Loading Notifications...

The Joe Brown 4, Dali's Hole and Snowdonia Parking

© Mick Ryan
Stu McAleese with his morning coffee. Pat Williams and Amy Griffiths, Caban Pen y Pass chefs and baristas.  © Mick Ryan
Stu McAleese with his morning coffee. Pat Williams and Amy Griffiths, Caban Pen y Pass chefs and baristas.
© Mick Ryan

The Joe Brown 4 and The Caban At Pen y Pass

Llanberis, a small town of 3,000 in North Wales, is one of the undisputed climbing and hill walking capitals in the UK.

Whilst unemployment is not dire, it's hard to make a living around here. Many work at Siemens, First Hydro, or Electric Mountain but it is the natural beauty of Snowdonia and the business of the great outdoors that is the major supplier of income to the area.

DMM, one of the UK's only manufacturers of climbing equipment employ over 120 locals, many hundreds more make an income from climbers, hillwalkers and general tourism. Plas y Brenin is just up the road and publishers Ground Up are based here (as well as UKC's Chief Editor, Jack Geldard).

Amongst the climbing businesses it is Joe Brown's Shops that is one of the most well established and they are expanding. This year they have added two more shops to their original Capel Curig and Llanberis locations.

Three lads breakfasting at Pen y Pass before their ascent of Mount Snowdon!  © Mick Ryan
Three lads breakfasting at Pen y Pass before their ascent of Mount Snowdon!
© Mick Ryan

First they bought and renovated a building on Llanberis High Street. This is The Corner Shop, Joe Brown's full service emporium for hillwalkers, with a specialised boot department, as well as shells to protect you from the Welsh drizzle.

And now there is Joe Brown 4. Many will be familiar with the Pen y Pas, a launching point for the Snowdon summit. The National Park building here houses a small visitor centre and used to be home to a dreary cafe that sold expensive weak tea in polystyrene cups.

That has now changed. In a joint partnership, the Caban - a social enterprise wholesome cafe based in Bryn Refail - and Joe Browns have teamed up to create a joint climbing shop with cafe.

Brown's are selling walking essentials whilst the Caban are running the restaurant/cafe in a newly renovated space.

Jon Grigson at Joe Brown's Pen y Pass Shop visited by Jake Wiid from Osprey.  © Mick Ryan
Jon Grigson at Joe Brown's Pen y Pass Shop visited by Jake Wiid from Osprey.
© Mick Ryan

I had an early breakfast with Sue Peyton from Joe Brown's last week at Pen y Pass and it is quite a change from a year ago. The Caban is known for its high quality and reasonably priced food and the new decor has made this building a pleasure to hang out in. We had superb views down the Llanberis Pass through a large bay window whilst devouring poached eggs on toast and drinking proper coffee. Yes there is an expresso machine - it's a big one.

British Mountain Guide Stuart McAleese, freshly back from a successful trip to Baffin, dropped in for coffee on his way to work at Plas y Brenin where he is head of rock climbing instruction. He stops by every morning.

Stu and Mike 'Twid' Turner are giving a slide show at Pen y Pas in the cafe in September. Sue of Joe Browns plans to hold evening events here and it would be good for a climbing club dinner. The cafe opens early - 7am - and closes around 8pm. Parking is free for the duration of your cafe visit. It really is a place to be proud of and has created 5 new jobs. If you are in the area it is worth a visit.

Possible UKC Adventure Climbing Skills Weekend at Plas y Brenin

The day before, I was at Plas y Brenin talking to Martin Chester (PyB Director of Training and BMG - British Mountain Guide) and Dave Cheetham head of marketing at PyB, planning another Plas y Brenin/UKC weekend. This time the possible theme is Adventure Climbing: a weekend of skill workshops for those climbers interested in growing from single-pitch outcrop climbing to more committing climbing on multi-pitch mountain crags, sea cliffs and sea stacks.

photo
Adam Wainwright, top big wall climber, relaxes with a pint of Bootliquor ale, locally brewed in the Conwy Valley, after teaching at the UKC Alpine Festival held at Plas y Brenin earler this year. © Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com

It will be a similar format to the alpine skills weekend with a fun quiz with great prizes (like last time) in the evening.

JC New MLTUK Supremo and Elfyn at Siabod

Then it was over to Siabod Cottage home of Mountain Leader Training UK for a chat with MLTUK 's new boss, John Cousins. John, who was formerly PyB Director of Training, has the task of making the MLTUK more efficient and streamlined to better serve those who want embark upon a career as a climbing instructor or guide.

The BMC's new Welsh Officer, Elfyn Jones is also based in Siabod and I asked Elfyn what was the current status on Dali's Hole in the Llanbers slate quarries, where access is currently restricted. He couldn't say much as negotiations are on -going with the very receptive First Hydro (who are pro-climbers) and it is hoped that there will be a positive outcome soon. There is no hiding our heads in the sand over the need for low grade sport climbing in the UK whatever your preferred style.

Ask Before You Bolt

Elfyn is enjoying his new post and has multiple access projects, and negotiations on-going all over Wales. One point he did make was that these days climbers just can't go out and bolt routes without consultation with land owners and conservation bodies, those days are gone. If you are a new router, before drilling holes and driving metal home, it is responsible to check first with the BMC as to whether there could be potential access or even legal issues.

Snowdonia Parking

Elfyn's other projects include upland footpath mangement and the obvious - parking in Snowdonia. Most weekends over 3,000 cars are looking for a place to park in Snowdonia so that people - climbers, walkers, birdwatchers, runners, mountain bikers, paragliders - can explore the beautiful Welsh hills. However, there are only 1,500 parking places. This is going to be a tough issue to sort out.

You can learn more about this issue by reading Elfyn's Snowdonia Transport and Parking – Unlocking The Green Key

Bags of stone, helicoptered in for path restoration on the Pyg track, Snowdon  © Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com
Bags of stone, helicoptered in for path restoration on the Pyg track, Snowdon. Advising on upland management is part of Elfyn Jones' job as a representative of hillwalkers and climbers in Wales. © Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com


Support UKH

We need your help.

UKHillwalking is a vibrant site with rich content and an amazing community. So far, all we’ve asked is that you visit and interact with the site, but we are now in uncertain times. We need to look at new ways to ensure we can keep providing our content and features whilst maintaining our key aim of allowing free access to everyone.

If you appreciate UKHillwalking then please help by becoming a UKH Supporter.

UKH Supporter

  • Support the website we all know and love
  • Show your support UKH Supporter badge on your profile and forum posts

Nice round-up Mick.
6 Jul, 2010
yep nice indeed
6 Jul, 2010
"There is no hiding our heads in the sand over the need for low grade sport climbing in the UK whatever your preferred style." "demand", maybe - "need", no.
6 Jul, 2010
Indeed, why is the concept of buying a set of nuts to go with your quickdraws such a difficult concept to grasp?
6 Jul, 2010
Because those poor guys spending 10 quid a session down the castle and 50 quid on petrol to get to North Wales can't afford 50 bob on a set of nuts. Also they need a safe environment to learn to climb outdoors before moving onto trad...
More Comments

Product News at UKH presents climbing, walking and mountaineering equipment posts that will be of interest to our readers. Please feel free to comment about the post and products on the associated thread.
Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn Pinterest