Tuesday 8 April 2008

Welsh ambulation

Thursday 3rd April. Camped Map OL213 GR 732831.
Travelled up this morning on the train. This area had attracted my attention when perusing the map on my previous trip around Cadair Idris. A closer study of the adjoining map and my interest was aroused. Especially when I noticed the tiny line running up to Devils Bridge. A quick check and yes, there was a narrow gauge train. A plus point was that it was feasible by catching the early train from London. Doing it this way avoided some 11 miles of rural countryside. Thus did the tourist bit and had a ride on the steam train. Third class if you please. Actually saw red kites on the way and the run up was in glorious sunshine. A cuppa and sandwich at the wee cafe and then set off by about three thirty. One slight disadvantageous was that I had to descend down in to the steep sided valley and ascend the other side. came down on the path below Rhiwfron halt in to the afon Rheidol and then back up the track by the Alt-y-Grigfan. The forestry in the valley is all mixed woodland. However it is like a massive graveyard. All the undergrowth is bursting forth with new life and energy. The trees though show absolutely no sign of life. They stand gaunt and stark; skelital in appearance, totally lifeless, dead. Maybe this is the legacy of the mining industry wich once thrived in the region. Some of those mines where lead mines and the spoil tips from them stand barren, scars on the landscape. Came around by Pen-Rhiw-Gam and then by a very indistinct footpath over to Lyn-Yr Oeifu. On the ground a couple of marker indicating a right of way pointed totally in the wrong direction. Sticking to what I was reading on the map I ignored them. Up and around by Pant-y-Ffynnon and around the back of the wind farm and across to Llynwernog Pont. Once again, no real path, just had to pay attention to the map. Another quick map check and a hasty half mile dash down the main road to the forestry information centre at Bwlch Nant-yr-Arian. Time was getting on and it looked probable that I would still have to cover a further few miles before finding a wild camp spot. Forestry is not my forte and here especially, with such a plethora of cycle tracks, it meant very close map reading, checking and double checking.Came up by Pen Darren, (eek, a Welsh Darren!) and then across to where I am now camped. A longish push of some four and a half hours. It was expected though. Doing it this way has meant I am now clear of enclosed farmland and am in open country. No real roads now for the next few days, just a few single track ones. it has been a glorious day, warm and dry with sunshine. However, as night draws in the temperature in the temperature is dropping fast.
Friday 4th April. camped map OL123. GR 734881.
Early last night it was crystal clear with brilliant starlight. By the early hours of this morning thick cloud had rolled in. It was dense when I had breakfast, fog obliterated everything. The world appeared to be swathed in cotton wool, grey and cloying. I packed up in a damp mizzle. Not really rain, nor yet really drizzle, just a saturating dampness. it had been my plan to head down to the road, take a left turn and then a first right up past a small holding. That was fine, beyond the buildings though, despite a couple of styles, there was no sign of anything on the ground. Rather than mess around with map and compass, I backtracked to the road and swung around to Llyn Baenmelindwy. These roads are tiny affairs, one tractor and two sheep would constitute a rush hour. Continued up to Llyn Syfydrin. Almost walked in to a flock of geese. Pandemonium, dark shapes looming out of the mirk, geese taking of in all directions with a great clamour, honking and hissing. Gave me quite a start, especially as I was nearly run down by a low flying goose. That would have been an interesting story, 'walker felled by goose'? Walked on by Bwlchystyllen. A sad ruin now, but obviously at one time a working farm. Not a place I would have chosen, situated in a shallow hollow and overlooking bog and barren ground. It felt a rather cheerless place. As I made my way across by Rhyd-y-Gaib the mist momentarily parted giving tantalising glimpses of wonderful scenery and closed again. Have stopped by the old quarries. it has been a short day of walking, but that was intended. there is no rush. The fog is currently swirling and eddying around the tent in thick heavy tendrils. The forecast though is for the temperature to drop as the wind swings around to due north.
Saturday 5th April. camped Map OL 23. GR 755948.
A leisurely day. A few icy showers early this morning. As forecast the wind had swung due north. Hung around until the showers had drifted by and then dropped down to the road that goes around by the Nant-y-Moch reservoir and headed up through the forestry. Much of the forest had been cleared, leaving open vistas and more pleasant for walking.. Worked my way around by a disused mine. A gate with a 'private keep out' sign I ignored. It is marked as a bridleway. In all probability it is to stop folk driving through. My aim was head over to Llyn Conach and then turn off. At one point the old track I was following plunged in to an area of dense forest. Total Stygian gloom, serried ranks of close packed trees blotting out the daylight. The track ended abruptly, obliterated by recent harvesting. made it out on to a track ok. A bit of confusion, where there should have been two tracks there was only one. No real problem. Did a dog leg instead and walked around to New Pool, past the 'Anglers Retreat' and over to Llyn-Penrhaedr and on to Pistyll-y-Llyn. Wow, an impressive cleft that drops sheer away to the valley below. A wonderful and impressive waterfall too. The path contoured around and down the steep hillside by -Nant-y-Gog. Am camped close by. Once more an early stop but why rush? The weather has been good all day, despite a few showers of sleet.. Cold though, enough for hat and gloves. heading out tomorrow to Machynlleth.
Sunday 6th April. Machynlleth.
Snow during the night, by this morning the tent was quite heavy with it. The temperature had dropped by the early hours. This meant ice on the tent as well as snow. Oh my, poking my nose out of the sleeping bag it was chilly. There is that initial reluctance to leave the warm cocoon of the sleeping bag and get dressed. It was bright with sunshine as I packed up. Walked on down to Cwmyrhaiadr. there was path opposite where I came out in the lane. it was going to be a short day thus I took the longer way up to Bwlch y Groese. From there a pleasant walk along the Glnydwrs way. One or two snow showers but nothing to worry about. Followed the way right around to drop down by Cae Gybi cottages. Spent over an hour walking around Machynlleth looking for b&b. Nothing, made enquiries but nobody had any suggestions. The two places I found where both closed, despite one having a vacancies sign out. Maybe I could have bi vied or walked out of town and camped somewhere. However, I wanted a shower and clean clothes. Finally booked in to the only hotel that actually took guests. Three others where apologetic but had nothing to offer. This is really costing me more than I can afford. Strange sitting in a hotel room eating a dried, prepare in the bag meal. The cost of a meal was scary. A good few days out. Had a stomach problem though, food was going through me rapidly. Fortunately there where some imoden pills in the first aid kit and I finally resorted to one of those. Took my lighter, three season sleeping bag. was warm enough, just. Put my jacket over the bag for a bit of extra warmth. The area around here is excellent walking country, ditto for mountain biking. Miles and miles of wide open country and a profusion of tracks. Maybe we could do a bloggers meet sometime?


  1. Hi Dawn

    Throughly enjoying your travels: I have a request:

    Can you make the typeface a size larger? I really do struggle with it - which is such a shame as the content is first class!

    Help out an old sod with dodgy eye-sight?



  2. Your wish is my command Alan. Hopefully iIhave managed a tad larger print. Glad you enjoy my scribbling. Dawn

  3. Yippee!

    Super Job Dawn - Much better for an old codger with variefocals!

    Thank you!

  4. Alan - try using View -- Text Size if you use internet Exporer browser for the tiddly print sites

    Dawn - another good trip - hope the rest is working out around it all