CW Day 8 : Llandovery to Ty'n-y-cornel

No hot shower in the Castle Hotel but I'd already had the tepid (and cooling) bath the previous evening prior to washing my clothes in the water.

Breakfast was good and by 8am was heading through the streets of Llandovery. T-shirt warm but not as hot as Sunday. The first 5 miles were tarmac and with a heavier rucsack with food for three days to Ponterwyd, it was a bit of a pull up the hills. A Monday morning and a sense that the real journey was just beginning and that getting from Llandovery things were getting real. As a town it's only 30 minutes from my house and now I was walking away from it.

Cambrian Way Day 8
The lanes from Llandovery are nice and make for quick walking, but can be hard on the feet

In terms of logistics, the deviation to Pontrhydfendigad would be an option if I was planning to stay at Claerddu bothy rather than getting to Cwmystwyth as I might need some more food.

Cambrian Way Day 8
Managed to not get too wet here with some careful clambering and firm use of the trekking poles

After an hour on to some green lanes and then down into Rhandirmwyn along by the river. The route goes through a farm and isn't obvious but you end up along the Towy. Got here around at 10h50 and had A short stop. The right of way goes right through the middle of what seems like a college or training farmyard so you tend think twice about going through.

The upmarket campsite at Rhandirmwyn has a shop though the one in the village might be bigger and as the guide book mentions is the last one for over 20 miles (and that's the deviation to Pontrhydfendigad).

Crossing over the Towy and then on to a footpath which was soon diverted up to the road. It looks like the Towy Bridge Inn will soon be open again which will be a handy refreshment stop around lunchtime for people coming from Llandovery (not sure about accommodation). Looming clouds gave an oppressive feeling to the and the next section of lane as the sides of the valley got higher and it got narrower. Despite the road walking and villages since passing through the campsite I'd not seen anyone.

Cambrian Way Day 8
By the river Towy heading towards Rhandirmwyn

However back on to road as the route went up towards the Dinas Nature Reserve. Had some lunch where the a waterfall cascades into the river. The metalled road stopped soon after and getting on the right route after Troed-rhiw-ruddwen (the bridleway goes up to the right not the obvious track ahead) lead into the excellent Doethie valley trail.

Cambrian Way Day 8
A great spot for lunch

Was making good time and knowing the hostel at Ty'n-y-cornel wouldn't open till 5, there was time for a couple if breaks in the sun and out of the wind. The amount of sun was't great and the forecast on the BBC app last night had forecast rain about 5pm, so hopefully I'd be dry by then.

Cambrian Way Day 8
Start of the Doethie Valley trail, which bears off up right from the track. Easy to miss if you are not looking for it. You won't go too far wrong however

Must have heard 5 different cuckoos during the walk up the valley and though had heard them before, was never aware of their numbers in Wales. Some seemed to be in the evergreen plantations, not just the older woods. Spotted an abandoned plastic green blow-up dinghy, which along was with the mountain bike tracks the only other human influences I saw. There are a number of abandoned and derelict farm buildings in the valley and like parts of Scotland and in Iceland you get a sense of what the rural areas once were able to support (just) in terms of livelihoods and families. Later than evening in the hostel I had a quick look at a fairly academic and detailed book that recorded the history of the upload parishes around Llandewi Brefi. There is also a map in the hostel showing where all the farms used to be in this part of the Cambrian Mountains.

Cambrian Way Day 8
The Doethie Valley

Despite slowing the pace arrived at the hostel at 16.10 and made a cup of tea in the shelter while waiting for the warden. Was getting used to the idea of being with myself with no mobile or internet access. Ty'n-y-cornel has electric now, which it didn't when i was last here in the mid 1980s. I'd volunteered as a warden, prior to going to Polytechnic in Pontypridd and given it was September had had 3 guests all week. Didn't mind about mobile phone or internet access then, as they'd not really been invented, so remember doing some walks across to Llyn Brianne and going over to Tregaron bog.

Cambrian Way Day 8
Notice on Tony Drake and the Cambrian Way. It's good to read it this way, as although he failed to make it a National Trail, it has become something more than that now

Spent over an hour writing down my stream of conciousness into my notepad (everything from a housemartin checking out the building to developing the new Cambrian Way diet; you can only eat what you carry around with you for a week). It's an interesting exercise and I'll get round to writing down what came out. Was getting a real sense of being with myself and the relatively relaxed pace of the day was helping with this.

17h30 and no warden so looking at the instructions on the outside of the door, which had a keypad lock, it was a 1.5 mile walk up the lane towards Llandewi Brefi and mobile signal to phone for the code or about the same distance to get to the nearest to get the keycode.

It started raining as I came up over the hill and my phone beeped with excitement (calls no data). A call to the first number and they knew who I was. They'd emailed me the details yesterday as the volunteer warden was ill and there was likely to be only me there all week. I'd not picked up my personal email so never got the information, but never mind the walk was nice. Plenty of instructions on what to do and apologies, but all was good as my bed for the night was secure. I would have been fine crashing in the shelter or putting the tent up.

Back to the hostel at 18h45 and set to lighting fire and cook the tin of chilli I lugged up from Llandovery. Hostel had see some work over the last 30 years and was great. There is a shower and two dorms with 16 bunks to choose from.

The remainder of the evening was spent reading a couple of books but most intriging was a biography of the poet R S Thomas. The Man Who Went Into the West. Also an anthology of this work (have a look at 'Inside') which was great poem which really resonated with me.

Not late to bed with quiet all around. I recommend a solitary night here which along with Dolgoch also run by Eleyndd Wilderness Hostels but also the 3 Gatliff Trust hostels in the Outer Hebredies, of which Howmore I'd stayed at a few years ago.

I probably chose the damper of the two dorms, but the rain had settled in for the night so was grateful I wasn't camping.

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