We’ve all been there… You’ve planned this trip for weeks, reviewed the route many times to get the perfect blend of challenging scrambling and great views, you’ve discussed it on Facebook with your mates and everyone is set… Except : you’ve been checking the Mountain Weather Information Service – and it’s looking REALLY ominous!
For most of us who don’t live close to the mountains, we have to plan trips well in advance. There’s seldom a chance to change dates at short notice – but unfortunately you also have to be realistic and safe, especially in Winter. Heading off for that airy ridge scramble when the forecast includes storms and 80 mph gusts (as happened to us just after Christmas), puts you just the wrong side of 'sensible'. So is their a solution which protects that precious day in the hills, but ensures we get home in one piece ?
Well, if you’re heading for Snowdonia there is a perfect route – and it’s quite possible that that storm will create the ideal conditions for an epic day out and put that smile on your (rather wet) face. The trick is to use the geography to your advantage – and the cliffs surrounding idyllic Llyn Idwal in Snowdonia create that perfect wind break, as well as providing a great scrambling route up the Devils Kitchen towards the summit of Y Garn. The wind may be howling – but it’s passing harmlessly hundreds of feet over our heads.
There must be many other great hiking and scrambling routes which are similarly protected from the worst excesses of our Winter storms ? Which of those sheltered Scottish corries and Lake District's cliff tracks provide the best day out when the dark clouds gather and the wind is howling?
So next time : don't cancel that trip, just reach for your OS map and plan!