Thursday, 17 May 2012

Wet, wet, wet.

The Cambrian mountain area has always been a popular spot for me. After my recent foray in to the area with Mike, (northernpies.blogspot) My interest in the area was rekindled. Thus it was that on the Wednesday I was on an early morning train to Machynlleth. There was also another reason. Mike and I had been somewhat rebuffed on our attempt to explore Pumlumon and with the idea of another trip later in the year I wanted to explore a different route in and out. However, arriving late morning with the intention of walking several miles in the afternoon, I was greeted with light rain. To the north the sky was dark and heading my way. Following the Glyndwrs Way up above the town it was obvious that the rain was setting in for the afternoon. Rather than push on under worsening conditions, I decided to camp early. With the tent snugged down close in to a forestry plantation, I got the kettle on as the heavens opened. Heavy rain and a blustery wind continued for most of the night.
Thursday morning was a grey dreich one. The rain had eased, it was now more of a fine drizzle being driven on by the windy conditions. The first of my pre-planned options was scrapped. The intention had been to loop around Glanmerin. Instead I headed up through the recently clear felled forestry and continued on over the lovely ridge by Myfrydd Bach. Quite atmospheric it was too, water streaming off the hillsides and bubbling out of the saturated ground. Low cloud and wet swirling mist closing and opening, offering glimpses of the rolling hills. It was a long plod up the steep track that leads up by Pen y Darren. The wind was stronger and the rain heavier on the higher ground. Following the track around to the forestry by Esgair y Gog, after clambering over two heavily locked gates it was noticeable that the weather was worsening. My original idea had been to camp in this area on the Wednesday afternoon and then continue over to Llyn Cwm byr and down the Hengwm valley. If  I continued on it was likely I would face a high camp in bad weather. Not a sensible idea. Reluctantly I headed up the Lon Las Cymru track that runs past Hyddgen. Once out of the forestry it swiftly became apparent how much the weather was deteriorating. Rain was now sluicing down driven by a rising wind. This was not the weather to be camping out in open country. As reluctant as I was,there was little alternative but to head over to to the small bit of forestry where Mike and I had camped previously. To be honest it felt a rather squalid place, with half burnt wood from fires that had been lit, bits of rubbish lying about. There was little alternative though, the ground was saturated. With the tent up in a corner of the wood I headed over to the river for water. The wind now was becoming very strong with vertical driving rain. It is in times like this that I am glad that I have the entrance of the tent configured to an A pole set up using both trekking poles. This means a very stable setup and more room. Lying in a small tent in the dark listening to a big wind roaring in the trees can be a tad unnerving. Mental images of trees crashing to the ground and the such do not make for a good night's sleep!
Friday morning and although the wind and rain had eased a few heavy squalls where passing through. The surrounding tops where cloaked in ragged ribbons of grey. A quick decision was  made, put the kettle on and have a lazy morning. By late morning the weather was rapidly improving and by early afternoon the wind had eased, the rain had stopped and the sun even attempted to break through the clouds. Here was an opportunity to head up the hill. However, after the events that occurred last time a camp was made here, I felt very uneasy about leaving the tent unsupervised. Instead I went for a potter, making sure I kept the wood in sight.
Saturday was a totally different day, a cold night with frost but a wonderful surprise, a sunrise! Unfortunately I was not feeling my best, (I will explain later). With the weather being dry I was determined to do something.Studying the map, I decided to head out the way I had originally planned to trek in. The route looked a fairly long one. Possibly doable in a day but it would have been a long one. Splitting it in to two days gave some good walking without pushing any limits.

For reasons I am unsure of, I began by wandering up Banc Lluestnredd. The view was worth the detour. From there I dropped back down in to the Hengwm valley. There is the semblance of a path leading up the valley. Oh my, it was wet though, local shepherds had obviously been this way on their quad bikes. Deep ruts and in one or two places holes, where they had bellied in and partially sunk. Pleasant walking, or partial paddling? Somehow though I found  the valley to be a long one and was glad to see Llyn Bugeilyn. From there the walking was on well made tracks. Geese nesting in the reeds on the edge of Llyn Cwm byr made a clamorous racket as I passed. The track climbed steadily up by Waun To. Pleasant, steady walking, with sunny periods. A chilly breeze  ensured my windproof stayed on but I was content with that. A steady drop down through the forestry by Esgair y Flordd. It was a steady uphill plod from there, retracing my route up past Esgair y Gog. Once out of the forestry I started to look for somewhere to camp. Not so easy and I finally opted for a flat bit of ground right next to the track. It was still fairly early, I was aware though that there where few spots for the next few miles.

A blustery wind brought a few more showers rattling through in the evening. Once more it was a cold night.
Sunday morning was dry with sunshine. My route took me around by Hafodwnog and a steady climb up the hill. This is a route I would recommend, the views north are wonderful,as is the steep valley below, complete with waterfall. A lovely place, having been there before I would suggest that the other path which drops down close to the deep gully is steep and narrow.

A long drop down to Cwmyrhaiadr and a wander down the valley lane. Once again, a pleasant walk. Turning off and another uphill track leading toward Bryn Coch Bach and then another downhill bit of walking to come around by Glanmerin and across by the lyn to the spot where I had camped on Wednesday night.
Trying to pitch the tent with the tail to the wind was a nightmare. The wind was rising and also kept swinging from one direction to anther. On occasion strong gusts would slam in to the side of the tent. In the end I rammed the tent pegs deep in to the ground and hoped for the best. Rain showers in the late afternoon, driven by the wind, drummed loudly on the tent. Once again, it was a night of wind and rain and on occasion, hail. 
Monday morning was a little more settled, at least it had stopped raining. A strip bath in the tent, a clean change of clothes and it was back down toMachynlleth and the train out.

Over the last couple of years I have had an increasing number of medical problems. It has meant a plethora of tests, probes, tubes, minor operations and all sorts of nasties. Since getting back I am now diagnosed as being in the early stages of Parkinson's Disease.That is going to make things on the hill interesting! Certainly, I have already found for example my fitness levels keep falling through the floor, tiredness is a nuisance too. The most obvious physical affect so far is an increasingly strong tremor. Map reading with a shaky hand can be a tad disconcerting!
By the by, if anyone wants a couple of pairs of trekking poles, give me a shout. One pair are brand new. Also I have a set of nesting alloy A poles.