Woke at 6am and looked out the dorm window to watch the rain hammering down and the cloud down low. Not looking good and went back to bed. 6.30 and rain stopped and the cloud lifted. Picked up the bag and went into the kitchen and made some porridge. 7.00 and out the door to patches of blue sky and higher cloud, so decided to go for it. Was still suffering from an undecided stomach and following the excertions of the previous day, struggled to get going up the step face on Pen yr Ole Wen.
I'd decided to go the direct route, as felt it would be easier to navigate the in poor viz and that it might be quicker. The route is steep, but well put together lower down. It is a bit of a scramble but you can't beat it for views across to Tryfan or to Cwm Idwal. Made it to Pen yr Ole Wen by 08h30 and checked the compass just before I set off in complete the wrong direction. The cloud was thickening up a bit but could just about make out Llyn Ogwen below. Turned on the GPS and for the first time on the trip loaded the GPX routes from the Cambrian Way website
The cloud came in for good a little while later whilst heading across to Carnedd Dafydd and the Garmin eTrex 10 became an essential tool, after serving mainly as a trip recorder on other legs. I'd not really checking out the route following features but was getting the hang of it quickly. Did the swing to the east and then up to Carnedd Llewelyn for 10h00. Getting a bit colder as the cloud thickened and then got hail and strengthening wind. I was now questioning my decision to go for it and it was not just becoming less fun, it was all getting a bit serious. The waterproofs were going their job, but with freezing hail and no visability it makes for an intimidating piece of walking at over 1000m; on your own.
I dived into the shelter to asses the situation. I could have stopped and consumed the 4 cans of Carling that someone had kindly left there, but after grabbing some chocolate and appled from the day, I headed off once the hail had eased off slightly. It was eTrex auto pilot as the hail returned and I pushed on past Garnedd Uchaf and then up to the trig at Foel Fras. I'd no spare batteries for the GPS, so it was therefore great to come into contact with the wall and fence that would guide me for the next few miles. The cloud was as thick as ever with it clearing slightly when another downpour again.
No stopping over Drum and the some memory of following this fence in the opposite direction 25 years ago on my first day heading south. I couldn't remember where I'd camped, but it must be somewhere near to where I took a break behind a wall at Bwlch y Ddeufaen, listening to the fizz of the electricity lines. Same as Day 1, with hail on the lines near Rudry. Ate some cheese and welsh cakes from the bag of morass which was my remaining food, most of which I'd picked up in Barmouth. Chucked some peanuts in the pocket and at 13h00 headed up towards Tal y Fan. Still very much in cloud but the rain had stopped.
Very much a feeling of having cracked it and that it was both downhill and improving weather here on in. Stayed on the wall too long and only when below the cloud (about 400m) did I realise that I should have headed left to the stone at Maen Penddu. Got the first view of Conwy Castle which was a great boost. Also it was now 14h30 so started looking at the train times out of Conwy. Went over the top of Maen Esgob in the delusional state that this was the last climb, having forgotten about Conwy Mountain.
Finally took off the waterproof leggings and risked shorts for the last couple of miles from the Sychnant Pass and the physical and mental impact of a tough day was beginning hit home. Coming off the hill took a wrong turn and cross the railway on a footbridge and then walked up past the council offices and through the town walls into Conwy.
Bought some Conwy Castle postcards and stamps in the post office and sat down next door in the new Coffi/Tea room, Seibiant. The owner was is walker herself and with some Earl Grey I sat down to write cards and start assessing things. I rightly decided to go for a later train so spent some time contemplating what I'd done, and to grab some fish and chips. Down to the castle for a photo and then into the off-license where I grabbed a bottle of the fine St Bernadus 12 with which to celebrate.
Got the 18h26 train and along with an on time change at Shrewsbury and a train guard who sold me split tickets so that I saved £10. Plenty on think about, but spent a lot of time writing up the blog for the days since Barmouth and writing up some more notes.
Back in the house at 22h45 and feeling a bit numb but very much motivated. Further reflections on the Cambrian Way experience will come in a later post.