This month Big G takes on a rather controversial subject and one which is little discussed in polite circles…
The Sun-worship Walls of Craig Penlan
Dear NWB readers,
The cascading bluffs of Craig Penlan - tucked from the view of Pen y Pass and its visiting hoards above, and beyond the ken of the Gwynant visitors below - have historically offered little more than a series of fairly serious trip hazards for sheep.
But here lies treasure for the beholder.
From Pen y Pass traverse the Miners Track until it begins to swing west. (You will be asked by jealous summit returnees why you are carrying a bed on your back).
Head down hill to a feint streamline and about half way down, head north to the rocks at about gr650540.
The rather unfashionable ‘vertical world’ manifests itself hereabouts in facets of finely grained mountain rock top-rounded to perfection.
Mat-storage facilities take the form of an impressive flake chimney.
At this brief season the bluebells make the landing into a garden of sprinkled fairy dust.
At the close of day as the light creeps low it is so quiet you can hear the slugs. Kango bumble bees rattle through the undergrowth and the mountain birds call a simple one-note evensong. Swallows seem to make solid the warm thermals in their contouring. All is well.
Seize the hold!
Love, Big G
Mat Storage - The Facts
Mat storage epitomises the lazy ethos of the boulderer.
It entails the secret stowage of mats in wild places for the duration of a project; enabling the owner to freely swagger there and back through the open air with a small bag like a normal person.
It is tactical to purchase mats of a natural hue to aid the camouflaging efforts necessary in a ‘stash’. Grass and rock are useful to enhance the effect.
If a mat has been in contact with anything organic such as food or feet, it may, over time be eaten by mice or burrowed into and converted to an elaborate (and expensive) abode.
The largest collection of stashed mats in the world was found in The Nant Gwynant area in 2016.
These extraordinary phenomena have been found above the 500m contour in some parts of North Wales - destined to baffle future archaeologists.
The act of leaving a mat is, in some cultures, seen as a gesture of goodwill to the sloper dwelling community.
Remarkably the first ‘mat stashes’ were invented 10,000 yrs before the mat itself and bouldering was invented 40 yrs before the mat!
Towards a critique of mat philanthropy (Oxford Press)
Mat Management in a Changing World (BMC advisory leaflet)