In the middle of October, in the village of Dinas Mawddwy, I woke up to a heavy frost. It felt like winter had begun. Then ensued two and a half months of weather so consistently mild that not a hint of frost was seen and I often found myself walking in my shirt sleeves. Today, on the first day of the New Year, winter made a return visit, although I suspect it to be only a fleeting one again. So, it was with frost on the ground and puddles fully iced over that we set out up our first objective of the day.
There's a handy parking area just at the bottom of the track which leads to within yards of the top of this hill, albeit with a small off track detour required around a farm, making it a simple and fast going outing.
The views from the top included a little bit of sea and lots and lots of moorland. We could have explored that moorland further if we'd executed my original plan of a circular walk. However, with New Year's Day having the only decent forecast for the remainder of the trip I opted to forego circular walks in order to squeeze in two hills whilst the going was good.
This out-and-back came in at 4.5 miles with 500' of ascent.
Urra Moor - Round Hill (NZ594016; 454m)
When I looked at this hill on the map I reckoned there was upwards of an 80% chance that we had detoured to it when we walked the Coast to Coast in 2008. It lies so close to the path of that route, and the trig point is so prominent, that it's the sort of detour we often make. However, as I had no actual recollection of going to that trig, and as we were going to be nearby, I thought we'd best visit it, just to be sure.
Having breathed in and squeezed Colin through the width restriction at the exit of the Clay Bank car park (the entrance width restriction looked a bit too tight for comfort), we took one of the two vacant spaces and set off against the flow of people. Being nearly 2pm by now, most people were heading back from their outings.
The wind was still biting and the ground still frozen as we ambled upwards, agreeing that very little of our surroundings looked familiar, even though we could remember the day we'd walked this way 7 years ago.
The trig atop the tumulus which sits at the high point of this moor didn't ring any bells either, although I wouldn't be hugely surprised if I was to go back to our photos from 2008 and find one of us there.
Making our return to Clay Bank we couldn't help but look over at our final objective of this trip, and knowing what the weather forecast held in store for the morrow, it was tempting to try to squeeze a third hill into the day. A look at my watch (where had the day gone?) and a quick calculation said that to do so would result in torchlight being required for the return leg. Wind and rain tomorrow, or torchlight today? I opted for the former and thus back to Colin we went with 4.2 miles walked with 800' of up.