In the midst of a pandemic, the staff and children at Greenfields began to come to terms with what lockdown meant for them. Thoughts began to turn to our summer community holiday. Plans had been made, flights and accommodation booked, and hopes were high for another wonderful experience away with the children. The subsequent COVID kibosh dashed these hopes and out of this deep disappointment came opportunity as the community began to think about alternatives closer to home. After some deliberation it was decided that the boys group would go on a camping trip to climb Mount Snowdon!
Upon crossing the border into Wales the people were friendly, the sign posts had funny words on them, the houses looked different and the landscape was achingly beautiful. All of these things were pointed out by the boys. We arrived at our campsite and were in absolute awe of our surroundings. It was awesome! We were completely surrounded by lush undulating hills and imposing mountains, one of which we would be scaling the following day. I pointed out to one of the boys a distant mountaintop, past the horizon and seemingly in heaven, “I think that’s Snowdon, we’re going to be up there tomorrow”.
Our first challenge was to erect Greenfields Manor, our roomy eight-man tent, which we’d laid out on the ground whilst we tried to make sense of the minimal instructions. We worked like a diligent and well-drilled ant army and around 30 minutes later we all stood back to admire the monstrosity. It was huge! A spacious and open plan abode with wonderful panoramic views. No pets and no wet, grassy shoes allowed.
Everyone was relaxed and joyous, nature had subdued our anxieties about the challenge ahead. We had come together to make our tent and were now together as a community in a wonderful setting around a campfire. Bliss.
Our first night in the tent proved to be an interesting one. We were comfortable, warm and safe. Unfortunately though, our neighbours were less at ease. Our camp site was next to a sheep farm. It is a widely held belief that the counting of sheep can help one slip into a deep and lasting slumber. However, once you reach the thousands it begins to work against you. We all counted sheep that night, noisy, bleating, wretched sheep. We counted them all night and into the morning. I have been a vegetarian since birth but I could have gone for some mutton that morning.
We set off that morning feeling less than rested, but with our bellies full and spirits high we began our ascent. Our campsite was situated so close to Snowdon that we could walk straight from our tent to the trail.
The first 20 minutes of the climb were tough. Robyn and I exchanged looks of terror as our calf muscles caught fire and we struggled to get air into our lungs. What have we done? The boys on the other hand were unfazed and were storming upwards setting the pace. They were incredible; heads down, moving forward, there was no doubt that we were going to make it. They enjoyed chatting to passing, fellow mountaineers.
Finally, we made it to the top and unfortunately the morning fog had not lifted. We paused at the top for the obligatory photo and all congratulated each other. The boys seemed a little underwhelmed until Robyn pointed out that we were higher than anybody else in the whole of England and wales! That got a huge smile of pride from everyone. Six hours later and eleven miles traversed, 3,000 feet ascended and then descended, we were done and what we had achieved began to sink in. The best part was that we had done it together.