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]

Saturday, 17 October 2015

A Short Week in Wales – Tuesday

Glasgwm (SH836395)

Having contemplated the map, I decided not to go back to the layby I’d overshot on Monday, but instead would take a look at the possibility of attacking Glasgwm from the top of the pass (Ochr y Bwlch). I was reasonably sure there was a stile onto the access land and, as the top could be reached simply by following fences from there, it seemed likely there would be some sort of a trodden line too.

What I hadn’t expected was for the car park at the top of the pass to be heaving before 8am such that, as I approached, I feared that there would be no room for me. Thanks to the group already gathered having double-parked, there did prove to be space for Colin, and after a good session of pre-hydrating, off I set in one direction whilst the other group headed off in the other, taking out of earshot the overly-loud man who believed that a certain word (starting with ‘f’ and ending in ‘ucking’) had a home in every single sentence he uttered.

A steep initial ascent (some of which I did twice, having realised a few minutes in that I’d left my water bottle in Colin) took me up onto the ridge and it turned out to be a lovely walk. A good route choice too, I thought, in that there was a stile everywhere I needed a stile to be (and every stile even had a little disk giving its grid reference, which could prove quite handy on a day with poor visibility). As it went, I had gorgeous conditions. In fact, until it got a bit cool up on the ridge once I got up to about 700m, it was difficult to believe that it was mid-October.

There’s a llyn right by the summit, but the sun was in the wrong place for me to get a passable snap of both the water and the summit cairn, so instead here’s a shot of part of the llyn, with a taster of the lovely views I enjoyed:


And looking in a different direction:


Returning largely by retracing my outward route, I couldn’t resist trying a little bit of a shortcut through the forest where my 1:25k map said there was a track lopping off a corner. I’m sure I found its line, as I found one of these over every drainage ditch:


but I don’t think that track has seen much traffic in recent years! Oh, and I managed to find a knee-deep, water-filled hole with my right leg on my way through too…

By the time I got back to Colin, he was the only vehicle which was neither blocked-in or blocking-in, and the verge opposite was also being used. I’ve never seen that parking area so busy! Someone did come and briefly park in front of me whilst I was lunching, perhaps momentarily thinking it was an acceptable thing to do based on the surrounding evidence. Fortunately, he did think better of it before I had to go and point out that it would be a little bit of an ignorant place to park.

The outing came in at 6.5 miles with 1900’ of up. This is the route I took:


I’d recommend neither my ascent nor my descent route in their entirety. My experience suggested that the best option would be to follow my descent route up to the edge of the forest, then follow the edge of the forest round to pick up my ascent route from point 656.

Esgair Ddu (SH873106)

Still feeling under-energised after a recent bout of the lurgi, I wasn’t sure I wanted to tackle another hill on Tuesday, but equally, I couldn’t think of anything better to do with my afternoon, so I settled on the plan of parking up in Cwm Llinau* and just taking a bit of a wander to check out the approach route…

… which, of course, translated into me tackling the whole thing and visiting the summit. I got a phone signal up there and, bizarrely, took more phone calls in the next five minutes than I usually receive in the space of a month. It probably goes without saying that I didn’t see anyone during the entire outing, so my temporary use of the summit as an office didn’t cause a disturbance to anyone else.

Here are a few summit snaps:



Walking back across the top for my descent was incredibly boggy, which wasn’t a surprise, given how squelchy my nearby ascent route had been. The map suggested it would be so:


As you can see, a slightly different line was taken on the descent. There wasn’t much in it though; both lines required the same number of fences to be crossed and, unlike my morning outing, I didn’t see a single stile on this hill.

With shins so sore that I walked the final descent down the road backwards, I arrived back at Colin just as the sun was dipping behind the hills, with 5.3 miles walked and 1400’ of ascent.

Later in the evening I did something I’ve not done for years: I used a phone box! My chosen parking place for the night was flat and quiet, and even had a BT wifi hotspot, but there was no mobile signal nearby, so I was pleased as I drove through the  village to spy that it had the rare amenity of a coin-accepting phone box. I may have had to clear cobwebs to get to the phone, but at least it worked (and not bad value at 60p for 30 minutes).

(*This hill can be tackled from quite a number of directions, but my journeys around the local roads on StreetView suggested to me that of the two possible places I could find to park a Colin-sized vehicle, Cwm Llinau was the better option.)

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