoke so I attempt to build a chimney with moderate success.

View from our tent.

View from our tent.

Next morning the tent is back in the boot and we’re heading north. Someone had mentioned that there was a train that you could take to the top of Mt Snowdon and I fancied seeing it. I’d booked a couple of nights camping and a couple of nights in a bunkhouse. We wind our way through spectacular scenery then arrive at the site where we pitch with the tent door facing Snowdon.

Caernarfon is a short drive away. At its heart is a fantastic castle that was the location for the investiture of Charles, Prince of Wales. From the top of its towers you get views of the nearby mountains and can look down on the colourful buildings of the town and harbour below. As we walk around the spiral stairs and through the connecting hallways we discover the castle cat asleep in the sunlight burning through a window.

I’ve bought a walker’s guide and selected the easy to moderate route named the Rhyd Ddu Path. We set off with sufficient supplies of food and water as well as clothing if the weather is to change. Our pace is steady in the midday sun and we soon notice that the people we meet on the path quickly disappear into the distance ahead.

For the first hour or two the camera is constantly in my palm. With every turn you are greeted with yet another beautiful vista and fantastic photo opportunity – I decide to be more selective and only shoot what I consider to be simply stunning.

So far, the path has been easy to follow but as we get higher the cairns are appreciated. We arrive at the base of some steep scree with a stream trickling over it. Our instincts tell us to climb in the direction of the water and that is what we start to do but after five minutes doubts seep in and we decide to descend. While searching for the path we see a young lad come leaping down following the stream. He greets us with a smile and points us back up the rock face we’d just climbed down. He assures us that the summit is not too far.

This is now becoming a physical challenge and we’re making frequent stops to catch our breath as well as take in the views. We’re encouraged by seeing the summit on the other side of the horseshoe of the cliff edge that we’re following, even more so when we spot a train crawling up into the perfect blue sky.

The path is getting steep and we’re reduced to a snail’s pace – it’s like taking the stairs to the top of the Empire State, twice! We’re both getting tired, the summit deceivingly looks so close yet it never appears around the next bend as we keep telling ourselves it will. There are seriously steep drops to both sides at this point and the path is getting narrow. People bound passed us on their way down and insist that we’re nearly there. The terrain switches from steep scramble to six-inch wide tightrope and back again.

Carole is in trouble. Vertigo has got the better of her and she is frozen to the rock. I look back at her and offer my hand but, unable to move, she can’t take it. For the first time I look beyond and realize how dangerous the situation is and how precarious the path we’ve be walking has become. For a moment I struggle with my own fears and my brother’s words from a few weeks previous ring in my ears, “I don’t think you’ve thought this through bruv”.

I try to encourage her to move but she only talks of going back down the path we’d just ascended. Using what I consider to be my calm but firm voice I tell her that it would be harder to do that than continue on up then get the train down. I couldn’t say what but something inside sways the argument that must have been raging in her mind. She starts to move.

Thank God that the weather conditions were perfect and thank God that the remainder of the route was reasonably easy going. We make it to the summit and sit down on the top step of the marker cairn; she begins to cry. I’m very, very proud of her and we have a hug. She goes back down the steps one at a time on her bum.

As well as a train station there’s a café at the summit so tea and sausage rolls are the order of the day. It’s busy up there and we share our table with a teacher and her daughter. They’d come up the Snowdon Ranger Path and suggest that it wasn’t too scary. With our nerves recollected we opt to take this route down rather than the train, it follows the track to start then branches off down a different ridge.

Bwythyn Bach Bunkhouse.

Bwythyn Bach Bunkhouse.

We’re soon looking back up at the summit, exhilarated by our achievement and glad to be heading home. It takes a good while but we eventually make it back down into the valley.

Tonight we stay at the Bwythyn Bach bunkhouse. It sleeps two – in narrow bunk beds – and has a small stove, shower room and separate toilet. Although basic it seems like luxury after several nights in the tent where neither our equipment nor methods are fully honed yet. The price is £17.50 each per night, not bad.