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It is good to arrive in the open. I am expecting a breeze but no such luck. The path now follows the contours of the hill for quite some way. This is hard work on the ankles but nothing to what we have just experienced.
We stop for a break and to cool down a bit before the next ascent.We didn’t bring any water knowing we can pick some up at the top. It is a hard decision in hot weather. Dehydration versus extra weight and effort. Each day a different decision is made according to where we believe we can pick up water. Today, I think we have made the wrong decision. We have lost a lot of moisture and still have a fair climb before we can drink.
Two walkers come along the hillside , a man and a woman, and ask if they can join us. They introduce themselves. Dave and Sybil. Dave is doing the Cambrian Way and Sybil has just joined him for the “hardest” bit. Dave says that there are no easy days on this walk and that it entails either difficult navigation, undefined paths, lots of ascent or combinations of the three. I agree. He says he is dreading the Rhinnogs. I agree even more avidly. I say the nearer I get the more I am thinking about it. He replies that he is putting it out of his mind as much as he can till he gets there and anyway, we’ve got Cadar Idris tomorrow.
“I see you two are doing it the hard way, with backpacks” he remarks, “I’m bed and breakfasting. Booked all the way.” I reply that that also comes with it’s downside as you have the extra stress of having to reach your destination each day.
We light up. Dave says we are not a very good ad for the non-smoking campaign as we are not even supposed to be able to climb a flight of stairs. We look up and say we will have our tea up there, when we cross the stream. Dave says, “Cigarettes and tea, you are full of drugs!”. I reply that I am really missing my coffee but can’t justify the extra weight. He laughs and knocks my hat over my eyes.
Sybil, who has been rather quiet until now, rummages in her day sack and pulls out two individually wrapped packets of coffee and hands them to me. She has another rummage and hands Charl a mars bar!
We say goodbye. They get up to leave. “Nice to have met you”, says Dave “and maybe see you on Cadar tomorrow.” “Nice to have met you,” I say “And presents, too!”
We stop for tea, as planned by the stream. It is heaven. We have lunch and then another cup of tea before continuing. We discuss whether to take more water with us but decide we must be able to pick some more up along the way.
We continue upwards and along the ridge. The views are terrific. We can even see the windfarm on Mynyyd y Cemmaes in the far distance. There is a little breeze and every time it blows I turn my head toward it.
We meet three men coming in the opposite direction. They have met Dave and Sybil who have told them to expect to see us. One man is young, tall, thin and smiley. He asks if I have ever tried two hiking poles and hands me his to try out. The older one is a shorter, “Chris Brasher” type who is playing with his new pedometer. He tells us he has walked over 13,000 steps today and that we have 7.5 miles to go. The third man is tanned, smiles a lot but says nothing. They are bed and breakfasting with two cars so walking some of the Cambrian Way backwards.
We look back down where we have come, to the path that contours the hill, and it looks a very long way away.
On the way to Cribin Fawr we take a wrong turn. I feel we should cross the fence but am not insistent enough and bow to Charl’s usually better judgement. We continue down along the fence over very rough terrain until there is no doubt that we are wrong. I am not very happy when we have to ascend once more, in the heat over tussocks and peat hags.
We sit for a while. I put my coat round my shoulders to keep the sun off my arms. Not bringing any water was a mistake once more. I am fantasising about a drink. I decide we have to have something so hand out a tomato each which is really reserved for dinner tonight but the need for moisture is greater now.
We reach the last pull up to Waun Oer. I look up. I’m feeling really weary. I can’t face it. The heat has drained me of all stamina. It has been a hard day. I really do not want to make that last extra effort.
I say to Charl, “ I can’t make it up there”. He looks at me. He knows I mean it. He says there should be water at the bottom of the gully below the ascent. He takes two bottles down. I feel really guilty. I can’t make the extra effort for the ascent but Charl has to find water. I hope he finds some. One, so that we can camp and two, so that his effort is rewarded. I am so weary, I sit on my pack and stare into space but I vow that if Charl comes back without any water, I will climb the next ascent without a murmer.
He is gone quite some time but returns with two bottles of water. Apparently, it was not far down but took a long while to fill the bottles. My hero, and it was a stiff climb back. I suggest we save the water for drinking and have smoked sausage, egg and bread for dinner. Charl says he will go back down and get some more for the pasta. What a man.
We have tea straight away and it is the best cup of tea ever!
We have just enough flatish ground to pitch the tent. We have dinner and settle down for the night. A strong wind blows up and continues all night. We could have done with that during the day!
The ascent that looked so daunting yesterday is an absolute doddle this morning.,
We can see Cadar Idris clearly now, Our destination for tomorrow.
We reach the road and, walking along the side, welcome each car for the breeze it creates as it goes by. When we take the path a little alongside the road it is stifling.
We come to the camp site and, before putting up the tent, We sit and have lunch eating the last two eggs. Charl goes for a shower. He seems really tired today. I manage to almost get the tent up before he returns. The sky is looking very ominous. Storms are forecast today.
The day continues in this fashion. It is too hot to get in the tent but keeps spitting with rain. I don’t quite know whether to cook dinner inside or outside and manage a bit of both.
By the time we reach the path for the ascent, it is already raining in big summer drops but as the beginning of the ascent is through trees, it is hardly noticeable. The way is very steep but easily negotiated over made up steps.
We can hear the roaring sound of rushing water the whole while but only get brief glimpses of the falls between the trees.
Although it is still drizzling, at the top of the made up path we decide to stop for a cup of tea beside the stream. It has been very sweaty work up the and as the opportunity has presented itself, we might as well take on some liquid.
A man with a day sack and a thick Irish accent stops to pass the time of day. He is the first person we have seen on the mountain today.
We continue to Llyn Cau, where we have our second encounter of the day. Two men and two boys who are taking the scramble to the top. They are obviously very familiar with the mountain and know just where they are going even though, visibility now is almost nil. We are told the view here along the ridge and around the lake is spectacular but the rain is so heavy now that I cannot lift my head and can just about see my feet in front of me.
We also meet the Irishman again who is coming down and, under the conditions, has decided to call it a day. He says, looking at the skies and our backpacks, “ I take my hat off to the both of yous”.(although, in this weather, it would be better not to)
The path becomes steep once again and we assume we must be nearing the summit. It is very stony and a bit of a scramble. My poncho becomes more of a hazard than a help. The steeper the path becomes the more I keep treading on it in front of me which is the last thing I need in this weather on this sort of path. I have to take my glasses off as no-one has invented automatic spectacle wipers as yet. This is the first persistent heavy downpour we have experienced so far on the walk and I find, to my dismay, my boots are not only just a little bit porous. My feet are floating inside and my socks are surfing the water and swaying from side to side. I must be carrying a pint of water in each boot which, I feel, must be very good weight training. What with this, the lack of vision and the poncho hazard, it is surprising I am enjoying the day so much.
We reach the summit. I swear the rain cannot get any heavier and we gratefully head for the shelter. We have to remove the sheep first which I feel somewhat guilty about. We stand our saucepan outside and in no time have enough water to brew up. We hang up our wet clothes and dry off, pouring water out of my boots and ringing out my socks. The rain is definitely not going to ease and Charl suggests we spend the night in the shelter. It is a good idea. We have collected enough water to cook a meal. It is a very substantial shelter. The only thing it lacks is a door which as Charl remarks is a pity as the clouds are coming in!
Charl says it will be possible to erect the tent inside the shelter and in that way keep out the draughts and be a lot warmer if the temperature drops over night.
I cook some pasta and cut some cheese. After stirring the cheese into the pasta, I put the plate I have cut the cheese on to one side. I hear a scuttling noise and there in the dish is a mouse! I did not expect to see a mouse at this altitude but I guess it is a good place for scraps as a whole lot of sandwiches must be consumed here. I am grateful that Charl has managed to put the tent up as he may come back later and bring his whole family along so what, at first, seemed a ridiculous suggestion is now looking to be a very good idea indeed.
We go to sleep to the sound of heavy rain and spend a very comfortable night despite our location.
I run around the summit whooping as blue holes appear in the yellowy white through which glimpses of the sea and Barmouth Bridge can be seen.
The whole descent is spectacular in full sun with marvellous views. I am so glad we spent the night on the summit as all this would have been obscured yesterday.
At the bottom of Cadar Idris we brew up and take a country lane into Barmouth. We only see one vehicle the whole way.
We cross the footbridge and arrive in Barmouth hot and tired. We buy cold drinks and fish and chips and eat them by the sea.
It is about another mile and a half to the camp site. The site is very full. Most of the tents are huge and occupied by families. Small children point their fingers at our tiny backpacking tent and giggle.