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We strike out on a vague path and spot a lake. We take a compass bearing and canít believe we are heading east. It is the wrong lake! To think, when we started this walk, we believed our navigation skills to be quite good! To get back to the correct heading we have to cross various streams and negotiate many lumps and bumps. As we are already off course, we decide to head straight for Llyn Fyddon Fawr which is beyond the other two lakes. We need to pass Llyn Fyddon Fawr along it's right bank. There are now many peat hags to negotiate and, as it is dry, they do not cause too much of a problem but, it is still very tiring.
We keep to the high ground as much as possible and, this time, check regularly with the compass. At the top of the rise, we see the lake and soon Domen Milwyn comes into view. It looks like a little pimple
My feet are wet. Charl has new boots. His old boots were uncomfortable. I bought new boots last year which were a bad buy so commandeered Charlís old boots which fit me fine. He omitted to tell me, however, that they are far from waterproof. It has been wet underfoot most of the day but the path is now stony with cropped grass and my feet soon dry out.
Cwmystwyth is soon in sight.
We can see the village and keep to the path which turns into a track and goes steeply downhill and then vaguely over pasture. We can see the river where we know we have to cross on a footbridge. We keep following the path but cannot see a footbridge.
In the distance, we can see old mine workings. We have gone wrong somewhere and missed the bridge. We can see a white building and, surely, with old mine workings, there must be a way across the river down there somewhere. We travel on down until we are virtually opposite the building but, we have been living in a dream world and there is no way across the river. We must turn back.
We trek all the way back. Why is it that, whenever a navigation error is made, you are always travelling downhill and, consequently, have to climb all the way back up again!
We find the footbridge and then the road bridge. The river under the road bridge looks spectacular. I want to take a photo but the rails of the bridge are in the way and the view from over the top is not so good. I get down on my haunches and make a very bad job of holding the camera steady as I am bearing all the weight of the rucksack on my thighs. I put the camera away and try to rise.... nothing happens. I havenít got enough power left in my legs. I look round. Charl has marched on. I consider sitting down, rolling over and getting up on my knees or actually taking of my backpack but even this seems too much trouble so with one last effort, I stick out my backside, stiffen my legs, pull on the rail for extra oomph, and manage to stand upright, making a noise (and possibly a face) like a weight lifter.
To say the least, it has not been a very good day for navigation. We wasted a lot of time wandering on the moor and now, once again, have been on a wild goose chase. It is now getting quite late and we still have another four miles to cover to the camp site at Devilís Bridge.
We climb up the road out of the village and at the top of the hill is a bench. We sit for a few minutes and wish we had water for a cup of tea. There are old lead mine workings here so we have not collected any water. As we sit, a van pulls up. Two men get out and proceed to erect a village notice board. Apparently, it used to be in the village but nobody used to read it so they have decided to put it up here. The younger man says it is a stupid place to put the notice board and people will just drive past it. The older man does all the work.
The shop in Devilís Bridge will be shut when we arrive as it is getting quite late and probably shut tomorrow as I have just realised it will be Sunday. I hope, as it is quite a tourist area, that there will be somewhere to shop as we have no food except a small piece of cheese, some stale bread, one handful of pasta, a sachet of tuna and half a packet of biscuits. It will be a miserable dinner tonight. A very small portion of pasta with cheese and a stale tuna sandwich. If everywhere is shut tomorrow, we will have to have a day off till we can stock up and also empty stomachs.
We plod on and reach The Arch. This old masonary arch spans the B4574 and was built in 1810 to mark the golden jubilee of George III. Here there is a pic-nic spot and loos. We could get some water. We are dying for a cup of tea but decide it is too late to stop now. We walk on to the camp site.
There is a cafe. They do cream teas ..... they do breakfasts ......... they do take-away fish 'n chips. They are OPEN
It is a very attractive site; very well laid out with various sculptures, old farm machinery and curiosities tastefully positioned around the grounds. There is even a red telephone box on the hillside and a full size sculpture of a showjumper, including fence in the wood by the path up to tenting field.
The fish and chips are delicious and the bacon rolls are out of this world.
We take a path off the A4120 down to the railway track and then down to Pontbren Plwca. This is a beautiful spot but there is a lot of pollution from the Cwm Rheidol lead mine after a landslide and as there is a danger of toxic water from the mine workings, the route has been altered to follow a minor road up the valley.
At Pontbren Plwca we meet a woman who is walking her dog. She remarks that there are a lot of flies about this morning. I have many fly stories to relate. Charlie has fond memories of this place as he came here on a school trip. I take a photograph of him which mirrors a photograph we have of him at home at fourteen years of age.
We walk along the valley and find the path which begins to ascend. We hear the train whistle and wait for it to come along the hillside opposite. It looks like a toy. We are standing by a house which is nestled in the hillside. A woman comes out with a washing basket. It is the same woman we saw walking her dog in the valley below! This is fortunate as she advises us that the path through the forest is very overgrown and virtually impassable. She says to keep to the track. We continue and the track becomes very steep indeed and, after a lot of puffing and blowing, we reach an attractive mountain road.
We continue along the road to Ponterwyd. The shop in the village is very well stocked indeed. I get quite excited as I stock up with garlic sausage and Thai green curry sauce. (I'm easily pleased) There is a pic-nic bench outside the shop, so we decide to have lunch here and tuck into our cornish pasties. The sky is black and getting blacker by the minute. I just hope the rain will hold off until I finish my pasty
We continue on mostly minor road until we reach Dyffryn Castell. We are looking forward to a cup of coffee when we reach the hotel. It is shut. We might have known. I seem to remember this happening before. We sit on the bench outside for a few minutes. The sun has put in an appearance but it is quite cool.
We continue along the path which starts beside the hotel. We plan to camp below the summit of Plynlimon near the Blaen Peithnant forest by Nant Nod. We gain some height and then the path keeps to the contours. We continue for a while but still gain little height. This can't be right. We consult the map. We must have strayed from the path and are contouring the hillside toward Eisteddfa Gurig. We are almost there, so decide to continue and take the path up to Plynlimon from there. The path gradually descends the hillside and ends at the fence by the road.
We scout up and down but find no stile. There is nothing for it but to climb over the barbed wire. This is easier said than done but once over we soon reach Eisteddfa Gurig and find the path to Plynlimon. This is also harder than we expected as it is hidden behind a farmhouse.
We are now on a wide track by Nant Nod and continue up the valley.
We leave Nant Nod and continue along Afon Tarennig for about half a mile. The mist begins to descend and there is a fine drizzle. It seems like a good time to camp. We find running water and pitch the tent albeit on a bit of a list. The rain now becomes heavier.
When settling down to sleep, I realise my sleeping bag has travelled with the list and has been touching the side of the tent. Consequently, the hood is wet. We pull everything back and secure the inner as much as possible. Ah well, itís only the hood. It could have been far worse.
It is drizzly and as we proceed upwards the rain becomes heavy. Visibility is virtually nil. We hit the summit and see the fence. Thank goodness. At least we have something to follow down. The descent is miserable Uneven underfoot with large tussocks and heather and the rain is so heavy I do not lift my head; not that I could see anything if I did.
Suddenly, a figure appears out of the gloom. The situation is hilarious. What on earth are we all doing here? Are we doing this for fun? The man remarks that the Cambrian Way is not a walk, itís an endurance test. There are no sign-posts, no paths and if your navigation skills are not one hundred percent youíve had it. We agree with him although this is somewhat of an exaggeration. We walk with him for a while but, as he is not backpacking, he leaves us and moves on at a faster pace.
Some of the descent is a bit tricky. There are bits of wood and rusty wire hanging around, too. Obviously, the fence has been renewed and the debris just left. It is still raining very heavily and I am having trouble with my glasses. I need windscreen wipers. In the end I take them off. I can see a little without them but totally nothing with them.
At the bottom of Plynlimon we reach Afon Hengwm and decide to camp. We have enough food for an extra day, so why go on in these miserable conditions. We look for a place to put up the tent and by the time we do, the rain has stopped. Typical. The cloud is so low, we still canít see anything. We decide to camp anyway.
We warm up in our sleeping bags, have tea and biscuits and listen to the cricket. We discuss how lucky we are to have the option. If we had a bed and breakfast booked we would have to go on, no matter what, to reach our destination. With time and a tent you have the luxury of pleasing yourself.
We are out of coffee white and have to have our tea black Unzipping the tent is quite exciting this morning as, because of the white out yesterday, we have no idea what we will see.
We pack up and whilst doing so notice a man on the opposite bank with a dog. The dog begins to harass the sheep. The man calls to the dog but it takes no notice and continues to chase the sheep.
There are a few midges about this morning butit is to be expected beside the river. We plan to cover just the six miles to Dyliffe today which was our original destination for yesterday.
We have to cross the river. Charl thinks it will be easier by the waterfall. We cross one tributary but the next one is impossible. We have to walk back and find a place to wade across.Thereís no alternative, boots and socks will have to come off. I am not too sure about crossing here but finally, convince myself I am at the sea-side and wade across with no trouble. The water is freezing. Charl comes back and carries my sack over. There is no real need but I am grateful anyway.
I dry my feet and then, paradoxically, put on wet boots and socks. The boots are wet from yesterday and, although I put dry socks on this morning, they have soaked up the moisture.
We follow a vague path up the valley. Along this path, we meet the man and the dog, returning. He now has the dog on a piece of string. I mention that we saw him this morning when we were packing up. He doesnít acknowledge this at all and says that he has the dog on the string because otherwise he would be all over us, seeking attention. We continue round the hillside till we meet a track that passes between Llyn Cwm-Byr and Llyn Bugeilyn.
After passing the lakes, the weather begins to improve.We meet up with Glyndwrs Way. The path also improves and is a real luxury after the rigours of Plynlimon. This path leads to a track which passes through a garden by a farmhouse. A woman, with a bucket of chicken feed is wandering around, calling for a cockerel. This cockerel, apparently, is infamous and has been found. several times, with his "ladies", strutting around the village. She also warns us that he has an aversion to sticks because of a previous bad experience. We are told to be careful with our hiking poles should we come across him! Although, only a bantam, he has been known to attack. When his owner once needed a walking stick, this had to be abandoned for her own safety!
The woman also remarks upon the foul weather on the mountain yesterday. She said she was working in her study. One minute she could see the mountain and the next time she looked up, she couldnít even see her hedge.
We follow the farm track to the road and so to The Star Inn. This is tucked away at the side of the road above a disused mine. The sun is shining brightly when we arrive. After much knocking, we are greeted by a plump,cheery woman with a London accent who seems to have walked straight out of a dickensian novel. She asks if we have booked and, as we havenít, she says it is a good job we didnít arrive yesterday as they were full. This is indeed fortunate as we were, in fact, supposed to be here yesterday.
We take off our boots and leave them in the porch. I say they smell of bog. She says they will be locked in here and I reply, they need to be. I also remove my wet socks. She tells us that if we want to do washing the radiators with be on soon or we can use the line out back. She says, she would offer to do our washing but, as they were full yesterday, she has enough of her own. She directs us to our room but doesnít come up because of ďher kneesĒ. She gives us a handful of milk cartons and says she is now going to put her feet up.
The room is very comfortable. I do all the washing and have a long relaxing bath. I hear on the radio that the temperature will be no lower than 18C tonight. We have a great meal in the bar. Lamb with mint and rosemary, seared with honey and heaps of vegetables. We even have desert. Charl has a spotted dick, poor thing, and Iím a chocolate tart. We have a few drinks and return to our room for coffee. As we leave, we ask about breakfast tomorrow. We would like to eat at 8.00am but are asked if 8.30am will be ok. We agree.
I recharge the phone. There hasn't been any signal for days and I am missing the communication. The whole attraction of long distance walking and indeed, back packing is to get far from civilisation but a few texts to and from family are very re-assuring.
I have no trouble falling asleep but wake about an hour later to throw the duvet off. It is very hot tonight but we left the radiators on as we have so much washing to dry!