The Ogwen Valley separates the Glyderau Mountains from the Carneddau Range. In the middle of the valley is Llyn Ogwen, a ribbon lake which marks the county boundary between Gwynedd and Conwy.
Llyn Ogwen is fed by numerous waterfalls and streams which run down from the surrounding mountains.
Running through the length of the valley is the A5 road from London to Holyhead. Created between 1815-1826 by the famous Victorian architect Thomas Telford, this road runs though some of the most stunning countryside in England and Wales.
Also situated in the valley is the Ogwen Cottage. It was built not long after the original Telford road was completed and the cottage itself once served as a stage coach inn and horse stable for various mail coaches that traversed the road. However by the turn of the century the cottage was increasingly used as a base for mountain climbers. By 1894 the cottage was described by the Climbers Club Journal as ‘the chief centre for climbers visiting Snowdonia’.
In the early 1960s the cottage became the site of a mountaineering school, but with better transport links to the area there also arrived an influx of climbers and instructors began to find themselves involved in a large number of mountain rescues. It was not long until they formed the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation, which operated out of Ogwen cottage, or rather a caravan at the back of the cottage. Since then the organisation has gone on to save countless lives in Snowdonia and continues to rely on nothing but trained volunteers and the tireless donations of ordinary people to provide their lifesaving service.
Eventually the school was brought by Birmingham city council who expanded the school’s activities from simply mountain walking to other adventurous pursuits such as kayaking, ski trips, canoeing, gorge walking and orienteering.
However recently Birmingham council was forced to shut and sell the cottage due to serve budget cuts, for a while the future of Ogwen cottage was uncertain. Fortunately though it was saved when the National Trust stepped in and purchased the site, with the help of the Outward Bound Trust and an anonymous donor. Speaking for the Outward Bound Trust, Kim Perry stated that
“We look forward to welcoming many thousands of young people to Ogwen Cottage in the years to come, to experience the wonderful environment on the doorstep of the centre and to benefit from an inspirational outdoor learning experience.”.
I for one hope this tiny cottage, yet which embodies the beating heart of adventure in Snowdonia, remains running for many years to come.
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