While gale force winds battered most of the rest of the UK today, it wasn’t too bad down here in Wales. Sure, it was windy with occasional very strong gusts, but it didn’t stop me from taking the ‘cross bike out for a quick spin in the forest. I never see another sole on my evening rides here, which is perhaps no great suprise. Now, I don’t normally find night riding at all intimidating, but there was something about tonight that was just a bit different.
I was reminded of a time back in my university days when I was camping with a friend up at Llyn Idwal in Snowdonia. Under what was largely a cloudless sky, there was quite a strong wind when we set camp. After cooking some tea, we sat and chatted about our days walking and planning for tomorrow. The wind had dropped to virtually nothing. Our conversations were interrupted by a strange noise coming across the lake. First it was very quiet, the sound of a light breeze, but it soon began to gather momentum and speed, and quickly turned into a loud rushing noise that sounded more like a train coming. Suddenly it struck the tent – the flysheet shook violently and the candle lantern nearly lost its light. The sound could be heard receding into the distance. It was one of the most intimidating moments I’ve ever experienced, for which we’ve found no meteorological explanation – a single and very strong wave of air had hit our tent at high speed, in complete isolation.
This evening, you’d hear the odd gust approaching, but it would often carry over my head and play in the canopy of the trees around me. Suddenly: wham! – I was hit side on by a very strong gust that nearly had me off my bike. As I listened to it whirling off into the darkness, there was a strange unearthly sensation behind it. I was left with a feeling that, despite being the only person in the forest, I was not alone.