Notes from a Walk by Steve Hughes
June 7th to 29th 2021

My partner dropped me off at Mermaid Quay in Cardiff on June 7th so I could make the walk a coast-to-coast and round up the mileage to a convenient number that rolls of the tongue. I arrived in Conwy on June 29th, so that is 23 days in total. This included two rest days in accommodation in Llandovery and Barmouth to get my clothes and myself clean, so that's 21 days of walking (and thus an average of 14.3 miles per day). The rest was tent-bound, except for an overnight stop at a B&B in Abergavenny.

It was tough. It wasn't just hauling a heavy rucksack up seemingly endless hills that made it so. It was the fact that many parts of the route are pathless, especially in the less visited areas of central Wales and the northern Rhinogs. Although the Cicerone guide book sometimes suggests the existence of 'faint paths', they often couldn't be seen because of the new growth of thigh-high bracken. Couple this with dense fog and navigation was certainly very challenging at times but then I like a challenge.

It was quite a remote and thus lonely route. I saw very few people, especially during the week. A few more appeared at weekends, but I only saw crowds at places like Pen y Fan and Snowdon. There were places where the non-existent mobile phone reception combined with a lack of other walkers meant that you definitely did not want to break a leg.

I made a few 'personal' adjustments to the official route as follows:

  1. I started the walk from Mermaid Quay, Cardiff, and walked to the Castle via Butetown, to make it a coast-to-coast.
  2. I by-passed Capel-y-ffin and continued along the ridge to Twmpa, later wild-camping at Pen Trumau, 1 km SW of Waun Fach.
  3. I took the 'blue' route (Stage 6A) south of Talybont Reservoir to wild-camp by the woods, and then rejoined the main route at Blaen y Glyn car park via the Taff Trail.
  4. I by-passed Cribyn (too hot for another climb that day) and descended from Pen y Fan via the Beacons Way route to Pont ar Daf car park because there was a van selling food there. I then rejoined the main route at Storey Arms.
  5. I took the 'green' route (Stage 7B) directly to Llyn y Fan Fawr, missing out Glyntawe.
  6. Rather than climb Fan Brycheiniog and Picws Du (swelteringly hot again that day and I have climbed these mountains on a previous occasion), I walked via the Beacons Way to Llyn y Fan Fach dam and the followed the 'blue route' (Stage 8A) to Llanddeusant.
  7. I skipped Tyrrau Mawr and took the 'green' route (Stage 15B) to Llynau Cregennen, so I could wild-camp at lower altitude.
  8. I by-passed Rhinog Fach & Fawr as I had climbed them both recently anyway, but still continued down the Roman Steps to Cwm Bychan (annoyingly, no facilities whatsoever at the campsite).
  9. Dense Fog would have made continuing along the ridge after Clip very time consuming and rather pointless, so I took the escape route down to Wern-fach and rejoined the main route at Moelfryn. I might go back and do the ridge one day as it looked like it would be fun in good weather.
  10. Having climbed Snowdon many times before by different routes, I decided to get to Pen-y-pass via the Y Lliwedd instead. Scrambling with a heavy rucksack required a bit of concentration, but it was fun.
  11. Instead of visiting Glyder Fach, which I climbed only recently, I went down to Idwal Cottage via the Devil's Kitchen.
  12. I by-passed Foel Lwyd and Tal y Fan (feeling that I had already climbed enough mountains that day). The map shows an easy minor road and footpath route from Bwlch y Ddeufaen to rejoin the main route on the flank of Cefn Maen Amor.
  13. I continued through Conwy and on to Llandudno, where accommodation is much cheaper.

 


Start at Mermaid Quay, Cardiff - 7/6/2021

Hillfort at Twmbarlwm - 8/6/2021

Tunnel under canal at Llanfoist - 9/6/2021

Strata Florida Abbey 17/6/2021

Claerddu Bothy 17/6/2021

Steep route to Cadair Idris - 21/6/2021

Wildcamp below Llyn Stwlan 26/6/2021

Leave no trace 26/6/21

Finish in Conwy - 29/06/2021

Thanks to George Tod for all the hard work in maintaining the Cambrian Way website and helping me to experience something unique and unforgettable.