David Morris's Cambrian Way Walk May 2013

Introduction

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I canít remember where Iíd heard about the Cambrian Way but with liking walking in Wales especially in the high mountains and the reports of other backpackers saying that the trail was a mountain connoisseurís walk I decided to investigate it further. Having already completed the Nuttallís Mountains of Wales I knew what to expect. The Cambrian Way crosses the mountainous heartland of Wales to link the mighty castles of Cardiff and Conway. The 480km route passes through the Black Mountains, the Brecon Beacons National Park, traversing the iconic Pen y Fan, then continues through the Carmarthen Fans and past the lush meadows around Llandovery. It crosses the wild and remote countryside of Elenydd and the summit of Pumlumon to enter the Snowdon National Park and, after Dinas Mawddwy, there is superb ridge walking and a challenging traverse of Cadair Idris, followed by the unyielding Rhinog Fach and Rhinog Fawr. Views open up of the highest peaks in Wales commanded by Snowdon and, after climbing several of these - including Snowdon itself - the Cambrian Way finishes at Conway with a spectacular castle on the north coast. So with no further ado I made plans to travel to Cardiff on an early train giving me lots of time to get a full days walking in, heading away from the capital.

Cardiff to Machen

Mynydd Machen to Little Mountain

Little Mountain to Abergavenny

Abergavenny to Capel-y-ffin

Capel-y-ffin to Crickhowell

Crickhowell to Yr Allt

Yr Allt to Llech Llia

Llech Llia to Llandovery

Llandovery to Rhandirmwyn

Rhandirmwyn to Pontrhydfendigaid

Pontrhydfendigaid to Devilís Bridge

Devilís Bridge to Dylife

Dylife to Gwalia beyond Commins Goch

Gwalia to Dinas Mawddwy

Dinas Mawddwy to Minffordd

Minffordd to Barmouth

Rest day in Barmouth

Barmouth to Cwm Bychan

Cwm Bychan to Maentwrog

Maentwrog to Beddgelert

Beddgelert to beyond Pen-y-Pass

beyond Pen-y-Pass to Foel-fras

Foel-fras to Conwy

Tuesday 14/05/2013 - Cardiff to Mynydd Machen

25.5km - 9.25hrs walk - Start height 7m - High point 269m - Height gain 407m


Cardiff Castle, the start of of my epic journey. Day 1

I arrived at Cardiff at about 10.00am and headed off towards the castle, it was raining slightly, just enough to don my waterproof jacket, but this caused no problems. I walked through Cathayís Park which was very pleasant and I was pleased to be on the move at last after the weeks of planning. After crossing the busy M4 and arriving at Tongwynlais I asked at the chip shop if they had facilities to eat in as I was rather wet and needed to dry out, they hadnít so I carried on to the Lewis Arms a short distance further along the main street and ate there instead and also had a couple of drinks. Moving on I climbed up to pass Castell Goch and on into Forrest Fawr with the weather getting progressively worse I donned my leggings. At Rudry I called in the Maenllwyd Inn for a drink so as I could shelter from the now driving rain, I asked if they had any availability to pitch my tent but to no avail so I donned my wet gear again and carried on. The rain was now absolutely lashing down as I passed through Machen and by the time I started to climb Mynydd Machen I entered the cloud, it was a desperate situation and I decided to wild pitch at the next opportunity but found it difficult due to the steep ground. Then through the mist a reasonably flat spot adjacent to the path appeared and so a hurried pitch was made before crawling into my damp sleeping bag and crashing out for the night, I slept very well after a long hard day.

Wednesday 15/05/2013 - Mynydd Machen to Little Mountain beyond Pontypool

18.5km - 10.5hrs - Start height 273m - High point 459m - Height gain 877m


The Monmouthshire and Brecon canal. Day 2

Thankfully the rain had stopped overnight and I packed up my lodgings and headed off to the summit of Mynydd Machen. I passed through Risca in the early morning following the lovely green canal and then on up towards the summit of Twmbarlwm with its ancient camp and extensive views where I stopped for a late breakfast and a welcome brew. Revived I took the walk along the high ground which was very airy and overlooked Cwmbran. Later in the afternoon I was looking forward to refreshments in the Lamb Inn at Penyrheol before entering Pontypool but alas it was shuttered up and closed down, a sign of the times and I was to find many more hostelries along the route in the same predicament. On reaching Pontypool I bought food and drink at a petrol station and headed off to Little Mountain where I planned to rest, it had been very windy over the high ground which I found quite tiring and I stopped at the Folly above Pontypool, I was weary and decided that was it for the day. I leisurely prepared my meal, ate and later when the area quietened down, pitched my tent overlooking the Usk Valley to the east, which gave me a spectacular sunrise next morning.


The folly above Pontypool. Day 2

Thursday 16/05/2013 - Little Mountain to Abergavenny

19km - 10.3hrs - Start height 321m - High point 560m - Height gain 391m


The fine sunrise over the Usk Valley. Day 3

Waking to a fine sunrise I was soon packed and on my way northwards along the ridge, I lost my way a little loosing height off the ridge and had to make my way higher across the fields passing through several gates along the way. I was spotted by a farmer who followed me in his 4 x 4, catching up with me when I stopped for breakfast. He said ďat last Iíve got you youíre the one who keeps leaving the gates openĒ I assured him I had shut all the gates and this was my first ever visit to this area so I wasnít the culprit. He seemed upset that he hadnít got his man and we talked for ten minutes or so putting the world to rights and he informing me he was in his eighties and had replacement hips! The rest of the day was uneventful following the high ground culminating in the summit of Blorenge from where a very steep descent had me entering Abergavenny via a tunnel under the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal and the adjacent house. I took refreshments of food and drink in the Bridge Inn spending a happy couple of hours chatting with the locals. I then crossed the bridge over the River Usk and followed the north bank westwards off route for 3km to a fine campsite where I pitched, showered, washed kit and crashed out for the night happy with my progress so far.


The tunnel under the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. Day 3

Friday 17/05/2013 - Abergavenny to Capel-y-ffin

21km - 9.25hrs - Start height 47m - High point 629m - Height gain 1098m


B‚l Mawr. Day 4

I woke to cloudy and misty conditions, packed and headed off to pick up the trail below Sugar Loaf, this caused a few problems as the paths I had taken were somewhat overgrown, however I soon gained the main route and reached the summit from which there were no views due to a thick mist. The walk improved dropping down to Forest Coal Pit, then the steady climb to gain the ridge heading northwards towards Capel-y-Ffin, this high level ridge walk was excellent crossing B‚l Mawr and Chwarel y Fan with good views of the high ground before dropping down off the ridge to enter the Grange Trekking Centre for my pitch for the night which wasnít too good due to the churned up field, poor shower facilities and the walk up the hill for toilets and water. Still I made the most of it, cooking my meal, chilling and looking forward to tomorrow night at Crickhowell knowing the facilities are good at the Riverside Caravan Park from a previous visit.

Saturday 18/05/2013 - Capel-y-ffin to Crickhowell

25.75km - 10hrs - Start height 356m - High point 811m - Height gain 976m


Capel-y-ffin from the ridge. Day 5

I woke up to a fine morning and went to view the little chapel before heading off to climb the ridge where I expected some fine walking across the remainder of the ridge round the Black Mountains linking a number of peaks with some steep short climbs. Although it was still quite windy on the tops this presented no difficulties, as the morning progressed the route became very busy due to a sponsored walk for the local mountain rescue team. The walking was excellent although it was boggy underfoot where motorbikes had carved up the path making for detours onto firmer ground in many parts. The descent into Crickhowell gave good views of Table Mountain and I was soon pitched next to a picnic table at the Riverside Caravan Park camp site, showered and off to the Bridge End Inn for refreshment. I then went shopping for supplies and later returned to the pub for something to eat before returning to the campsite.

Sunday 19/05/2013 - Crickhowell to Yr Allt

16km - 10hrs - Start height 91m - High point 503m - Height gain 700m


Breakfast on the open moor approaching Chartist Cave. Day 6

I treated today as a rest day on the move if that makes sense, no pressure to get anywhere with a wild pitch in my mind along the way in open country. The walking out of Crickhowell was easy past the St Catwgís church and along the canal for a short distance followed by a hard pull up the very steep incline of the old tramway into the nature reserve surrounded by cliffs. The path below the cliffs soon fizzled out and I had to make my way through the thick undergrowth and fallen trees to continue the journey, I had obviously followed the wrong path keeping too high below the cliffs. I exited the nature reserve to a near 3km road walk which wasnít too good but I was soon crossing the moor in open country once more. I stopped at the trig point for a late breakfast heading for Chartist Cave where I saw an adder sun bathing on the path. Following the track to the quarry I took in the extensive views over the Brecon Beacons National Park and Black Mountains from the Naughty Stone, then collecting and filtering water for my immanent wild pitch. The weather had been really kind, very warm and calm and this made for a really good pitch at Yr Allt just below Darren Fawr, an excellent wild pitch with excellent views.


Afternoon tea and an excellent wild pitch on Darren Fawr. Day 6

Monday 20/05/2013 - Yr Allt to Llech Llia

20.4km - 11.5hrs - Start height 500m - High point 866m - Height gain 1255m


Pen y Fan from beyond the Storey Arms Centre. Day 7

There were to be some big hills today but after tomorrow it should get easier as I exit the Brecon Beacons area. I broke camp and headed along the ridge to the trig point on Pant y Creigiau then descending to the Torpantau Pass and following the well trodden path of the Beacons Way upwards to arrive at the edge of the escarpment at Craig Cwareli. Here the full splendour of the Brecon Beacons appears, with a spectacular view along the whole ridge northwards to Pen y Fan the highest mountain in South Wales and Corn Du, its slightly lower twin. Crossing these high tops gave no difficulties although it was very windy and cloudy with slight rain in the morning then sun for a short while before turning cloudy later on. I arrived at a misty Pen y Fan summit at about midday and took the descent towards the Storey Arms Centre, on the way down I received information that a mobile cafe was resident in the lay-by near to the centre. This was given my special attention and I must say it was really welcome, coffee, cheese burger, more coffee, box drink and biscuits before heading off across the wild moor opposite the Storey Arms. Navigation was tested crossing Fforest Fawr to Llech Llia some 6km distant. Here I pitched in a dip out of sight some distance from the nearby road and was about to collect water from an adjacent stream when a quick look over the wall upstream revealed a dead sheep! Still this caused no bother after consulting the map and walking 300Mts or so along the road near Maen Llia standing stone I found a good water source and all was well once more. I returned to my pitch to eat and settle down for another early night, this was yet another great wild pitch.


Maen Llia standing stone. Day 7

Tuesday 21/05/2013 - Llech Llia to Llandovery

32km - 13hrs - Start height 427m - High point 802m - Height gain 1459m


Mist pouring off Fan Brycheiniog down to Llyn y Fan Fawr. Day 8

Today was going to be a long day if I was to reach Llandovery which was the plan in the back of my mind. I set off early, before 6.00am, through thick mist ready to test my navigation skills. The first part of the route was a simple matter of following the fence towards Fan Gyhirych however in the latter stages it was all down to pure compass work. The mist was very wet and I was wearing my wet gear, and after reaching the summit I had to head SW to by-pass the steep ground. I then headed on a bearing NW across rough grass and eventually reaching the road spot on target at a stile where I crossed the road and continued ahead passing Clay Tower and after a further 2km arrived at the Afon Tawe where I had breakfast in the now clearing skies, a lovely spot. Continuing on I passed Maen Mawr stone circle reaching Llyn y Fan Fawr at the start of the climb up to Fan Brycheiniog. Here the mist was pouring down from the summit as I tackled the climb, reaching the summit in the now completely misted conditions I continued northwards along the edge to Fan Foel. From here I took a bearing for the Source of the River Usk and headed downward into the fog! The way consisted of rough grass which was boggy in places due to the many water courses meandering the moorland, the mist gradually cleared as I lost height and after 5km of very hard walking I reached the road. I followed the road east for a short distance before gradually heading in a generally northwest direction to eventually take a steep descent to Sarnau and a road walk to Myddfia where I took refreshments at the Community Hall Cafe. I was really weary after the days hard walking but still had 5km to cover to reach the campsite in Llandovery so I left the cafe and continued onwards arriving in the early evening. I pitched, washed clothes and showered before heading off into town for food and drink at the Kings Head Inn, where I chilled for a couple of hours then headed back to a good nights rest.

Wednesday 22/05/2013 - Llandovery to Rhandirmwyn

13km - 6hrs - Start height 80m - High point 239m - Height gain 385m


Looking back to Fan Brycheiniog from beyond Llandovery. Day 9

I arose late and headed off to the supermarket for supplies which were very welcome. By the time Iíd restocked, packed and broke camp it was 10.00am and I headed off back into town to try to purchase gas for my stove, alas all to no avail. I was taking it easy today after yesterdays exertions and took the road out of town then headed along the little used road leading northwards towards Rhandirmwyn stopping to rest often along the way. I had some trouble route finding getting down to the river bank but was soon following the river towards the campsite. I pitched, showered and made my way into the village at 3.30pm still looking for gas I entered the shop attached to the Ty Te Twm Tea Room but still no luck. I asked if the tea room was still open and was invited in, I couldnít decide what to have and asked if she could make me a couple of poached eggs on toast, yes! And they were delicious with their black coffee accompaniment. Shortly an elderly lady, well into her seventies, complete with large backpack entered the tea room and we chatted about our journeys, she was progressing a planned journey from the Cardiff area to Caernarfon, doing a couple of days at a time as her lifeís agenda would allow. She said she covered about 13km a day, sleeping in her bivi bag as she was too much of a wimp to carry a tent these days. We left the tea room and she headed off down the road presumably with her nights Ďpitchí on her mind - good luck and all the best to her. I returned to the campsite to have a rest then returned to the village later to eat yet again, this time at the Royal Oak Inn, after which I returned to my lodgings and a nights rest.


Riverside path along the Afon Towy near Rhandirmwyn. Day 9

Thursday 23/05/2013 - Rhandirmwyn to Pontrhidfendigaid

29km - 12.5hrs - Start height 106m - High point 532m - Height gain 1354m


The Afon Towy before the weather broke. Day 10

I was up, packed and on my way early, the walking was easy along the river Towy and later along the road and the river Doethie, here the weather turned for the worse with heavy showers of rain, snow, hail and a vicious wind. The route became harder as the day went on and was very rough underfoot and no paths what so ever. I made the decision to take the main route and not the easier Sour Y Mynydd variant, this crossed over acres of Purple Moor Grass (Molinia), long and tangled making progress difficult. On reaching Tyín-y-cornel youth hostel, the most remote in Wales, I found it closed but with an invite to shelter in the adjacent building, this I did and was pleased to discover a kettle and beverages supplied for a small donation, this was very welcome indeed in the prevailing conditions. The weather had improved as I headed onwards towards my night pitch off route at Pontrhydfendigaid. I reached the site at about 7.00pm only to be told that they didnít accommodate tents, although it showed tents on the map! I was advised that the Red Lion in the village allowed tents in the beer garden, so I made my way along, entering the pub for beer and food, it took me an hour to thaw out and I was very weary. I asked about the beer garden and the lady said yes, camping is allowed and they also had rooms, to which she worked her sales pitch on me and I agreed a price of £25 without breakfast. The room was en-suite and had just been refitted, it also had beverages and a television, all in all it was perfect. Showered and washing done I returned to the bar for a night cap and a chat with the locals. Returning to my room to catch up with the national news after ten days in the wild I discovered that Lee Rigby had been murdered by terrorists in Woolwich the day before. I was soon settled down for the night and a really good nights sleep.


The Red Lion at Pontrhydfendigaid. Day 10

Friday 24/05/2013 - Pontrhydfendigaid to Devilís Bridge

24.25km - 11.25hrs - Start height 182m - High point 545m - Height gain 1152m


Claerddu bothy. Day 11

I left the Red Lion early and headed for the ruined abbey of Strada Florida, taking pictures, at this early hour over the locked gates, followed by the road walk before striking out across the open moor towards the Teifi Pools. I passed the Claerddu Bothy an old farmhouse renovated by the Elan Valley Trust as a camping barn with two sleeping platforms, a simple kitchen and an outside toilet. It is maintained to a very good standard. I was sorry that it was too early in the day to make good use of it. I passed more Llyns and eventually entered the outskirts of Cwmystwyth where a farmer stopped in his four wheel drive and beckons me over. We chatted and he said he was pleased to see me and others taking enjoyment from his land and surrounding area. He said he wanted to build a hydro electric plant on Nant Milwyn just above the village but the distribution people wanted £120,000 to connect the plant to the national grid. He wanted to give me a lift along the route, just a mile or so, but I refused, how could I accept, I wouldnít sleep at night if I had. I carried on and entered the forest several kilometres from Devilís Bridge, this proved to be a pain as the trail had altered over time and I had to make a long detour along the forest track but was eventually at the Arch which was built to commemorate George IIIís Jubilee. Following the track above the road I was soon making my way through Devilís Bridge to the campsite a little way NE out of the village. I purchased gas at the on site shop, showered and returned to the Hafod Hotel in the village for food and ale. The day had been a harder day than expected and there had been a vast change in scenery, still yet another good day.


George IIIís Jubilee Arch. Day 11

Saturday 25/05/2013 - Devilís Bridge to Dylife

24km - 10.5hrs - Start height 218m - High point 752m - Height gain 1045m


The superb view from Pumlumon summit. Day 12

I was becoming very relaxed with the day to day life along the trail and was really enjoying everything about it. I made a late start from Devilís Bridge, waiting for the cafe to open so I could have a breakfast of scrambled egg on toast and coffee, also stocking up with trail snacks for the journey. It was a lot easier underfoot today with some sort of path or track for much of the way rather than undefined route over hard terrain experienced over the last couple of days. I decided to short cut the route out of Devilís Bridge to save back tracking to the other side of the village before heading northwards once more. It involved several kilometres of road walking but was worth it as I was soon at the Dyffryn Castell Hotel which had closed down like many others along the route. Just beyond the Hotel in open country once more I decided to stop and take in more breakfast to set myself up before tackling the long accent of Pumlumon from the summit of which the views were excellent, then the descent downwards to Dylife 12km distant. I arrived at Dylife to find the eyesore of old quarry workings ruining what would have been a nice valley and I was soon in the Star Inn having food (tough fish!) and beer. Here I decided to stay for the night, having a bath to sooth my aching muscles, but it wasnít a patch on the Red Lion at Pontrhydfendigaid. The cold water was off for most of the night and I had to boil the hot water for my days supply on the morrow.


The Star Inn at Dylife. Day 12

Sunday 26/05/2013 - Dylife to Gwalia beyond Commins Goch

16km - 9hrs - Start height 356m - High point 493m - Height gain 722m


The well sited bench in Commins Coch. Day 13

I took it quite easy today because I knew I was never going to get to Dinas until tomorrow, and the weather was very warm. I left the Star Inn following a winding route northwards, there were some loverly views along the way, very pastoral but still lots of undefined route. I was beginning to keep a close eye on the undefined trails, I was getting wise to Mr Drake and his strange routes throughout the guidebook. I had the idea of a wild pitch along the days route at some convenient spot and when I reached Commins Goch I was weary from the heat and took time out on a well sited bench to make a brew and eat lunch. I examined the map and guide book while seated and decided that an overnight stop at Gwalia Farm some 2km further along the trail after a long and steep road walk climb out of the village would be the best plan. Continuing on it was becoming very hot exiting the village up the long climb but eventually I reached Gwalia, a small holding with an attitude to wildlife that can be commended, a pond with island, A choice of spots to pitch and various crops growing throughout the grounds. I pitched, showered and had a leisurely meal of minestrone soup, chilli and rice, cheese and biscuits (gingers) nuts and three cups of coffee. I waxed my boots ready for tomorrowís adventure and settled down for an early night to the sound of neighbours chatting, I slept very well indeed.

Monday 27/05/2013 - Gwalia to Dinas Mawddwy

18.5km - 8hrs - Start height 230m - High point 462m - Height gain 620m


Breakfast at Bryn-glas on a very chilly morning. Day 14

I left Gwalia soon after 6.00am to a chilly morning and headed along the track towards the wind farm on Mynydd y Cemmaes where I followed the service track to where I entered and passed through woodland. On exiting the woodland I had to cross a boggy undefined route at Waun Llinau to gain the path to Bryn-glas where I stopped for breakfast in the now very chilly conditions at a picnic table next to the ruined farmhouse. From here there was lots of road walking and on reaching the A458 I entered the cafe for refreshments and stocked up with supplies from the adjacent garage shop. More road walking continued in the now wet weather as I made my way to the Red Lion in Dinas Mawddwy. After a drink I braved the rain and made my way to the campsite, pitched and had a wash in the not to brilliant facilities. A caravaner boiled me some water so I could make a brew which was very welcome and I drank it in the rain that was now lashing down. I then retired to my tent for a rest before returning to the Red Lion for something to eat. The rain had eased a little when I left the pub and I made my way back to the campsite and a good nights sleep.

Tuesday 28/05/2013 - Dinas Mawddwy to Minffordd

14.5km - 11.8hrs - Start height 152m - High point 709m - Height gain 1018m


A distant Cadair Idris appears. Day 15

I was now entering the third week of this fantastic journey and very well into my stride, I left Dinas early to very cool, wet and misty conditions but no rain, climbing up through the woodland and disused quarry to gain the high ground overlooking the valley far below, following the excellent ridge walk round Bwlch Siglen. It was still very damp after yesterdays downpour but caused no problems other than the cloud covering the high tops. A fellow Cambrian Wayfarer passed me and we talked about the route, he was doing it in two weeks as that was all he could get off work, he covered 58km on the first day, collapsing in his tent afterwards. He was trying to get to Barmouth that evening, I just couldnít see how he was enjoying the journey, he looked really tired. At 2.00pm as I dropped off the ridge heading for the Minffordd road it started spitting and by the time I reached the road it was lashing down. Wet gear on I headed towards the campsite an hour distant and on reaching the Minffordd Hotel I entered and asked if I could obtain food and drink. I was invited in, removed my wet gear and spent a very nice couple of hours eating, sampling the local beers and chatting to some of the residents. It was still pouring down when I left for the campsite but I was soon pitched, showered and tucked up for the night and looking forward to the route up Cadair Idris tomorrow.

Wednesday 29/05/2013 - Minffordd to Barmouth

21km - 10.25hrs - Start height 133m - High point 893m - Height gain 1170m


Well within Snowdonia. Day 16

I woke early, the rain had stopped overnight, I broke camp and set off up the Minffordd path towards Llyn Cau and the summit of Penygadair the highest point on Cadair Idris, I had now entered the Snowdonia National Park. Low cloud hung over the Llyn and I was soon making my way around the cwm in the mist on this delightful route. Towards the summit the cloud was beginning to partly clear every now and then in the strong wind, it was very atmospheric with the Llyn far below and the rock formations higher up towards the summit appearing and disappearing as the mist ebbed and flowed. I reached the summit and dropped down a little way to check out the shelter just below, it was very homely inside, very calm compared to the maelstrom outside so I made use of this to make a brew.


Llyn Cau appears through the mist. Day 16

 


The calm interior of the Penygadair summit shelter. Day 16

I left the summit heading down to the col at Rhiw Gwredydd with the weather improving by the minute, here turning northwards towards the road and then in the general direction of Barmouth. By now the sun was beating down and out came the sun cream, I stopped for a drink, something to eat and to cool off. Arriving at Mawddach Station I purchased an ice cream cornet to enjoy while crossing the bridge, before long I entered Barmouth and continued along the road for about 1.5km to the campsite where I booked in for two nights as tomorrow was to be a rest day, this I felt was much deserved after the last couple of weeks. I pitched, showered and was about to set off back to Barmouth for food and drink when my fellow wayfarer from yesterday appeared, saying he had made it to the summit of Cadair Idris and found it difficult to find the route down to Barmouth in the appalling weather. He eventually made it off but being cold and exhausted he staggered into Kings Youth Hostel where they thawed him out, fed him and gave him a good nights rest. Today he had only covered the 8km or so into Barmouth where he had to buy new clothes and footwear as the old ones were shredded from his adventure on Cadair Idris the night before. I wished him well and set off into Barmouth buying fish and chips and after eating them on a bench overlooking the harbour I went for a couple of beers before stocking up my food supplies for the next few days from the supermarket. I returned to the campsite along the sea front where it started to rain a little, I had another beer as a nightcap and settled down for the night, it had been an excellent days backpacking.


Looking back, the northern slopes of Cadair Idris. Day 16

Thursday 30/05/2013 - Rest day in Barmouth

I arose late and had a coffee before making my way to the on site laundrette to wash and dry all my clothes and bedding and was back at my tent by 10.30am eating my way through the provisions bought last night. After my first lunch I went a walk inland looking for the route onto the Rhinog ridge to save me the need to return to Barmouth tomorrow and the start of the ridge, the path looked OK so I returned to the campsite for another lunch. Later I showered, had my evening meal and settled down early for the night anticipating the next couple of days adventure in the most inhospitable mountain range in Wales.

Friday 31/05/2013 - Barmouth to Cwm Bychan

23km - 13.2hrs - Start height 7m - High point 730m - Height gain 1714m


Along the Rhinog ridge approaching Y Llethr. Day 18

I set off early and made my way along the path reconnoitred yesterday and was soon high above the coastal plain. The route eventually stopped gaining height and I decided to head for the higher ground directly so I could gain the ridge and get onto the main route. This proved to be very hard going but after some time I gained the main route following it northwards crossing over Diffwys, Y Llethr and circuiting round Llyn Hywel to bypass Rhinog Fach and enter the Bwlch Drws Ardudwy Pass. My next objective was Rhinog Fawr so I headed steeply up through the jumble of rocks and heather. It took some time to reach the summit but all was well and I continued on tracking round Llyn Du to the Roman Steps leading down to Cwm Bychan Farm. Here a basic camp site with portaloo and water from the passing stream was to be my home for the night, a nearby family enquired as to my nomadic life and they were well impressed, it was very relaxing after the days exertions, I was soon settled down for the night.


Bridge on the Roman Steps descending to Cwm Bychan. Day 18

Saturday 01/06/2013 - Cwm Bychan to Maentwrog

13.5km - 9.5hrs - Start height 76m - High point 531m - Height gain 910m


Rocks and deep heather ascending Clip. Day 19

Another early start as usual had me striving for the summit of Clip, arriving just below the summit a short scramble up had me on the top where I had my breakfast. The climb up has been very hard up the loose rocks and deep heather, it had been well worth it as the summit had been an excellent place to stop. Northwards the going was tough in places with rock steps everywhere forcing me to lose height unwontedly to the rough moor grass before climbing back to the higher ground and the descent to Llyn Trawsfynydd. The way was blocked by walls and fences on the approaches to the Llyn but these were overcome eventually and I headed off towards the dam. I reached the dam and entered the forest exiting with no route finding problems and headed off route towards the campsite, the map showed a pub on the way but it was closed and I had to back track to gain the path again. Eventually I made my way to the campsite, pitched, showered and washed clothes before heading off on a 3km walk to the Oakeley Arms Hotel for food and drink, I spent a very nice hour or so here before heading back to the campsite in the early evening.


Descent to Llyn Trawsfynydd. Day 19

Sunday 02/06/2013 - Maentwrog to Beddgelert

20.5km - 13.2hrs - Start height 63m - High point 825m - Height gain 1331m


Dduallt Station. Day 20

I broke camp and set off on the road walk along the Vale of Ffestiniog to enter the minor road just before the Oakeley Arms heading for the nature reserve towards Dduallt Station. All was very pleasant following the railway and at Tanygrisiau Reservoir I crossed the track to climb up to Llyn Stwlan, the holding reservoir for the hydro scheme used for when electricity demand is high. I was soon over the summit of Moelwyn Mawr heading down to Rhosydd Quarry with the disused slate mine buildings giving the area an eerie feeling.


Rhosydd Quarry. Day 20

I had trouble heading up towards Cnicht (the Welsh Matterhorn), aiming too far west making for a steep ascent onto the ridge, but after what seemed an age I found myself well on my way along the path leading to the summit. I stopped a while here to take in the excellent views in all directions, this is probably one of the best viewpoints in Snowdonia, a really beautiful mountain. The way down involved a scramble just below the summit but this caused no problems and I was soon near Croesor aiming west along the way marked path towards a distant Beddgelert.


Cnicht, the Welsh Matterhorn. Day 20

The path seemed to wander off course through thick undergrowth so I had to follow it but it came back round and all seemed OK when I reached the road heading to Nantmor. It soon became obvious that I was on the major road rather than the miner road but it was too late to backtrack and I carried on to the road junction by the river Glaslyn. Then heading down the river bank to Beddgelert, arriving tired and weary after the dayís exertions. I entered the Saracens Head for food and drink and after a couple of hours was ready to seek out the camp site. I booked in at the site and replenished snacks and was informed that the showers were locked between 22.00pm and 07.00am, it was now 21.15pm and by the time I had pitched the midges were out in force and I dived into the tent to escape. The shower times were a total waste of time as it was now too late and I would be well away in the morning before they opened.

Monday 03/06/2013 - Beddgelert to beyond Pen-y-Pass

18.3km - 12.5hrs - Start height 53m - High point 1085m - Height gain 1564m

I arose and managed a wash before packing and taking the pleasant walk along the valley passing Llyn Dinas over which there are views of Snowdon. Arriving at Bethania I was too early to take advantage of the nearby cafe so I continued on and was soon following the Watkin Path up towards the Snowdon massive. Where the path turned north I carried strait on to gain the south ridge and then onwards up to the summit where I mingled with the crowds, most of whom had used the train to gain this vantage point.


Part of the manmade summit of Snowdon. Day 21

 


The south ridge of Snowdon, my route up to the summit. Day 21

This summit must be the worst summit in Wales for as far as true walkers are concerned, the train and the visitors centre making it feel like any normally accessible attraction and making it unnaturally busy, all adding to the erosion and need for more manmade paths.


The Pyg Track meandering between Grib Goch and Llyn Llydaw,
my route down. Day 21

Following the Pyg Track down I met my second Cambrian Way wayfarer, he was carrying a small day sack and said his wife was dropping him off every day and picking him up at the end of the day to take him to his various lodgings† along† the† route. He seemed to be doing the route in no particular order which seemed odd to say the least, at least I had a strong sense of an end to end journey. His wife was waiting at Pen-y-Pass and whisked him away to a hired cottage in Conwy for the night, he was aiming to do the last stage to Conwy backward tomorrow heading back into Snowdonia, still, each to his own! I had something to eat in the cafe but they didnít have much left so late in the day, however I managed to cobble some sort of large snack together, before carrying on to 200Mts below the summit of Glyder Fawr ready for an early summit tomorrow. I had about 40km to go to the end of this epic journey and wanted to get well on tomorrow to make it a short day on Wednesday. This lofty pitch was very good and I took my time eating and drinking before settling down for the night.

Tuesday 04/06/2013 - beyond Pen-y-Pass to Foel-fras

19.5km - 12.75hrs - Start height 642m - High point 1083m - Height gain 1725m

I woke up to a sunny morning and was soon up onto Glyder Fawr taking lots of pictures and scrambling, then across to Glyder Fach and the Cantilever Stone for more pictures.


The Cantilever Stone on Glyder Fach. Day 22

A very eroded descent had me passing over the col below Tryfan heading down to Ogwen where I decided to take the steep direct accent of Pen Yr Ole Wen. This proved to be very hard due to the steepness but was worth the effort and on reaching the summit it was easy walking along the ridge towards Carnedd Dafydd. The wind steadily picked up as I progressed and as I reached Foel Grach thoughts of a pitch and the need for water for my overnight stop took over my thoughts. From the map I decided to drop down to the west and collect water from the upper reaches of Afon Wen. After leaving my pack on the ridge and dropping down some way the shallow gully was dry, as I continued downward round a bend a huge snowdrift appeared in the gully from which I collected fresh chilled water from its snout. I then returned onto the ridge, collected my pack and headed onwards to pitch close to the summit of Foel-fras. The pitch was a wonderful spot sheltered by the wall crossing the summit and at 942Mts it offered excellent views downwards towards Anglesey and the coast. I spent the evening taking in the view, eating, drinking and contemplating my last day on the trail tomorrow.


A wonderful last pitch on the summit of Foel-Fras
overlooking Conway bay with a sunrise to match. Day 22

Wednesday 05/06/2013 - Foel-fras to Conwy

16km - 8hrs - Start height 924m - High point 925m - Height gain 368m

I arose to a beautiful morning and was soon on my way enjoying the route along the high ground, rather sad to be ending this epic journey and leaving such nice places after so long on the trail, this all left a tear in my eye! I missed the pass to Conway Mountain but soon corrected and was soon at journeys end. Into the Archway fish and chips shop for lunch and then The Albion public house for a well earned celebration pint.


Conwy Castle, journeys end. Day 23

The whole route I seemed to be in another world especially in the remote areas which were superb. The lack of waymarks, remoteness and need for good navigation especially on the pathless sections made the whole trek out of this world, definitely the best trail I have ever been on, although since my visit the trail has been way marked opening it up to non navigators never to be a truly wild walk ever again. It will be in my dreams for many years to come.