An acquaintance of mine from Mynyddoed Cambrian Mountains had put a bee in my bonnet about trig points. This bee in my bonnet lead me to spending 2 hours one evening last week, scanning several maps covering Mid Wales and making notes on several trig points. Quite an admission - I will happily study a map rather than read a book or watch telly. So I was on a mission to find a trig point with really good views, on a good size hill and on a damn good walk. I also needed a bit of training for Race to the Sea on 27th October so this would be a start.
Foel Fadian, which is in the Cambrian Mountains, almost directly north of Pumlumon, is by Glaslyn and caught my eye - 564 metres and it occurred to me that I had walked right past it many times when striding up ‘the big climb’ after the first checkpoint on the Cross Wales Walk, but I hadn’t realised that there was a trig point. This would be an opportunity to go up a little further and get even better views. So, a circular route planned from Aberhoson as follows: bit of the Glyndwr’s way - where I would be looking across the valley to the Cross Wales route, then a diversion to the trig point, back down past Glaslyn, towards Bugeilyn and past Llyn Cwm-byr, taking a bridleway back down the steep slopes to Aberhosan. In short – up, up, up and up............. down, down, down and down.
I had a beautiful start from Aberhosan, immediately taking a bridle way down into a pretty wooded area with a stream and a very, very slippery bridge (would have been better to cross the stream I think). Then ‘the climb’ more or less began here, going through a farm - a farm that I straight away recognised – the egg sandwich stop! And there, to greet me, was that lovely sheep dog who had nicked my sandwich (read my last blog to know what I’m talking about). Not sure if the dog remembered me but he didn’t ask if I had brought more sandwiches.
Soon onto Glyndwr’s Way from here and a steady, continuous incline now – my only excuse to stop was to take photographs of the increasingly spectacular view or toadstools – proper red ones with white spots. I could clearly see the Cross Wales route across to my left and could even spot where one year, my sister and I, blindly followed another participant up the wrong track. He then helped (heaved and pulled) us up the heathery steep bank, up on to the track where we should have been. It was very funny and he was good company. We gave him lots of encouragement every time we cross paths on the way but I think he called it a day just after Trefeglwys -very well done!
Up at the trig point it was magnificent. I felt as if, if I threw a stone it would land on Cadair, it looked so near. I could throw several stones in fact, landing on Cadair, the Arans, Corndon Hill, Plynlimon even into the sea. I stood there quite some time (as long as it takes to eat a banana) taking in the spectacular views.
Passed Glaslyn next, not looking that blue today, but at least the clouds were high enough for good views. Glaslyn is the biggest and wildest nature reserve managed by Montgomeryshire wildlife Trust. A track now, I am never very keen on tracks – forestry or cycle path type tracks, I get a bit bored and find it difficult to keep up a good pace but actually I felt bounding with energy after the 425 metre climb (approx.) so making the most of it I marched my way to the next two lakes. The scenery was remote, mostly bilberry bushes and heather, peaty and patches of marsh. I could clearly see Plynlimon beyond Bugeilyn and it looked a good route up there from Glaslyn but I’ll save that for another day.
Was I expecting to see anyone? No, not really. Good job, because except for some cyclists at the very beginning I didn’t see a sole, no one, just me and this beautiful countryside. I could talk to myself all I liked and no one would ever know – it’s usually ‘wow, look at that’ referring to the view or a toadstool or furry caterpillar and occasionally, ‘thank god for that’ when at last I see one of those rare species – the lesser spotted bridleway waymark.
Just before Bugeilyn is a tumble down dwelling, more like a ruin. A stone property with evidence of brick arch lintels over the windows and doors, a huge timber for the fireplace lintel and in an upstairs bedroom a massive stone as a fire place lintel. My imagination runs wild when I see places like this – in a matter of seconds this place isn’t a ruin, it is a cosy, well-maintained cottage with a neatly stocked log store and sheep with lambs in the adjoining building, I’m living mostly of fish from the lake and have a bilberry pie cooking in the stove. Unfortunately this place is well beyond repair and would need to be bulldozed and started afresh. What a shame – such a beautiful spot – out of this world.
Back to my senses and best foot forward to Llyn Cwm-byr where there was an unexpected damn, not huge but never-the-less a lump of concrete in the middle of this remote wilderness. I quite liked the contrast. Using a fence post, which incidentally had a miniature garden in the top of it, as a tripod, I positioned my phone to take a photo, on timer, so that I could run on to the damn. It worked. Great this technology, I thought, but then right at that moment when trying to view the photograph I experienced ‘death of the phone’ which this particular make, mentioning no names - but bears the forbidden fruit on its casing, is renowned for. It has happened to me before in cold weather. I was wearing a hat but I didn’t think cold enough to make my phone give up. How annoying, just when I wanted to take more pictures. I had only said to one of my customers last week that I don’t like to rely on electronic devices when out walking so I always carry a map and compass. My GPS gadget is only to see my route after I have finished and the elevation. I’m certainly not into all the techi heart rate data and so on. Sometimes this device gives up half way round a walk too. Lesson – don’t rely on something that is not relying on you.
The view of Plynlimon was really clear from this part of the track. I felt like I was going farther and farther into the wilderness (without a phone and completely deserted of any human life). This on my mind a little, I missed the bridleway going off to the right and before too long reached a boundary and gate. I knew I must have missed it, so backed tracked only by 200 metres or so and found it easily. It wasn’t marked but clearly used quite a bit. This would eventually take me to the steep slopes back down into the valley. So all downhill from here. The track wasn’t the easiest to follow but I did come across one waymark and was happy that I was where I should be and my phone had come back to life. I passed an empty, nearly derelict farm - house on one side of the lane and buildings on the other. A really lovely old building in a very sorry state. I found out afterwards that someone on their bike had called there 20 years ago asking to use their phone. An elderly couple let him in, refused to take the money he offered for the call and gave him tea and cake.
I found a footpath, not marked, that would take me across the valley to familiar Cross Wales territory, back to the egg sandwich farm near the start and then be on the home straight. A fantastic walk which was well overdue and has satisfied my trig point mission…. for the moment. 11.7 miles