Saturday 21 April (0725-1810)
Distance: 17.5 miles
Weather: morning mainly wet, afternoon dry, some brief bits of sun.
Number of ladies encountered in sidecars with burst hot water bottles: 1
To the sound of Canada geese honking, we set out this morning into the cloud that enveloped us. There were already hints that the sun was trying to break through, and soon enough the cloud was breaking up. Given the terrain, that made the navigation a lot easier.
It was the navigation that slowed us down today, more so than the terrain (although, unsurprisingly, we did find more bogs to wade though). I spent half the morning with compass in hand, but it was worthwhile so as not to throw any unexpected detours into what was promising to be quite a hard day.
The weather this morning added a bit more spice too as the brief sun, as the cloud burnt off, was soon replaced with a period of snow, which eventually gave way to hail, and then rain as we descended.
Descending down into Cwmystwyth we were met by a farmer brandishing a gun, asking us where we were going. It turned out that there was an organised shoot on (trying to get the fox which has killed 22 lambs to date), and he was concerned that we were going to stray into that area. As it was, we were about to veer off in the opposite direction.
Devil's Bridge was reached at 11.45, just fifteen minutes before the Post Office shut, so we wasted no time in going to pick up our supply parcel (although the store in which the PO is located is open all day and they had said we could collect it at any time before 5pm).
Back down the road to the cafe we then went, perversely picking the empty cafe over the busier-looking Station cafe. We thought for a while that we may have erred in our choice, but both of our all-day breakfasts were excellent, and being the only customers we got to have a good chinwag with the owners. It was an hour before we dragged ourselves away.
There are two obvious routes out of Devil's Bridge - a mile and a half north up the main road to pick up a path to Parson's Bridge or a big loop to the north-west to another bridge whilst staying mainly off-road. In bad weather we may have picked the former route, but as the conditions weren't too bad we took the route that involved three miles walking to make one mile of northerly progress. It also involved the big descent down to the river and then, instead of taking the longer but gentler track up the other side, we took the straight-up-the-hill, killer option. That's one steep valley side to climb head-on - particularly when you've just re-supplied!
A bit more winding around (and more upness - up was a big theme of the day), we found ourselves on the A44 for half a kilometre, and it wasn't until I got there that I realised that it's the road to Aberystwyth that I used to drive all the time (having lived in Aber for 3 years). That short section houses a petrol station/shop and seeing that it has toilets I decided to avail myself of the facilities. Perhaps it was a bit cheeky to use their hot water and soap to wash my smalls, but I used to be a customer many years ago, so I didn't feel too guilty. (Incidentally, it was here that Mick encountered the lady in a side-car who found that one of her feet-warming hot water bottles had burst. Her feet were as wet as ours!)
Off down the road we then went with my smalls hanging off my walking pole. It's a very effective way to get things dry!
The final killer-ascent of the day was up towards Dyll Faen forest, the north side of which was our destination for the night.
We've got ourselves a very scenic pitch with fantastic views (and a phone signal - they've been few and far between to date), but we are pitched on a bog (where wouldn't be waterlogged after all of this rain?). Still, at least most of the snow has melted. We're at over 600 metres and there are still some patches of old snow, but the fresh covering that was here yesterday has now gone.
(Mike: you'll be familiar with where we are tonight too, from your Pumlumon Challenges.
Bob: trying to keep your area all to yourself eh? 'Fraid I might have to rave about this walk though. If it's this good in this weather, it must be truly fantastic during a more settled spell.
Conrad: once your new knee's up and running you'll have to have a look at the Cambrian Way guide. I'm impressed with how remote the route is, as well as with the surroundings. Hard going, but so far it's been worth it. As for the source of the Wye, we do go past it, and the source of the Severn too.
Alan: could get any weather, and have been getting any weather. It'd be nice to hear that there is some change somewhere on the horizon - and preferably before the end of the walk!)
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