TAC 42 Index
As promised last issue, one of the strangest hill stories you'll hear: the talking ghost of Creigiau Gleision. Colin Adams lives in Newport Pagnell, has written a guidebook to the Welsh hills (The Mountain Walker's Guide to Wales), and has climbed Creigiau Gleision over 450 times. He writes:
I first became aware of something odd at the summit in 1968 when I was still in the Army. I thought I heard somebody speak but put it down to wind blowing over the summit rocks or to imagination. After half an hour or so, as I was departing to go back to Capel Curig, I heard, or thought I heard, a male voice saying something in Welsh. There was no-one in sight. I was alone.
Descending the peak and walking back across the moor, I kept thinking about the incident. I got back to the car in Capel and drove back to the tent in Llanberis Pass. It was still only lunchtime and I was still thinking, so I went back to Capel, went back to the summit and hung around for an hour. Nothing. The next morning I made my 46th ascent of the peak. Again, nothing. It had definitely been imagination! Two more ascents the next day - not only because of the ghost - nothing again. End of leave.
Next leave, nine more ascents. I had now forgotten (almost) about the voice. Several long weekends saw more ascents - I was stationed in the UK at the time. October 1969, 82nd ascent: arrived at the summit cairn, sat down on rocks, usual routine. After a few minutes, a voice, fairly clear, male, spoke in English with a Gwynedd accent. "Hello, you're here again?" I got up, looked around. Nothing, nobody. Sat down, stayed half an hour to an hour (usual routine) and just as I was departing from the summit there was again a voice, again clear: "Thanks for coming to see me". I scoured the summit area: nothing visible.
Next day I arrive at the summit mid-morning and after a few minutes there were again the words "Thanks for coming to see me". I spoke for the first time: "Glad to! How are you?" But there was no answer. I tried to get a conversation going but failed. After half an hour of this I left the summit and the voice spoke again: "See you again soon".
This is how it all started and this is how, generally, it has continued. The ghost never answers my questions and only ever speaks when I arrive at the summit or am departing from it - but not with any consistency. It tends to speak more often when I am leaving the summit than on arrival. On the relatively few occasions when I've been to the summit with friends, the ghost has never spoken. As it was more than 80 times at the summit before the ghost definitely spoke, I assume that it "got to know me" and was pleased to see me. Creigiau Gleision is not a popular summit and I very seldom meet anybody there. The ghost, therefore, would never get a chance to strike up a "friendship" with anybody but me.
During the past eight or nine years I haven't been there as often because I've been concentrating on summits where my attendance, over the years, has been relatively poor. I do not keep a record of peaks bagged other that Creigiau Gleision, but I've climbed Pen Llithrig y Wrach, Tryfan, Glyder Fawr, Glyder Fach, Moel Hebog and Moel-yr-hydd at least 100 times each. My last visit to Creigiau Gleision was in April last year and the ghost did not speak - he may have had the hump with me for not visiting him so regularly, although there have been other occasions in the past when this has happened.
I was talking to a farmer some years ago in Bethesda and he told me that in the latter decades of last century farmers sometimes employed casual shepherds who would spend the night on the mountain (not necessarily on Creigiau Gleision). Some were wanderers with no families who would be given pay in advance and if they "disappeared" they wouldn't be missed. Hypothermia? Who knows? I do know that many Bronze Age cairns have been hollowed out to form sheep and shepherd shelters, although the Creigiau Gleision cairn is modern.
In the course of correspondence, Colin added: You are quite right that when one hears somebody refer to a ghost, they are usually accused of imagining such a sight. For this reason I very seldom talk about the ghost of Creigiau Gleision. The ghost is definitely not imagination. If this story is of use to you in TAC, you are welcome to use it ...
Bryan Cromwell writes:
I just have to contribute another account of this feeling of panic which seems to be not at all uncommon when stravaiging the hills. (See recent TACs, passim.) Apologies to Rennie McOwan for tapping into his ample hill walking vocabulary. I must emphasise that this story is absolutely true as far as I can recall. It happened in the early 1970s when I was working as a countryside ranger with Stirling District Council. I was fairly new to the job and was exploring the Campsie Fells, a weel kent range of hills within my "patch". I suppose it was really just an excuse to indulge myself and be a bit of a hill "gangrel" (sorry, Rennie).
I had walked over Dumgoyne, made my way down the scree-filled gully on its eastern side, and then headed towards Garloch Hill, a magnificent viewpoint to gaze at the mighty summits of the southern Highlands. This particular day was clear and sunny. Conditions could not have been better. I was in great spirits, really enjoying myself. Sitting beside the Garloch cairn I decided to have a bite to eat. Very rapidly I began to feel uneasy. There was a mild feeling of agoraphobia and then a sense of presence. This I believe is quite common. The strange thing is that the presence was somehow combined with utter loneliness. At this point I would have been relieved to have spotted another walker, no matter how far away.
I was then subject to the panic phenomenon. Putting away my packed lunch, I walked fairly quickly back in the direction of Dumgoyne intending to skirt round its base, which I duly did. My speed of descent had increased and I did not stop to rest until within sight of farms and settlements below. I have returned to that part of the Campsies many times since and have never had a repeat of that experience. In Dave Shotton's letter to TAC41, reference was made to Pan and the "sense of the immensity and pitiliessness of Nature". The good old benign Campsies are not normally associated with the grandeur of nature, but on that day, all those years ago, I was strongly affected by feelings of panic, presence, and the contradictory sensation of complete loneliness.
Ed. - See also the letters on page 18.
TAC 42 Index