Tuesday 25 March 2008

going light, a downside

Tuesday 18th March. Camped OS map LR 124. GR 625322.approx.
Travelled up this morning to arrive in Harlech by early afternoon. My intention had been to get a meal in Harlech before heading out. However, everything was still closed for the winter season. Not even a fish and chip shop open. Finally found a cafe open, the only hot food available was an egg bap. Basically I was told, 'sorry, we do not serve meals this early in the year'! Heading out of Harlich involves a stiffish haul up the hill. Made my way by footpath up and across to Methyr farm and then around to where I am now camped. Am on a fairly flattish bit of ground just below a rocky outcrop which is providing shelter from any wind. Have a lovely view across to Llyn cym. There is a heavy dew this evening.
Wednesday. OS map Lr124. camped gr 624206.
As I thought it would be, a long day out. The heavy dew of last night froze as the temperature dropped during the night. Thus this morning the tent was sheathed in ice and the water bottle was partially frozen. This in turn means a later start. However, it was a beautiful morning. Dropped down by Cwm Mawr and picked up the path towards Cwm Bychan. The Rhinogs where so close, so tempting but time and the weather was against me. From what i had picked up on the long term forecast bad weather was due on Thursday. Also, I had arranged to meet folk at a camp site. Took the path up and around to Gloyw Llyn. A lovely setting with the water nestling in an amphitheatre of rock. An interesting section of path that climbs up from the llyn, twisting in and out of rocky outcrops. Followed the path, more or less, it is obscure when it get over the hill and drops down toward Nantcol. Dithered a bit coming around by Cilcychwyn. My original intention had been to pick up the path that led over to Pont Scethin. In hindsight I should have stuck to that. For speed though and because I was getting a tad tired I swung around by a lovely tiny, gated road that had some wonderful newly built dry stone walls. it is good to see the old dry stone walling skills are still being used. Picked up another path leading over towards Tal y ffynonau. In theory there ought to have been a continuing path leading over and leading straight on. it was not to be found though. A farmer was working his sheep further up the hill. So, rather than climb over walls and head across fields I swung around by the track. A long dog leg to work my way across to Pont Fadog. Followed the track up to where I am now camped. Stopped late and am tired. A very vivid sunset tonight and lovely moonrise. A full moon too, awooohhh!
Thursday. Bunkhouse at Corris.
As I suspected, a very full day. Woke this morning to thick cloud shrouding the hills and a rising wind. Came up by Bwlch y Rhiwgyr in swirling mist. Around by Bwlch y Llan and down to Barmouth. Found a cafe open that was still doing breakfast and nipped in for a full breakfast. A good, substantial breakfast. From the look of things it would be needed. Came across the toll bridge. Wow, was it windy or what. Headed up the hill opposite. Bad weather was coming in off the sea and I was pushing hard to get on as far as possible before it hit. It began raining as I followed the track up toward Cyfannedd. Crossed over in to thick forestry. The path headed directly up hill. It was badly churned and muddy. People had been riding trial bikes up and down it. So annoying, why can people not stick to the the forestry tracks and avoid footpaths? The whole path was awful. Hemmed in by close ranks of trees, in places it was a total quagmire and I slithered and struggled through the morass, cross, bothered and slathered in mud. Thick cloud swirled around me as I came out in to the open to pick up the path that came around by Trawsfynnydd. The rain was icy up there. A quick check of the compass to quell a few niggling doubts as I plodded on, head down in heavy, driving rain. There was sigh of relief as I dropped down towards Bodilan Fach. Noticed a flock of sheep watching me as crossed over a stile just above the farm. Spoke nicely to them as I do and carried on. Glancing back I saw to my horror that the whole flock had tucked in behind me and where intent on staying with me. Well, I knew I was wet and bedraggled but this was ridiculous. The farmer appeared as I approached the farmhouse. He laughed when I apologised, explaining that they where looking to me to feed them. Time now was running late and I still had a good few miles to cover before getting to the campsite just beyond Minfford. The quickest way was to stick to the road, yuch. However, I got to the campsite at last light. All I wanted was to get out of wet gear and in to a warm sleeping bag and have some hot food and drink. To my horror the whole campsite was was a wet, churned up muddy mess. Sheep had been in there recently. Walking the whole field it was obvious there was no place for a tent. By now the weather was awful, high winds and rain. Reverting to plan z, I retreated to the ladies. The intention to at least get the stove out and get something hot down me. Water flowing over the floor squashed that idea. Now that I had stopped the cold was really starting to hit me. Slipped my thermal gilet on under the waterproofs and waited in the dark for two hours until folk started turning up. Retreating to the pub we waited until everyone had arrived and then agreed to head for this hostel. A hard day.
Friday. Back at the hostel.
We headed back to the campsite this afternoon after an easy morning wandering around Dolgellau and having breakfast in a cafe. People decided the site was not too bad even though it was obvious the place was a wind trap. Heavy showers of icy rain and hail made putting up tents a wee bit interesting. The hex was standing up to the weather ok. What was obvious though was that without a floor The mud was going to cover everything. Even going to the loo meant muddy boots and gaiters slathered in the thick, cloying stuff. It is one of those factors, wild camping out on the hill one can usually find a sheltered spot and ground that is fairly firm, even if wet. Normally the half ground cloth I use is absolutely fine. It is something I have found before. In a few campsites I have used previously, wet and mud have been prominent in bad weather conditions. it is the one time going light fails. A heavier tent with a strong ground sheet is really required.
Took a walk up to Waun Oer. high wind chill factor on the top. Some sleet and snow.
Sunday. Just pottered and am heading out in the morning.

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