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]

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

LoW Day 2 - S Side of Black Mountains to Llandovery

Wednesday 18 April (0800-1610)
Distance: 17.5 miles (on paper!)
Weather: showers
Number of other people seen: 0

It rained in the night, and I don't just mean a couple of showers. My goodness, that was a good test of Susie's newly sealed seams, and one that I'm pleased to say that she passed with flying colours.

The rain did make us a bit late getting out of our sleeping bags, but happily by the time we came to de-pitch it had calmed down to just light showers. It stayed that way for a couple of hours too, before the next proper rain arrived.
There was no respite from the water, though. We experienced three underfoot conditions today: standing water, running water and tarmac. The first 7 miles of the day fell into the first two categories and it was slow going, taking us 5 hours to wade and splosh our way (often pathlessly) through (would have been longer if all the long grass through one of the bogs hadn't been burnt off - based on today's evidence the mind boggles at how that area could possibly be dry enough to burn!).

Admittedly there was a bit of a delay when we came across a raging torrent of a river (probably usually just a tame stream). It was, once again a trousers-off crossing for me, and even then it was deep enough for me to come within half an inch of getting wet underpants. Even worse, it was raining at the time, but that probably added to the enjoyment of getting dressed again on the other side and feeling the blood turn my purple knees back to their proper pink state (the toes took a bit longer).

I felt sure that in nicer weather I would have been exclaiming at length about our surroundings for the first half of the day. From what we could see it all looked quite lovely and it had a very remote feel with no signs of habitation within view (albeit the views were often curtailed). We'll just have to return in nicer weather to confirm how nice an area it is!

Reaching tarmac was, today, a relief and at the first suitable opportunity we paused for lunch. Being well sheltered in a church doorway, we didn't have to rush when it started to rain again.

As is our tendency, the route was contemplated as we ate (oatcakes and Thai chilli tuna, if you're interested, followed by custard creams) and given the inclement conditions we decided we couldn't face more bog wading, thus we took to tarmac for the afternoon. There was one off-road interlude, but the presence of four killer dogs at a farm, which resulted in some considerable diversion and trespass, didn't make that a happy experience (nice path when we found our way around the trained killers, mind).

By Llandovery even the plethora of BBJs (lots of red kites, a few buzzards) wasn't distracting us from the tiredness, so we were more than ready to stop by the time we reached the campsite. Nice hot showers have revived us and we'll probably be wide awake until, oooh, at least 8pm now, maybe pushing half past!

As for today's photo, you'll notice that it's of the same subject as yesterday's (it's the only time my phone came out of my pack today, and then only for about 5 seconds, given the rain). I took it a few moments before Mick gave his shorts a good dunking!

(Bob: we were about 2km NNW of Cwmgiedd last night, on the top corner of the forest - at about 780134. We found ourselves a dry patch in amongst the bog - except it was no longer a dry patch by this morning!
Alan: not ideal weather, but it could be worse. Having seen a top-level forecast for the next five days it's not looking like we're in for anything much better either. Good job we went belt and braces on the waterproofs!
Louise: I fear that I'm going to give the impression that Wales is a rainy place with lots of bog...)


  1. Well, I'm just kind of hoping you're keeping your fine weather quota for Scotland.

  2. I'm following you with interest and some envy. I will be interested to hear what you make of the Welsh people (if you meet any) - they were extraordinarily kind and helpful to me last summer.

    I've got the date for my knee op. - 4th May.