Posted by: rogerdane | 21 June 2011

05/06/11 En route to Plas y Brenin – Introduction to Sea Kayaking Course

It’s here at last!  It seems ages since I booked this course back in January and so much has happened since then but now I finally get to load up and go back to Snowdonia for the first time in twenty odd years.

For readers of short attention spans I’ll warn you now that this would probably have been a novella sized post but I’ve decided to split it up into digestible chunks.  It’s taken me a little while to get down to actually writing it as I had to spend last week doing an Open University assignment but now I’ll try to get it written and to let you sample the experience. Enjoy!

Having been really busy the week before it was great to spend Saturday night with Neesy (my girlfriend) and have her there to send me off on the Sunday morning.  She also took some photographs!

The course literature from Plas y Brenin (PyB) did say that there was no need to bring your own boats but I thought that if I have them why not bring them along and so I loaded up and set off.  The road to Dublin from Belfast has improved out of sight within the last few years and so it was a simple drive south and, being early on a Sunday, almost no traffic.

 Somewhere around Newry was the point that I realised that the cigarette lighter in my car had given up the ghost and so all my electronics (iPhone, SatNav etc.) wouldn’t get recharged but as it turned out it was no great issue as there were plenty of opportunities to recharge on the boat.  ‘The Boat’ turned out to be the HSS Stena Explorer which was very comfortable, the two-hour journey passed very quickly.  Paying the little extra for priority boarding and a premium seat is highly recommended.

Getting to PyB from Holyhead is astonishingly simple.  Get on the A55 from the boat, change on to the A5 25 miles later and that takes you right into the heart of Capel Curig.  Turn left at the sign, drive 1/2 a mile and you’re there.

The last time I visited Snowdonia was with my parents on a summer holiday to Llandudno.  It is an amazing place.  The colour scheme seems almost exclusively the grey of the rocks and the green of the grass on the mountain slopes.  Even the llyns (lakes) in the valley seem green/grey.  The very first valley that I encountered took my breath away, so much so that I had to stop for a couple of photos and a video.

Arriving a PyB far too early to check in properly I went down to Betws y Coed to have a look round the many (MANY!) outdoor shops.  It’s quite intriguing to find a tourist trap town that rather than selling novelty teaspoons specialises in retailing ice axes and crampons!

Back at the centre I got my laptop hooked up to the centre WiFi in the bar and had dinner and a beer before checking in.  The rooms are functional and not luxurious as the point of them is merely to offer a place to sleep.  Although the ‘wet room’ bathroom was almost the same size as the bedroom.  Ideally designed for an activity centre in a mountain range where almost everybody will be getting wet and/or dirty at some point.

After a quiet pint and a chat with some of the other guests it was off to bed expecting an early start the next day.

Day 1 episode to follow.


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