On the eve of May 8, 1945, 16-year-old Denis Jones, who went on to run Gregynog Hall in Tregynon, decided to make his way up Snowdon to mark the end the end of war in Europe.

However, for Denis and his two friends, who were all apprentices in their mid-teens, the significance of VE Day hadn’t quite sunk in.

“It was an opportunity to extend the weekend’s freedom,” Denis said, writing for Evergreen Magazine back in 2011.

After all, it was a bank holiday, as it is this year; with the early May bank holiday being moved from its usual position to commemorate the 75th anniversary.

“We hatched the idea of staying overnight on the summit of Snowdon in order to see the sunrise the next morning,” Denis said.

The boys were all keen cyclists, but they weren’t really prepared for a trek up the highest mountain in Wales – especially overnight.

They were wearing cycling shoes and shorts and their equipment comprised a blanket each, as sleeping bags weren’t so affordable back then, and a small stove.

Once they had left their bikes and started walking, after stopping off at Denis’s aunt and uncle’s for a quick bite to eat, it was already 7.30pm. They didn’t have a torch, but it turned out, they didn’t need it. Denis knew the route well enough to not lead them off the edge of a cliff, and as they reached the summit they saw a huge light. This turned out to be the biggest victory bonfire in North Wales, which was clearly seen from Anglesey and along the Caernarfonshire coast.

Denis said: “Approaching the summit we could see a bright fire burning and figures moving about which we found to be three sailors who had brought some old motor types up from Llanberis and had got them burning fiercely, making a lovely warm beacon we could see repeated all around the country.”

The three boys, who had travelled from Lancashire, eventually got some sleep after the fire died down as they huddled together with their single blankets.

Denis said: “At no other time in my life have I been so cold, and if weather conditions had deteriorated to the state they did only a few hours later we would have been at real risk of serious hypothermia.”

Denis’s real fear at the time though, was that they missed what they came all the way up Snowdon for: the sunrise.

“We awoke to cloudless, blue-sky sky daylight and thought we had missed the very thing we had come to see, but in minutes the scene changed from cold clear dawn to pink sky then flaming red as the sun peeped over the eastern horizon, gradually flooding red warmth as it rose to bring the earth back to life, touching peaks and then flooding into still-dark misty valleys until the whole sky was ablaze,” he wrote.

“It was a display that awed three callow youths into untypical silence for several minutes.”

Denis is now 91. He grew up in Bolton, and moved to Mid Wales in 1973 when he become the administration officer for Gregynog Hall in Tregynon. He now lives with his son and daughter-in-law, alongside his wife Maureen, in Llanfair Caereinion.