CW Day 16 : Bryn Gwynant to Ogwen

The breakfast was indeed worth waiting around for and I spent 30 minutes going through the rucsac and removing any not needed items. One of wardens had booked me in at Idwal Cottage in the Ogwen Valley though I was uncertain if I was going to make it. Partly weather and partly fitness after my showing in the Moelwens I was thinking of getting the Park and Ride service down into Llanberis for a lavish afternoon on pints of tea and chip butties.

Champion Snorer and Timetable Man were away at 7am and had obviously decided not to wait for the 9.30 bus to Pen y Pass as like me they had one eye on the weather forecast with rain forecast mid afternoon.

More discussion on food cravings and how some ultra marathon runners cheat and lie (the 20 marathons in 20 days that keeps getting extended to 50, then 100 etc but whose actually recording and timing these). Away at 08h00 and walked down the road to Bethania and picked up the start of the Watkin Path. A few people ahead including a shepherd who was battling the slight apathy his two dogs had on the day. Another couple walking up also had their dog loose which wasnt helping either.

I didn't see the plaque marking the spot where Private Widdle loses his under garments after being attacked by a horde of Burpas but
Carry on Up the Khyber remains my favourite, and who doesn't want to be Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond.

Cambrian Way Day 16
The Khyber Pass

Caught up with my two fellow hostellers by Gladstone Rock and had a quick chat about their route and plans. Maybe people are always better to talk to out on the hills rather than in more confined spaces where you perceive that your social behaviour is being constantly watched ?

As I'd not done the Watkin Path before I stayed in it rather than heading over to Bwlch Main and though steep and stepped it let me keep up a good pace. The section that traverses below the summit is eroded but not overly so. Met a guy doing the Snowdon Horseshoe as headed over to Lliwedd. Not done that for a while something to think about for the future.

Cambrian Way Day 16
Top Section of the Watkin Path

Made the summit at 10h30, which was in cloud but by only 100m or so. The usual variety of people up their but many must have taken qq
note of the forecast and gone for an early start. Or taken the train.

Cambrian Way Day 16
What was the highest slum in Britain

Quick chat to an American couple who said they'd not seen many backpackers. I responded saying most people were a bit more astute than to carry a tent etc up the highest mountain in England and Wales. She'd walked the John Muir trail for 3 weeks, posting provisions in etc. I'd had a similar conversation with another American couple in the hostel the previous night who said they walked one of the classic trails in New Zealand and had been reading how Wales was looking to become one of the walking countries the world. Now based on experience of looking at one of the classic hut walks in Iceland which takes 6 days you need to book 6 months ahead to get a space and being a local helps then. Then there is cost. Some of the French and Italian huts on walks are cheap enough but not elsewhere.

Cambrian Way Day 16
Portrait courtesy of a couple of nice young ladies from Guildford

I like the idea of plannimg your agenda on the fly and whilst other Cambrian Way walkers have found this a challenge at times (weekends in Snowdonia) you may want to walk further on nice days and potentially walk nowhere when its pissing it down. To some extent you can only do this by camping but combining the odd wild camp with B&Bs or hostels it can be a little ad hoc.

Cambrian Way Day 16
Looking down from the top of the PYG track

However, maybe its me and people want order and regime on walking holidays and too much choice and flexibility is a deterrent. As the Americans proved trying to market walk where you want, as fast or as slow as you want isn't straightforward. As I once got confused and ultimately put off Oxford Brookes Polytechnics fiendishly flexible but complex modular degree structure, Wales Walking .com will need structure. True towns that have walking festivals like Barmouth or Crickhowell are indeed festivals with schedules and marketing structures. Maybe I"ll (dis)organise the Crickhowell Walking Festival Fringe next year.

Off down the PYG track and passed the throng who were all regretting not going up over the previous couple of days. Unlike Pen y Fan most people looked prepared for the ascent in terms of equipment and good to see young and old giving it a go up the mountain. There is always the safety net of the railway and the paths, PYG track in particular are in good shape with a few more interesting parts. It was on one section just where the Miners Path goes up to meet the PYG track where a young couple had really got nervous a section which involved the use of hands and handholds. Whilst walking can normally be compared to Irish Dancing (no use of the arms required) going up mountains is different. The aforementioned American had planned well by taking the track from Llanberis as it was something their young daughter could handle, which she did well.

In terms of time the PYG track would have been quicker but had not been round the lakes for along time. Got to Pen y Pass around 12h15 and seeing that the tops of Glyders were clear had decided to grab food and drink and get going before 1pm. The cafe was shut and its ownership changing it seems so ended up with coffee and carrot cake in the trendy coffee shop which is part of Pen y Pass youth hostel. Short chat to a couple of cyclists from Criccieth who were on one if their regular runs and with some interesting thoughts on the impact cycling trendiness is having on golf club membership.

Got away at 12.45 and indeed the path up to Glyder Fawr is more well defined than it used to be. Heading out to the left before following the ridge up I seemed to have recovered my Rhinogs form despite carrying some corned beef and some sardines knowing I was self catering at Idwal Cottage.

Cambrian Way Day 16
Weather building over Crib Goch and Snowdon

During some breaks I was looking back over Crib Goch and seeing the cloud roll in so time I hit the summit visibility was bit reduced. Out with the compass and over to Glyder Fach where I met up with a party of 4 doing the Welsh 3000ft peaks, having camped on Snowdon the previous night. They had done Crib Goch but obviously were making slow progress given I had been on Snowdon only 3 hours before. 14h30 and followed them down the loose gulley next to Bristly Ridge rather than going further east and heading for the Miners Track coming over from the Penyrgyrd Hotel.

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The Glyders not at their finest

Descent was okay and had a quick chat with Simon from Bristol about doing the Carneddau tomorrow as he was camping down below Tryfan. Out onto Bwlch Tryfan and just below the cloud level. Now raining I put on full waterproofs and had some more food as it was still only 15h30 and the hostel wouldn't open till 17h00. Chatted to another couple making a descent whilst watching the 4 people make a slow ascent of Tryfan. Not sure a climb down the North Ridge and then Pen yr Ole Wen followed by the Carneddau peaks were going to be much fun or doable.

Cambrian Way Day 16
The steep descent to Bwlch Tryfan

Its seems that about 300m above the Idwal car park has 4G as suddenly my phone was beeping away with email and facebook alerts. Down another 100m and back to nothing not even a phone signal.

Got to the car park just as the te a bar was shutting but managed to get a tea and some cake for the following day. Also had to make a urgent call to the toilet and dived in the disabled loo. It has a fully functional Mira shower which may be of interest for those wild campers.

Cambrian Way Day 16
Ogwen below

My first experience of Idwal Cottage and the Ogwen Valley was as a Venture Scout on the then annual Easter week trip. I remember the wet and dark trudge up from Bethesda (which I maintain has some of the most intimidating pubs in Wales, including one which had a shotgun used to help decorate the walls), and that the hostel was impregnated with the smell of damp socks. We'd spent a couple of nights there before an all day expedition to go over to Pen y Pass via Devils Kitchen and Glyder Fawr with snow.

Some discussion with the hostel warden about the weather and he printed out the BMC forecast which showed heavy rain for the morning
, with a cloud base on 700m, with showers in the afternoon. A similar pattern was predicted for the rest of the week. Something to think about later but the bad weather had arrived a day too early for me.

Bought some additional food to supplement the corned beef which contrary to the warnings from the staff at Pen y Pass was actually a fair selection. The arriving walker need not fear starvation. I did need to sit down so put the food in the excellent kitchen and headed to the dorm. The only other occupant had spread himself out (fair enough it was quiet) and asked how was my day. He had the endearing qualities of both being Dutch and a BMW GS owner. Glad to respond that I lived in Belgium some of the time and that had owned KTMs previously. We got chatting on other areas in Wales he should visit and when asked if Merthyr Tydfil would be a good location and if his bike would be safe on the street at night I was unable to clarify the situation for him

After a dinner of slurry (the impact chilli mix and baked beans to a tin of corned beef) I spent the evening looking at my options. With only one day to go, a crossing of the Carneddau peaks and 18 miles to Conwy wasn't looking inviting. I could always come back to finish it during the summer or be very Kierkegaardian and on the cusp of achieving something, deny it to yourself so that this regret could dominate my thought for the rest of my life. Okay, The Cambrian Way isn't Regina Olsen or indeed the love of my life I've been scheming and seducing for years but having something within your grasp which you knowingly let slip is potentially a greater, more deeply felt action

With a strong wind and rain falling it was look life a hitch out to Bangor in the morning
Couple more trips to the bog it was to sleep, with no snoring neighbours.

Distance : 14 miles (est)
Duration : 8.5 hours

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