Snowdonia proves a real challenge

CHARLES LORD (17), Explorer Scout, writes about his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Expedition to Wales.

PART ONE: Scouts swim up sopping Snowdon as August expedition weather takes a turn for the worst.

AFTER battling with multiple connections on trains we thought we were guaranteed to make, we reached the start point at Llanfairfechan exhausted, but unscathed late on a Tuesday evening.

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Following our pitching of tents and preparation for the week ahead we set off into the quaint town in search of our final flavoursome meal before the self-sufficient expedition of lightweight, high calorie, boil-in-the-bag ration packs and unthinkably bland lunchtime snacks.

Nine hours later day two began at 6am.

Our plan was to balance out the heavyweight load we were carrying by setting off earlier than usual to get the long walk out of the way as early as possible, so that we would have longer to relax and recover for the busy next day.

The weather held out on the walk and we found a lovely clear and flat patch of land to camp.

The outside shelter certainly helped us to get cooking later that night.

Then came the first real challenge, day three.

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By this point we had faced the rain but nothing prepared us for the huge downpour. Initially, the plan was to camp next to a lake in a valley that could only be reached by travelling through a bog.

After a full day of torrential rain we reached the farm around 2km before the wild campsite and, while we were soaked to the skin, the only thing anyone had in mind was setting up camp and attempting to dry off.

Team spirits were high but individual morale was slowly sinking and it wasn’t alone either as the bog began to collapse below our feet and one by one we got sucked into the ground.

After the longest 2k walk in history, we spotted the lake and our hearts sank.

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Adverse weather conditions had seen the ground disappear under a bleak layer of musty water.

The site was unsafe and so we searched for higher ground, but nowhere appeared a safe enough distance away from the lake, so we returned to the farmland and begrudgingly we found a safe site.

Once there, the Uno cards came out, the gas stoves were lit and the camaraderie resumed.

We could have been on a Caribbean beach with the fun we were having but, no, we really were in a tent in Wales, soaked to the skin.

Testament enough I feel to the importance of preparation as our training began to come in handy and the next day those skills became even more relevant.


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