John Dexter Jones

Cwm Croesor – Storm

John Dexter JonesI went on my own. I’m not sure there would’ve been many takers. Jo declined and put another log on the fire. I had to go. Had to. The only trees are by the river, and they’re pretty low slung. They waved about a bit but they weren’t serious about uprooting or breaking. Tokenism at best.

Beyond the last five-bar gate – an atonal musical wind instrument – the sheep clustered around one of those circular feed things. Blow-drying. With the wind directly at my back I was walking like a marionette. I wasn’t pushing off the ground so much as being propelled forwards and maintaining my balance.

John Dexter JonesAt Blaencwm, at the little power station at the foot of the ramp, I noticed the smoke up on the crags below Llyn Croesor. The smoke? Fires? One second to process. No. Not fires. On a cliff-top in a storm? Get a grip. Water. Upside-down waterfalls. There they were. One big one and two little ones. The little ones maintained a constant vertical trajectory, whilst the big one occasionally forced its way almost to the bottom of the crag before being picked up and hurled back to the lip, then out into the mad blast.

John Dexter JonesI legged it up the ramp. I had to get closer. Had to. Side-on across the puddled, reedy tramway the angle of lean had to be adjusted. Crossed the footbridge where the rivers converge and looked down. Lurched to the left as another squall of jet-engined gusto flayed the hail-carpeted hillside below Llyn y Foel. At the bottom of the incline from the quarry I dropped into a hollow between the main line and what must have been a siding. Relief.

John Dexter JonesThen the light changed. The scaleless head wall of the Cwm was now all detail. Russian hat above the parapet I looked back down towards Port, where Moel y Gest was sharp against a bright sky. A great big sun shone. I had to take another picture. Had to. Retracing my route was to ratchet my body forwards by forty-five degrees and see everything through an eye-watered blur. Until I rejoined the river. And the sun set and the roaring in my ears stopped and the wind called a timeout and I walked upright back to the village.

My compulsion to be amongst the elements is not driven by risk. Far from it. I don’t want to fight them or achieve anything over them. But I have to see what they have to offer my short life. I have to.