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]

Sunday, 24 April 2016

ODP Day 10: Llangollen to Moel Famau

Sat 23 April
19 miles (>4000' ascent)
Glorious start, clouding as the day went on

I'm sure it must be a common experience amongst people who navigate with a 1:50k map, that you reach a point where the map shows a long block of buildings with a footpath emerging in the middle of the rear of them, and (in the absence of any waymarks) you have no clue which way around or through those buildings you're meant to go. It happened to us twice today (once we guessed right; the other time we thrashed though a forest to the right place). At the first instance (which wasn't on ODP - we took to the Clwydian Way this morning so as to detour via the Marilyn Cyrn-y-Brain) we also had a sense of deja vu.  There I was thinking that by taking the Clwydian Way we were doing something novel, but it turned out we had, in fact, walked that way before during a circular walk out of Llangollen. Didn't help us with the navigation too much, mind - we just recalled that we'd had the same trouble last time without being able to recall the answer.

The yomp up Cyrn-y-Brain  (we could have taken a path, but opted for the more direct option) was through deep, old, woody heather, but once on top was a joy to walk on this gloriously clear day. Mountain bikers outnumbered walkers up there by a large factor.

Back on ODP, before it had chance to throw in many of its trademark undulations, we reached Llandegla where the church outdoes the one in Newchurch with its provision of refreshments. They've built a little kichenette in a back corner, and provided a large table and cushioned chairs as well as toilet facilities and a local history display. Taking a long lunchbreak there, it was only as we were about to leave that it occurred to me that, as we were to have a dry camp tonight  (without even passing any streams this afternoon) we should have rehydrated an evening meal whilst we were there and had it for our lunch. As it was, we topped up our water bottles, decided to worry about finding more water later, and went on our way.

A few miles later a pause was had to save the life of a lamb, which had squeezed under a tiny gap in a fence and couldn't get back to its mother. It gave us quite the run around and we probably would have failed in our quest if three other walkers hadn't come along and lent a hand. It was only a tiny thing and definitely needed its mother, so it was good finally to corner it and lift it back over the fence where it immediately went in for a lengthy feed. A satisfying good deed complete.

Because one Marilyn wasn't enough for us today, we then threw in another two (both very close to the path: Moel Gyw and Foel Fenlli). With 18 miles already walked with lots of up and down, the steep pull up the last one was slow work. In fact, it's been quite a hard day really, so I'm glad I set out refreshed from last night's B&B; I think I would have struggled to have done today's walk yesterday.

Looking over from the top of the last hill to where we intended to camp tonight things didn't look promising for a good pitch (all we could see was heather, no nice patches of grass), but we carried on regardless. A small deviation off path led us to a grassy area which is perfect in terms of position (i.e. out of sight and not near a path) but is probably the worst we've ever had in terms of slopiness. As we weren't moved to search any further for something better we've only ourselves to blame if we spend the whole night having to climb back up to the top of the tent!

As for the water situation, a couple of litres were begged from a hotel/restaurant sort of a place that we passed (it wasn't clear from its signage what it actually was) so we should (barring excessive thirst or mishaps) get us far enough to find either a stream or a tap tomorrow.

(Post blog note: I've just established that it's possible to get two cooking pots adequately clean without water with two used (but not squeezed out) tea bags!)


  1. Ah yes, slopeiness. Had the same problem in the Lowther hills. Mike and myself had pitched on a fairly flattish platform. Well so we thought! As I slid in to my sleeping bag I went sliding head first out of the tent door, interesting!!

    1. I was expecting the 'like a hessian sack on a helter-skelter' experience, but fortunately the fabric of both of our current NeoAirs are quite 'sticky', holding us more-or-less in place all night.

  2. I am getting worried. You as junior-hards are much fitter and sprightly than me yet you are finding circa 16 miles of up-and-downiness hard going. My first day on my planned trip to the SW Coast Path in July covers 16 miles of probably even more up-and-downiness from Land's End back to Penzance where I am booked in at a B and B for the second night, having stayed there the night before and busing out to start at Land;s End.

    1. In my defence, it was 19 miles we did that day, and now I've remeasured based on the route we actually took, it turns out that it was just shy of 5000' of ascent. Further in my defence (I say clutching slightly at straws in terms of excuses), I was hauling 3 litres of water up that last hill, on top of the usual load.

      Besides which, I think you currently pip me on hill-fitness. You've had a lot of hills featuring in your blog recently, whereas we started this trip having not backpacked since last July and with very few hills walked so far this year. I'm certainly feeling much fitter now than when we left Chepstow, mind.

  3. tea bags - nothing like re-inventing the wheel (Scouting for Boys, page ... but I suspect teabags work better than loose leaves )
    Slopeiness is a big problem in the Greater Ranges - try a sort of hammock net and/or harness clipped to a couple of ice screws - avoids 'slope-ing' off 5000' drops perfectly so might be helpful in Wales, with rather more care, and deeper anchors, of course.

    1. As we pitched the tent and laughed at the angle I did say to Mick that we'd be sorted if we just had some harnesses and an anchor. Fortunately, as I mentioned to Dawn above, the grippiness of the fabric of our NeoAir mats did an admirable job of keeping us stable on the slope.