Archive for the ‘plynlimon’ Tag

A Spring Wild Camp in Mid Wales   7 comments

The Hard Man had been driving for a backpack with his two kids for a while. They are much younger than TJS and still in those formative years where the delights of TV and tech are a serious impediment to convincing them them the real world outdoors (i.e. sleeping in tents, in the rain/cold, miles from anywhere, eating dried food and with no phones/iPads etc) is much better. In fact after setting a date for this trip I nearly bailed out having had a long and tiring week at work. THM convinced me otherwise and I am so glad he did

After much discussion we settled on a trip into the wild mountains of mid-Wales around Plynlimon. We met in Llanidloes and then drove into the hills parking up near the high tarn of Glaslyn, after a bumpy drive down the rough track.


Only one of THMs’ kids had made it, a netball event prevented a full turnout. We packed and headed into the hills. The forecast was reasonable without being spectacular with no rain forecast until Sunday afternoon


We’d a vague idea to camp in the Hengwm valley. I was sceptical as even though its a place of rare beauty its also a place of extreme sogginess. Still THM was convinced so I went with the flow, hoping the flow wasn’t through the porch of my tent


We passed by the splendid tarn and ruined farm buildings at Bugeilyn where the track ended and we were into the wild upper reaches of the Hengwm valley


I’d been equally sceptical about the route through this valley. Its only marked as a right of way and not a path and I had visions of battles with bogs and tussocks, no fun with a full pack. In fact the path was excellent all the way, just the occasional bit of squelch to get through



As we reached the lower section I suggested we headed for the spot where the Hengwm valley meets the Gwerin valley. I’ve walked through here a few times and its lovely spot complete with waterfalls and a ruined farmhouse. I was still uncertain we’d fine a patch of dry ground big enough but it was worth a go. We headed through a brief zone of tussocks and an uncertain stream crossing and took a look


My scepticism was unfounded. Just above the falls we found a perfect spot. A patch of bone dry spongy grass with enough space for all of us and a depression behind, sheltered from the wind for cooking. TJS wanted to camp on his own so he used TBFs old Macpac  single hoop and I used my Voyager. THM carried in a substantial tent for extra space. He was also carrying most of the heavy stuff so his sack was outrageously massive. However he is supremely (in fact rather annoyingly) fit so it didn’t seem to bother him. He goes out running and cycling of an evening where I prefer to remain stationary in front of the TV. It was a splendid site with expansive views down the Hengwm valley and to the crags of the hills behind




After the obligatory brew that follows a period of tent faffing we set out for a wander. This is my favourite pastime on a wild camp. Exploring at some leisure the local vicinity. There is a tendency to always be heading from A to B when hiking so you often have blinkers on, destination paramount. An aimless wander allows you to come across little gems you’d otherwise miss


In this case we explored an evocative holly tree growing out of major hole between some rocks. We then scrambled through a line of crags and then along the edge below which on its crest was reminiscent of a alpine arete. It was all extremely fine.




After following a few sheep tracks high above Cwm Gwerin we dropped down to a small un-named stream that had some very fine small falls





The bright sunshine backed by dark stormy looking clouds were dramatic as we wandered through the tussocks and bogs spotting other potential wild campsites as we went. Its a complete fascination for me when out in the hills, always looking for a possible site to throw a tent up




Back at base camp it was time to eat. For me and TJS a bowl of freshly cooked anchovy & bacon carbonara. For THM and his compatriot one of those freeze dried instant meals that looked suspiciously like cat food (in fact it it tasted ok). THM needed to find some way of keeping the weight down but I have to say these freeze dried “just add water meals” don’t really appeal to me. I prefer the weight of real food and the fuel needed to cook them although I can see their attraction on a long trip with several days worth to be carried



This is the youngest member of the party who I’ve known since she was a babe in arms. We spent a while discussing the fact that she needed a moniker on my blog. We settled on “Loud and Cheeky” seeing as she is (in the nicest way) so she became LAC. I had thought that perhaps she would be an unwilling accomplice under duress to “get outdoors” from her old-man. However she seems to love the whole outdoor and wild camping experience as much as TJS does. She appeared to have a great time and was great company the whole weekend. I just wish I get my youngest to appreciate these same delights


As we cleared up from evening meal, the skies cleared and we were treated to a super sunset, all shafts of light, glowing hillsides and pink clouds




We spent ages wandering about, snapping photos and celebrating our good fortune at finding such a perfect campsite in such fine conditions




Being April, once the sun went down it got cold pretty cold and we all retired for an early and rather chilly night

P4230399 P4230401

I’m sure I heard it rain in the night so I wasn’t hopeful when THM woke me at 7:45. It seemed unreasonably early until I stuck my head out the door and realised why he was up and about. It was a glorious morning. My main DSLR camera is out of action so I was using my new point and shoot. Alas its rather too easy to change the settings accidentally so the first few look a bit strange (they were on some sort of arty setting) but they do give the right overall impression



We breakfasted in the warming sun (well LAC decided a lie in was in order)


Normal camera service was resumed


We hadn’t expected such  a fine day so we headed our for a climb up Plynlimon. I’ve done it loads of times in the past few years having discovered its charms but it was missing from the THM’s check list


The terrain in these parts is either paths (where they exist) or one of (or all of in some places), tussocks, spongy moss, bog and heather. The first few hundred meters off piste above the campsite were hard going, including one very steep grassy gully



Once up on the ridge of Pen Cerrig Tewion the going was much easier, a successions of sheep tracks leading us upwards


The views were expansive and clear but there was a chilly wind blowing


LAC was finding it tough going having missed breakfast and needed a few stops and regular chocolate to keep going. In conditions like this though, regular stops to admire the scenery is hardly a chore. To be fair she is still a novice in hiking terms and mid-Wales is a real test of stamina and will when the underfoot conditions are pathless (something I can vouch for). In the circumstances the steady progress was more than acceptable


We made it to the summit and took on more fuel/chocolate/cereal bars/out of date pork pies.


The views out to the coast over Nant y Moch reservoir were especially grand



The weather didn’t look like deteriorating as forecast but we had a long way to go back to the tent, pack up and back to the car so we headed down


The photo below gives a great aerial view of of wild site surroundings. You can just make out the tents in the middle of the shot


The route down took us through some of the most bizarre underfoot vegetation I’ve ever walked on. It was a deep spongy moss that completely enveloped your boots when you trod on it. Like walking on marshmallows (if such a thing were possible). It was very steep but we sort of bounced down. It was quite surreal


After a great hike and then lunch we broke camp and took the long wander back to the car. The forecast rains never arrived and it stayed bright and sunny all the way back to Glaslyn and the cars.



We were back much later than planned but it had been a absolute stonker of a weekend. The walking had been easy and dry, the wild site pretty much perfect and the climb to Plynlimon a sheer delight.

Plynlimon Backpack

Around 16 miles walking in total. Apart from a few bikers at the car park and a solitary runner on top of Plynlimon we’d seen no-one on such a fine weather weekend. We congratulated ourselves, made plans to do this more often and then went our separate ways. And to think I nearly decided not to go


Plynlimon for TBH   2 comments

Mid-wales highest point and one I’ve been up several times the past few years. Its a wonderfully underrated and little visited spot commanding great views and is packed with hidden charms.  On the basis of an ordinary forecast and with nothing else in mind we climbed it again albeit with a different finish, as TBF has never been up before – at least not that she can remember. This is a continuing theme for us. My youngest is not big on walking so often TBF has to stay behind and look after her. She is now old enough and responsible enough to be left home-alone while the the rest of us take to the hills. In much the same way I’ve enjoyed sharing my favourite routes with TJS I’m now doing the same with TBF


As per my previous posts we parked high up near Maesnant and picked up the unmarked path that follows the stream of the same name swiftly to the summit.




It was a grey day with flat light but it was bright and warm enough to enjoy a leisurely lunch on the summit.


The walk around the ridge and over to Pen Pumlumon Fach Arwystli past the source of the Wye and on towards the source of the Severn was easy and delightful. I’m always surprised that the source of these two great rivers is so close together yet they follow such completely different routes to the sea. Having lived near both rivers most my life I have a certain affection for them. Mind you as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before sources of rivers are almost exclusively disappointing affairs seeing as they are in effect just bog that trickles into streams and so on. It’s the thought of them that’s intriguing





As we continued our walk the skies brightened considerably and impressive patches of blue sky appeared. The fact that this was not in the forecast added to the surprise and good spirits. We struck off west near the source of the Severn towards a cairn overlooking the Hengwm valley





By this time the the sun was starting to drop to the horizon and the light was fantastic. The view down the Hengwm valley was superb and we took a rest to take in the views





Our route home followed the Hengwm a after a steep rocky descent and a crossing of the waterfalls above the ruined farmhouse. The setting sun lit up the valley and the hillsides magnificently and such is it’s little known nature we had the place and what felt like the whole of mid-Wales to ourselves






Hengwm is one of the most stunning valleys in Wales if not the UK. At least from a scenic perspective. From a walking perspective it’s an absolute nightmare. The map shows what looks like a substantial track. This is a cruel deception. There is nothing that even remotely resembles a path. What you do have is lots and lots of bog and lots of lots of man-sized tussocks, often in the same place. On previous visits I’ve stayed near the river and got wet. This time we went higher into the zone where the tussock was king. We fell, stumbled and got wet. Wetter in fact than the easier ground by the river where you can at least see the water at your feet. It was  20 minutes of tedium but at least the sunset put on a show to keep us entertained. Its a fabulous place to visit just don’t expect to keep your feet dry 🙂



A grand day out finished up with a slap up tea from the local chippy


From the Mountains to the Sea – Part 1   10 comments

March brings about the first possible family trips to the coast as the weather warms up and my parents caravan is open for business.


With a dry day forecast we headed our for the day down to Mwnt Beach near Cardigan. It’s a stunning sandy bay and supposedly a great spot for dolphin spotting

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

It was dry but cloudy and cool but it was great to be back on the beach for the first time this year. There were actually a few brave kids in the water!! We declined the offer and settled for an hour of poking about in the rock pools, a family favourite. A sheltered spot on the rocks served us well for lunch

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

It was a liitle too early in the year for a full blown beach day so we took a walk to the top of the hill overlooking the bay and then down the coast. This small church sits quietly between beach and hill

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

The view from the top was grand and enlivened by a close up of a small raptor. Not sure if it’s a peregrine falcon or a kestrel. I’m sure some knowledgeable sort will correct me

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

Even though it was cloudy the views were nice with some interesting light effects from the low sun and the grey layered clouds. Despite constant diligence on the sea we never saw a dolphin!

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

We took a stroll along the prom at Aberystwyth as a fine end to the day


The following looked more promising from a weather perspective so I fulfilled a promise to TJS and took him up Plynlimon (highest mountain in mid-Wales and worthy target for a teenage walker obsessed with facts and figures!) I’ve had a couple of cracking trips up here in the past few years which you can read about here and here

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

The day was exceedingly warm but very hazy, almost August-like. The views were a little washed out but fine nonetheless

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

It was clearly frog-breeding season and adults, tadpoles and spawn was everywhere. One small lake was swarming with frogs and you could here their combined voices from several metres away

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

TJS was pleased to finally reach the summit of this fine and very under-rated summit. As with the previous two visits we saw hardly a soul the entire day

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

TJS also has an interest in seeing the source of rivers especially our local river Wye. I’ve told him many times that river sources by and large are deeply uninteresting affairs at least visually if not esoterically. The photo below is the Source of the Wye which I think proves my point. Just some wet grass that turns into bog that turns into a snall stream and so on. However he seemed very excited to see it and that’s the main thing

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

We enjoyed a lunch on the slopes and varied the walk by taking in the dam at Llyn Llygad Rheidol

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

It actually felt warm enough (at least out of the water) for a swim but we declined!

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

We ended the day by joining the Funsters in Aberystwyth where it was gorgeously warm and sunny if a little crowded. Most of the West Midlands and Merseyside had taken the chance for a day out by the sea judging by the accents. The first coastal weekend of the year but not the last…

Evening in the Snow – Plynlimon Easter 2013   10 comments

I know everyone is enjoying the balmy heat and sunshine of May – yes I know the weather is crap but we can all dream – but I’d like to take you back to a time of cold, frost and snow that was still dominating over Easter. After my Scottish adventures it was time for family time down at my parents caravan in Wales. The power of mobile broadband meant that I could “work at home” from the caravan on the Friday while the kids enjoyed a day on the beach. At 4pm I’d done my day in front of the laptop and it was time for a stroll. It had clouded up during the day but it was still bright so I headed up into the mountains just inland to climb Plynlimon. You can get the car up to 1000 feet and it’s a relatively short walk so it’s ideal for a late afternoon start.

My progress to my planned start point at Maesnant Farm was abruptly halted by a huge bank of snow drifted across the road. I may be could have ploughed through it, but this is not a spot to get stuck so I just left the car on the grass verge and headed off on foot

Maesnant, Plynlimon, Nant-y-Moch

No access for cars!

The sky was beginning to clear again and the low angle of sun was creating some superb vista’s and light effects on the reservoir and the snow. Great thing about a late walk is you get the mountains all to yourself and this was the case today as I saw not a soul from start to finish

Maesnant, Plynlimon, Nant-y-Moch

Maesnant road

Maesnant, Plynlimon, Nant-y-Moch

Nant-y-Moch from the Maesnant road

Plynlimon, Nant-y-Moch

Looking towards the coast from the Maesnant stream

The common route of ascent to the summit is from the south on the A44 but on my previous visit a couple of years back I discovered an unmarked path leading from the road-head along the Maesnant stream all the way to the summit. It’s a superb little path enlivened by some little waterfalls at the bottom and the broad valley higher up as it approaches the summit.



I fairly romped up the path, picking out the soft snow and ice where I could find it and savouring the expanding views over the coastal hills to Cardigan Bay beyond. I had my skis with me in the car and there was almost enough snow to tour right to the summit. A few days earlier and the conditions would have been perfect but today there were enough gaps and it was too late to be messing about on skis. Having said that the steep west face that was holding a superb bank of snow would have made for an awesome descent. Another day

Plynlimon, Pen Cerrig Tewion

Across to Pen Cerrig Tewion


Stunning light on the snow

As I approached the summit the snow cover was pretty full and it was just sensational to be up on the summit at 6pm, alone and with the crunch of icy snow underfoot


Approaching the summit

The views all around were majestic


More stunning effects


Summit ridge


Northwest to the austere moorlands that hold the sources of the Wye and Severn


South from the summit


Southwest towards Pembrokeshire

Plynlimon, Nant-y-Moch

Across Nant-y-Moch to Cardigan Bay

I settled in out of the wind for a brew and savoured the scene. 2 hours earlier I’d been stuck in the caravan working and now I was on a sunny, snow covered mountain with a full 360 degree panorama to call my own. The setting sun was creating a myriad of images and the effects on the snow were magical. I took time out for a couple of smug phone calls to GM and TBF, the latter was instructed to get my tea ready for 8pm – bless her!


Handsome fellow…

Plynlimon, Cadair Idris

North to Cadair Idris

Light was fading fast and it was pretty cold so I had to reluctantly head down. I took a last lingering look at the west face and imagined myself skiing down it although from the top it looked pretty steep. Happy with my imagination I strode down


Across the west face

Plynlimon, Nant-y-Moch

The sun starts to set

Plynlimon, Nant-y-Moch

Golden Light

The sky was pretty clear by now so the views just got better. The mountains turned deep reddish brown and the low sunlight reflecting of the lake was magnificent


Nameless Lakes

Plynlimon, Y-Garn


Plynlimon, Nant-y-Moch

Setting Sun

With such a short walk I was able to linger every few hundred strides and take it all in. All too soon the car beckoned and I was back at my transport home (via a very deep snow-hole and a pulled calf muscle for my trouble). I sat and watched the sun set behind the mountains and drove home to my tea – sausages, mash and onion gravy – just the thing to finish off a cracking evening stroll

Maesnant, Plynlimon, Nant-y-Moch

Time to go home

Enjoy the slideshow with a slice of blues

Pen Dinas and Nant-y-Moch – family walking time   6 comments

The family was spending the whole of October half-term week at my parents caravan in Clarach while I had to return home to work. If you read my post about one of my trips to the Black Mountains then you’ll know my personal work circumstances have taken a turn for the worse. However this does give me certain advantages in the short-term. On the Thursday night I decided that Nokia could start getting used to life without me the following day so I headed off back down to Wales to spend a bonus day with the family.

Turns out to be an inspired move as the weather was stunning, crystal clear blue sky autumn day. In the morning we headed off to climb the small hill of Pen Dinas that overlooks Aberystwyth to the south.

When I was younger I don’t remember ever noticing this small eminence let alone a wish to climb to the top. Aberystwyth is an oddly named place as the town is built on the Rheidol and the Ystwyth enters the sea at the bottom of Pen Dinas hill right on the extreme south edge of town. It would be better named Aberrheidol.

We parked up at the bottom of the hill and took an initial stroll out onto the long harbour wall that protects the marina. The sea was calm and morning sunshine was better than sitting in my office at home or at work!


Aberytstwyth Harbour


Pen Dinas Hill

We walked past the large and elaborate houses on the lower slopes and picked up a path that climbs about halfway up and then traverses right across its sea-facing slopes to the other end of the ridge. The path was delightful with views over the harbour, the long shingle beach and steep hill and cliffs of Allt Wen (a route for next spring).


Allt Wen

There were even some very late season blackberries for the kids to munch on amongst the still flowering gorse.


Gorse and Blackberries


Summit and Monument

The views from the top were wide and expansive taking in Pembrokeshire, the Preseli hills, Plynlimon climbed the previous weekend, Cadair Idris and Snowdon.


Plynlimon and Cambrian Mountains

As always on a clear day you could make out Carn Fadryn on the Lleyn Peninsula to the north which is one of my favourite small hills and a regular on our annual trip there every July (you can read about the last visit here). The large monument is in tribute to the Duke of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo by some local dignitary or other. We decided to return by a lower path which was perilously close to a housing estate. Perilous for us in that it was used as a dog exercise walk and was liberally scattered with poo but we escaped unscathed.

The weather was so good that we headed out for a second walk in the afternoon after a whistle-stop lunch.

I wanted to show Jane and the kids the area I’d walked in last week so we parked up again at the Maesnant road by Nant-y-Moch and took a gentle stroll up the road towards the Llyn Llygad Rheidol reservoir.


Jane, Nant-y-Moch

The views and the light in and around the small lakes I’d passed last week was even better and the kids enjoyed the puddles and the mud and the fact that it was an easy walk on well-made path.


Sunlight on the lake


L takes her time

The views were great and I was pleased to be able to share the delights of the area I’d so enjoyed last week. D in particular was pleased to see Cadair Idris which we climbed earlier this year. It was warm enough to just amble about showing the kids the views and the sights (including me demonstrating how wet the area just off the path was!) and me taking loads of atmospheric photos. The kids seemed to take some odd pleasure in extracting the soft fleshy insides (“foam” they called it) from the long reed grasses – takes all sorts I suppose


Looking north to Cadair Idris

It was getting late and the final stretch of the path to the lake was in the shade so we decided not to go all the way. We wandered back as the sun was setting and the kids were pleased to have walked over 5 miles over both walks.


Heading home


Steep descent


Muddy boots!


Setting sun

I was pleased I’d decided that my time was better spent enjoying this time with the family rather than at work. 🙂

Plynlimon – after 30 years   12 comments

When I was a kid, spending loads of time down at my grandparents caravan, with my interest in walking starting to pique, I harboured ambitions to climb Plynlimon, the highest point in mid-Wales. We often took trips in the car out to the hills and narrow roads around Nant-y-Moch reservoir and we drove past the main route up from the A44 on our way to and from the caravan. Despite this I never attained the summit and as I grew up and my grandparents gave up the caravan, it drifted far from my thoughts as I discovered what I believed were bigger and better mountains in the Lake District, Snowdonia and Scotland. I was wrong.

Now my parents have their caravan down at Clarach, it’s back in my vision again. On our recent half-term week, the first Saturday was shaping up to be a great day so I asked Jane if I could go out to play for the day. I was just going to take the quick route up from the A44 but a recent blog post on the excellent Backpackingbongos by James Boulter had sparked my interest in approaching it from the north via the Hengwm valley. I strongly recommend taking a look at James’s post about his trip into this little known area here, it’s a cracking read.

I headed off to the Nant-y-Moch Reservoir and took the dead-end road along its eastern shore towards the Maesnant outdoor centre, parking up easily on the grass by the road.


Banc Llechwedd Mawr

It was a stunning day with clear blue sky and glorious autumn colours. As I set off and throughout the day, the peak of Drosgol caught my eye, some hills just have that perfect form that make you want to climb them.



It would be a real challenge to make a circular route to take it in, cut off as it were on 3 sides by the reservoir but I’m up for the challenge some time.



As I strode off along the track and into the wilds, one thought kept coming back, why had I neglected these retiring valleys and peaks for so long. Sometimes, particularly when I was younger, mountains had to be “big” or “impressive” to warrant my attention, the lesser known areas were often dismissed as being “boring” even though I’d never been to some of them. Over the last few years I’ve started to appreciate the more subtle charms of the less popular areas. Now I’ve “discovered” this fabulous area, I’ve been poring over maps and planning more day trips and backpacking circuits. Shame on me for leaving them unattended.


Carn Hyddgen and the Hengwm Valley

I was in buoyant mood as walked towards the Hengwm valley. The peaks of Banc Llechwedd Mawr and Carn Hyddgen were also beckoning and my eyes and brain were hard at work sorting out routes and lines to climb them. As I turned east into Hengwm I realised I’d been right to take James advice. It was stunning, wild and untamed with traces of long abandoned farms and mine workings giving a sense of history and perspective.


Hengwm Valley

One thing to remember about wild and untamed mid-Wales is that the paths are sometimes a little vague and the one on the south bank of the river was extremely sketchy. Sorry two things to remember, it rains a lot in mid-Wales so anywhere flat, like valley bottoms can be a trifle boggy. In this case very boggy. The path when it did appear was astonishingly wet, and I had several moments when I lost my leg to the earth I was glad I’d put my gaiters on (I don’t normally wear them), my wet feet problem exacerbated by the fact that my crap North Face boots had a hole in them. I’m often staggered by just how much water a mountain slope or valley can hold in the UK!

In between hauling myself out of bogs and leaping from tussock to tussock I was loving this walk. It felt like barely a soul ever walks up and I hadn’t seen a soul so far. In amongst the quagmire I’d also found a decent wild camp-spot by the river. I’ve been searching for a nice spot not too far from the road to introduce the kids to a spot of wild camping and provided I can find a way through the swamp this would be a good bet.


NIce place to spend the night, Hengwm valley

I reached the ruined farmhouse at the point where Hengwn turns north, an evocative spot. It’s surrounded by tall reeds but there are patches of grass amongst it that would make a pretty decent if slightly surreal campsite.


Ruined farmhouse

I continued west past the waterfalls and on into Cwm Gwerin following the river to stay dry if that makes sense.


Waterfalls and Craig yr Eglwys


Hengwm Valley

My intention had been to follow the valley all the way up to the ridge but the river was meandering all over the place so I headed south for what looked like a grassy rake through the crags. What looked like grass from a distance turned out to be deep spongy moss like I’ve never seen before. It was like climbing an enormous duvet. It was the hardest couple off hundred feet of ascent I’d done in a while. Fortunately when I reached the upper slopes there was a long line of broken rocks leading all the way to the summit of the minor top of Pen Cerrig Tewion.


Route to Pen Cerrig Tewion, Arans in the distance

The views to the north were awesome with Cadair Idris standing proud above the vast expanse of the hills around me and the Arans visible in the distance.


Distant views to the Tarrens and Cadair Idris

Plynlimon, my target for the day looked impressive and craggy on its north side cradling the small Llyn Llygad Rheidol reservoir.


Plynlimon from Pen Cerrig Tewion

I made short work of the rest of the climb to the ridge, passing a couple of gorgeous small tarns before turning west to head onto the summit.


Tarn on the summit ridge

The panorama from the top was breathtaking. Because it’s the highest point in the area and the local hills are much lower it gives a sensation of space and height I’ve not experienced on a summit for a while, it would be a wonderful spot for a summit bivvy or camp in settled weather.


Cadair Idris and the Arans from the summit


Nant-y-Moch reservoir


Looking south along the summit ridge

Today there was a biting wind so I had to settle for lunch in the shelter of the massive summit cairn, still shaking my head at how it had taken me over 30 years to make it to the top.

Sadly the view north will, if plans are allowed to progress, be ruined by being festooned with wind turbines. James on Backpackingbongos has written an excellent piece here about these plans so I won’t say anything more other than head over and take a read. I urge anyone who looks at my photos, is dazzled by the views laid out within them and is as saddened as I am that this area’s natural beauty will be lost for ever if the plans go ahead, to sign the petitions. I’ve added the links below:

It was one of those of days where struggled to tear myself away from the top but I headed off following a grassy path NW from the summit that seemed to be heading back to the car. It was such a lovely day that I took in the various lumps and bumps of Pumlumon Fach.


Looking over Pumlumon Fach to Cadair Idris


Pumlumon Fach

These would be great places for a wild camp on their grassy summits if there was a water source nearby (or carried in). I sprang my way down more mossy slopes to the track from Llyn Llygad Rheidol to where it passes a line of tarns that were catching the late afternoon light in a most becoming fashion.


Tarns by the track, Banc Llechwedd Mawr behind

I found a thin path heading straight down along the Maesnant stream back to my car, in fact it appears that this was the end point on the path from the summit I’d followed earlier. This would be a great and swift route to the summit for a late evening walk on a warm summers evening.


Nant-y-Moch reservoir in the fading light

I reached the car, as happy after a day in the hills as I can remember in a long time. After all how often do you get to fulfill a lifelong ambition!

Posted November 13, 2011 by surfnslide in Mid Wales, Wales, Walking

Tagged with , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: