Wednesday, 4 November 2020

An Escape to Snowdon

Llyn Llydaw; Sidney Richard Percy-1972.

We arrived,shivering, at Bettws-y-Coed. Only some three hours late, with memories of Euston Station at dawn and some thousands of people—mostly troops going on leave—stamping their feet to keep some warmth in them—waiting ever patiently for a relief train—over an hour late. A car drove us surprisingly swiftly up into the mountains. The newly-widened road narrowed to its more familiar form perhaps a mile and a half out of Capel, and we bumped along towards Pen y Gwryd. Leaving the carefully dimmed lights of Pen yr Gwryd, we started the ascent, up into the heart of Snowdon herself- it always seems—to Pen. y Pass. The hotel was empty of guests besides our four selves. Mr Owen came to greet us out from the porch into the starlight. Jocelin's naval uniform was soon cast off for other clothes. The large bear in the corner had a mask of Father Christmas thrown over his face which gleamed and smiled at night and looked just the least bit shadowy and unreal next day. 

I went up to my room—mine for so many years now—with its windows free of all blackout contrivances—still looking down the pass. How we slept ! In the last war I thought ' Shall I ever get there again ? ' I had been only twice to visit Snowdon and the Welsh mountains as a child. The possibility of return seemed very far off but on a certain day on the Italian Riviera early in 1919 we made out a list of those whom the war had spared and who might come again, and so we met once more at Easter 1919 . . . and ever since. Next day we all started out into the hills, two climbing on Lliwedd and the others making a much-loved and familiar round to Llyn Llydaw—and around the lake and over the tops on the skyline home. The lakes all lay stiller than I had ever seen them and the reflections gave the appearance of the whole landscape having fallen into the water. A friendly raven wheeled above us, calling us surely on. Geoffrey's well-worn brown cap and coat and breeches became more than ever a part of the rocks and hills themselves. 

A very perfect mountaineer's camouflage. There was hardly a human being to see though later a cheerful and strong party of young climbers who had been disporting themselves on Lliwedd unknown to us, joined us at tea. The rain fell softly in the night and the cliffs looked blacker than ever next day. Menlove Edwards appeared and took Jocelin off to the Columnar Cliffs and the rest of us walked where we wanted most. The reflections in the lakes had gone but the clouds steamed. off the hills and the solitary raven called out his Christmas greeting. Flying from Lliwedd over Crib Goch. Here at last is peace ! I kept on saying to myself—it's so hard to believe in war up here. Some draggled remains of barbed wire occasionally reminded one of the years of '14—'18 '—a humorous relic though. No air-raid wardens put their notices on the garage doors. Even the radio crooning in Owen's room behind the bar had a far-off sound. 

No one can ever really interfere with this country. Wars may arise and boundaries in Europe be changed but the hills round Snowdon stay the same. In the friendly trickle of many streams I caught my courage once again. In the laughing talk of Helyg, climbers forgot the rumours of wars, and upon the ridges themselves I vowed I would try and believe in immortality.And once more to bed with the windows looking down the pass and a murmur of west wind and a memory of a song that is always sung at Easter here Come back mountain friends to your rest on the Pass... Come back mountain climbers to me. And in a day or so we shall go off to Southern England again, and one of us shortly will be on the high seas—but we cannot forget the comfort of those high hills—and our great easing of the heart. (Boxing Day, 1939) 

Eleanor Winthrop-Young 1939