Inspired by Alastair Humphreys
I left home in Northamptonshire at 16:50 with my Cocker Spaniel Sally to head for the Cadair Idris car park. It took much longer to get there than I expected, a journey I would expect normally to take 3 hours took over 4 hours and I didn’t arrive until 21:10, just as the sun was setting.
I pulled up at the car park and checked the price board, £2.50 for 4 hours, £5 for ‘all day until midnight’… No mention of overnight. I put £5 in the meter got a ticket and parked up deciding that I’d take the risk.
I got out the car and was immediately swarmed by midges. I could feel them biting my neck, forehead and ears. I quickly applied some of the repellent I had just bought the week prior (Lifesystems Midge and Insect repellent) and it instantly worked! I was quite sceptical as to whether it would work or not, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it working so effectively and immediately.
It was raining lightly, but there were thick dark clouds looming. I had a decision to make for this first wild camp trip up a mountain. Do I take a Tarp and go lightweight, or do I take my tent and have some relative comfort (but heavier pack). Based on the weather and the sign of things to come I decided on the tent. A tarp may have kept me dry but the prospect of arriving at the camp site after a good soaking and only having a tarp for shelter didn’t thrill me. I took out the tarp from my rucksack and packed my Alpkit Kangri tent.
As it goes, my pack didn’t feel that heavy. Sally had her new EzyDog Summit bag harness on; it had her bed, water, food, bowl and poo bags in it and she seemed absolutely fine with it.
We set off up the Minfordd Path in the dark and rain. I had been up Cadair Idris on this route just two weeks before so I was familiar with the route. I broke away from the path to find the lake, but I came off the path a little bit early and had to walk up a grassy slope to get to the lake. I arrived as the rain started to get heavier, I couldn’t see the lake but my gps told me I was right next to it so I quickly found a good spot for the tent… Somewhere flat, no rocks, no sheep poo and not water logged.
Pitching the Tent
I’ve set my tent up in the dark before, but not in the rain. I’ve always been a bit nervous about setting up the tent in the rain because the Kangri is a ‘pitch-inner first’ tent. I made sure I sorted all the poles out first before getting the tent inner out the bag. I pegged it down in one corner and had it up in no time. The inner did get wet, but the rain it did not seem to make its way to the inside of the tent. I fitted the fly sheet and pegged out all the guy lines. Sally and I climbed into the tent and was immediately grateful for choosing the tent over the tarp as the rain just got heavier and heavier through out the evening.
I fed Sally and fired up my stove for a (very late) dinner of Chilli Con Carne. I unrolled my sleeping bag, set up Sally’s bed, gave her my jumper for extra warmth and settled down for the evening. It rained a lot throughout the night, I had my ear plugs in but I was still awoken by the sound rain on the tent. However inside the tent was very dry, no sign of the outside conditions other than the noise.
5:30am, the sound of sheep bleating seemingly right next to the tent awoke me from my sleep. Opening the tent door revealed my proximity to the lake and my splendid view. The lake was calm, the steep rocky slopes leading up to Pen-y-Cadair encircled me, rising straight up out of the water. The tops were covered in low cloud, but the air over the lake was clear. I emerged from the tent, the sky was grey but the air was still and reasonably mild. Sally joined me outside and I attached her lead and pegged it into the grass to keep the sheep happy. I breathed the fresh air and felt content and satisfied. I had always longed to get out and wild camp and my Cadair Idris trip a couple of weeks prior had presented this lake to me as a perfect spot for my first wild camp and now there I was.
I gave Sally her breakfast, then proceeded to the lake edge with my water filter. I filled up my stove and cooked some water for a coffee and some porridge. As I was eating, a ray of sun broke through the clouds illuminating the lake and it’s surrounding slopes for a fleeting moment. It’s amazing what the bright, warm sun can do to an already beautiful spot.
After breakfast I packed away the tent, refilled my water bottle with filtered water from the lake, had a snickers bar and headed off up Cadair Idris with Sally at 7:30am. We reached the foggy summit at 8:45am and headed towards Mynydd Moel for the descent. We got back to the car at 10:45 thankfully without any parking fines, and headed home. I was back in Northamptonshire by 2pm.