The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 28 May 2007

A Couple of Days in the Rhinogau - Day 2

Saturday night was, per the forecast, wet and windy. Also as forecast, the wind swung around from the east to the west, which was a bit unfortunate as our pitch as nicely protected from the east, but not at all protected from the west and of course we were pitched the wrong way around for a westerly wind.

On Saturday night we had looked at a map (which is full of holes and must be replaced either with a new one or with some 1:25k mapping software of that area) and chose a route back to Barmouth for the Sunday. It’s becoming a bit of a challenge to come up with something new as we’ve walked quite a bit in that area, but there was an obvious low level route that we’ve not tried before.

The first section exercised our right to roam, which always presents the danger (in fact, almost a certainty) in this area that it will be either marshland or boulder/heather. This route didn’t disappoint. We left all trace of a path after the first mile and then spent the next hour or so yomping through knee-deep marsh. Even tussock jumping didn’t help as none of the tussocks was sufficiently firm. It was energy sapping to the extreme, with having to lift the leg so high on every step, but perversely it was good fun at the same time. It was also an excellent test for the Terrocs (of which I will post later).

Finally, we reached a track (not a moment too soon) which we followed through a forest for quite a while, stopping for a brew on the way, taking advantage of the shelter that the trees offered from the increasingly heavy rain.

Out of the forest, my feet almost started to feel dry, which was the cue for us to leave the road along which we had been walking and venture into the biggest marsh of the trip. The good thing about the Terrocs turned out to be the fact that once the feet are wet you may just as well wade on through any terrain, rather than taking care as to where each foot fall will be, which is what I would have been doing in boots so as not to let the water over the top.

All was going well until about an hour later we realised that we had misplaced ourselves. Suddenly what we saw on the ground didn’t match the map and we realised that we were a kilometre adrift. More boggy, tussocky ground put us right.

On our way back to our intended route we encountered the first two D of E groups (from Stafford).

Once back on track, we followed the intended path which turned out to be very pleasant, in yet more showers, until we reached an area with which we are familiar (where we met the next two D of E groups, from Halesowen this time).

With a further deviation onto previously unwalked terrain, we were soon back onto the familiar path via the mast and the slab, back to Barmouth. The D of E chaps were the only people we saw out walking until we were within half a mile of Barmouth.

The weather was much better than expected (no torrential rain) and although some of the terrain was hard going the verdict from the weekend was that it was tremendous fun. Roll on the next outing…

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