In an attempt to get away from some fancy do in London we headed over to Arthog on the Mawddach estuary for a weekend's camping.
Saturday saw Cath and Claire heading for the circuit of Cadair Idris in a pretty strong and gusty East wind. I decided to go for a walk up the same mountain having only been up it once before some seventeen or eighteen years ago. Part of my plan was to solo Cyfrwy Arete but the strength of the wind put paid to that so having cut across from the Pony Path I ended up on the screes of the Foxes' Path and up to the summit. I headed down the Pony Path with a bit of pain in my right knee - I'm not sure where that came from. Anyway I was back to the car in just under two and a half hours.
Sunday was just as windy so Simon and I headed for a nice sounding (and west facing) crag on the other side of the estuary. Craig y Merched is one of the outlying Rhinog crags and is composed of Barmouth Grit which is a lovely fine grained rock. We decided to start on the upper crag, once we could find it, with a couple of pleasant E1s. I got the first and Simon was quite surprised at the speed at which I climbed it - more out of seeing the moves and trusting that gear would arrive than anything else. We were a little puzzled by the E1 to the right until we realised that the peg in the description had fallen out. Simon's lead and he managed to get good gear where the peg had been plus a small wire at full stretch above before committing to the crux wall. The top overhang wasn't as bad as it looked.
Back down on the main part of the crag was a fine looking E1 - Magic Mushroom. My lead and the first section wasn't over endowed with gear, in fact none of it would have held and I was now at the crux! A bit of searching and stretching rightwards and I managed to get a good wire which I backed up with a cam. The crux wall reaching the groove was all on side holds for the hands and smears for the feet and not easy to read. Once in the groove there was a good nut protecting the final moves. Definitely hard for the grade.
To the right was an E2 that looked very good but the heat and a lack of water meant that neither of us felt up to it so Simon chose an E1 on the next buttress up and right that was essentially a VS with a 5c move to reach easy ground. Then it was time to go. A nice crag but a pity that there's only route we need to go back for - the E2, yes there are others but equally there are plenty of other crags in the area to sample.
Monday was spent reccying the route Cath and Claire need to take on their LEJOG from Chester to Slaidburn. Mind you we were tired from being up most of the night with the wind threatening to wreck our cheap family style tent!