Distance: 15 miles
Weather: Dry and mainly sunny!
Number of slugs found in our food bags this morning: 3
What a lovely day for a walk through Welsh lumpy bits! It's so nice to be able to see the area through which you're walking, and the end of today, in particular, was well worth seeing.
The day started fine, with just some cloud clinging to the valley bottom, but that had burnt off by the time we made our way down the short distance to Commins Coch. We took a bit of a short cut in getting there and found ourselves in someone's garden. Fortunately, being before 8am, there was no-one around, so we crept through and let ourselves out of the gate (displaying a 'strictly private' sign on the other side). It saved us a bit of road walking!
Just under 3 miles later we reached the village of Cemmaes, where we had been fantasising that there may be a tea-room, but our fantasies were all in vain. All we got there were some good public conveniences, with hot water, soap and litter bins (it's rare enough to find hot water in public toilets out in the sticks; litter bins are really rare). With clean hands and with our rubbish of the last few days discarded, over to the other side of the valley we went.
I did point out to Mick that I was taking him over 2 lumps unnecessarily. We could have just walked a shorter distance along the road, but we decided that it was a nice day for standing on a lump which promised good views. In fact it gave us a view of where we would be had we followed the Cambrian Way for this section (along a nice-looking ridge, albeit through a wind farm).
Descending from the second lump turned out to be something of a trial. We managed to locate where the path entered the forest, and it didn't bode well that a fence had been constructed across it. Beyond, we could see that the obvious old track, but it was so overgrown that after battling our way along it for a few hundred metres we could see the futility of trying to cover its entire length. It was impassable (and we've battled our way through along some pretty poorly maintained paths). Clambering back up out of the forest and hopping over a fence, around the outside edge of the forest we went (more or less - a few detours were made to gateways).
Having descended from those small lumps (885' was the highest), the proper climbing started, which was to form the bulk of today's 5000' of ascent. As we wandered along a forest track, looking out for the footpath we wanted, we had visions of finding the same lack of maintenance as we had earlier. Not only was this one clearly signed, but it's obviously still in use too. It was rather a nice path, actually.
Then came the highlight of the day. If you have mapping for this area then have a look at the ridge which runs from Bwlch Siglen, across Craig Maesglase, then over Craig Portas to Cribin Fawr. All those escarpments! I'm not sure my mother would have approved of us being so close to such an edge, but it is an impressive bit of landscape that I've only seen from below and from across the valley before.
An extended aqua-faff was had above the waterfall at Craig Maesglase, to refill our drinking bladders and to put on another layer (I was down to my windshirt and base layer - the first time my jacket's been off on this trip - but now we were high and in the wind it was getting nippy). We'd then intended to pick up water for camp when we got to the next stream, a mile and a half further on. However, when we got there we decided that rather than carrying the extra water for a couple of miles, we would extend our day by 2.5 miles, which would allow us to camp by water. The other key motivation of the extension was that today's weather was still fine, whereas tomorrow's doesn't look so good (thanks again Alan for the info - keep them coming!).
Our resolve faltered just half a mile after the intended end of the day. The wind is strong, and we were concerned about getting shelter to camp. As an added incentive to cutting short, a shower was seen approaching, and we didn't want to have to don waterproofs (although in the end it skirted us anyway). So, we left our route and dropped down the hillside a bit to find a pitch. It's not the high-level pitch (although still at 1800') with extensive views we'd hoped for tonight; in fact, in a repetition of last night we're pitched just off a forest track. We are near water though, and are reasonably sheltered from the worst of the wind, so it'll do the job nicely.
It's an early start tomorrow, as we have chores to do when we get to Barmouth, so the earlier we arrive, the better. As for which route we take to get there, that depends upon the weather. Fingers crossed the low cloud and heavy showers hold off till mid-morning!
(JJ - is that section of the SWCP violently lumpy, per chance?
Alan - I suppose I can just about forgive this weather in April, but a bit warmer and a bit drier would certainly be appreciated!)