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]

Tuesday 18 December 2007

Rhinog Fawr

On 17 December last year I walked up Rhinog Fawr. The rain that started falling as I had left Barmouth in the dark that morning was so contrary to the fair weather forecast that I had clutched at the straw that it was just a passing shower. As it went, I completed the walk in atrocious visibility and distinctly damp conditions.

On Thursday last week Husband and I were in Barmouth and found ourselves with a few hours to spare. As Husband had not been with me on my jaunt up Rhinog Fawr last year, and as it is one of the few tops in the Rhinogau up which he has not walked, we settled on spending our morning making the trip.

This time, as we left Barmouth at first light, the weather was staying true to the forecast – clear skies and cold.

The sun had just burst over the horizon as we arrived at the road-end at Graigddu Isaf (I didn’t recognise it when we arrived – there was a forest there a year ago and now it’s gone!)

17/12/06 - Forest!
17/12/2006 - That's a forest

13/12/07 - The forest's gone!
13/12/2007 - The forest's gone!

and the two main Rhinog peaks were looking stunning bathed in the golden sunshine. It’s just a pity that my little point and click camera couldn’t do justice to the view (nor in fact any of the others of the day; such wonderful conditions and I didn’t get a single good photo).
Rhinog Fach and Fawr
Rhinog Fach and Fawr

Rhinog Fawr

Rhinog Fawr in the sunshine

Leaving the Roman Steps a while later to make our way up to Llyn Du the going became noticeably frosty, but nowhere near as icy as it turned out to be as we started climbing up the north side of Rhinog Fawr above the llyn.

Three RAF Hawks on some sort of an air-combat exercise immediately above us held our attention for a while until we decided that it was time to push on, at times being very inelegant over the boulders in trying not to slip on the icy surfaces.
Being inelegant on icy rocky bits

Being inelegant!

Things went well (well, except for the bit when I cut my finger on a rock during one minor arm-flailing slip, and then, quite impressively, trod on my own hand a while later (but we’ll gloss over that one)) as we continued on up, admiring the views with many a ‘wow’ and a ‘gosh’.

All the scrambly bits were behind us and we were just on the final bit of incline up to the trig point (i.e. a nice easy bit) when I slipped on an icy rock. It wasn’t a serious slip and I’m not generally one to fall over a lot, so I did what comes naturally in such a situation and flailed my arms around with some force. Unfortunately for Husband he was standing a little too close behind me. I clocked him square across the jaw. He reported that his ear was ringing for the next ten minutes! Ooops. Bit of a clumsy day I was having.

Views from the summit were fantastic (a pleasant contrast to the ten feet that I could see last year!) so we spent a while pointing out the various places that we’ve camped in the area and oohed and aahed some more. The only cloud within view was covering the summit of Snowdon.

From Rhinog Fawr Summit
Looking North-westish from the summit.

After leaving the top in a westerly sort of direction and after some tramping over some interesting terrain (last year I took the easy option of heading down on a path until I met a wall, then following that wall back to Llyn Du, even though it wasn’t a very direct route) we picked up a path that took us back to Llyn Du, where we adhered to the principle that variety is the spice of life and so took to the north side of the llyn for our return.

Llyn Du from the West

Llyn Du from the West

Returning to the car a while later, the tally of people seen during the day stood at twelve – ten of whom were a school trip and were just heading up to Llyn Du to go up Rhinog Fawr as we were on our way down. The most notable things about them were the matching rubberised waterproofs that they were wearing (tops and trousers; that must have been slightly less than comfortable in such sunny weather) and the enormously heavy looking canvas-esque day-packs. Despite their uncomfortable looking attire, I was still miffed that we didn’t get to go on such exciting outings when I was at school.

Once again, it was only a very short outing, slipped into a few available hours – but given our propensity to climb hills in awful weather it was hugely enjoyable in the fine weather.


  1. Blimey Gayle! Two falls and a knockout punch! And all that on a morning's walk. How will poor Mick fare on a walk of over a thousand miles?

    Mick - take out some hefty life cover...


  2. Life insurance shouldn't be necessary, as on The Long Walk I'm sure that Mick will return to his usual position - that being at least two paces ahead of me! There he will be well outside of the reach of my arms!

    Of course, I may still stand on my own hand every now and then...