And so it begins. Who would have known that a cozy glamourous comedy night would lead me to venture to the highest peaks in three Nations of the Great Britain.
All set and ready to head to Wales with us?
Here we go, to Wales, home of Snowdonia! *grand entrance background music*
Visiting Wales is truly remarkable, given the fact that Welsh is so different to English. It is like visiting abroad while enjoying everything that you would in England and some more!
With hotel prices soaring, we resorted to Airbnb for accommodation, and boy were we lucky to find a hidden gem in Bethel, less than 10 miles from where we had planned to start the trek.
After much research and bothering people who had already done this walk, we had decided to ascent and descend via Miners’ route. After much debate whether we should tackle a full English (halal version of course) or a very healthy cereal, Ahmed and I went our separate ways – each to their own huh?
Nevertheless, we were able to get to the starting point (in this case a car park) a little shy of 9 am. On the left end of the car park was the Miners’ route, and on the right side was Pyg’s route; no brainer here.
“The Miners’ Track was built to serve the Britannia Copper Mine on Snowdon but it is not the route originally used to serve the mine.” A gold mine of information can be found at http://www.eryri-npa.gov.uk/visiting/walking/mountain-walks/miners-track
The walk starts at a very shallow gradient and gets steeper as you go along, getting to a rocky climb near the last third of the leg. The path passes along lakes and ruins of old buildings that adds to the scenery.
Blood pumping, body aching, legs shaking, yet you look down and breathe a sigh of relief. You feel a sense of achievement and proudness (is that even a word?)! You look around and there are many faces telling you all sorts of stories. Just by looking at them and the charities they are raising money for, you know they’ve experienced some thing deep. They’ve seen and suffered some sort of pain. Like Bill, who has suffered and recovered from renal cancer.
But there are also happy faces, faces that are just there to have a laugh. Faces that you look at and you cannot help but smile back. Like the Lawson’s. The Lawson’s story is also special. Their story will make you smile, I promise!
But we were there for a number of reasons. To tick off something from a bucket list, to raise money for Human Appeal, to spend quality time with one another, to be honest the list could go on. But I am so super excited that we did it. And I am smiling because we have just created another special memory together. Alhamdulillah. I feel blessed to have a husband who is as supportive as Ahmed. Always there to help me see sense of things and guide me the right way, the righteous way.
As we were walking up Snowdon, it was getting harder as the gradient got more steep. I stopped to take a break and have a sip of water. That’s when Bill also stopped and said hello. He told us that this was the second time he is climbing Snowdon. On his left arm he had a badge with a number on it.
Bill’s story is that of great courage in the face of uncertainty and fear. About a year ago, he noticed blood in his urine which prompted him to seek medical attention. The doctors at the NHS carried out tests immediately and soon diagnosed him with cancer. Bill had to undergo surgery to remove one of his kidneys, however, he recovered well and said he was shocked and surprised as he felt that he was the fittest anyone could be at his age. So he decided to challenge himself and climb Snowdon to raise money for prostate cancer (hence the armband with the number on it).
As we got to the top on Snowdon, we saw Bill again. Just like us, he was waiting on his family who had his sandwiches. We could see him pacing in and out of the cafe watching out for the train that his wife was on. An announcement was then made informing us that due to the poor weather conditions, the trains were not coming up to the summit. I asked Bill if we could share some of our lunch with him, but he kindly refused. But I couldn’t watch him go all the way back and not eat anything so I insisted that he had one of my protein bars and he finally accepted the offer. I felt that Bill and us bonded at that point.
We shared a special moment that no one could take away from us.
And as luck has it, Bill’s wife was sat next to my parents on the same train! We later found out that they too had similar conversations as us when they were stranded on the train together, wondering where their ‘climbing party’ was!
The Lawson’s were with us throughout the hike – from 9am until 12pm. But it wasn’t until our fourth break together that we finally got to talk and Brian told us that the “boys” were celebrating their 25 years today. A bit baffled by their response, I asked what he meant by that. He replied that 25 years ago, he came to Snowdonia with his sons and they thought they’d celebrate their Snowdon walk anniversary together by walking it again.
Brian was truly inspirational, unsteady on his feet and his hands shaking as he grabbed hold of his hiking stick. Yet he smiled and persevered. He took lots of pictures from his camera and when I offered to take a picture of all three of them, I saw his face bursting with happiness.
Truly inspirational. The bond between the three of them was so special.
As we ascended Snowdon, it got increasingly windy. The final few paces of the walk was behind a queue of people, waiting their turn to get to the top of the mountain, which is the perched rock with a metal plate on top. People could be seen celebrating their triumphant ascent to the top, with a party of people even flinging around a bottle of champagne.
Not far from the summit is the Snowdon Cafe (not the official name), which gives the visitors great panoramic views of the surrounding areas through the massive glass windows. The cafe offers seating areas (which is normally full to capacity), toilet facilities, and a coffee shop with a decent spread for the altitude.
The crowd is a diverse mix of all ages, even though one could have counted the non-caucasian bunch on their fingers. Perhaps there were caucasian muslims there, but there were only a few people of colour. Being an Asian, this in itself is a shame since more Asians (and Muslims) are not out there enjoying God’s creation. And while you are out there, one gets to mingle with people of all backgrounds with such interesting stories. Like Bill and Lawson’s.
More so, this is a form of Tabligh/Da’wah isn’t it? Being out there talking to people like normal human beings, about everyday things. It does not cost anything being nice to people. And while you are out there, you are a representative of your ethnic group, your cultural background, religion and your county!
From a more religious perspective, one must realise that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the most eloquent of men.
Over the years I have heard some muslims comment how the ‘goray’ are unclean and not fit to be interacted with on a personal level. I have also come across muslims who wouldn’t give charity to non-muslims. Would it make Bill more human, since he along with his church were raising money for Syrian Children regardless of the religion the children followed?
While Islamic scholars like Mufti Ismail Menk and Zakir Naik talk about harmoniously co-existing with non-muslim countrymen (and women), I sometimes feel that some muslims are busy building barriers between not only muslims and other faiths, but also between the various muslim factions/sects.
Let us all make an effort with our neighbours this Ramadan, whether they are muslim or otherwise, and fight the stereotype that paints muslims in a negative light. By doing this, we shall not only be rendering a service towards community building and social welfare, but also working towards promoting the true meaning of the most beautiful religion, Islam.
A few pictures from Llandudno, Wales