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Wales 1966

Willows School Holiday in Wales in 1966

Thirty-eight pupils and four adults attended the second Willows School YHA holiday in Wales between 1st and 11th June 1966. This page contains a record of the participants, a daily diary and some supplementary information.

Unfortunately no photographs have yet been found of this holiday.

Wales 1966 - Introduction

Area:   Wales

Dates:   1st June to 11th June

Hostels:   Kings Dolgellau, Capel Curig, Lledr Valley.


John Boothroyd   Andrew Mason   Mary Boothroyd   Gillian Wright 
Eric Crossley   Chris Ridgeway   Laura Booth  Jean Callow 
John Dean   Graham Renshaw   Ann Eastman   Andrea Mather 
Bill Grundy   Mike Robinson   Julie Flunder   Jill Firth 
Jimmy Fox   Leslie Sweeney  Denise Fletcher   
Frank Frost   Peter Wilson   Lesley Gibson    
Kevin James  Robert Wiltshire   Beryl Goodale   
Jimmy Martin   Maurice Kime   Janice Howard   
Paul Mallett   Derek Horton   Olwyn Mills    
Stephen Morris   William Smith   Valerie Maxey   
Julian McIntosh   Stephen Priestnall   Jean Stafford   
Nicholas Hassel      


Mr F R Mason
Miss T Fenton
Miss L Dunn
Jean Horton (Junior Leader)


Per pupil, including all fares and food: £8-10s -0d

Wales 1966 - Wednesday 1st June

Assembled at school about 8.15am for departure at 8.30. Jill Frith had not been informed of the changed time and arrived late. Finally set off at about 9am. Pleasant but uneventful journey, apart from a few cases of travel sickness.

Arrived at the foot of the lane to Kings at about 1.20pm; leader was a little annoyed by party setting off without instructions, while he busied himself removing odd piles of vomit from the bus. Contrary to instruction, party entered hostel grounds before time - leader was cross. Later learnt from Warden that behaviour had been very good - informed party of this.

In fine weather continued beyond hostel over fields to the "Blue Tarn", where boys and girls bathed. On the return a few climbed the nearby hills and walked half way back along the pleasant rocky ridge. All returned to hostel shortly after 5.00pm to say ‘hallo' to wardens and arrange ourselves in dormitories, etc.

Wales 1966 - Thursday 2nd June

Another fine sunny day. The entire group climbed Cader Idris. A straightforward walk as far as Llyn ............ (? Llyn y Gaddir) where we stayed for lunch before tackling the steep scramble up the ‘gravel shoot'.

During the day had a little trouble with party wandering ahead of the leaders, but in the main all went well. The trouble with the youngsters is lack of knowledge of, or interest in, what they see - the sole attraction is physical endeavour. This becomes frustrating for those members who also want to ‘stand and stare'.

Wales 1966 - Friday 3rd June

Pleasant walk by field paths and hills to Barmouth. Stopped for lunch by the estuary. Many boys and girls stayed around a deep pool of sea water near the south end of Barmouth Bridge for swimming and fun. Some continued into Barmouth.

Leader arranged bus to return group to Penmaenpool; reduced walking distance. Also arranged bus to ferry party to Chapel Curig on Saturday.

Leader lost his glasses and walked some 2½ miles back over route in search of them. Other members enjoyed themselves in various ways in Barmouth. The junior group were also in Barmouth - it would have been nice to help them back to the hostel.

Wales 1966 - Saturday 4th June

Completed hostel chores, made our farewells to Mr and Mrs Renolds, and then walked down the lane to board our bus. Pleasant ride to Capel Curig. The weather had changed and there was slight drizzle.

Rucksacks were dumped at Capel Curig hostel and left. To occupy the afternoon the party tramped the road to the ..... (? Ty hyll) Bridge, and then by footpath to Swallow Falls where we had some fun scrambling around and taking photographs before retracing our path to Capel Curig.

Rained heavily from about 3.30pm; party were well wetted by arrival at the hostel a little before 5pm. The weather has changed with a vengeance - hope it is not set bad for the week.

Wales 1966 - Sunday 5th June

After completing our chores the entire group road walked to Pen-y-Pass with the intention of climbing Snowdon in two parties. One party, with Mr Mason, was to make the ascent via Crib Goch and to complete the Snowdon Horseshoe over Llewidd. The remainder was to climb via the Miners Track and Pyg Track to meet the others at the summit restaurant. The weather was dull with intermittent rain at the start.

Mr M's group of thirteen members completed an exciting climb over Crib Goch and reached the summit at about 4.40pm, but were not met by the other party with Miss Dunn, Miss Fenton and Miss Horton.

Time was short so, after a hot drink, forsaking the idea of the Horseshoe, a quick descent was made via Pyg Track and Miner's Track, but the time was near on 7 o'clock by the time we reached Pen-y-Pass. Before reaching the ridge of Crib Goch the group entered cloud and remained in cloud until some way down the Pyg Track.

Although well and truly wetted, this group enjoyed their adventure, apart from the long and tiring road walk from Pen-y-Pass back to Chapel Curig.

The party with the ladies fared less well - the army were endeavouring to fill in an old mine shaft by blasting near to the path and halted our group, and finally persuaded them to turn back. The lady leaders certainly had the rough end of the party; all the disconsolate unfit members who could not face rough going.

However, the leader and some of the party had an interesting day. The Crib Goch party had been startled by the blasting during their transverse of the ridge and at intervals afterwards. The lower party were present near the scene at the time of the blasting.

Late return to the hostel made the warden a little cross, but we are now on good terms again.

Wales 1966 - Monday 6th June

After normal hostel duties the whole party travelled by bus to Lyn Ogwen to have a crack at Tryfan. Split in to two groups of about twenty each; one with the ladies to ascend via the ............. (space left), the other with Mr Mason to ascend the steep ...... (another space!) Face.

This latter group had a very satisfying climb, stopping for lunch about half way up. The other group also had a good climb, but did not stop for food until reaching the summit. Hence they waited some time for the others to arrive.

After ascending the last gulley Janice Howard and Jean Callow somehow missed the trail and finished the climb by a most precipitous route; they arrived after they had been missed and members were searching for them.

Descent was made down the face, without incident but with plenty of fun. Most of the group bussed back to Chapel Curig, a few walked, and some obtained lifts.

Regret that Mr M has had £5 removed from his wallet.

Wales 1966 - Tuesday 7th June

After an extra good go at our hostel chores we set course with full packs on the short 4-5 mile trek to the Lledr Valley. This is a simple easily followed route across the lower flanks of Mael Siabad and through the Lledr Forest before dropping down to the Lledr Valley. At no point does the route rise much above 900ft.

Arriving early at Lledr Valley we moved into Dolwyddelon for ices and drinks. Some time was spent around the shop and, as we learnt later, certain untoward events took place.

After a time we walked along to the hostel, dumped our bags, and then spent an hour or so messing around in the local recreation ground - this was due to the discovery that the path we wished to walk was private.

Later we entered the hostel and sorted ourselves out and had our meal. We were all pleased to find bathing facilities in the river immediately opposite the house. Found Mr and Mrs Moran excellent wardens.

Wales 1966 - Wednesday 8th June

Decided to have a fairly easy day, with a little free time shopping in Betws-y-Coed. It was decided to walk across country to the Conway Falls, then to Fairy Glen, and so into Betws'.

Julian McIntosh navigated most of the rather complicated footpath route - it was a very pleasant walk but took longer than anticipated. Had plenty of fun at Conway Falls, then allowed some of the party to proceed under their own steam to Betws-y-Coed.

A few of us walked down the path and visited Fairy Glen and scrambled around before continuing into Betws', where we met the remainder of the party. Again some most unseemly activities took place in Betws-y-Coed - unknown to most of us at the time.

While at Conway Falls the leader interviewed a certain boy regarding the theft of money from self and others. Also, on return to the hostel, the leader spoke to all the boys on this matter, and later in the evening the warden had a try - all without effect. The warden offered to speak to a police officer friend about the matter.

Wales 1966 - Thursday 9th June

Decide this should be the ‘easy day' for those who wished it. About half the party visited Llandudno with Miss Dunn and Miss Horton - again we learnt later that several boys went with the sole intention of indulging in a shop lifting spree.

The remainder, with Mr Mason and Miss Fenton, set off to climb Moel Siabad. At first we overshot the turn in Lledr forest but, after scanning the map, sorted out our route and climbed this very lovely mountain.

Stopped at an old ruined mill for lunch and then pressed on along a winding up-hill woodland path to a beautiful small waterfall. Then into more open rocky country and a succession of tumbling streams and waterfalls until we reached Llyn Roel - by this time rain, which had started as we ate lunch, was falling heavily. We sat in the rain, wearing our rainproof clothing, until it eased off a bit.

During the rain the summit of Moel Siabad was well covered by cloud, but as the rain eased, the cloud base lifted and we could see a long spiny ridge and a steep scree shoot to the summit - these were roughly parallel routes. We decided to attempt the ridge and with this intention set off, skirting the lake to the left. As we approached the steeper part the scree shoot seemed less difficult, and all but two climbed by this route.

It was a stiff ascent, growing steadily steeper as we climbed until the final 100 feet or so was a ‘hand and feet' grassy cliff. Finally we reached the summit and rested by the trig point while we waited for the two stragglers.

Eventually, when we were getting a bit concerned, we espied them through a break in the mist, struggling up the final stages of the spiny ridge - they made it OK, but had frightened themselves once or twice on the way.

We then set off along the ridge of the mountain in the direction of Capel Curig - a few of us made the long descent to Capel' as there were several items to be retrieved from there. Others cut down the side of the mountain when we came to the less steep part and returned to the hostel by the more direct route.

The Capel Curig group retrieved the left items and then made good time over the track to Lledr House, but arrived late for dinner.

The warden was very lenient about our lateness, but was very cross with Morris, Renshaw and Crossley for having damaged a farm wall in full view of the Betws-y-Coed police sergeant, who is decidedly anti-YHA, anti-National Park, and anti-footpath.

It seems the warden had had a row on this subject with him only the previous week. The boys repaired the wall, but the main damage was done; the warden was not pleased - neither was Mr Mason.

Wales 1966 - Friday 10th June

The entire group were to have a scramble around Moel Siabad. The approach was made by a different path from Dolwyddelon, but joined the previous day's route later.

Much fun was had at a river crossing on the way, where one or two people managed to fall in. Also a detour was made to visit some waterfalls in the forest - these were very pretty but, being in a deep gorge, were not very get-at-able.

After leaving these falls we made our way to join the earlier route and reached the Llyn during the afternoon. Here many members bathed and swam and after some time Mr Mason and a few others decided to make the final climb up a sloping shelf to the summit. This climb was started by about half a dozen folk, but abandoned at about mid-climb due to threatening thunder - we do not like thunder and lightning on a mountain.

We all returned to the hostel in good time by the direct route. Two boys had been permitted to visit Dolwyddelan Castle on their own - they were not greatly impressed.

Wales 1966 - Saturday 11th June

The day of our return. After a good clean up of the hostel we were prepared to leave when a police officer arrived to investigate complaints of stealing from shops in Dolwyddelon and Llandudno.

Several boys were questioned and searched in my presence - and regrettably the accusations were found to be well founded. Unfortunately several boys who would not normally think of stealing were involved, but the one whom we know to be the expert and inspirer of this activity was too crafty to get caught.

The reputation of the club is now shattered - we have to endeavour to build it up again.

Wales 1966 - Additional information

Additional information found about this holiday:

A list of YHA ‘chores' was found for this holiday, with names of who did what at each Youth Hostel. These chores included, for the boys, washing up pm, washing up am, potatoes, dorms and landing, washroom, stairs, common room/porch, scullery floor and, for the girls, set tables, sandwiches, dorms, washroom, dining room, kitchen, clearing tables, set b/fast, pans for the girls.

The ad hoc expenses for the holiday were recorded as follows: these were the days, before decimalisation, of pounds (£), shillings (s) and pence (d). There were 12 pennies in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound. In current money a shilling is the equivalent of 5p, and a penny less then ½ p. Below 3/- is three shillings, or 15p, 7/6 is seven shillings and six pence, or 37p.

3 pkts glucose 3/-  
2 coffees, Chester 2/-  
Pop, cards, stamps 7/6 Kings
Pop, Mars Bar 2/3 Kings
Ice cream at Barmouth 9d  
2 sleeping bags 3/- Kings
Bus £2 - 5 - 0  
Toll Bridge 6 - 6  
Coffees, 5 3 - 9  
Driver 10 - 0  
Coffee, Snowdon 1 - 0  
Matches 8d  
At Pen-y-Pass 2 - 6  
Bus fares 4 - 2  
Four Mars Bars 2 - 4  
Coffee, Tryfan 3 - 0  
Tobacco 6 - 7  
Pop 1 - 6  
Cards & stamps 5 - 7  
  £5 - 11 - 1 Less 17/- returned fares
  £2 - 0 - 0 Miss Dunn & Miss Fenton
  £7 - 11 - 0  
In hand £2 - 11 - 4  
  £10 - 2 - 5  
Returned fare 17 - 0  
  £9 - 5 - 6  

Longhurst Lane
Nr Stockport

27th June 1966

Dear Sirs


Each year the school rambling club carries out an expedition to one of the mountainous areas of Britain, as a culmination of the year's rambling.

This year it was arranged to visit Wales, staying at:

  "Kings" Dolgellau 1st, 2nd, 3rd June
  Capel Curig 4th, 5th, 6th June 
  Lledr House 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th June 
The group comprised:  23 juvenile males 
  15 juvenile females 
  1 adult male
  3 adult females 
  Age range of children, 12 - 16 years 


Kings: entire group climb Cader Idris on Thursday and walked via hill paths to Barmouth on the Friday

Capel Curig: On Monday 6th June, during our visit to Capel Curig, I discovered £5 of club money to be missing from my wallet. Took no immediate action apart from checking as accurately as possible all petty spending since start of the holiday. The next day the theft of £3 was reported to me, and later of another 10/-.

In all three cases there was no doubt that the money had been stolen by a member of my own group; by arrangement with the warden we were sole occupants of the larger dormitories. Also, in all three cases there had been some degree of carelessness by the loser of the money; we find this hard to avoid when living out of a rucksack and, in any case, we have for years had complete trust in our own members. The possibility of such stealing had not entered into our calculations.

I reported the matter to the warden on leaving Capel Curig, assuring him that the matter was within our group.

Lledr House: We arrived at Dolwyddelon somewhat earlier than planned and spent some time at the village shop before proceeding to the hostel.

Weds 8th June, the entire group walked cross-country to Conway Falls and members were allowed to continue into Betws-y-Coed for shopping; this was to have been an easy day, but the cross-country walk took longer than anticipated. During this walk several boys were questioned casually about the theft of money, and one suspect questioned more closely.

Next day, Thurs 9th June, those who wished (about half our number) visited Llandudno to buy presents, while the remainder climbed Moel Siabad.

The theft was mentioned to the warden at Lledr House, who arranged for a police officer friend to visit us off-duty to inquire into the matter. This he did, but without success.

On Saturday morning, as we were preparing to leave, our friendly police officer arrived, very much on duty. Members of my group were suspected of petty pilfering at the shop in Dolwyddelon. The police officer questioned several boys in my presence.

Regret that members of my group admitted to pilfering the warden's store at Capel Curig, and to petty shop-lifting in Dolwyddelon and Llandudno, with a suspicion of similar activities in Barmouth, Capel Curig and Betws-y-Coed.

The matter is still being investigated by the police and the Headmaster.

It seems that one youth, whom I imagined was cured, and a misguided hero-worshipper, were the ring-leaders responsible for most of the shop-lifting. These two appear to have inspired several normally honest boys to petty acts of daring. One of the boys responsible for pilfering the warden's store at Capel Curig has owned up.

Two of these boys have since approached me and confessed to their very minor parts; they will, of course, have to be punished, but I am sure that the shame they feel over this matter will ensure their future honesty.

May I add to this report that this school club has been all the year round rambling, and youth hostelling annually, for ten years, and until this disaster, had earned a reputation for courtesy, helpfulness and good behaviour, of which we were proud. Now, not only is our own reputation shattered, but we have struck a stinging blow at the standing of youth hostelling.

All our decent honest members feel the shame of the actions of these few misguided boys.

(this a draft only, and not sure if it was ever sent)


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