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]

Friday, 10 December 2010

Three Walks, Two (Half) Days, One Camp

Walk 1

The entire purpose of the trip was to visit my father’s tree, so a quick jaunt up Dinas Oleu was our starting point.

Dad's Tree

Everything was in good order, so we left the birds enjoying the plethora of berries and returned to the town (Barmouth, that is).

Ordinarily, having walked up to the tree, we would continue onwards into the Rhinogau to spend the night, but aside from my (lack of) fitness issues, we’ve walked all of the obvious routes before, so for this trip we opted to tootle up the road a few miles to Tal-y-bont – first, however, there was a massive All Day Breakfast to be eaten in the Milk Bar.

Walk 2

The free car park in Tal-y-bont saved us from having to root around for a suitable overnight parking spot and soon we were walking up through the woods, alongside the Afon Ysgethin – a route that I’ve not walked for at least 20 years. I seem to recall that back then that path would be absolutely heaving on a summer’s day.

IMG_1899 Up we went, to pick up a track onto open land, which afforded us views of the smattering of snow around us. Soon, however, the cloud started to descend, swiftly followed by rain arriving.

IMG_1903We were positively sweltering, what with the positive temperature (a whole +2 degrees, according to the thermometer on my backpack) and the unaccustomed effort of carrying a pack up a slight incline, but the ice on the path, and the frozen falls on the crags alongside Llyn Bodlyn told us that, in common with the rest of the UK, it had been chilly of late.

IMG_1905With the terrain being typical Rhinogau bogs (albeit frozen bogs), tussocks and rocks, we doubted that we would find a good pitch around Llyn Bodlyn, even though the lack of visibility higher up had caused us to decide we would cut short there.

Happily, at the end of the track, just below the dam, there was a perfectly flat grassy area and we wasted no time in throwing the tent up between showers.

IMG_1914 Next to us the outflow from the llyn was solid, but slightly further down it was running, so gathering water wasn’t a problem.

IMG_1907 The llyn was still lightly frozen over too (and I took some incredibly poor photos to try to capture it):

IMG_1910 By just after 3pm we were tucked up in the tent, which was now enveloped by cloud, as the wind picked up outside and as the rain set in for the night.

Fast forwarding by 15 hours, we awoke this morning to find that the rain had washed most of the immediate snow away and that the cloud was still all around.

“It’s only a kilometre. How bad can it be?” I said to Mick on the subject of my proposed yomp down stream to pick up a path that would lead us back to our starting point. Mick gave me The Look. He’s walked across this valley before, and knew exactly how it could be.

Happily, the positive temperature hadn’t been around for long enough to fully defrost the bogs, so the going was easy and our return was entirely uneventful. We even popped out from below the cloud for the latter stages of the walk.

Route Map

With our tiny valley stroll amounting to a whole 9 miles over the 2 half days, we were back at the car by mid-morning, and there was no disagreement that another All Day Breakfast would go down a treat ahead of Walk 3.

Walk 3

Even after a monster fry up had been consumed, there was still a big chunk of day remaining, so a walk in the woods was called for, to go and have a shufti at the bothy we could have stayed in last night.

Past ‘group abuse’ issues have caused a locked gate to have been placed to stop vehicular access to the bothy, but we discovered on our wanderings that it’s still possible to get within an easy beer-and-coal hauling distance of the place.

Approaching, the building looks impressive as bothies go:


and inside we found five rooms (not to mention a quantity of rubbish left by those who are perfectly happy to haul full drinks bottles and cans of food in, but aren’t capable of carrying the much-lighter empties out. We did our good deed by collecting most of it up and taking it with us). There’s even a privvy provided (picture taken from the same location as the one above)

IMG_1924 but apparently the twenty-five paces from bothy to outhouse is too much for some people, based on the brown-stained toilet paper littering the area in between.

It’s a bit of a strange location for a bothy (being in such a low-land and easily accessed area), but armed with the firelighters and candles that we’d taken with us, it would no doubt have served us well had we chosen to stay there last night.

And so

By late afternoon we were home again, having not seen a single other person out walking across all three of our strolls.

It was far from our shortest backpacking trip in the area in terms of hours (we once squeezed in a quick overnight in the Rhinogau during which we were away from home for just 24 hours – but, being in the height of summer, managed to walk much further then than on this trip), but it’s got to win the award for our shortest mileage backpacking trip ever. Still good fun though, even in the adverse weather.


  1. I was in the Milk bar in Barmouth last weekend-they do a really great all day breakfast. All of the mountains in the area looked absolutely splendid with their winter coating and I got some good photos of Barmouth Bridge with the mountains in the background. Very brave of you to go camping at this time of year-wish I was a bit more adventurous.

  2. Jeff - given our random meetings earlier in the year, it's surprising that we missed you in the Milk Bar by four days!

  3. Yes that would have been spooky if we had bumped into one another again!Had been planning all year to go with my friend Geoff to visit another friend Simon who lives approx 6 miles inland from Aberdovey.First it was March,then June then Sept and finally Dec before we eventually made the visit.Didn't realise that there would be so much of the white stuff around but at least all of the main roads were clear.

  4. Perhaps you'll bump into each other on Sunday...
    Gayle, you're right, it's an ideal time of year to be yomping speedily across those deep bogs without a care in the world.
    The tree looks in great shape BTW.