Hill Walking A – Z Part 4
Here’s part 4 of our A-Z of hill walking, with a distinctly Snowdonian feel.
S is for Scotch Egg – the food of kings. Any food that rolls has to be fine in my book. The appeal is one third greasy meat, one third egg and one third adrenaline rush that at any moment, your food could spill from your grasp and end up at the bottom of the mountain. It is said that the nutritional information on the packet is a fallacy and that one of these can sustain you for two or three days.
T is for the Train that spills thousands onto Snowdon Summit every year. At first you think you can spot the train passengers easily. They’re usually ill-clad for the mountain, high heels, street shoes and jeans, even though it’s chucking it down. They don’t carry a pack, a carrier bag from Tesco is good enough for them, with a few bag-for-lifes. Often there’s a baguette poking from the top, you imagine there must be a red and white checked blanket in there as well. They stand on the summit, pose for ages while everyone else try in vain to get to the trig. Then they manage to get in your summit shot and knock over a few others as they make their way back to The Caff to eat their own sandwiches, but do buy four cans of Stella to wash it down. They ignore the last call for the train, finish their sandwiches and walk back down the path they came up wondering why on earth they’d need any of that equipment recommended on the sign in the car park.
U is for Undisclosed Sum – what your most recent item of gear cost when asked by your other half… If it cost twice as much as the gear it replaced, then U is also for Ultralightweight…
V is for F. V is how the ‘F’ in Welsh should be pronounced. In Welsh, you need two effs to make one eff. Now that’s perfectly clear, there’s absolutely no excuse for those who still insist on saying ‘Tryffin’.
W – Wizened old man… this is that gnarly, stick thin male of indeterminate age but certainly over seventy, who usually overtakes you no matter how fast you are walking or running up the hill. Usually dressed in 70’s style, occasionally with red socks and/or gaiters and always with a green haversack or knapsack. Ask him about his rucsac and he’ll look you straight in the eye and ask you what ya dithering at lad? As the saying goes – no matter how fast you are, there’s probably someone faster, and it’s usually Wizened Old Man…. It’s uncertain whether or not these are a supernatural phenomenon, as they’re never spotted off the hill and do appear slightly displaced in time. Current theories suggest that they’re a defence mechanism by the mountains in order to make you feel inadequate and thus never return to erode their footpaths. See also – Ron Hills.
He’s not the guy in the distance, he’s just walked out of frame.
X – Xylophone. Someone once carried a huge organ up Ben Nevis (oo err missus!). Though never a xylophone up Snowdon We’ve had the singer from the Alarm singing on the top, and I’ve camped at Glaslyn listening to someone play a trumpet excruciatingly badly on summit, so this shouldn’t be any worse.
Y –Youth Hostels – Which have ventured so far from their original goal. You’re more likely to encounter a hairy biker than a hiking youth in them these days. Any youths will be found by the multitude – usually taking up 56 of the 57 beds in the hostel that you thought you were lucky to get a last minute bed in. More often than not, they’ll be found outside playing football in the car park using Renaults for goalposts while their teachers lock themselves in the common room with a well deserved bottle of single malt. If it’s not that, then you’ll find yourself in that hell of the night owl where breathing loudly after 9pm is a capital offence, while kids are made to run around loudly and people bang and knock doors as loudly as they can from around 6am onwards.
Z is for zip. Wherever these may be, there will be a bit of fabric to catch in its teeth. Please let it be fabric…