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]

Thursday, 2 January 2014

An Excellent Navigational Display in Coed-y-Brenin

As the rain lashed down on Monday lunchtime (30 December) we sat in the comfort of Colin and watched a convoy of cars arrive into the car park where we had already been procrastinating for a good ten minutes. A quantity of parents and an even larger quantity of children unloaded themselves and, with full waterproofs, off they set.

We applauded the attitude of ‘Sod the weather, we’re taking the children for a walk anyway’, questioned whether doing so was more likely to lead to a love or a hatred of the outdoors, and made ourselves another cup of tea.

Tea was drunk and it became clear that we had made as much headway as was possible with the crossword so the procrastination had to come to an end. Our delaying tactic had worked insofar as the lashing rain was now just ordinary rain.

An easy forest track warmed us up before we reached the path that was going to lead us up. Gosh, I’m unfit! But, every slog up a hill like this one (which wasn’t big, although it was quite steep) is nudging my muscles back into some semblance of shape.IMG_5695



Mick, striding on, soon opens a big gap between us (he did eventually notice my absence and wait)

Only a few paces after we reached the top of our climb we started descending again, once again on a forest track.

“Should we be zig-zagging like this?” I queried on the way down (a rhetorical question, as Mick hadn’t looked at the map), but I wasn’t moved to check. The hill we had been up was small enough that it didn’t much matter where we landed on the other side (although, in all honesty, even my question didn’t make any alarm bells ring that we might be awry from our intended route).

Coming upon a bothy was a bit of a surprise, as I hadn’t noticed that it was on our route – but then I hadn’t been looking at buildings when I was planning. Of course, we popped our heads in, even though we had been there before, and who should we find in the living room, with a good fire going, but the parents and children who set off whilst we were still sitting out the lashing rain. A walk in the woods, followed by lunch in a bothy beside a fire, followed by a walk in the woods: I bet by the end of the day those children had forgotten all about the morning’s rain. (The rain had stopped somewhere just before we reached the bothy and it stayed stopped for the rest of our outing.)


It wasn’t until we got to a junction of paths that shouldn’t have been there that I finally looked at the map and realised that the bothy hadn’t been on our route and that we had taken the wrong track right back at the top of the hill. We had added a small bit of distance onto what was always going to be a short walk, and hadn’t even noticed until we were within twenty paces of being back on track. My considered opinion is that the reality of the outing was better than the plan!

A road walk back to Colin was avoided by making use of footpaths that don’t exist on the map and before we knew it we were back to where we started.

It was only 3.25 miles, with 800’ of up, but considering the miserable conditions, it was a nice little outing.

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