Willows School Holiday in Wales in 1962
Fourty-four pupils, including three from Marple Hall, plus four adults attended the first Willows School YHA holiday to Wales, staying at Kings Dolgellau, Snowdon Ranger and Capel Curig Youth Hostels between 13th and 23rd June.
This holiday record contains list of participants plus a comprehensive daily diary and photographic record.
Area: Mid & North Wales
Dates: 13th to 23rd June 1962
Hostels: Kings Dolgellau, Snowdon Ranger, Capel Curig.
|Dennis Bower||John Neville||Lydia Beattie|
|David Clough||Derek Riley||Joan Brown|
|Alan Colclough||Trevor Sharples||Ann Clare|
|Roger Fletcher||Lawrence Siddall||Barbara Fletcher|
|Kevin Gee||Malcolm Siddall||Lindiafane Hadfield|
|David Griffin||John Slack||Jean Horton|
|Andrew Hadfield||William Smith||Julie Lanyon|
|Alan Jackson||Peter Constant (MH)||Jacqueline Leach|
|Nick James||Geoff Amos (MH)||Hilary Markland|
|Brian Letchford||David Taylor||Veronica Mitchell|
|Tony Mason (MH)||Alan Ball||Olga Vichoff|
|Glen Perkins||John Wright||Edith Yarwood|
|Bill Howkins||Robert Hammond||Ann Yarwood|
|Keith Harrison||Graham McKee||Susan Lowe|
|Tony Carter||Barbara Simpson|
|Mr F R Mason|
|Miss R Wood|
|Mrs L M Mason|
|Mr Barrie Philips|
|Per pupil, including all fares and food:||£6 -0s -0d|
|Total cost of holiday for 48 persons:||£342 -1s -6d|
Mid & North Wales 1962 - Wednesday 13th June
The party assembled to total strength of 48 on Marple Station at about 10.30am on 13/06/62, together with a good number of friends and parents to see us off. After the usual business of roll call and instructions, we boarded the Diesel train and were off at 11am.
Arrived at Piccadilly, an uneventful walk across Manchester to Exchange Station from where we departed by train for Chester at about 11.55am. Changed trains at Chester, leaving at about 1.20pm, we ambled gently through pleasant hilly, river country for nearly three hours to arrive at Dolgellau. There followed a four mile road walk with full pack in hot sunshine. The final mile was mainly up hill alongside a rushing, tumbling river in a beautiful wooded valley.
Kings - the hostel - is in a beautiful position close to the river, with ample space for evening play and giving a fine view, over the trees, of the upper parts of Cader Idris. The first evening was spent settling in, but some of the youngsters managed to find time to explore the surroundings.
Mr and Mrs Renolds, the wardens, were both kind, firm and efficient. Food was very good although we were not keen on the method of serving, by members waiting in a long queue in a narrow passage, but this may have been largely necessitated by the layout of the house.
As usual on the first night we had some trouble in getting the youngsters off to sleep, and many of them arose much to early in the morning.
Mid & North Wales 1962 - Thursday 14th June
The weather was moderate in the morning, although a cap of cloud rested lightly on the summit of Cader Idris. As it was the plan that we should all climb Cader' that day, we hoped that the cloud would disperse.
WH1962-59 Path towards Cader, near Kings
At about 10 o'clock we set off in a long straggling group up the valley beyond the hostel to join the road (not the one we came in by) from Dolgellau in about a mile. This was a pleasant pretty mile. The road was followed for about half a mile towards Dolgellau, to the start of the Fox's Path.
WH1962-051 Near King’s, Dolgellau
WH1962-057 Approaching Fox’s Path, Cader Idris
From this point Miss Wood and Barrie Phillips took about half the party up the more gentle slope to the summit. Tony Mason, Trevor Sharples, Glen Perkins and Geoff Amos cut straight up the slope to the base of the cliffs, hoping to find a reasonable way up - having promised to do nothing silly.
Mr and Mrs Mason took the remainder of the grouping the reverse direction from Miss Wood - this entailed climbing the steep 1,000 ft scramble at the end of the Fox's Path. All groups progressed steadily on the more gentle slopes up to about 1,850 ft.
WH1962-060 Flank of Cader Idris from Fox’s Path
As the Mason's group approached the tarn Lyn-y-Gaddir, Tony's splinter group were seen attempting to scale the precipice. At one time Tony himself was seen on what appeared to be an extremely narrow ledge, as a tiny red speck about a third of the way up the face. Tony assured me later that the ledge was, in fact, as safe as a house and about twenty feet wide. It seems the ledge came to an abrupt end, and he descended again.
Another small group were given permission to examine one of the gulleys to see if it gave a practicable route to the top. Both Tony's group and this second bunch failed to find a reasonable way up, and rejoined the main party at the head of Fox's Path. They all had plenty of fun in their efforts to find an alternative route.
After the commencement of the last steep stage of Fox's Path, Mr Mason turned back to investigate calls from a member of the first splinter group, for Tony - thinking there might have been an accident. Having returned passed the Lyn, and finding all apparently alright, he then essayed the scramble part.
Miss Wood's party, apparently having had a smooth passage, were descending the rough part as the others were ascending. Miss Wood reported cloud on top - but nothing serious; her party had their lunch by Lyn-y-Gaddir. The others ate their lunch just below cloud base at the top of Fox's Path and then, when the party was complete, pressed on to the summit - in cloud.
When this group reached the summit a soaking drizzle was falling - the wetness was scarcely noticed until clothing was well and truly soaked, and then the damage was done; there seemed no point in donning pac-a-macs.
Miss Wood's party pressed on down the track in the rain which had now become heavy and continuous and, on joining the road, found a place where they could drink tea and pass time until near hostel opening.
The other party became divided at the summit - the main party, led by Mrs Mason, followed the marked path and completed a straightforward, but very wet, journey back to the hostel where Mrs Renolds let them in well before normal opening time.
WH1962-062 Cader Idris from Kings
A small group, with Mr Mason, left the main path and clambered across rocky terrain in an endeavour to find a shorter route off the top. After several unsuccessful attempts an easy way down was found, which cut off quite a distance, but in finding it this little group had become the tail end, although only a few hundred yards behind the stragglers of the other parties. All arrived at the hostel soaking wet, but cheerful - the drying room was not large enough to accommodate all our wet clobber.
After supper a number of children walked down to the riding school on the Barmouth road for some riding. Others played around in the pleasant hostel grounds, after the rain stopped, or played games in the common room.
Mid & North Wales 1962 - Friday 15th June
Owing to the wetness of clothing from the previous day, no major expedition could be carried out - it was decided to walk by road into Barmouth for the day.
When chores were completed we set off in groups - in the rain, but this time wearing our rain-proofs. Despite the lists of clothing requirements sent to parents, several youngsters had no light-weight raincoats or proper walking shoes. Within a few miles all those without pak-a-macs were soaking wet, and several completed the journey by train.
Shortly before turning across country for a ¼ mile to meet the Ryl line and cross Barmouth Bridge, the rain eased off and patches of blue appeared in the sky. The tide was out and the wide sands looked fine - it was nice to note the interest taken by the boys in the various birds on the sand. A number of us passed through the turnstile, in the absence of the toll-man, without paying our dues.
WH1962-055 View across Mawdach Estuary
In Barmouth a kindly restaurant proprietor of the Davy Jones Locker gave us the run of his establishment to eat our lunch, and buy coffee, etc. We were most taken with the kindness.
After a couple of hours wandering around Barmouth most of the group met, as instructed, near the bridge. Here we found that, although a number of youngsters had ‘return' tickets, many of us had slipped through, quite unwittingly, without paying. A little amusing confusion arose over this, involving our lady leaders who were chatting and not paying attention. This caused some harmless wisecrack from a young boy whom Miss Wood promptly gave a friendly clip round the ear, and then discovered that he wasn't one of ours. The lad took it good naturedly.
After crossing the bridge about twenty boys and girls, led by Barrie, carried on through the station. The remainder, guided by Mr Mason, forked left along the old road and footpath for a very pleasant walk through the fields, to join the road well on the way back to the hostel.
WH1962-056 Returning to Kings from Barmouth
Mid & North Wales 1962 - Saturday 16th June
On this, our last complete day at Kings, it was decided that the entire group should walk over the hills to the Llynnau Cregennon, and from there to Fairborne.
WH1962-049 Outside Kings, Dolgellau
This turned out to be one of our few days of really fine weather. The walk to the lake was very pleasant, on fairly high ground giving fine views across the valley of Cader Idris. The lake was very beautiful and we stayed there for some time playing around and scrambling on the rocks. A few of us climbed to the highest point in the immediate neighbourhood of the lake and enjoyed magnificent views of the surrounding country towards Cader Idris to the south and east, and of the Maivddach Estuary and many fine hills to the north.
WH1962-028 Mawddach Estuary from above Fairbourne
WH1962-030 Resting over Fairbourne
While Mr Mason and Tony Carter were still on this high point, the remainder set off on the next stage, led by Miss Wood. Unfortunately they chose the wrong path and joined the main road near Barmouth junction and completed the journey to Fairborne by walking along the main road, a proceeding that Mrs Mason, at least, found very dull.
Mr Mason and Tony Carter were joined by Derek Riley, and the three enjoyed a very pleasant and, in parts, exciting ramble along the tops until about level with Fairborne, and then scrambled down a steep wooded hill and along winding paths into Fairborne.
An hour or so was spent resting on the beach and eating ice creams etc, before starting back. Most of the party made the return journey by bus, but a small group accompanied Mr and Mrs Mason over the ‘high' route. In bright sunshine and fine visibility this walk was enjoyed very much by all who took part - this splinter group arrived at the hostel a little late, but not too late for the evening meal.
WH1962-031 The ‘high route’ back to Kings
After the usual hostel evening amusements we all turned-in, tired and happy. Late in the night, or early in the morning, Barrie Philips woke Mrs Mason to report that Denis Bower was ill. Mrs Mason decided that Denis really was ill (he had recently undergone a serious operation) and had Barrie call Mr Mason to arrange for a doctor to visit Denis. This was done and, after discussion with Mrs Mason, it was decided that Denis should return home.
Mid & North Wales 1962 - Sunday 17th June
Next morning, our day of departure for Snowden Ranger, a party of six youngsters set off early to walk the first half of the transfer journey under the leadership of Barrie Philips, as planned. Barrie had been up most of the night in connection with Denis's illness and was tired at the start. In view of this, his cheerfulness and performance deserve high praise.
WH1962-053 Departing King’s Dolgellau
The bus party set off for a short walk (4 miles) to Dolgellau to meet the vehicle. Mr Mason stayed at the hostel to await the arrival of Mr and Mrs Bower to collect Denis - he waited until about 1pm then, after a call from the party in Dolgellau, was ferried to Dolgellau by Mrs Renolds.
It was later learned that the Bower's arrived around 2pm to take Denis home. Good natured and friendly, Denis was missed by all - he is now a well established member of the School Club and has been on all the holidays except the first. We were all pleased to learn, later, that his trouble was not as serious as it first seemed, and he was soon back at school in good health.
The bus party to Snowden Ranger left Dolgellau rather late and overtook Barrie and his fellow stalwarts about 15 miles out from Kings - it was a scorching day and they were very ready to be picked up.
It had been planned that Mr Mason should then lead a second walking party for the remainder of the distance, but the good-natured driver suggested that we all stay abroad the bus for the rest of the way. Those detailed for the 2nd walking stint were delighted; Barrie and his lads were good naturedly aggrieved.
The bus ‘put us down' about 1½ miles short of Snowden Ranger Hostel at about 2.30pm and, after coffee and scones in the local inn, we walked the short distance to the hostel. As we arrived at about 3.30, it was necessary for a wait by the roadside until 4 o'clock - no pleasant resting place could be found in the immediate neighbourhood.
WH1962-033 Waiting near Snowdon Ranger YHA
The warden at Snowden Ranger did not, at first, seem so friendly as one might like, but later turned out to be pleasant enough, but not so hard working as most. The hostel itself is not so pleasantly situated as Kings, but possesses a pleasant stretch of woodland down to a bathing place on the lakeside.
Mid & North Wales 1962 - Monday 18th June
Our first full day at Snowden Ranger was dull and rainy - clouds were only a few hundred feet above the floor of the valley and the rain fell heavily and continuously all the morning and part of the afternoon.
As the weather was unsuitable for any mountaineering expeditions the entire group and leaders trampled into the Forestry Commission's plantations that line large parts of the valley. Lunch was eaten under dripping trees, and some time was passed playing various hiding and catching games in the woods. Later, shelter was found in a forester's hut for a while and a few stories were told. When the rain eased somewhat we roamed along numerous paths in the woods; semi lost, but knowing how to get out and locate our position when we wished. It was all quite good fun but not very exciting.
WH1962-034 Caption required
During the afternoon the weather cleared and we ambled back to arrive in the hostel a little after 5pm - many of us stopped in the village for tea or coffee. The evening was spent in usual hostel manner; a few hardy characters indulged in a little bathing in the icy waters of the lake.
Mid & North Wales 1962 - Tuesday 19th June
The weather was more cheerful on this day and a majority of the party essayed a climb up Snowden, lead by Miss Wood, Mr Mason and Barrie. Mrs Mason took a party on foot into Conway for the day, and had a pleasant and interesting day.
The large group made the ascent of Snowden up the easy line of the Snowden Ranger path - in the main a very straightforward path with few steep parts and nothing at all exciting or difficult. The weather was cold and windy, and we entered cloud at about 3,000 ft and, although as a group we disapprove of the restaurant at the summit, we were, for the second time in recent years, very pleased with its warmth and comfort. We had lunch and hot drinks in the restaurant.
WH1962-035 On Snowdon Ranger path
After lunch the group divided, Miss Wood taking the majority down one of the spurs of the mountain and having quite an exciting time. Few details of their adventures have been made known as no one took much note of the route, but only of the exciting incidents on the way. However there seems no doubt that they had a very good day.
A small group of about a dozen set off with Mr Mason and Barrie to explore the possibilities of ‘doing' the Snowdon Horseshoe in reverse - the weather at the time made this adventure seem rather unwise, and a tentative approach was made, with the expectation of cancellation.
However, as the grassy ridge approaching Crib Goch was reached, the cloud cover became broken, but the wind increased to gale force so that, at times, it was impossible to stand up to its fury without serious risk of being blown over the edge. The wind force was fiercest at the several saddles - there were places where it was necessary to throw oneself on the ground to avoid being whipped away. On the peaks the wind was more moderate. By easy stages we reached the start of the rocky ridge of Crib Goch and considered whether to turn back, endeavour to find a way down the side, or to essay the hazardous passage of that wicked rocky ridge. At this time through a break in the clouds we espied another small group, apparently about to commence the passage of the ridge from the other end - this clinched it: we would do it with great care.
WH1962-040 Crib Goch
In order to keep on the windward side we scrambled round the Towers instead of over them, and then commenced the traverse of the ridge itself. This turned out to be quite easy, there are numerous hand and footholds and, by keeping just below the edge, we were able to accomplish the passage easily enough. We met the small group approaching from the other end just after our scramble round the Towers - they apparently were discussing the wisdom of carrying on when they had seen us, as they thought, starting off, and decided that what we could do, they could do. We all had a good laugh over this.
WH1962-041 On Crib Goch
Having traversed Crib Goch we descended down the rocky steep slope to Lyn Lyddaw, across the causeway, to tackle the steep scramble to the summit of Llewedd. This proved a stiff test as we were getting a little weary, and we made it in very easy stages. Near the top of the scramble we met a group of Army Education Officer Trainees on a toughening test - we'd seen them previously near the summit restaurant.
WH1962-042 On Snowdon
WH1962-044 Above Lyn Lyddaw
WH1962-043 Lyn Lyddaw
From the top of the initial scramble from Lyn Lyddaw the ascent to the summit of Llewedd, although rocky and steep in parts, is easy enough and, as we had planned to skirt the summit of Snowdon, we expected the remainder of our trek to be downhill. We descended from the top of Llewedd to the saddle before the climb up Snowdon, then dropped steeply into the valley to the left - down the Watkin Path and then bore right to the disused South Snowdon Works; this involved another climb, but it was not unduly steep.
On this part we found the remains of a crashed Mosquito aircraft - it was all there, but well spread out.
During the climb we had to cross a small stream just above a waterfall. A strong wind was blowing which intermittently blew the entire flow of the fall spitefully back over the path. Several members of the party dashed across at the precise moment that a gust of wind hurled the spout of water back - they got severely wetted. These unfortunates waited on the far side of the stream to see the rest of us drenched. The joke was on them; the next gust was at a different angle and the first few received a second drenching - the remainder crossed comfortably between the gusts.
From the South Snowden Works our route was along a well-defined path down to Rhyd Ddu and along the road to the hostel where we arrived at 7.45pm - a little late for supper.
We got our supper; our arrival, it seemed, surprised the warden who, having been told of our escapade, had not expected us until around 11 o'clock in the evening. After supper Mr and Mrs Mason and Miss Wood had a short walk together, leaving the party in charge of Barrie. This proved a mistake - Barrie made a good effort, but the lads and lasses seem to have had an ‘off' night and did not behave too well. There was some explaining and apologising to the warden on our return at about 10 o'clock.
The disappointment of the poor behaviour was not improved by the fact that the hot cocoa ordered (and paid for) by the three leaders had been drunk by some of the children.
Mid & North Wales 1962 - Wednesday 20th June
This was the day of our move to Capel Curig - a bus was arranged to transport the party as several of the children were not fit for the eighteen mile haul between the hostels. Tony Mason, Bill Hawkins and Ann Yarwood were permitted to make their way on foot over Snowdon. They had an exciting time on the steep rocks in cloud, and showed remarkable determination, but lost so much time on Snowdon that, on reaching Llanberis Pass, they wisely thumbed a lift to Chapel Curig.
The bus party arrived at Chapel Curig early, dumped kit in the cycle shed, and then walked along the road to the Swallow Falls and Betsw-y-Coed, and then up to Lake Elsi, where we stayed and played for some time. On the return we crossed the river by the Miners Bridge and walked along the side of the river, remote from the main road. This path is quite exciting, providing fine views of the falls and river from the ledge of the footpath on the precipitous wall of the gorge.
WH1962-046 Lake Elsi
WH1962-047 Lakis Elsi
WH1962-048 Miner’s Bridge
Mid & North Wales 1962 - Thursday 21st June
Much rain fell during the night and continued for most of the morning - it was no day for climbing. In view of the weather the whole group set off towards Betws-y-Coed and on to the Conway Falls.
Some time was spent at Swallow Falls and in Betws' (ice creams and coffee, etc). Miss Wood pressed on with about half the party - the remainder followed a little behind. So far as possible roads were avoided and paths followed to the Conway Falls. The second group stopped for a while at Fairy Glen, where the water level was found to be very high as a result of the recent rains. The children were growing tired and were unduly wary of the slippery rocks - they were, in some cases, loath to descend into the gorge.
WH1962-002 Caption required
WH1962-003 ? Fairy Glen
WH1962-004 Caption required
WH1962-005 Caption required
Conway Falls, which were reached just as the first group were leaving, were entered at reduced cost. Not much time was spent at the falls although, in their state of flood, they were well worth seeing.
WH1962-006 ? Conway Falls
An unfortunate accident occurred in Betws' on the return journey while Miss Wood was waiting with her group for the second party to catch up. Peter Constant and Tony Carter were playing around with a small knife one of them had purchased when Tony managed to get his hand pierced by the knife. There was considerable bleeding and some pain, but there did not seem to be serious damage. Actually the damage subsequently turned out to be more serious than was a first apparent, when obscured by the initial pain.
The path alongside the river was followed - with several variations - from Betws-y-Coed, past the Swallow Falls to the main road bridge. Parts of this track are misleading and the party became split. Some simply headed home but the keener types, suspecting that the Swallow Falls would be in spate, made their ways to the precipice path. The effort was well rewarded by the truly magnificent views obtained of the raging waters over the falls. Several photographs were taken to be contrasted with those taken the previous day.
WH1962-008 Swallow Falls in spate
WH1962-001 Swallow Falls a day earlier
Mid & North Wales 1962 - Friday 22nd June
The weather on the morning of our last full day started rather cloudy, with most of the tops being obscured. Mrs Mason took a large party on a long walk, after starting a climb of Moel Siabad, which was forsaken due to low cloud. However they had an interesting time with many stops for detail exploring and playing around.
Miss Wood had to leave us early in the morning and, after waving her farewell, a party of about fifteen boys and girls with Mr Mason boarded a bus to Bethesda, intending to walk to the Aber Falls and back to Capel Curig. The plan to climb Tryfan had been forsaken owing to low cloud. Having paid our fares, we came in sight of Tryfan, with no cloud cover. We gave up the Bethesda plan, disembarked from the bus, and commenced climbing.
The weather could not have been kinder and we had an interesting and exciting climb to the summit of this steep and rocky mountain without any mishap. Tryfan is certainly an exciting mountain to climb, with many steep but easy scrambles, plenty of places where one could fall, but all easily avoidable.
WH1962-009 Climbing Tryfan
WH1962-010 Climbing Tryfan
WH1962-011 Resting on Tryfan
WH1962-013 On the side of Tryfan
WH1962-014 On Tryfan
WH1962-015 Climbing Tryfan
WH1962-016 On Tryfan
WH1962-017 On Tryfan
Some time was spent at the summit roaming around and exploring, before starting the descent by what was intended to be an easy route - it turned out to be even more fun than the ascent. We had been advised not to descent by the northern face, and so found our own route down the western flank - this involved us in some really steep pitches, all easy and much enjoyed by all. The girls with the group (Barbara Simpson, Joan Brown, Jean Horton amongst them), who'd been a little chary of mountaineering, thoroughly enjoyed it and will, no doubt, join us on further adventures.
WH1962-018 Summit of Tryfan
WH1962-019 Summit of Tryfan
WH1962-020 Frank Mason - summit of Tryfan
WH1962-021 On Tryfan
WH1962-022 On Tryfan
WH1962-023 Caption required
WH1962-024 The ‘old road’ back to Capel Curig Youth Hostel
WH1962-25 Returning to Capel Curig YH
Mid & North Wales 1962 - Saturday 23rd June
Up early, completed usual hostel chores, hitched our rucksacks and set off for the walk to Betws-y-Coed for the train journey to Manchester and Marple. Nothing untoward occurred on the journey and we reached Marple in time for tea.
Have since learnt that one girl got into difficulties bathing during the evening in the pool at Capel Curig - was rescued by two of the lads. Apparently, as there were no ill effects, the boys did not report the matter to me at the time.
Must tighten up on the rules regarding experience and practice in walking: also insist on weather protective clothing and correct footwear.
Several children were not suitably equipped for this type of holiday - some girls walked in ‘slip on' shoes, and suffered severely from sore feet and blisters. Others were soaked on several occasions owing to lack of weatherproof clothing.
There were several cases of severely blistered feet due to lack of practice in hard walking - for 1963 the group will be more carefully picked, even at the expense of a reduction in numbers.
The follow photographs have not been used to illustrate the preceeding notes but are included here for completeness:
WH1962-026 Cadir Idris
WH1962-029 Cadir Idris
WH1962-037 Caption required
WH1962-052 On way to Fairbourne - 16/06/62
WH1962-038 Snowdon Horseshoe - 19/06/62