This was my third trip backpacking along the Cambrian Way, having previously walked it in 2011 and 2018. I wild camped each night avoiding the popular campsites, and resupplied along the way with food whenever there was an opportunity. I use a net tent and tarp combination which is very configurable eg. it can be pitched lower in high wind, or higher in calm conditions. And it allows for excellent ventilation, thus reducing condensation problems. On summer trips I don't bother with a stove for cooking. I walk around 30 miles per day, starting early and finishing each day whenever I feel like it, depending on the weather, terrain, aches and pains etc. This is one of the great advantages of backpacking, over booked accommodation. On most UK trails I plan for a resupply every couple of days. Overall I was fortunate with the weather though some days were very hot and water was an issue. In Snowdonia the weather changed to high winds and rain, but fortunately the rain wasn't too prolonged.
Day 1 - Monday 31st May 2021 - Cardiff to Pontypool
After a careless mistake with my train times I arrived in Cardiff an hour later than intended (and £20 lighter having had to purchase another ticket!). But fortunately I was still able to get to Cardiff Castle ready to depart by midday. The weather was hot but fairly pleasant and it was easy progress towards Pontypool. I carried 1L of water from Cardiff, but was pleased to be buying another 2L at the little store in Machen. Camp was in a small wood a couple of miles before Pontypool. No rain forecast so I just used the nettent.
Camp Location: ST 273977
Day 2 - Tuesday 1st June 2021 - Pontypool to Pen Trumau
A lovely sunrise and I arrived at Pontypool Park ready to eat breakfast, which I'd just purchased from the 24hr Esso service station. More supplies were obtained in Abergavenny late morning, and I began the ascent to Sugarloaf. It was a hot day and by the time I reached the chapel at Capel y Ffin at 17:00, I was getting quite concerned about water. Fortunately I found a good source on my way up towards Twmpa. A truly glorious evening allowed me to amble along the ridge and I camped at about 20:30 just past Waun Fach. Again, the forecast was good so I just used the nettent.
Camp Location: SO 206296
Day 3 - Wednesday 2nd June 2021 - Pen Trumau to Fan Fawr
An easy walk in the early morning sunshine had me arriving at Crickhowell at 08:15, which turned out to be limited in choice for breakfast and supplies as some shops don't open until later. The weather held for several hours but by the time I had started the ascent up onto the escarpment to the Brecon Beacons it was raining and quite misty. Finally reaching Pen y Fan, and having seen nobody in the last hour or so, I was somewhat surprised to be on the summit talking to a couple from London. This clearly distracted me as shortly afterwards I found myself descending the wrong ridge, and it was only when I had descended several hundred meters and started wondering where the obelisk was, that I realised my mistake! Very frustrating, and back up I went, but I managed to contour across to Corn Du near the top, and thus made my descent a second time. I continued a couple of miles beyond the Storey Arms, camping in wet weather at 20:00.
Camp Location: SN 969203
Day 4 - Thursday 3rd June 2021 - Fan Fawr to Rhandirmwyn
A comfortable camp but lots of dew and condensation in the morning which is always undesirable. Mist and light rain made navigation a chore but by the time I arrived at Llyn y Fan Fawr it was clearing up for the day. Gorgeous views of the escarpment above Llyn y Fan Fach. Arrived Llandovery shortly after 5pm and had a meal at the chip shop, and then an excellent choice of supplies at the Co-op at the far end of town. Departing at 18:20 gave me plenty of time to find a suitable camping spot (I knew from previous trips that this section is very awkward for wild camping). A beautiful summer's evening for walking, camping at 21:00 having just passed the large campsite at Rhandirmwyn.
Camp Location: SN 776437
Day 5 - Friday 4th June 2021 - Rhandirmwyn to Gelmast
After a very comfortable night and some easy road walking I was in the Doethie Valley where it was somewhat chilly as the sun was not yet high enough to be shining on the walker's path. Tyn y cornel was seemingly deserted (on my trip in 2018 I'd spent an enjoyable 1.5 hours here chatting at lunchtime to the volunteer caretakers). Strata Florida was reached early in the afternoon and this year it had been left open due to Covid, so I spent a while looking around, which I hadn't bothered doing on my previous two trips. Pleasant weather once more allowed for good progress. The views from Domen Milwyn were amazing - it's one of my favourite summits. Near Gelmast I found a soft pine needle forest camp at 20:00 which was a bonus.
Camp Location: SN 780754
Day 6 - Saturday 5th June 2021 - Gelmast to Ffridd Dolgadfan
Another comfortable night allowed for an early start, passing the bee hives at Gelmast before their occupants were stirring. The ground was very wet and the sun looked incredible shining over the mist in the valley as I descended into Devil's Bridge. Breakfast and a resupply at Ponterwyd garage and then onwards for the day. Quite overcast for much of the day which was a welcome change as some parts of my arms and legs were getting a bit sunburnt. Shortly after Moelfre Fach I decided to stop at 19:30 as a perfect forest camp was available and I suspected I wouldn't get better in the next few miles.
Camp Location: SN 868999
Day 7 - Sunday 6th June 2021 - Ffridd Dolgadfan to Cadair Idris
It rained much of the night but had stopped before I departed which was convenient. Wet and misty at first especially on the ridge where the wind farm is. It looked like it might rain later and the forecast wasn't great so I took the opportunity to dry the tarp and have some breakfast near the last wind turbine. Reached Mallwyd garage late morning which provided another breakfast and a resupply. Took the new route up to Bwlch Siglen which was good (but the final descent to the Bwlch was a no-path nightmare of scrub, painful on sunburnt legs!). Loaded up on water on the ascent to Maesglase, where I stopped for a while to chat to a solitary walker who was having his lunch on the summit, the only walker I had seen all day. Had a long lunch break just before the ascent of Waun-oer as I was feeling tired and the view was excellent. On reaching the A487 I wasn't particularly relishing the climb up towards Cadair Idris, but it was only 18:00 and there was nowhere obviously pleasant to camp. On my previous two trips there have been many jet spotters here and jets passing though, but today no-one was there and nothing to take my mind off the climb. It was a slog, but I finally arrived at the first levels where I had fully made up my mind to camp. But I didn't have much water and by now it had turned into a gorgeous evening so I continued over to Cadair Idris which I reached at 20:45. It was a spectacular evening and the sunset was amazing. I finally camped about a mile further down, very pleased I had not lingered at the A487 a few hours previously.
Camp Location: SH 690135
Day 8 - Monday 7th June 2021 - Cadair Idris to Cwm Bychan
I woke to a beautiful morning and the walk into Barmouth couldn't have been nicer. Arrived Barmouth, posted some stuff home, then headed for the Co-op for a huge breakfast and more supplies. On leaving an hour and a half later I felt I had brought too much food along for the coming two days but in fact I ate it all, so clearly not. A late lunch and tarp drying took place on Y Llethr with nice views over the Rhinogs. So far it had been a clear day, but by the time I reached the summit of Rhinog Fawr at 17:00 it was misty and I had no views from the summit. Water had been a problem today so I was pleased to refill at the Roman Steps and I eventually camped in a wood just before the camp site in Cwm Bychan. It was only 18:45 and now a very nice evening, but the next couple of hours weren't likely to be offering any better wild camping spots, and I'd had a late finish the previous evening.
Camp Location: SH 648311
Day 9 - Tuesday 8th June 2021 - Cwm Bychan to Cwm Llan
Mist for the first few hours made navigation difficult. Reached the dam mid morning having wasted half an hour floundering on some supposed ‘path' about a mile before - wished I had stayed on the track. Lunch stop was near the Ffestiniog railway where I watched the train come and go before heading up past the reservoir and onto Moelwyn Mawr. It was a sunny afternoon with great views and easy progress was made through the quarries and then over Cnicht, finally descending to reach Nantmor. I arrived at Beddgelert at 17:30 for dinner and the final resupply before Conwy. After an hour or so I set off again, heading out with a full pack aiming to camp somewhere along the Watkin path. I found a decent spot in Cwm Llan at 20:45.
Camp Location: SH 620521
Day 10 - Wednesday 9th June 2021 - Cwm Llan to Cefn Llechen
Initially a nice morning, but by the time I arrived at the summit of Snowdon it was blowing a gale and raining. I was the only one up there, though shortly afterwards near the finger stone I met two others who were about to complete their 3 peaks challenge. I stopped for breakfast at Pen y Pass and then headed up onto the Glyders. High winds and rain made it challenging and views were non-existent. My plan for today had been to include Crib Goch and Tryfan but I had aborted this in view of the conditions. Shortly before 13:30 I started the ascent from Tal y Llyn Ogwen in somewhat improved weather, but by the time I reached the plateau it was back to high winds and some rain. I saw nobody else along the Carnedd range. Carnedd Llewellyn was reached at 16:40. My original plan had been to camp in the next few miles, but I had not stopped much today because of the conditions and it was too early, and poor weather, to contemplate that now. As luck would have it by evening it turned out to be quite dry, windy and sunny so I found myself ambling towards Conwy in summer sunshine, looking for a camping spot which would leave me just a few miles short. This I found on Cefn Llechen around 21:00.
Camp Location: SH 746750
Day 11 - Thursday 10th June 2021 - Cefn Llechen to Conwy