Wales walk on the 17th and 18th December 2009. Photos here.
The bed and breakfast at CAE GWYN FARM makes for a perfect start point to go walking around the Rhinog range. I was here to wildcamp and to do a short walk. Winter days are short, and routes need to reflect that. The morning was cold and snow showers were evident on distant peaks. We left our very kind hosts and the van and walked, keeping to the right of the old buildings by Cae n – y – cefn. This path took us up onto the nearby high ground in the valley. The views of the Rhinogs opened up before us and snow flurries pelted us with icy blasts.
We walked on and followed the forest edge after we crossed the river. There was a path signposted to the waterfalls which led us to the exit of the forest and the start of the Roman Steps. The waterfalls were not in spate but still it makes for a nice forest section to see them as you pass by. We followed the path up and then went left following the route up to Llyn Du a small tarn. We followed the rocky shoreline here going to the back of the the tarn. The rocks were glazed in ice and very slippery. We had set off mid morning and the slow going here bit into more of our time.
From there the path we took went up over a wall and followed around the western edge of Rhinog Fawr. I liked the views from this side as they opened out looking to the coast. The courses of the rivers exiting into the sea could be seen, and what looks like a good coastal walk caught our eye for another time. A path leads up to the summit and we followed this to a cold wind swept summit. Dark clouds heading from the north foretold of snow and we took in the views taking shelter from the wind using the shelter near the summit.
The snow arrived and we left. There are two paths leading off to the east. We took the right one going right down a short gully and then down to the Bwlch Diws Ardudwy. This path is steep, slippery, moss covered and the edges of it are lined in deep ankle twisting heather. It was slow going. The path was mostly in the shade and by the time we got to the bottom I had broken a trekking pole and we both had had a slip. Time was going by and we had limited daylight. Rhinog Fach would have to be missed as the path up it would be more glazed over with ice as the sun dipped to the horizon. We had planned to have come off it and camp by the tarn of Llyn Y Bi. New plan was to camp near the tarn to the north east of it. We followed the Bwlch Diws Ardudwy and then headed through the tussocks and heather to the tarn. Slow going at times and rough walking. Glorious boggy stuff and still we had met no one else. We camped further over from the tarn as no good spots were found. Tents pitched as the sun set. It was very cold and ice formed on the inner and outside of the tent as I pitched it.
The night was long and cold. The time was spent photographing the stars and listening to IPods. A helicopter buzzed around the valley for a while disturbing the peace and I waited for the dawn. It arrived with some colour dancing off the clouds. Everything was frozen and I had to pour hot water over frozen trail shoes to be able to put them on. It had been a very cold night.
Breaking camp seemed to take ages in the cold morning. We took in the views and just enjoyed being high and in such great company as the Welsh hills. We kept to the high ground heading east towards the path that runs below Craig Aberserw. There was a track made by shepherd’s quad bikes that made for fast progress to the main track that we followed to Ffridd bryn-coch.
It was a short walk but a good one back to the van. I just stood looking at the valley below me and took in the views. It's a big country and has a sense of vastness about it. Much more than the Lakes in some ways.
A path by the river led us back to CAE GWYN FARM where we were welcomed with hot coffee and a warm kitchen to relax in. How friendly is that. I wonder why it has taken me so long to go back to Wales. I will go back to the Rhinogs when it's summer and do the whole range in one go. Be a lot easier in dry conditions. Their reputation for tough walking is deserved.