“The By Your Side Cancer Care Campaign has surpassed our expectations. We’re so proud of everything that’s been achieved through our partnership with Awyr Las. We’re just so grateful to everyone who has supported the campaign, all those who got involved in the By Your Side Walk in June, and the incredible volunteers who made it all happen. Thank you.”
If you want to be part of the annual Snowdon Rocks Hike and concert then save the date of Saturday 23rd June 2018 and we will be announcing more details over the next few weeks.
Below is the daily event review and daily photos as well as comprehensive photos from this years Snowdon Rocks…our most successful ever!
All the photos are freely available to download. Just follow the links to each album, select the photo you wish to download and click the download link in the bottom right of the photo.
We encourage you to post any photos on social media remembering to tag: #ByYourSide17 @lhusk @awyrlascharity
Daily event review and photos
Click here for the photos from day 1 – Flint to Broughton
Click here for the photos from day 2 – Wrexham and District
Click here for the photos from day 3 – Llangollen to Horseshoe Pass
Click here for the photos from day 4 – Offa to Prestatyn
Click here for the photos from day 5 – Ysbyty Glan Clwyd to Mostyn
Click here for the photos from day 6 – Rhyl to Colwyn Bay
Click here for the photos from day 7 – Llandudno to Conwy
Click here for the photos from day 8 – Conwy to Menai Bridge
Click here for the photos from day 9 – Bangor to Caernarfon
Click here for the Snowdon Rocks photos
Day 1 – Flint to Broughton
It was a bright start to Day One of the By Your Side Walk…. a resounding Love Hope Strength was performed at Flint Castle with school children from all across the Deeside area joining in with Mike, Jules and Love Hope Strength / Awyr Las supporters from there the entourage (who were joined all the way by Welsh Rugby Union legend Rupert Moon), covered 15 miles before finishing up at ‘Chocks Away’ near the Aerospace Factory in Broughton.
Day 2 – Wrexham and district
Day Two of the By Your Side Walk 2017 began with an early morning start at The Maelor Hospital in Wrexham, with a host of local school children primed for a descant version of ‘Love Hope Strength’.
The congregation was surprised by some very special guest appearances from Aled Jones – the legendary Welsh Singer and Acclaimed TV Presenter, International Opera singer Rhys Meirion and the Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething AM.
A ten mile walk around the country side was concluded with a community day at Wrexham’s Racecourse Football Stadium which coincided with the launch of the new season football kit for Wrexham AFC. A fantastic turnout greeted Mike, Jules and the core group of By Your Side, Love Hope Strength and Awyr Las Trekkers as they arrived at the stadium lead by Welsh soccer legend Joey Jones, Wrexham MP Ian Lucas and Mark Isherwood AM (who had also taken part in the days hike).
A soccer match was held on the pitch of the oldest international soccer stadium in the world, and who should pop up in the last minute to score the winner but yes… you’ve guessed it… Mike Peters himself.
Day 3 – Llangollen to Horseshoe Pass
The good weather ensured a good turn out and as soon as all were gathered, Kirsty Thomson (Awyr Las) and Mike Peters both gave speeches about the inspiration for the By Your Side Walk with Mike Peters recalling the 1999 Snowdonation Fundraising concert in the Llangollen Pavilion (with the Stereophonics and The Levellers), as giving him a valuable insight into how to organise charitable events that galvanise people into taking action. Mike and Kirsty were both able to confirm that supporters of the walk have together, raised over £270,000 towards the target of £351,120.
With the sun burning bright in the sky, Mike Peters sang ‘Presence of Love’ and then set everyone off in the direction of Llangollen itself, along the canal tow path. A special canal boat named Glas Y Dorlan had also been organised to carry some cancer patients who were not well enough to walk, on a day trip through waterways.
The sunlight reflected off the calm canal waters as narrow boats, cyclists and paddle boarders floated by alongside a very committed group of cancer survivors, carers, hospital staff, oncologists, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, Alarm fans and friends who had all come together in the name of Love Hope Strength and Blue Skies.
A tea stop at the Canal side cafe in Llangollen itself, was most welcome as everyone took a moment to refresh themselves for the journey upwards towards the mystical sight of Llangollen’s Castell Dinas Bran (Crow Castle), high on the hillside above.
As the party traversed through the rolling hills, the team were greeted by another splendid vista created by the Limestone walls of the Worlds End Gorge.
Here in the hot sun where the trail met the road side, members of The Rotary Club Rhuthin were stationed with some very much needed bottles of fresh water.
From here Mike Peters lead the group onto the Panorama path, through the gorge and into the forests, then up and onto the Horsehoe Pass itself.
After a ten / eleven mile hike everyone finally made it to the destination point at the Ponderosa Cafe, which is located at the summit of the Horsehoe Pass and is a magnet for motorbike riders and classic car enthusiasts.
Upon arrival, a ‘Get On The List’ drive was in full swing, with many people stepping forward to get swabbed, especially after Mike Peters had taken to the microphone and serenaded the ad hoc audience with a set of songs including No Frontiers, High On The Hill, In A Big Country and Wonderwall.
It was a great end to a great day and all who walked the walk can feel very proud of their achievement.
Day 4 – Offa to Prestatyn
It was another glorious day in Wales as Day Four of the BY YOUR SIDE walk began at the Denbighshire village of Bodfari.
Another good turn out of people from all walks of life meant that a good day lay in store for all who had committed to the 18 mile hike to Prestatyn.
Chris Ruane, the locally re-elected MP for the Vale of Clwyd joined in at the start and Mike Peters pre-hike address acknowledged the importance of Chris’s personal support for advancing the “Get On The List in the UK’ campaign by setting up the first ever cheek swab donor drive in the House of Commons. A drive that resulted in a life saving match via John Glen MP for Wiltshire.
Mike’s lifelong friend Kevin Davies, who signed up and donated his lifeblood after coming to the Declaration Tour show at Manchester’s Deaf Institute in 2014, was also on hand to highlight the importance of the lifesaving aspect of the BY YOUR SIDE walk.
It was also Father’s Day throughout the world, and appropriately Mike Peters performed ‘Father To Son’ to set the walk on its way and upward in the general direction of the OFFA’S DYKE path.
A BBC Songs of Praise production team were also in attendance to film a special program that would help to convey the Love Hope Strength message of Saving Lives One Concert At A Time to a national audience.
The first few steps of this trail turned out to be the hardest as the entire party worked its way up the very steep incline and onto the skyline walk that makes LLwybr Clawdd Offa / Offa’s Dyke such a challenging and historic walk.
It was a scorching hot day and just dealing with the hike was hard enough, but with the BBC Songs of Praise production crew and directors in attendance to film, it meant a series of stop and start elements as the By Your Side team had to play the part of ‘Extras’ as Welsh presenter Aled Jones used his charm to convey the message of the day.
Aled – who is a British singing superstar and National TV presenter in his own right, was very personable and did his best to engage with every one on the trek, his light hearted and engaging personality struck a chord with everyone, and he even took a moment to ‘Get On The List’ himself.
The exposure that todays walk will get on the BBC cannot be underestimated, and the fact that Aled Jones himself signed up to the registry, highlighting the fact that LHS / DKMS can sign people between the ages of 17 -55 in the UK, can only give more hope to thousands of families and potentially result in even more lives saved. Thankyou Aled.
It was tough day for all concerned make no mistake, the inclines were brutal and the descents more so, but when you have volunteers like Simon and Mel Humphries (who followed the trek with a motorhome stacked full of refreshments and food bought at their own expense), doing their utmost to keep everyone going with sustenance, grace, humility and humour makes you realise how good it is to be alive.
After lunch we headed into Marian Cwm, and as we climbed ever higher amongst the wheat fields, the lush green hillside views gave way to the vivid blues of the North Sea and, with a last goodbye to Aled Jones and the Songs Of Praise crew, the trail took everyone onto Prestatyn Mountainside and the end was finally in sight.
A fast and welcome descent through Prestatyn High Street soon saw everyone at shore’s edge on Barkby Beach and the welcome sight of the Beaches Hotel.
Ten hours of hiking in intense heat could not dampen the spirits of a group of tired but elated people, who all knew that with every step walked, a difference had been made.
Unfortunately, Jules Peters was injured on one of the final hill descents when she fell on some uneven ground and severely sprained her ankle. She was later admitted to A&E. in the hospital and gamely made it back to cross the finish line with Mike and hopefully well enough to continue tomorrow.
Day 5 – Ysbyty Glan Clwyd to Mostyn
Day Five began at the place where both Mike and Jules Peters started their own cancer journeys for real – The North Wales Cancer Treatment Centre at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd Hospital.
An amazing turnout of doctors, nurses, patients, carers, supporters and school children came out in force to cheer this amazing couple on their journey of recovery and gratitude that is covering 351,120 steps across North Wales and visiting all the major cancer service institutions on the way, in order to raise the equivalent amount in cash funding.
Mike Peters gave an emotional speech and expressed his personal gratitude to the staff for nursing his wife Jules, through her Breast Cancer ordeal and for giving them both the opportunity to recover and to live normal and healthy lives with their sons Dylan (13) and Evan (10), who were both stood beside them as one family united against the illness that has affected the lives of so many.
Mike Peters spoke of the need for partnership between the members of the public and the individuals who run all aspects of the national health service, and how all of us who benefit from our unique health care system can play a part in ensuring that the ideals of the NHS can be nourished by working together towards the common goal of good health for all.
Mike also explained that the inspiration for today’s walk was suggested by the 10 mile route that Jules Peters followed every day for 4 weeks whilst undertaking radiotherapy treatment at the centre, and hoped that it could serve as yet another reminder of just how far people can travel when climbing back from cancer especially as it was almost 12 months ago to the day since Jules was diagnosed herself. Jules who had been injured on the walk yesterday was in determined mood and once again showed amazing courage to continue with the epic walk despite her obvious discomfort.
A rousing singalong of ‘Forever By Your Side’ and ‘One Guitar’ turned the clinical surroundings of the hospital environment into a music festival type of atmosphere with everyone encouraged to clap and singalong. The feel good factor that was created put a spring in everyone’s step and with news cameras and press photographers lining the way, it was a sight to behold as Mike and Jules Peters were followed out of the hospital grounds by the core walking group and over 200 school children from Rhyl’s Welsh language primary – Dewi Sant and St. Asaph’s Welsh Secondary School, Ysgol Glan Clwyd, following in their footsteps.
The hot sun was beating down on Wales again as the team made its way to Rhuddlan Castle and a most welcome ice cream stop amongst the historic ruins. Photographs were taken and after a fantastic group shot complete with a mass DAB, the pupils of Dewi Sant headed back to school with the gratitude of all.
Five miles into the walk and the By Your Side team arrived at Frankie’s Farm Shop in Dyserth who had been supporting the appeal with fundraising activities of their own, and generously offered to feed the team of walkers and some of the older school children from Glan Clwyd. It was here that the team was joined by the outrageously young and charismatic Lord Mostyn who had come to show his support for the cause and to accompany the team to his ancestral home and final destination of today’s hike.
At the village of Trelawnyd, the appeal team were joined by another host of young children from the local primary school who had been fund-raising and wanted to join the By Your Side walk on the long hike through their local fields and forest paths.
It was a magical afternoon for all concerned with Sky Sports presenter Bryn Law entertaining each and everyone with stories of his many years in high level sports correspondence including covering Wales’ epic journey to the semi-finals of the Euro 2016 Tournament.
It was a long hike, make no mistake, and at one point the team had to hack their way through the undergrowth as they made there way to the magnificence of Mostyn Hall.
What a sight awaited everyone as (flanked by the sponsorship support cars donated by local Mini / BMW dealership Halliwell Jones) the team walked into the historic grounds of Mostyn Hall (which also happens to be Lord Mostyn’s personal residence) to be greeted by many members of local cancer support group services from all across the North Wales region.
True to his word (and to the amazement of all the school children who couldn’t believe that this very down to earth and humble young man could possibly live in such a place of grandeur and elegance), tea was served for one and all!!!
A final speech from Mike Peters acknowledged with gratitude, the efforts made by so many in making the By Your Side Appeal so successful and pointed out (to cheers from all sides), that this was in fact the half way point in the journey. Onwards and upwards to Mount Snowdon on Saturday.
Day 6 – Rhyl to Colwyn Bay
Day Six and it’s back to school for Mike Peters and the By Your Side team. Mike Peters admitted to feeling nervous about addressing pupils and staff from his old stomping ground of Rhyl High School which has recently been the beneficiary of multi million pound refurbishment.
In the new quad building Mike Peters spoke of the progressive nature of Rhyl High School and how his life was transformed when one of the first ever computers to be used in UK education was installed in his Mathematics class, enabling Mike to sit and pass the first ever British O-Level course in Computer Studies. His speech was based on the theme of determination and how the beginnings of The Alarm actually gave to life when a Geography Teacher, affectionately referred to as ‘Pete Geog’, asked if any pupils could play guitar and a young Mike Peters put himself forward.
So with determination and a host of committed Rhyl High School students and teachers (some of whom were engaged in their own struggles with cancer diseases), made their way through the backstreets of Rhyl and on to the promenade.
It was another beautiful day to be alive, as the the town lived up to it’s nickname of Sunny Rhyl. The group were bound for the Foryd Harbour, which happens to be the site of the Mike Peters ‘metallic’ statue that was unveiled a few years ago in honour of members of the Rhyl community that had made significant contributions to the town’s history and-well being of the world at large.
It was here that the entourage crossed the Pont Y Ddraig bridge to be joined by television news cameras and photographers along with a welcome slice of toast generously provided by the team at Hub Cafe.
From here, the team was swelled further by members of Rhyl Rotary Club as they set off along the Welsh Coastal path in the direction of Pensarn and Abergele.
It was a beautiful day walking alongside the white sandy beaches, flanked by rows of caravans some of which could easily lay claim to having the best beach views in all of Wales.
Mike and Jules Peters were surprised at this point in the walk by the appearance of Dr. David Gozzard the now retired consultant who first diagnosed Mike with cancer back in 1995. There was obvious kinship between the three friends, especially after all that has happened since. Dr. Gozzard was also part of the team that nursed Jules through her Deep Vein Thrombosis incident in 2009.
Even more young children from the local primary school joined the route and greeted the procession with an accapella Love Hope Strength. At the halfway point in the walk there was a stop at the Beach Cafe in Pensarn for drinks and sandwiches which re-energised the party for the final push along the glorious Welsh Coastal Path and all the way into Colwyn Bay.
The destination for today’s finale was Porth Eirias, which happens to be the beach restaurant of Welsh Celebrity Chef Bryn Williams and upon arrival, there was a fantastic atmosphere to greet the eclectic band of hikers as a choir of students from St. David’s College in Llandudno serenaded everyone who crossed the finish line.
“Welcome to the Welsh Riviera”, said Mike Peters as he thanked everyone who had walked with him and spoke of his gratitude for the magnificence of the welcome and praised all who committed to the cause and raised funds through the By Your Side Appeal message of Love, Hope and Strength which was amplified with a rousing communal sing song of the campaign anthem.
Later that evening, Bryn Williams team at Porth Eirias held a fund raising dinner for Awyr las / Love Hope Strength that was to be punctuated with a themed menu and speeches.
First to address the well dressed audience of fine diners was Bryn Williams himself who spoke on the theme of ‘Love’, as expressed by his lifelong desire to bring flavours and dishes together in inspired ways through his love of cooking.
In between courses, those lucky enough to have got Gala tables were treated to a magnificent speech / lecture on the history of cancer by Mike Peters’ own Haemotologist – Dr. David Edwards, who highlighted the ‘Hope’ for humanity by illustrating just how far we have come in a relatively short space of time, and how close science is to tackling the disease that now affects one in two people throughout the world.
Bryn Law from Sky Sports spoke of ‘Strength’, and highlighted the power it can have on a group of people working together with a common aim. Using a compelling story of being in the tunnel with the Welsh soccer team as they took to the pitch with each and every individual coming together / #strongertogether to carry the hopes of a nation. It was powerful stuff that could only have been followed by one man, the man who brought all three themes together in one song – Mike Peters.
‘Strength’ with it’s chorus refrain of ‘Give Me Love, Give Me Hope, Give Me Strength’ rang out through the room and into the hearts of everyone in attendance. After a moving tribute to the courage of his wife – Jules in her own breast cancer journey, he then spoke of how effective the appeal is becoming. With each and every day of the walk strengthening the core message coming out through the social media, news outlets and general well wishes generated by the campaign so far, Mike was able to say that with the support of so many people from all walks of life and from all across Wales, the appeal is on course to reach it’s intended target of £351,120 and that every penny raised will go towards supporting frontline cancer services throughout North Wales.
Day 7 – Llandudno to Conwy
Day Seven of the By Your Side Walking Tour across North Wales began at St. David’s College, Llandudno, with garden party atmosphere created between students, teachers, parents and hikers.
High on the hill above the lush green lawns the college choir and band performed gospel based arrangements of great songs including Stevie Wonder’s ‘I Wish’, coupled with a powerful version of Love Hope Strength to set everyone on their way.
Kirsty Thomson of Awyr Las and Mike Peters spoke of the power of the community coming together in support of local NHS services that serve one and all in our North Wales cities, towns and villages many of which the team will have walked through this last week.
Today, the massed ranks of walkers cut up through the college and onto the hillside that lead down onto the beachfront of Llandudno, the beautifully preserved Victorian seaside town well known to Alarm fans worldwide as being the home of The Gathering.
The largest group of hikers seen so far on the By Your Side Walk 2017, 400 in total, followed Mike and Jules as they trekked across the promenade towards the majestic sight of the Llandudno Pier and around the Great Orme that towered above.
It was a close, sweltering hot day, as the throng snaked its way up the steep Orme cliff side road resulting in the expected light shower of rain drops (the first since the walk began), being greeted with more than the usual enthusiasm on the climb up and over the Orme.
Along the way, individuals were stopping to make donations and the general feeling of goodwill towards all the walking party was infectious and spurred everyone on to the West Shore for a well earned lunch break.
The sun was now back out in force and so the Mobile PA system was set up on the lawns and Mike Peters performed an impromptu acoustic set, that turned into a brief history of The Alarm for the younger members of the walking group, some of whom are only just starting to get to know who this man is that is leading from the front and singing his heart out at each and every opportunity.
Due to the numbers, it was decided that, while the rest of the group continued towards Deganwy, Mike and Jules would make a slight diversion, to nearby Llandudno Hospital in order to address the nursing staff and patients
Accompanied by Lord Mostyn, Mike and Jules made their way in the By Your Side campaign support vehicles (provided by Halliwell Jones), to Llandudno Hospital where they were greeted by dignitaries including the Mayor of Llandudno, and other members of the hospital board, along with members of staff from the local Tesco Superstore who had been supporting the appeal with their own fund-raising effort.
Mike spoke with emotion as he thanked the nurses and members of the multi-disciplinary team that had cared for Jules from the outset of her breast cancer treatment cycle that had begun almost 12 months ago. It was here in Llanduno, that Mr. Khatak – the caring surgeon featured on the ‘Mike and Jules : While We Still Have Time’ BBC documentary, first broke the news to the couple, that in order to live and recover, Jules was to have surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Mike and Jules thanked the staff as one, and praised them for their dedication to service that had enabled Jules (and Mike as carer), to stand before them with cancer in check, and a new life ahead of them.
If there was moment that symbolised what the By Your Side Appeal stands for, then this was probably it. Mike and Jules stood side by side with nurses and doctors who had created the opportunities for them both to live and so in turn, create the circumstances that have enabled both to come back in person to the place of their lowest low and say thank you, and with the whole of the rest of their lives ahead of them,.
Mike and Jules rejoined the trek and the path continued around the head land to be greeted by the magnificent site of the ancient Conwy Castle. To enter the town, everyone had to walk in the shadows of the Thomas Telford suspension bridge and down, into the harbour where live music was being played at the Liverpool Arm’s Public House looking out over the estuary.
A grand finale was performed with all the assembled school choirs joining in with Mike Peters to sing ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’ – the Bob Dylan song that transcends generations and known to all.
The sun shone and good will spread all around.
Day 8 – Conwy to Menai Bridge
Beginning in Conwy and continuing along the Welsh coastal path to Menai Bridge in Anglesey, day eight of the By Your Side walk across North Wales was to be one of the longest with a distance of 19.5 miles to cover.
It was also the first time that the walking group, (including a host of sixth form students from Ysgol Y Creuddyn), had encountered rain, now greeted with relief after the heatwave conditions of the previous seven days. Well wishers from Denbighshire building consortium – Garnett Hughes Developments also came along for the first section of the walk and made a generous donation to the cause.
As the miles went by and the town of Conwy receded into the background, the first real views of Anglesey and Puffin Island could be seen through the misty skies to the North as the column of walking and talking people snaked towards the town of Penmaenmawr.
Another flock of excited school children came down to join the procession at the beach cafe and to sing an accapella Love Hope Strength with Mike Peters and Welsh Opera star Rhys Meirion.
By now the rain had subsided and the old, yet still working quarry clock, could be seen to strike 11 o’clock as the team moved off once again towards the mysterious Penmaenmawr Mountain which translates as the Head of the Great Stone. A local guide Ron Watkins Jones was on hand with stories and local knowledge to ease the passing round the quarried mountain and stopping to point out the uncanny resemblance to Queen Victoria that can be seen in a strange outcrop of rock that rises up from sea below.
A welcome lunch break at Llanfaerfechan refuelled every one for the long journey around the Bangor headland that lay ahead in the far distance. The day turned into another fine afternoon and the group was overtaken by Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board Chief Executive Gary Doherty who was running a half marathon with some other runners to raise funds for the appeal.
A photo stop was called for alongside Bangor Pier as the backdrop looking east back towards the starting point at Flint Castle meant that for one of the first times in the walk the scale of distance already covered could be appreciated by all who had made each and every footstep so far.
A final push through the University City of Bangor and along the Menai Strait soon brought the magnificent Menai Bridge into view. The finish line was in sight and Wynn Evans the charismatic DJ from BBC Radio Wales was on hand to join them for the last few yards.
The By Your Side support cars held the evening traffic back and the procession of tired but elated walkers were able to cross the Thomas Telford built suspension bridge in the centre of the road and finally on to the Anglesey headland that marked the day’s final destination point.
Mike and Jules were then whisked off to the nearby athletics track where doctors, nurses and students were hosting a fundraising fancy dress ‘bed push’ competition. It was a tough knockout style challenge for all concerned, as teams had to push a hospital bed (with someone lying in it), for 400 metres around the track. The winning team had dressed their bed in the theme of Star Trek (including a mock spaceship), and all the team members were dressed like the crew of the Starship Enterprise. Mike presented the trophy to victorious team along with the prize for best dressed which happened to be made up of staff from the Alaw Unit where Mike receives treatment at Bangor Hospital.
Day 9 – Bangor to Caernarfon
Day nine of the By Your Side walk began in the reception area of Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital for the official opening of the newly refurbished Alaw Unit.
Many dignitaries, hospital officials, doctors, nurses and major fundraisers gathered together for a series of speeches and talks on the capabilities of the new unit. It was an emotional moment for some of the individuals and charity members, many of whom had first campaigned for the Alaw Unit as far back as the late 1960’s. It was especially poignant for all those who have pioneered and supported the long term development of what is regarded as the major cancer centre for people living in North West Wales.
Thousands and thousands of people owe their lives to the dedication and selflessness of the specialists on the Alaw Unit who have continually brought many individuals like Mike and Jules, back from the brink of despair (the kind of which only a cancer diagnosis can induce), to eventually recover and live normal and healthy lives.
“It is a special place“, as Mike Peters testified during his own address, making reference to the many experiences he has been through since first being treated here in 2005. A performance of ‘Forever By Your Side’ brought powerful emotions to the fore.
D.J. Wynne Evans from BBC Radio Wales, who had been broadcasting live on air throughout the morning, interviewed Mike and Jules at length about the weeks events, along with other patients, volunteers and staff, including the much loved Reverend Wynne Roberts – the hospital chaplain who is also known as the singing Elvis Presley to his legion of fans.
The broadcast came to a close with Mike Peters joined by pupils of Ysgol Hafod Lon which is a special needs school from the local area to sing a bilingual version of ‘Love Hope Strength / Cariad”. The ensemble brought tears to people’s eyes as the children used sign language to emphasis the lyrics and despite some very obvious challenges, were able to sing lead vocals and harmony. It was very beautiful, and intensely moving.
Mike and Jules were then joined by their children Dylan (13), and Evan (10), as it was time for the procession to leave the hospital and begin the journey to Caernarfon. The morning’s wet weather front had moved on, and so a dry and cloudy sky welcomed the walkers back onto the trail as they headed West, in the direction of Y Felinheli / Port Dinorwic.
The harbour village of Y Felinheli is situated on the south shores of the Menai Straits and it was here, that the group gathered for a small respite and refreshment stop. Photos were taken on the harbour jetty and soon the band of brothers and sisters where back on the main coastal path into Caernarfon.
Just outside the town itself, hundreds of school children from the area, joined in for the final mile to the magnificent medieval fortress of Caernarfon Castle.
As the By Your Side pilgrims entered through and in amongst the towering castle walls the all female choir of Cor Cofnod and brass band of PontNewydd School created a musical welcome for one and all.
Group shots were taken and Mike Peters gave a final thank you speech and performance of Love Hope Strength with the choir, before heading for a buffet and drinks provided by the owners and staff at the Castle Hotel in Caernarfon town square.
Day 10 – Snowdon Rocks
The eleventh annual climb to the summit of Mount Snowdon began with a morning registration at the Electric Mountain in Llanberis.
This year, the By Your Side Walk across Wales that was led by Mike and Jules Peters, was a fantastic success, engaging with the entire community of North Wales and resulting in over 650+ people signing up (plus volunteers) for the final day’s hike to the summit.
It was a magnificent sight to see so many people from all over the UK and Europe assembled for the speeches and announcements. Music was provided by the community group Ghostbuskers who helped to create a carnival atmosphere with sing and strum versions of James’ alternative music anthem Sit Down and the Nancy Sinatra classic ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.
A rousing cheer greeted Mike Peters’ appearance on the bandstand and flanked by Jules, Mike delivered an emotional speech thanking the NHS staff for saving the life of his wife and playing a version of ‘Forever By Your Side’ that brought tears to many eyes.
Pemba Sherpa from Kathmandu, came on stage to present Mike and Jules with Nepalese ceremonial scarves in recognition of the work Love Hope Strength has done in support of cancer and relief services in the kingdom of Nepal.
Namaste – I bow to the divine in you, seemed a perfect way to pay respects to the spirits of the mountain that is Snowdon and to the familiar sounds of a brass band hundreds and hundreds of trekkers set off for the mountain. The weather was holding up. Comfortably dry and cool… perfect hiking conditions.
The first stop was at 570 metres at the Halfway House Cafe where a mobile PA system was set up for the band of guitarists and mandolin players (who had all carried their instruments so as to perform alongside Mike). Once everyone had made it to this rendezvous point the familiar chord pattern of ‘One Guitar’ sounded in the Cwm and voices were raised in celebration. The familiar refrain of ‘Wonderwall’ followed along with stirring versions of ‘In A Big Country’ and a campfire singalong to ‘Sixty Eight Guns’. This impromptu festival of remembrance was made even more reverential when Mike Peters asked for those who had come in honour of someone to raise their hand. It was an emotional sight as the silence that followed was impeccably observed and powerfully felt by all. ‘Knocking On Heaven’s’ door broke the silence with grace and after the second chorus, Mike Peters encouraged everyone to shout out the name of the person they had come to remember.
It was time for the final push to the summit, and soon the enormous line of Love Hope and Strength people that stretched across the mountain paths, could be seen to disappear into the cloud base that had gathered upon the highest reaches of Yr Wyddfa.
The summit was crowded like never before, as Mike and the band of brothers launched into song. ‘Rocking In The Freeworld’ was literally rocking the mountain and even more people from other hikes and other paths to the summit joined the swelling crowd that had engulfed the trig point. Laughter greeted the now traditional Christmas singalong as Mike led the way with ‘Happy Xmas [War Is Over]. The arrival of passengers from the special trains carrying cancer patients and families prompted an outbreak of ‘This Train Is Bound For Glory’. Mike was joined by his Alarm band mate – James Stevenson and off they went into the classic ‘Get Down and Get With It’ which had every clapping hands and stamping feet along with Slade fanatic and well known TV Presenter Gareth ‘Gaz Top’ Jones who could be seen singing at the top of his voice at the top of the mountain. The ever popular South Wales artist and Snowdon Rocks’ favourite – Chris Summerill was encouraged to perform the Oasis song ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ – made poignant by recent events, and the melody and words were sung by everyone stood at the highest point in all of Wales and England. The reverend Wynne Roberts a.k.a. the singing chaplain and Elvis Presley lookalike, joined in after escorting the patients on the train and a rocking version of ‘Hound Dog’ was followed by ‘Blood Brothers’ actor Sean Jones encouraging the crowd to sing the ‘Ooh Ooh’ backing vocals of ‘The Wonder Of You’. The concert finished on the words of ‘Love Hope and Strength’ and the descent back into the valley below.
It had been a long day and at sea level (well almost), every returning hiker was greeted with a welcome bowl of hot soup and fresh bread at the Pen Y Ceunant, generously provided and served by the gracious and always smiling Steffan.
It was soon time to peel off the climbing boots and put on the dancing shoes as the Gwyl Snowdon Rocks Festival (set in the grounds of the Heights Hotel), kicked off with a high energy set from Welsh Rebel Outpost who were joined by Mike Peters for their final song – the Rich Kids classic ‘Ghosts of Princes in Towers’.
Mike & Jules Peters’ youngest son Evan (aged 10), then made his live debut as a singing drummer in his new Welsh group ‘The Bandanas’, bringing the house down with a dual version of Feeder’s ‘Buck Rodgers’. Next up was OCD, which featured the couple’s oldest son ‘Dylan (aged 13), on lead guitar. OCD performed a cover and two originals before kicking out the jams with a rollicking version of The Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary’.
The stage was set and Gareth ‘Gaz Top’ Jones introduced Mike Peters who entered from stage left to a hero’s welcome. A thunderous set was blasted out, beginning with Alarm classics ‘Marching On’ and ‘Where Were You Hiding?’ complete with mass playing-card throwing. ‘Strength’ came next and the acoustic /electric and coupled with stomping bass drum amplified power in Mike’s voice as the atmosphere was ramped up even higher. As if on cue, ‘Rain In The Summerime’ even featured a 2 minute light shower of rain drops which was the only time the heavens had opened throughout the day. A rousing finale speech from Mike was followed by a hymn-like reading of ‘Forever By Your Side’. The words and melody of ‘Spirit Of ’76’ filled the air and Mike was joined by James Stevenson and Chris Summerill on second guitar and Mandolin. From here on in, it was anthems all the way. As the sun went down into the West, ‘Sixty Eight Guns Will Never Die’ was massive and the sixty minute set was closed with ‘One Guitar’ and over 1500 voices taking up the chorus including a guest appearance by Gary Christian of ‘The Christians’.
The atmosphere was special in the way that only festivals like this can create. A unifying experience on the mountain-side, coupled with the joy of music is unique to Snowdon Rocks, making it a festival unlike any other in the UK.
‘The Christians’ brought their own brand of vocally driven acoustic music into this atmosphere and were greeted warmly by all. The band tapped into the zeitgeist and engaged with everyone in a smooth and intimate manner that was perfect under the moonlight. ‘Forgotten Town’ and a superb ‘Harvest For The World’ were just two of the song performances that helped to make this year’s Snowdon Rocks an unforgettable experience for all who attended.