Sunday, 1 May 2011


Drygarn Fawr
April 27th - 28th 2011

It was the Easter week break so I was able to leave home at a leisurely 1330andexperience a very pleasant drive down to the YH.  The satnav helped.
Dolgoch is a truly old fashioned YH and is powered by gas.  It is a no frills establishment but it had all that one required. 

I had established I could take a shortcut across the stream just behind the YH and so save myself a slog and an hour of walking.  I was awake at six and down making breakfast at seven – porridge with banana.  I left the route map with the warden and off I went at eight o’clock. 

Salomon Cosmic 4D GTX

This was the first trip for my new Salomon boots and, conscious of the troubles I have experienced lately with knees and toes, I was very concerned about their performance and my body. I had taken the precaution of taking Ibuprofen tablets and rubbing Tiger Balm into my toe
It was a grey morning as I set off to slog up The Devil’s Staircase.  It began to rain, my legs ached – why was I doing this again?

I got to the top of The Staircase and it wasn’t so bad at all, I felt ok, maybe this wouldn’t be too bad after all. And so the descent and I knew exactly where to pick up the path that would take me into the woods and out the other side to the mountains.
I took a tea break on the edge of the forest and recognised I was making good time, the weather was slowly improving and it was not raining – what more could a walker ask. My toe also seemed to be holding up at this point despite me being overly conscious sometimes, that never helps though.

As is so often the case in the Cambrian Mountain area many of the paths are just not visible and so was the case with the path leading from the forest towards Drygarn Fach.  How can this be, surely many walkers have trodden this way before?  Nevertheless I set off and mad ethe summit, quite ordinary but then it doesn’t make it over 600 metres.  Drygarn Fawr was clearly visible with the two beehives and it looked deserted. And so it proved to be. 

I took pictures, called Louise and felt good.  I also reminisced about the last time I stood here, with my brother.  In fact we had camped in the shadow of the large beehive in our first tent, a Wild Country two-manner.
I could see the path snaking off towards Careg yr Ast quite clearly so off I went.  It was reassuring to be on such a well-defined route, that is until it veered off to the left.  I then looked at the GPS and realised I was way off the recognised trail. 
This path I had been following was in fact tractor tyres, farmers most likely.  I now had to slog across the awful thick grass I hate so much to get back on course.  So I made lunch by a stream and relaxed. Once again the map, the topography and human interaction with the landscape had conspired to confuse me.
It was now becoming very sunny and I stripped down to my tee-shirt as I set off to Rhiwnant.  That was easy as was the path out of Rhiwnant but I lost it again coming out of the farm. This got worse later when I plotted my position as being way off.  Frustration mounted as I slogged through more energy sapping grass to re-join the path that would take me to camp at Llyn Carw.  Still, I took some comfort in the views of Claerwen Reservoir that dazzled in the sun.

Claerwen Reservoir
I made the lake at 1600, it was a beautiful oasis.  The sky was blue, the air hummed with skylarks and insects and the lake plopped as invisible fish that gobbled up low flying insects in the afternoon heat.   
I made tea and put on my mozzie net and pondered whether it was too early to make camp.  I looked carefully at the map and decided to move on, it was too early to stop and the weather was too good, plus my body was holding up.
I made it to the path fork near Drum Nantygorian to discover yet another invisible path.  In fact I had to slog my way over DN and down the other side with no sign of a path in site (unless you count a discarded plastic bottle as evidence).

I approached the forest and decided it was time to pitch camp.  1830 was a good time and the last section had taken its toll.  The tent went up and dinner went down well.  As ever I enjoyed Radio 4 and the World Service and slept fitfully as ever.  I did feel more comfortable this time though, perhaps I am getting used to it.
I was awake at 0530 and the dawn was breaking.  It was cold.  In fact despite being a very warm day I had spent the night fully clothed so I was not totally surprised to find a light frost on the ground. Now in all the trips to Wales I have done alone or with Stephen I have never seen frost on a tent, until now.

Once again I didn’t bother with cooking breakfast (is this a new trend?) but got packed up ready to go.  It was a truly beautiful morning and a joy, I was glad I had camped and not just gone back to the YH.
I set off feeling very good to be quickly confronted with a new path problem.  The marked route through the forest was obliterated by logging debris (it was in full swing throughout the area) and without the GPS I would be there still.  More was to come.
I emerged thankfully from the forest to find no sign of the path down the steep valley of Nant Tadarn that would lead me back to the YH. 
There was only a fence, no style or sign.  Taking a deep breath I improvised and followed the fence towards a logging road clearly visible in the distance.  That lead me down and back finally to the road that travels all along the Tywi Valley.
I got back to the YH at about 0800 and made myself known.  I had done it and without any injuries.  The boots had been great, I felt fit and happy, it was worth it.