A tap drips away incessantly and inches from my nose, woodlice cluster in a crack in the tiles. I’m lying bent awkwardly, conscious that if I stretch out my legs they’ll get perilously close to the puddles around the urinal. This isn’t ideal, but it’s better than where I’d been 20 minutes ago when I was climbing out of my collapsed tent as the storm blew stinging rain into my face.
As soon as the sun rises, I emerge from the dank shelter of the public toilet in the car park below Cadair Idris. I brew some coffee and then sit staring into the black liquid, letting the steam warm my face as I gather my wits about me ahead of my second attempt at the mountain.
Cars are starting to arrive with smiling, excited people emerging and preparing for their day out. I’ve been walking for eight days over the mountains of Snowdonia now, and there’s at least another 10 days more ahead of me through Wales before I reach the end of this trail.
“If I stretch out my legs they’ll get perilously close to the puddles around the urinal”
The Wild Way
I’m on the Cambrian Way, a 291-mile route from Conwy on the North Wales coast to Cardiff on the other side of the country – my home country. They call it the ‘Mountain Connoisseur’s Walk’ and for good reason, it never takes the low, easy route but makes a stubborn point of staying high instead. I’m taking on 23,800 metres of ascent altogether, a brutal amount – double that of the only slightly shorter-in-length Pennine Way through England.
Right up until his passing in 2012, the path’s creator, Tony Drake, worked hard to get it official recognition but opposition from local councils and even Mountain Rescue meant this was never achieved. They deemed the route to be too challenging.