May 2021 Winner

Carnedd y Filiast

Tim Taylor


It seemed a perfect day, a perfect walk:

the clouds so well-behaved, the path

so broad and clear, firm underfoot.

It coiled aross the moor like ribbon,

gift wrapped the mountain for us –

so we thought, joking we’d be up and down

by lunchtime.


But the weather gods

had heard: behind us as we climbed

those clouds grew black with righteous anger.

Half way up we felt the first soft blows;

they soon came harder, faster,

stinging our faces, pummeling our limbs.

We pressed on – we had not come this far

to be defeated – fought for each step

as that gentle hill became an ogre.


There was a stream: it should have been

a trickle that would no more than

wet our soles. But those spiteful clouds

had made of it a flood that blocked our path.

We stared at it, and at each other:

it could not be crossed.


Back at the car

we changed our sodden clothes and poured

the water from our boots. We might as well

have swum across that stream.

We’ll come back, we said to cheer ourselves,

complete the walk another day.


For my father it was not to be

but forty-five years on, I found myself

beneath that mountain, walking

that same wide, winding track.

The clouds still glowered, but this time

the gods were merciful: they let me pass.

I crossed the stream, completed the ascent

begun three quarters of my life ago.