Walking with Ravens

Bwlch Main, the Thin Path, is the first part of the final section of the Rhyd-Ddu Path up Snowdon. Rightly named, it is a narrow exposed ridge, the path barely a couple of feet wide. On the North West side the land drops away to Cwm Clogwyn, and on the other side there is an equally precipitous, if less rocky, drop into Cwm Tregalan. We had chosen the Rhyd-Ddu Path as it is one of the easiest routes to the top, and certainly not as difficult as the route over Crib Goch (where one of the children just short of her 16th birthday and on Adventure Training, burst into tears, unable to go on until she realised that to go back was simply impossible as no one would go with her). We had, however, looked long and hard at the map, at the tight contour lines and both of us had started the walk with some apprehension, compounded by our failure three days earlier to get beyond Craig Cau on Cadair Idris. We had excused this on the basis that the wind on the tops had been vicious, snatching at our legs and making walking difficult. One of my headmasters would have had a different explanation: funk.

Age is very much in the mind but what I was able to do thirty years ago, with hardly a hair turned, is now no longer easy. As we looked at the path along the southern ridge, we nearly turned back. That we did not was in large part a matter of pride: we had been shadowing a group of walkers from Ross on Wye all morning: they were all in their 60s or early 70s, and most, like us, had not climbed Snowdon before. If they could do it, and they were determined they would, then so too would we. We were also determined not to let each other down.

It was more a slow shuffle along the ridge than anything else, but as we started, a pair of Ravens slipped effortlessly past, soaring in the wind above us, and our spirits lifted. Once across, the rest of the climb was easy. We reached the summit in bright sun, with a blue sky and our Ravens wheeling and tumbling along the top, folding their wings as each called to the other: a deep, resonant “gronk”. The descent along the Snowdon Ranger Path was long, the zig-zags rough and steep, but however weary we were when we finally arrived back at the Rhyd-Ddu car park, we were still with those Ravens.

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