badge

Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School

Memories & Memorabilia

school building

School Scout Troop — Expedition to Snowdonia
April 1962

There was a scout troop based at the school in the late 1950s and 1960s. The skipper was D. Colin Davies, an old boy of the school 1942—1948, assisted by Detective Sgt. Idris Jones. The article below was submitted to the Aberdare Leader dated April 22nd, 1962 after the scouts had returned safely from an expedition to Snowdonia. It is left to the reader to decide whether such a trip would have been possible in these days of risk assessments and county outdoor pursuit policies on ‘health and safety’.

The group is pictured in front of the van which transported them and their kit to north Wales. The van displays the name Joshua Davies and Sons Ltd., this was the business name of the father of D. Colin Davies. The van also provided the sleeping quarters for the scoutmasters, as the boys forgot to pack the poles for the tent of these gentlemen!

Scouts in Snowdonia Storms

Snowdonia Scouts

Standing: Jim Stephens?, Eric Jones, Leighton Jones, Mr Idris Jones, Melvyn H Davies, ‘Skip’ D Colin Davies
Kneeling: John Tomkins, Terry Evans, Jeffrey Hall

A SENIOR SCOUT expedition by the 9th Aberdare (Grammar School) Senior Scout Troop took seven senior scouts and three scoutmasters to Caernarvonshire on the weekend of April 6-8.

Plans had been made based on an exciting story in a book “The Murder of an Owl” borrowed from the Aberdare Library. In this book walks and climbs in Snowdonia are described.

At 5.30 p.m. on Friday they set off in fine style in a motor van. As they headed north the evening was bright and the sun shone. As they travelled on, the weather worsened and on arrival, six hours and 172 miles later, at Hafod in the Nant-Ffrancon Pass, north-east of Snowdon, they set up camp in howling winds and driving rain.

Tents were erected in the light of flickering hurricane lamps and all crept thankfully into their sleeping bags. While making a routine check of the camp during the night one of the scoutmasters found one senior scout fast asleep with his kit around him to keep out any draughts. The only thing missing was his tent, a victim of the gale.

Dawned Saturday with the camping area dwarfed by the surrounding mountains. Tryfan peak loomed above stretching upwards into the mists and cloud which covered its famous points ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’. It still blew and rained, making the breakfast cereal fly like snowflakes off the dish. The excellent bacon, egg, tomato, black pudding, bread and tea which followed made a fortifying meal, however.

THE START

At 9 a.m. the Union Jack was broken at the top of the flagpole, the day’s programme was announced and Psalm 61 was read by one of the scoutmasters whose emphasis on the phrase ‘Lead me to a rock which is higher than I’ was significant. Inspection was then made to see that the party was properly clothed and equipped, the ropes and ice axes shared out, and the party moved off.

In file the scouts moved slowly up the walk past the lake Llyn Idwal (where the wind skittishly whirled the spray into miniature water- spouts), along the base of the Idwal slabs, up the steep, scree slopes of the Glyders, until the first break was called at the base of the fissure known far and wide as the Devil’s Kitchen. Here the party roped up and while experienced climbers pitted their wits against the tricks of nature in the Devil’s Kitchen, the scout party, using ice axes to the full, climbed the adjoining snow-covered ridge to the crest.

Here the full fury of the wet south-westerly winds was met and on each side the mist banks reached downwards. Undeterred and in good heart the party slogged on down the south-westerly slope to Nant-Peris. It was not over yet as five-mile of roadway winding uphill in the Llanberis Pass had to be covered. The party moved on and upwards steadily, but well-weathered until the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel was reached. There, where signatures of the masters, Sir John Hunt, Sir Edmund Hilary and others, adorn the ceiling of the Everest Room, afternoon tea completed the hike.

CAMP HAVOC

Back again at camp, the havoc wrought by the weather was repaired and despite the wind and rain, sleep came to all. Accommodation had been offered in a nearby scout-hut, but that was not for the hardy 9th Aberdare, not one senior scout accepted the kind offer of aid. Sunday morning, camp was broken and after attending divine service at Capel Curig, the party began the return journey. Coincidence is strange; the expedition stemmed from the book “The Murder of an Owl” and while they were travelling back along the road outside Brecon a bird flew up from the road and followed behind for a short distance, yes, an owl, abroad in daylight, but no, not the one in the book!

  • NEXT TIME you read of juvenile delinquents, remember the scouts and many other young people who make life worth living and prepare themselves to be good citizens.