No, not the miss-printed title of a new Enid Blyton “Famous Five” book, but last weekend 5 humans (Debbie, myself, James, Alex & Emily) plus Hamish the dog, had an “adventure” of sorts in the Ford Galaxy driving up to the National Trust car park half-way up the Sugar Loaf!
In the dim & distant past Debbie’s mum claimed to have climbed Sugar loaf and picked wimberries, but as she nearly always pointed to a peak just before the Storey Arm’s path leading up to Pen Y Fan, we’re not so sure it was the right mountain.
In any event back to the plot dear readers, so there we were, finally going past the turn off to the Sugar Loaf vineyard and heading up a narrow and rather steeper than I anticipated, single lane track (I hesitate it to call it a road). As the 1.5 mile journey continued, the occupants in the car fell silent and I crouched over the steering wheel fastidiously ignoring the huge drop to Debbie’s left and concentrating on hugging the road as best as I could without letting on the fact I too was terrified.
Why oh why had I taken the Galaxy, rather than the trusty four wheel Land Rover….
Eventually we came to a few cars parked in passing points where Debbie enquired if we were now turning back. Wishing that I could but knowing that I couldn’t I barked a polite reply “no dear, just a little further” through gritted teeth. At long last we approached the nearly full car park and I managed to get the Galaxy parked overlooking some most beautiful views.
Trying to look relaxed I casually got out of the car and fixed a smile on my highly tensed visage. “Take some pictures Debbie” I commanded manfully while I walked over to a map of the area and tried to find a different route back to no avail.
Worse was to come, after about 15 minutes of wandering around and exploring the area we realised that it was a 2.5 hour return journey by foot from the car park to the summit. So after a few deep breaths when my heartbeat had finally reduced to only 200 beats a minute we got back in the Galaxy and made our way back down.
At first things seem to be going well when around the bend came the biggest looking camper van I’d ever seen on such a small road followed up by a convoy of two more cars, there was no way round that wouldn’t have us all launch ourselves over the edge. Now unfortunately those going up a hill have right of way over those going down, so after finding biting point on my auto box with a lot of help from the hand brake I edged slowly back up the very steep road in reverse, sweat appearing on my brow and I said in a high pitch tone to Alex “let me know if I’m going to hit something!”
By some miracle i squeezed into a tiny lay-by, just avoiding a fellow down-hill traveller who helpfully tooted his horn several times as I got closer to his bonnet. As I parked up I manfully lowered my drivers side window to give the oblivious camper van driver and his (I hope) long suffering wife a hard stare which they studiously avoided! Not the driver of the next car though that playfully winked at me and in a rather loud, jovial voice told me “it was a big one alright!”
Immediate panic over I continued the drive down praying there’d be no-one else driving a bus or lorry up the narrow road. As each yard went by without company my confidence grew and triumphantly I pulled into the Sugar loaf vineyard for something to eat and drink – so say nothing of calming down….
4 cups of tea later, 2 rounds of coffee cake and a bowl of water for Hamish we got back in the car and made our way home to drop off Hamish. Shortly afterwards we drove (sans Hamish) to Llanfrynach’s White swan pub for a well earned lunch before heading off to Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens bus terminal where Alex & Emily had a relaxing journey by National Express back to London.
A clearly impressed (by my driving skills) Debbie was seen to silent mouth “never again!” as we crossed the threshold of home. 🙂