Friday, 22 June 2012

Cadair Idris

The run up to Macynlleth is becoming a familiar one. Once more Mike and I linked up on the way through Birmingham.( Arriving in Macynlleth we had an hour or so wait for a bus to run us up to Minffordd . The weather in town had not been too bad; grey and overcast with a bit of drizzle. We indulged in fish and chips. However, as we neared our destination the weather rapidly began to deteriorate. It was a case of out of the bus and leg it to the porch of the public loo to scramble in to waterproofs. The Minffordd path is steep and relentless as it leaves the car park. We where carrying extra rations which included fresh food. Sausages, bacon, spuds, rolls, frying pan and so forth. Oh my, the extra weight made it a hard slog. The storm was rising rapidly, the river cascading down the hill was a raging torrent and water was flowing everywhere. Our boots soon filled with water as we cast about trying to find a spot for the tents. This was was not easy, the ground was saturated. Finally we settled for a slightly firmer spot close to a large erratic boulder. With the rain sluicing down and a strengthening wind, pitching was none too easy. It was obvious we where in for a wild night and both of us added extra guy lines and pegs to the tents and weighted everything down with large rocks.

The problem we faced was that the gale force wind was not coming from one direction. Continuously it ricocheted off the surrounding corrie walls and slammed in to the tents from all directions. Our uneasy sleep that night was further disturbed by a resounding thudding boom, clearly audible above the howling maelstrom of the storm. Boulders bounding the scree slopes opposite.
Breakfast on Saturday morning was held in the halls of Mike's Atko. This was an interesting exercise, two of us in a small tent,with the weather still stormy and Mike valiantly cooking a breakfast fry up!! The rest of the day was spent cocooned in our sleeping bags, reading, dozing and drinking tea and coffee. What tended to fray our nerves a little was the hammering of torrential rain on the flysheet. At least there was no need to go out for water, a cooking pot placed under the edge of the flysheet soon topped up water supplies.
Mike cooked a stew for supper, unfortunately due to health problems I struggled a bit eating it. Very frustrating, having all this delicious food and unable to really enjoy it. Fortunately after another night of heavy rain, Sunday morning broke with the promise of better weather. Alan, ( came up to join us and was happy to indulge in a sausage butty. Mike had a plan to bag a few tops and had decided to make it a two day walk.The first was to be Mynydd Moel and some of the outlying tops. Unfortunately I was feeling far from good and decided to turn back rather than have the lads constantly having to wait for me. It was a slow walk back to the tent for me. However, I was delighted when the guys got back and found out they had a cracking day out and with good weather as an added bonus. Mike cooked up a lovely supper that, potatoes, onions and cheese. Sadly I had to refuse such a luxurious meal. Swallowing solids was posing a problem and I was suffering chest pain. Experts have said this is a digestive problem not a cardiac one.


Mike and Alan wandered up to the tarn above our camp spot. They where a little taken aback to find the area taken over by a large group of teenagers, with a multitude of tents pitched close to the water edge. Wild camping is supposed to be a  discreet affair and this certainly was not. 
Monday morning saw us heading up the main track for Cadair Idris. It was the start of a warm, sunny day. Mike was certainly affected by the change in the weather, taking delight in scrambling up rocky outcrops. Alan and I where left wondering just what Mike had put in his morning porridge? With the chest pain continuing and feeling well out of sorts I thought it prudent to let the guys go on. Mike in particular had wanted to visit these tops for some time. Slowly wandering back down, I strolled over to the tarn. The youth group had left earlier that morning. The evidence of their stay was there for everyone to see though. Fire blackened stones, with charred wood and a burnt piece of clothing. Scorched circles of burnt grass. Orange peel and sweet papers scattered around the area. An ugly eyesore and it brings in to question as to the validity of youth groups going out on the hill. Youth group leaders seem to be failing in educating youngsters in the very basics of the countryside code. Possibly some folk may think I am just an old fogie having a moan but this is something I have seen on several occasions recently. Another pressing issue of large groups, (this one was fifteen plus) is the hygiene issue. Areas getting fouled can pose serious health problems for others who may camp in the same vicinity.


Alan and Mike returned later that afternoon delighted with their day on the hill. They had experienced excellent conditions with superb views all around. Unable to face much in the way of supper I made do with some dehydrated rice pudding.
Tuesday morning saw heading down the hill. Alan had kindly offered us a lift to Machynlleth. Mike and I  had an idea of booking in to the bunkhouse or a b&b. A large lorry had attacked the railway bridge at Machynlleth by wedging itself underneath .Saying goodbye to Allen, we wandered in to town.With the bunkhouse full and no cheap places to stay, we made our way back out of town and camped at a spot we have used previously. A lazy afternoon just enjoying the sunshine.
Wednesday saw us once more catching the train at our trips end. For me, it was a good trip but yet a frustrating and maybe an embarrassing one. Being constantly ill on and off makes me question as to whether it is time to hang up my boots? Thank you both Alan and mike for your tolerance.

My tent has sustained some damage, as has Mike's My thoughts at the moment are of replacing it. So, if anyone fancies a  damaged Shangri La 1 and nest and a Shangri La 2. Give me a shout. 

Thursday, 7 June 2012


After twice attempting to visit Pumlumon and not getting there it was a case of sitting down with the map and having a re think. The obvious answer had been staring  me in the face all along. It just. required a different approach. Possibly a slightly roundabout way of approaching things. Thus it was that on the Thursday that I was on the train to Aberystwyth.

As the train headed down the Dovey valley I noted the thick, lowering clouds that where blanketing the surrounding hills. It was drizzling at Aberystwyth as I walked around to the bus station. It was a relief to find  that my information in regards to bus times was correct. This time I was heading up the A44 to Nant y Arian. Conditions worsened as the bus climbed higher and soon we where in thick, wet fog. Getting off the bus, the silence hit me. After the rattle and roar of the bus, there was a silent stillness, everything swathed in the clinging fog, muffled, soundless, spooky! A quick change in to waterproofs, a check of the map and I was soon heading uphill. Having walked this way some years back I was fairly confident of  the first section of my route. However, walking in such poor visibility meant a constant checking of the map. Up past Pen Darren. and I had to pay attention to where I was heading. The map, though accurate, hardly corresponds with what is on the ground. The map shows the main bridleway bearing off to the left with a footpath leading straight ahead. In fact the main track goes straight on. Heading around and following a rough, well rutted track down the hill and across a minor road, on to an even rougher track. A tricky ford and on to Nant Dinas. Time was getting on, it was getting wetter and visibility was  poor. Was glad to get the tent up and a hot drink on.
Friday. Woke to calm conditions and with only the tops shrouded in cloud. Some pleasant walking over to Aber Peithnant. A drop down to a footbridge over the river, another climb up to the road with a pause to put waterproofs back on. Not heavy rain but thin drizzle carried on a steady breeze. Picking up the path I wanted at Hrnant proved a tad illusive. There was a faint outline of a path or a sheep trod. At least a  style indicated I was heading in the right direction. Coming on to the forestry track that led over to Blaen  Peithnant, I thought maybe I had some easy walking. Big mistake! Pausing at the bridge over the Ceunant Du, it was obvious that the first section of a bridleway/path that followed the river for a short distance was obscure. Also, the ground was wet and boggy. A study of the map showed the main forestry track as doing a short loop and then heading through the plantation to exit at the same place as the path. All sorted, and I headed off up the hill on the main track. Faint alarm bells soon began ringing in my head though. The track, as shown on the map was not corresponding with what was on the ground. It was climbing higher and  not in the direction shown on the map. My doubts where confirmed when the track ended at a vehicle turning area higher up the hill. There was nothing else and it meant backtracking down the river. Some sloppy, wet ground and I picked up the path through the forestry. At a junction in the path I resorted to a compass check to make sure I was heading in the right direction.  Fortunately my map reading was ok and  I came out above  Yr Ochrydd. A plod up a track that ran uphill beside the plantation. Despite it being quite early I decided to stop and camp just below the main ridge leading up to Pumlumon. Pushing on would have either meant a high camp or a long day.

Saturday. Looking out of the tent early morning it was to find everything blanketed in thick fog. Given the conditions I was reluctant to pack up and move; preferring to wait and hope things would improve. By late morning the ridge above me was almost clear and I was soon packed up and on my way Higher on the ridge    it was soon obvious that the weather window was closing fast. The wind was coming in from the north east and with it thick banks of low cloud. By the time I reached the trig point visibility was very poor.

Heading  over toward Pumlumon Arwy I almost stumbled over a cairn. Visibility was now bad. A dank,wet  grayness shrouded everything. My intention had been to carry on toward Baric Bugeilyn. That idea was soon scrapped. Trying to get accurate bearings on a compass when one's hands have a marked tremor can be difficult!
Poor weather, little visibility!
 My one intention now was to get down off the top. It took time to pick my way down. Knowing there where at least a couple of steep cliffs in the area I was heading to made me wary. Finally though I found myself at a fence which I was fairly sure ran over Pen CerrigTewlon. Further down and with some visibility I was able to pin point where I was. Finally finding the path that led up to Llyn Llygad  Rheildol I headed upwards. It was just a notion but I wanted to check and see if camping up there was a viable option. It was not and I headed back down on the path.  On the way down I was constantly checking for a spot to camp. There was nothing, but I was not going to camp in the little wood by the Avon Hengwm. Pottering around I went up the track to an old ruin and found a nice little grassy spot for the tent. It was actually dry and quite calm. Waterproofs where shed and laid out on a boulder to dry.
Sunday. Woke during the night to a  rising wind. Fine rain gently caressed the tent. Looking out early in the morning things looked dreich. Gray, moisture laden clouds where scudding down the valley. A boisterous  wind was chivying the tent. A wet, sodden morning did not offer any inducement to get moving. The day's plans where scrapped.The rest of was spent reading and drinking tea. Late afternoon and the wind began to increase. Heavy gusts began to slam in to the tent. Nipping out, I found one or two tent pegs becoming loose. Heavy rocks where placed on  all the pegs.With the increasing wind and rain I felt a little uneasy, the tent was getting pummeled. The rucksack was partially packed, just in case! Fortunately though the storm blew itself out by the morning. Starting out in dry, fairly calm weather made a change. Stopping to have a study of the map at Hyddgen. My route was quite straightforward. Somehow though I felt out of sorts and in the end I just carried on down the valley to Machynlleth. A pleasant saunter, with everything lush and green. My final mental wobbly though was booking in to B&B. That blew my emergency funds but I just wanted a shower, a clean change and a cooked meal.