Sun 17 April
Wall-to-wall sunshine to start, sunny intervals later. Cold.
The day started with an accidental lie-in, with the double bonus that: 1) breakfast was had in a warm tent, with the sun full upon it; and 2) by the time the tent was packed away it was bone dry - a nice change as it had been sopping yesterday morning.
It was approaching 8.30 by the time we strode off, under a cloudless sky, to complete the final ascent up to the Black Mountain ridge, where ice lay over the puddles, but with the sun blazing down it felt warm indeed.
It was a busy place up there first thing. Before the first hour was out we had passed 18 other backpackers (three D of E groups), but after the final group this fine ridge was all ours for quite a while before day walkers started appearing. They'd missed the best of the day as, by then, clouds were forming. Happily, however, the views lasted all day; we'd enjoyed sunshine on our last visit, but with such a haze on that occasion that views were severely curtailed.
Taking the trouble to detour a couple of dozen paces from the path, with about a foot of ascent, the summit of Black Mountain was bagged (a Marilyn), and not long after we paused for lunch, entertained as we did so by watching nearby paragliders. They were a plentiful bunch today. Up there with the numbers of D of Eers.
Unfortunately the warmth of this morning didn't last. As the northerly wind picked up and the sunny spells became more spaced out, it grew noticeably colder and more layers were donned. I maxed out at 4 (all long-sleeved) during our lunch break, although some did later come off as we got towards the valley.
It feels, as the path starts its descent from the ridge, like Hay should be just a few minutes away, at the bottom, but in fact it is still 5 miles distant. The last couple of hundred yards of that distance were walked in the company of a chap who may or may not (depending on fitness) be tackling part of the Cape Wrath Trail next month. Ways were parted as he went off to his accommodation and we went in search of socks, as one of mine laddered on Day 2 and disintegrated into holes yesterday. The sock mission accomplished, a circuitous route was then taken to the Co-op, as I made a very poor job of navigating through the town. At least Mick was saved some steps as I then left him sitting like a vagrant at the roadside with both packs as I nipped a few minutes over the border to England in my quest for groceries.
Back in Wales, we soon abandoned the Path for the day as it's another campsite tonight and this one lies about half a mile (all uphill!) off-route.
(Postscript: must be tired. Not only did we oversleep quite considerably this morning, but we put tea on to rehydrate this evening and lay down to wait for it to do its thing, and promptly both fell asleep. It was a late tea tonight!)