CW Day 14 : Barmouth to Moelfryn

Up and away at 6am will good weather forecast. The landlady phoned at 6.45am to see if I'd left as she was going to make me a bacon roll. I'd not slept much though the Eurovision contest had helped to send me off.

Cambrian Way Day 14
The first part of a lot of ascent as you traverse the Rhinogs

Cambrian Way Day 14
Barmouth Bridge early morning

The navigation out of Barmouth seemed to go to plan with go glitches and after an hour was pulling up to the ridge beyond the radio mast. Met another walker at Bwlch y Rhiwgyr who'd come across from Transfynydd and camped out for the night, but he had missed Rhinog Fawr and Fach and only come up Yr Llethr and on to the ridge. I"d done something similar the last time I came this way 20+ years ago.

Stretched the legs over the bwlchs and made it to Diffwys at 09h20 and with the weather good I could see Yr Lethyr and Rhinog Fawr.

Cambrian Way Day 14
Diffwys, a special spot

Good place to have breakfast at a location that is in my will. When I had come over here before after spending the night near Llyn Hywel i had been taking by the spot with its excellent view south to Cadair and across the estuary and thought scatter my ashes here.

Cambrian Way Day 14
Y Llethyr

Being back here I think I need to change this and it had crossed my mind, mainly as whilst I will travelling there only once in a plastic tub anyone wishing to pay respects to me will have a bit of a walk.

A year or so after this moment a good friend and one time best mate Ian Anderson fulfilled the prophecy foreseen by many of being killed in a car accident. He had mentioned a few weeks before that when he died he would like his ashes scattered at Sinc y Giedd on the Black Mountain where the water sinks before emerging at Dan yr Ogof a few miles away (he would therefore acheive a through trip unavailable for mortal man).

After the funeral in Reading I waited for a couple of days to receive the ashes from his parents and returned to South Wales on the train (my parents paid for the ticket as they weren't too happy about me hitching with Ian in the urn). The following weekend friends gathered at South Wales Caving Club abd walked the couple of hours across from Glyntawe in fine weather to ceremonially scatter the ashes. Someone did make the mistake of broadcast the grey powder into the wind but the biggest mistake was making their fairly remote spot the place of pilgramage. Not easy to find and a 5 hour walking round trip. So maybe not Diffwys but somewhere nice and accessible though Pen y Fan it wont be.

Cambrian Way Day 14
Rhinog Fawr and Rhinog Fach with Llyn Hywel, from Y Llethyr

Took longer than expected to get across to Y Llethyr and then down to above Llyn Hwyel. Now around 11h00 I decided against going and back Rhinog Fach and traversed below it and round looking for a point to start on Rhinog Fawr. Heard some voices above but couldn't seem them or an obvious route. Taking Tony"s advice (Drake, guidebook author) I just picked a suitable line fron the cairn at Bwlch Drws Ardudwy. After some thrashing over heathery boulders I blundered on to a path and that hit the ridge line and went up to the summit. The voices were 4 walkers from Stoke who'd failed to include Rhinog Fawr in the circuit the previous day.

Cambrian Way Day 14
Rhinog Fawr Summit, one of the more challenging peaks on the route

Now 13h30 and 7 hours in I looked across northwards towards Clip and knowing I'd have a long descent down to Cwm Bychan before getting there. Going round Llyn Du to Bwlch Tyddiad managed to find the top of the Roman Steps no problem. Not long after me a few people who were using the excellent afternoon to take a walk. A man, his dog and Gucci handbag clutch wife were the most surprising in this part of wildest Wales, but took some to chat to some other walkers.

Cambrian Way Day 14
The top of the Roman Steps; speediest part of the day

An elderly couple had been walking the Cambrian Way bit by bit over the last 5 years and were negoitating a sensible route over the Rhinogs and were planning to use the week to get to Nant Gwynant.

Roman Steps is great after the slow going and you find yourself nearly running into Cwm Bychan. The sun shining on the llyn and green fields was tempting, just to stop and lie on the grass. It was 15h00 and wasn't feeling too tired. Stopped to fill the water bottle and headed up towards Clip (as indicated by a big sign).

Cambrian Way Day 14
Looking back to Cwm Bychan on the ascent to Clip, somewhere close to the picture on the cover of the 6th edition of the guidebook

Day was stll good and though a crisp breeze it was tshirt all the way and went up to the point below the bwlch where you head sharply up left. As if by magic another walker appeared with a brummie accent and just headed east across the rocks.

Cambrian Way Day 14
Clip to Moel Ysgyfanogod crosses some rocky ground, with pavement and crags

The route across to Moel Ysgyfanogod involves working out an undefined route across some great rock slabs and gaps in the ridge. Id got to Clip just after 16h15 and it was past 18h30 when i reach Diffwys #2 and looked down on the complex topography around Moel y Gryafolen. I missed the exit ladder stile to the right and had to backtrack for 5 minutes to get on tje path to Moelfryn.

Cambrian Way Day 14
Northern Rhinogs landscape with a view across the Vale of Ffestinog to the Moelwyns

A good camping spot located out of the stiff breeze by a stone wall but still in sun. I realised how tied i was as it took two attempts to get the inner tent laid out. I was asleep 15 minutes after laying out the mat and sleeping bag, but as it was getting dark I managed to eat a pork pie and a tin of sardines.

A very memorable day which had been long but where my fitness had to a large extent been driven by a need to make the most the excellent weather. The Rhinogs are great and whilst slow going (a 3.2km average againt 3.9-4.3) elsewhere on the trip you just have to take your time and plan for a long day.

Cambrian Way Day 14
View from somewhere near the second Diffwys of the day, looking south to the Rhinogs and Y Llethyr

And do I feel bad about missing Rhinog Fach, no. It made sense. I was still 4 book miles short on Maentwrog and though mainly good track and road it would have been pushing 9pm and I was too tired. The guidebook is right that 99% of walkers cannot do this in a day. The heavier camping load slows you down but it gives you flexibility to stop when you want (and Cwm Bychan did look good).

Cambrian Way Day 14
Evening sun and where the tent ended up after an excellent day

Distance : 34.49km / 21.43 miles
Moving Time : 10h12
Stopped time : 02h47

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