Disabled Ramblers Take The High Road.

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On Wednesday 6th November a hardy group of disabled ramblers met in the car park at Capel Curig with the intention of taking the old A5 coach road from Capel to the new visitor centre at Ogwen Cottage.

The ramble was organised by Terry Taylor, a retired British Mountain Guide who in spite of suffering a stroke some years ago hasn’t lost the urge to explore the limits of what he, and his trusty ‘Tramper’ can achieve. Recent adventures include reaching the summit of Drum in the northern Carneddau, the bottom of Gaping Ghyll in Yorkshire (minus the Tramper on that occasion) and rolling himself (and the Tramper)off the path on the flanks of Snowdon!

On hearing about this latest venture I thought it would be good to go along and help out and as Terry said – as a Guide I should be able to help out in case there were any crevasses! Not real crevasses mind you but hidden ditches and soft ground can be just as dangerous to wheelchairs as the real thing to mountaineers!

Well this being north Wales in November and Terry a magnet for bad weather it was no surprise that the BBC forecast predicted rain throughout the day which probably affected the turnout. However, in spite of the poor weather it was an optimistic party of 10 including 4 wheelchairs, family and carers that left the relative shelter of the car park soon after 10 a.m. and headed out along the old road (which is a popular route for mountain bikers) and into the wind and rain. Clive, another friend of Terry’s who had witnessed some of his hairier adventures previously was my fellow crevasse rescuer and in spite of bogs, deep wheel ruts, two river crossings and rocky ‘technical sections’ we were only called on a couple of times. Once with a near capsize and another occasion when one of the chairs ‘grounded’ and required a bit of a shove.

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There is little shelter so where ever a few trees provided a little respite it was time for a quick break and a hot drink before pushing on past the flanks of Gallt yr Ogof towards the popular campsite of Gwern Gof Isaf, affectionately known to generations of climbers as Big Willies. Beyond Tryfan was looming out of the mist and we just of had a brief glimpse of Adam and Eve with, Ron, one of the wheelchair ramblers admitting that he had done the historic stride between the two - in a former life. A little further on we arrived at the river crossing – in reality this is a ford, however the persistent rain and recent wet weather did cause some concern but for the three ‘Trampers’ it was no problem, Steve however with the super low slung sports 4 wheel drive model elected to take the bridge as the electrics might be a bit low. Beyond this everyone was treated to good views of the impressive rock slab of Tryfan Bach before finally deciding to turn around at the junction with the A5 as one of the Trampers was down to a little less than 50% of reserve power.

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The return journey went without a major hitch apart from an occasional push for Steve’s chair which much to his delight made it through the river crossing without flooding the electrics.

The Disabled Ramblers Association organise rambles around the country so if there is one near you it might be worth checking if any able bodied help is required – not so much for the occasional crevasse, but the rather more mundane – but equally important opening and closing of gates.

And finally Terry’s next jaunt – Yellowstone National Park next spring so Yogi and Boo Boo had better watch out!

Mal Creasey
Mountain Training Development Officer

If you take people with disabilities hill walking, climbing or mountaineering, or want to get involved why not book on the BMC's inaugural Disability Symposium hosted by the Lake District Calvert Trust on 16th and 17th November.

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