Distance: 16.5 (plus accidental detours)
Weather: rainy morning, interspersed with some violent hail; sunny intervals in the afternoon (yay!)
Number of accidental detours taken: 2
It was a day of four parts, three of which looked to be particularly hard-going. On two of those sections I also had straight lines plotted on the map, in the absence of any marked paths - which always suggests to me that the going will be slow and hard, particularly in the bog-fest conditions which continue to prevail.
Happily, things didn't turn out to be quite as difficult as I'd expected. I don't know what animal(s) had formed the trods through the first two miles of mountainous knotted-grass tussocks and bog, but by taking a path over the top of the lumpy bits and following those trods the going was a touch easier than it looked from a distance.
The second section, in contrast to the tussocky, rolling nothingness of the first, looked more like grazing land (so far the farmed land we've crossed has probably been 99.9% sheep farming, a notable number of fields full of horses, and just two fields of cows), and was more rugged. Our path was low-level and took us through many bogs as the rain and hail alternated with each other. But even so, I was rather enjoying the surroundings.
After a very confusing passage through a forest (the presence of waymarked bridleways which don't exist on the map served to cause the confusion, misdirection and backtracking), we arrived in Strata Florida, a place which comprises only a very small chapel, a very large graveyard, some abbey ruins, a car park and some toilets. The latter served us well, as I brewed up some tea in the shelter of the ladies and we sat in the lee of the building for our lunch. As an added bonus, there were hints of sunshine and the oppressive cloud cover of the last few days had become less threatening, fluffier clouds. I was even so brave as to take off my overtrousers!
After our third 'official footpath rerouting' of the day (I'm all for the diversion of footpaths such that they don't pass through farmyards, but it would be nice if the diversion was made clear before you've walked 250 yards too far!), we headed up into llyn country. Bizarrely, along the perfectly good track, there were waymarker posts galore. We'd seen none on the indistinct bridleway of the morning.
After a little road section, we got to the fourth part of the day, which I expected to see us down to 1mph. It's lumpy bumpy terrain, with no paths marked and with the suggestion of bogginess (yes, more!). That section turned out to be a positive joy.
First there was the stumbling across of a bothy. Often when we see a remote building marked on a map I'll joke about it being a bothy whereas usually it's a ruin or a sheepfold. It hadn't even crossed my mind that this one would be anything interesting, but it turned out to be a bothy with a gas cooker, hot and cold running water and a flush toilet. With two chaps, John and Mike in residence, and with a massive fire burning, it was so very tempting to stay.
We did stay for a cup of tea and a chat, and mumbled about the possibility of cutting short and getting up mega early in the morning to make up the distance. However, tomorrow is looking to be another hard day (as is every day except Saturday week, actually), and the desire not to make it even harder won over the desire for another night of comfort.
To round off the day nicely, the arduous yomp to our night stop turned out to be a reasonably straight forward yomp. Like this morning, by taking a line over the tops of some lumps we avoided the worst off the tussocks and bogs and found vehicle tracks for much of the way.
We had wanted to walk a little bit further than we have, but we employed the rule of 'if you see a really good pitch within half a mile of the end of the day (or within half an hour of sundown), then use it'. It's a tad breezy, having no shelter at all, and that wind is chilling indeed, but it's a good pitch in a spectacular spot in this lumpy landscape speckled with llyns.
So, another enjoyable day inspite of the weather (and the constant wading through bogs). I imagine there'd be superlatives galore if we could have a day of sunshine!