Aran Fawddwy

July 31, 2009 at 10:31 pm | Posted in Walking | 1 Comment
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This was a 12 mile walk following the  Nuttall route over the Aran Fawddwy ridge via Pen Yr Allt Uchaf and Drysgol and returning down Cwm Cywarch. The weather would have been good for March – cloudy at first followed by a cold wind and then driving rain – but was pretty poor for July.

It started with a steady climb up the side of Hengwm valley on a clear path, but then I split off for a direct climb up to top of Pen Yr Allt Uchaf. The climb is hard work and with hindsight I’d recommend following the main path up and tracking back to the indistinct summit. After Pen Yr Allt Uchaf it’s a fairly straightforward walk across to Drysgol and Aran Fawddwy itself, though I managed to wander of track slightly and had to do some bracken bashing and heather hopping as a consequence. I (deliberately) detoured off to include the less than remarkable summit of Gwaun Lydan, which provides good views particularly of Aran Fawddwy itself. Drysgol provide another fine perspective and has a poignant memorial to a member of a RAF  mountain rescue team killed by lightening while on duty in the area. From then on it’s a good steady walk up to the spectacular Aran Fawddwy and then along the ridge to Aran Benllyn (via the intermediate Erw Y Ddafod-Ddu.) On a fine day the views must be wonderful but even with clouds and mist (and eventually strong rain) it was still impressive: looking south to Pumlumon, west to Cadair Idris, across the Arans and north to Bala. There is also the precipitous view down to Creiglyn Dyfi, the lake beneath the east face of the Aran Fawddwy ridge.

After Aran Benllyn, I wound back behind the ridge to the head of Cwm Cywarch, with detours for Gwaun y Llwyni and Waun Camddwr. Some of this is very boggy and there are boards across the worst bit – but these can be very slippy in the rain  (I slipped off one into the mud while not paying enough attention as I ate the last of my lunch). The rain was coming in very heavy squally now and I was glad to make the path that runs beside the waterfalls down Cwm Cywarch. A good section of the walk on even a foul day but it would be lovely on a fine day with more time.

I didn’t see a single person during the whole seven and half hours I was out   – except for one guy booting up as I left the car park. The weather may have been less than perfect but this was still a Friday in late July. Hopefully these wonderful hills will always be something of a secret.

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Pumlumon peaks

July 25, 2009 at 11:15 pm | Posted in Walking | Leave a comment
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A clear day but with the promise of later rain. Walking with an old mate, Graham, we climbed up from the Nant-y-Moch reservoir to Y Garn, the first summit. It’s a straightforward climb but there are a couple of fences to be negotiated. The views from the top were perfect stretching from the Irish Sea to the borders and up to Cadair Idris and southern Snowdonia.

From Y Garn it’s a straightforward walk across the ridge to the highest of the five peaks, Pumlonon Fawr. Visibility was still excellent and the views even better. I did a quick – if breathless – out and back tramp to Pumlonon Fach, which has good views over the reservoir, and then it was on to Pen Pumlumon Llygad-bychan and Pen Pumlumon Arwystli. The sky was no becoming overcast with spots of rain but nothing too bad as we extend the walk to the source of the Severn. A wooden pillar marks the actual spot, otherwise a nondescript point amidst the damp peat. Hard to believe that this trickle becomes the Severn but also strangely reassuring.

We then headed down to the Arfon Hengwm, with the weather and the ground getting steadily worse. This is the type of walking that really tests your stamina, will power and sense of humour (as well as your wet weather gear). We followed a rough path above the river – wading through boggy, waste-high grass. I managed to keep my feet dry until a slip allowed the water to go over my boots. From then on it was a case of head down and splodge on until the path got better and the end was in sight. Fortunately the rain stopped for the last section across stony track and road and gave us a chance to dry out a bit before reaching the car.  It was  an impressive 12 mile hike that had had a bit of everything. Afterwards we enjoyed a well-earned beer while watching a perfect mid-Wales sunset.

An early evening stroll up Black Mixen and Great Rhos

July 24, 2009 at 11:13 pm | Posted in Walking | 1 Comment
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A fine summer evening walk on the Radnor Forest peaks with Graham S. Found the right path up to Black Mixen this time to avoid heather hopping (stay to the left when reach the open ground and go up by the fence on the well defined track). Similarly on way to Great Rhos you can trust the path that runs out of the woods as it eventually winds round to the trig point. But still haven’t found best route off Great Rhos, need to go further west to find track that we did eventually join beneath the hill. Otherwise best to stay on the valley side for better views. In all about three and half hours for the walk and time to make it to the Harp for a quick pint before dinner.

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