Sunday 7 July 2013

A Harlech wandering

Well, it was beyond time that I was away. It has been some two months since my Scottish episode. Hospital appointments, a week in hospital after a bizarre accident and yet more tests. Cabin fever was rampant. A search for cheap tickets led me to Harlech. It is a region I have visited before and there is always scope to discover new routes and interesting places.

Travelling up on the Tuesday I was a little concerned in regards to the weather. Rain and possibly heavy for the afternoon. Sure enough, it was raining when I arrived in Harlech. Drizzly, all pervading dampness. The hills where blanketed in thick cloud and even at sea level mist was drifting on the rising wind.
The path out of Harlech is up, very much so. It was something, given my lack of fitness, that had been bothering me. From previous experience I knew parts of the path rose steeply. Encased in waterproofs, it was a slow, hot and sticky plod. The path leads through old and mature native woodland. Thick mist shrouding the area certainly gave it atmosphere. It was not until I climbed above the woods that I realised how bad the weather was turning. The wind had noticeably strengthened and was driving heavy rain across the hillsides. The path leads through the camp site at Merthyr Farm. It was an easy choice, given the circumstances, to stop at the camp site. As camp sites go it is not a bad one. Reasonably priced with free showers and fairly quiet. It rained for the best part of the night with heavy squalls at times that rattled the tent.
Wednesday morning was dull and grey but at least it had stopped raining. With plan A scrapped I was now on plan B. It was deliberately a late start from the camp site . Mainly to allow things to dry out a tad.

There is a regular track that rises above Llyn y Fedw and continues on toward Llyn Beddew-Maw. My intention had been to continue on from where the track ran out and find somewhere to camp. However, I found myself descending in to ever increasing bog. Several times I went in deep which meant wet feet. After wandering around several of the small undulating hills and picking my through rocky outcrops it was time for a rethink. There had been a few showers of thin, drizzly dampness but nothing really wet. However, the forecast was for another band of rain to come through that evening. Also, there was quite a strong, blustery wind and really I wanted to camp with some degree  of shelter. There was a spot I had checked on earlier in the day. A firm bit of ground close in to a wall surrounded by more boggy terrain. It meant backtracking a mile or so but by now I was on plan C                                                                                                      
Thus it was by early Wednesday afternoon I had set up camp and was sitting snug. later the mist descended once more, bringing with it fine drizzly rain. Later this was interspersed with heavy, squally showers. The rain continued through the night in to Thursday morning. Surveying the situation on the Thursday morning it really did not make sense to move on until the weather cleared a bit. Everything was wrapped in fog and the rain still persisted. It was time to think of a plan D.  This meant a day of enforced idleness and much tea drinking, that and a spot of reading.

It was the afternoon before the weather finally cleared. briefly I considered moving on but knowing how wet the ground was it would mean in all probability much searching for a fresh camp spot.
Early Friday morning saw the early mist gradually lifting and hazy sunshine breaking through. As much as I was itching to be away, time had to be spent drying the sodden tent out a bit. The mist and heavy dew had soaked everything. By now I think I was on plan E. Anyways, I had a plan, even if it only involved a short walk. A walk was what I needed and a walk I was going to have.

Retracing my way up the track to a footpath that leads off, heading over toward a track that comes up from Moel Glo. Here the way on is a well defined land rover track that leads up to Llyn Eiddew Bach. Pleasant, gentle walking. An added bonus was that I was now walking in sunshine, wonderful!

The track runs out at the Llyn, it is obviously a popular area for fishing. There is a continuing footpath and I wandered up that a short way but curbed my enthusiasm. There is though, some fantastic places around there that invite further exploration.

Much of the ground is very wet in this region, although wild camping  is feasible finding a dry spot would take a bit of searching.

Rather than just retrace my footsteps down the way I had come, I followed a path around the Llyn and across to another, less well defined track which offered some lovely walking and this eventually rejoined the track I had previously come up.

There is another fairly well defined path that runs around the hill below  Llyn y Fedw and passes below the hill fort of  Moel Goedog. Obviously a popular walk, I met six people  on the way around. My aim once more was for the camp site at Merthyr Farm. With a train to catch from Harlech mid morning there was little option. The black art of ticket pricing is beyond the ken of a mere mortal such as I. The later train, which I would have preferred, was almost twice the price, bizarre? It had not been a lot of miles, probably between eight or nine miles. However, I had managed to put in a few miles and had a pleasant days walking.

Saturday morning was a downhill gentle stroll back to Harlech train station. At least this time I could enjoy the pleasant walk through the woods. The wood is situated on steep hillside and largely unmanaged which is all the better for it. Gnarled old ash and oaks, rowan, birch, mosses and ferns, honeysuckle too. A lovely, natural woodland.


  1. Good to see that you are getting aout into the hills again Dawn. Just a shame that the weather did not play ball! I used to travel to all my walks by public transport. In the end I got so fed up with it that I learned to drive!

  2. Ah well, y'see - I bet you needed that... shame about the weather - but now its probably too hot! And a new tent too, though?!

  3. I have walked quite a bit of the area just South of you so its good to see some pics of the area. Rocky as i remember. Glad you didn’t reach Plan Z.
    Still its always good just to be out. Distance, height are not important.

  4. Most certainly needed that Mike. Different tent, must remember not to go wandering around E bay when I am down. A severe case of retail therapy. Second hand, almost new £175.

  5. Thank you Alan. it is a lovely area.

  6. It was good to get out James. Using public transport can be stressful at times. Weather will always do its own thing, in many respects we just have to go with it and accept whatever is thrown at us.