My Pyrenees HRP Diary - Introduction

This blog was begun in 2015, to record my walk along the Pyrenees HRP from Hendaye to Banyuls. If you want to read about that, I suggest you start here.

But that is all in the past now, and I have expanded the blog a little to cover more recent events.. such as:

Snowdonia Way
Hebden Bridge
Equipment Reviews
North Downs Way

and also, one day:

Pennine Way .. which I am due to walk for the third time in 2019, this time from N to S I think

I hope you will find something interesting. Please do provide a little feedback or comment, and if you are interested in something that I didn't say enough about, please let me know .. happy walking!


Wednesday, 6 June 2018

My Trip to Andorra Falls Down the Hill Side...

Andorra is a steep, wild, hilly little country with an average height of very nearly 2,000m and a maximum height of 2,942m (9652ft). Its capital city, Andorra la Vella is the highest in Europe.

So some physical preparation for my visit beyond what Kent could provide seemed wise, and I thought I would go back to Snowdonia. I completed the Snowdonia Way last year but there were several interesting bits left to do, including a full sweep of the Carneddau, a Glyder or two, the Rhinogs and full ascent of Cadair Idris. I drew up some likely-looking routes and on Sunday 22 May Sue & I drove up to Conwy to check in to the excellent Castlebank Hotel. We had a nice dinner in Alfredo's Restaurant, and I was eager to get started mopping up those bits of snowdonia left over from last time. Little did I know what lay in store!

The following morning, I set off from Conwy to walk along the Carneddau, and then down the steep track from Pen yr Ole Wen down into the Ogwen Valley. Sue was to meet me with the car, at the Idwal Cottage youth Hostel and drive me back to Conwy.

The weather was wonderful, warm, sunny and still. I had a lovely day, wandering over the range picking off successive peaks:

Drum (765m)
Foel Fras (942m)
Carnedd Gwenllian (926m)
Carnedd Llewelyn (1064m)
Carnedd Dafydd (1044m)

At 1064m (3,491ft), Carnedd Llewelyn is a proper mountain, the second highest in all of England & Wales by most definitions. It is rocky, wild and wonderful terrain and I loved the Carneddau.

By the time I got to the top of Carnedd Dafydd it was gone 5pm. Sue was due to meet me around 6pm in the car down in the Ogwen Valley at Idwal Cottage, so I headed off over the final high point, Pen yr Ole Wen (978m) to pick up the path down the steep hillside to the valley bottom, Llyn Ogwen and Idwal cottage. It was slow going and by 6.30pm I was still about 700m up, perhaps half way down the path, descending a nearly vertical chute between large boulders when I put my weight on a stone that promptly rolled away. I slid gracefully about 2 or 3ft down to another stone that did not move, pitched forward and then I was off, head over heels down the mountainside. I fell roughly 50ft, bouncing several times, before I came to rest a little precariously on what was still a very steep slope.

I sat for a minute to assess the situation. I did manage to stand up but felt very ill and unstable, so promptly sat down again. My left wrist hurt and looked broken. My lower back hurt. There was some blood, on my head mainly. I still had both walking poles and my rucksack was still on, but the contents of all the exterior pockets had completely disappeared, including a fleece, a new and rather expensive waterproof/windproof, spare glasses (the ones I was wearing had smashed into bits and disappeared), all my water bottles and so forth. There is a lesson to learn here. Keep some survival kit inside the rucksack!

I decided I needed help and tried to phone Sue, but could not get through. Her mobile had no signal and mine was poor. So I dialled 999 and asked for mountain rescue. I got straight through to a calm, reassuring voice and we established my position, grid reference and altitude. They mobilised a rescue team but it so happened that there was a Coastguard helicopter already in the valley, so they asked it to come and pick me up, which it duly did. I raised my arms in approved fashion, and flashed a torch at it. It spotted me pretty quickly and hovered nearby, the downdraught was extremely powerful and I was glad I had been warned to secure all loose items. The paramedic was winched down to the ridge a few yards from me, and scrambled across to me. A quick poke and a prod and a few questions later he got me up on my feet and we scrambled back to the ridge and the helicopter. He attached a harness which is basically just two loops, one under your knees and one under your arms, clipped us onto the cable and whoosh! off we went. One second on the ground, the next 700m up above Llyn Ogwen. It was exhilarating, but it did take my stomach a while to catch up! Once airborne we were winched up and flopped into the helicopter. They managed to get me into a seat and off we went to Bangor University hospital. The hospital has a roof helipad, but the Coastguard Sea King is too big and heavy to use it, so landed in the grounds where an ambulance waited to transport me into A&E.

By now it was about 7.30pm so still less than an hour I think, since the accident. I should mention here that when I first spoke to the mountain rescue, I had told them about Sue waiting outside Idwal Cottage in the car and they had promised to go and find her and explain what was going on. Their headquarters is only a mile or so away along the Ogwen valley, but it obviously took them a little time to reach her. Meanwhile Sue was getting a bit concerned about not hearing from me. Unable to phone, she went into the Youth Hostel and they let her use their landline, which did get through. We then had a surreal conversation where I thought she was au fait with the situation, whereas in fact she knew nothing: "So, is everything OK your end?" "Oh yes, not doing too badly thanks. Only lost consciousness for a moment, and the rescue helicopter should be here any minute" .. you get the picture. It was a traumatic evening for her as well as for me, but the Rescue people were very good, they came and found her, took her back to their headquarters, brought her up to date with events and showed her how to get to Bangor hospital.

My arrival at hospital was like a scene from Casualty or Holby City, me being wheeled along on a trolley with a little cloud of doctors and nurses fussing around connecting things and taking measurements and samples. I had been shivering uncontrollably since the accident and they were not sure if it might be hypothermia or shock, but I spent some time under a snug electric blanket. The staff in "Resusc" really knew their stuff and I soon started to feel better. They wasted no time trying to remove my clothes gently, out came the shears and they cut off several hundred ££ of rather nice Rohan kit. I had a CT scan and some x-rays and a total of six fractures was identified: comminuted fracture of left distal radius (smashed bone in wrist joint), fractured sacrum (back part of the pelvis) and four fractures in the three lowest vertebrae. By about 4am I was considered stabilised and was transferred to Ogwen Ward, (slightly ironically) where I spent the next week.

I won't go into that week in detail, much of it was quite tedious, with occasional moments of considerable interest (have you ever had a catheter inserted?!). My wrist was operated on, another CT scan and more x-rays, and a lengthy interchange took place between Bangor and Stoke Major Trauma Centre, the upshot of which was that my spinal injuries were determined to be stable which meant that no surgery would be needed. I developed a respect for the doctors' knowledge and professional abilities, and an even greater respect for the cheerful dedication of the nursing staff. They had a lot to put up with, but I never heard one of them complain, or lose their temper or even snap. No job was too dirty or too mundane for them. Very, very impressive, they were; whatever they get paid, they are worth more.

From the moment I dialled 999 on, I felt I was in safe hands. Both the Mountain rescue and the helicopter crew were great. People love to criticise the NHS, but I have no fault to find, they certainly did a top class job for me. I have written thank-you letters, and I have made a donation to the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue, which is a voluntary organisation and a registered charity. With up to 150 call-outs a year (I was no. 65, they are up to 71 now, end of May, including two fatalities) - and see update below - they must be one of Britain's busiest, and I reckoned they would be able to put the money to best use.

I was discharged from Bangor on Sunday 27 May, and spent the Bank Holiday Monday being driven cautiously back to Kent. The 300 mile trip took us nine hours, with stops each hour for stretching and walking around. Since then I have stayed at home, weak as a kitten but getting a little better each day. In addition to the fractures, I have trauma damage to my liver, kidneys, prostate and large intestine which should heal themselves in due course, but meantime can make going to the lavatory a frustrating experience!

I have written enough.. I have put some photos below, and then three more sections, entitled "How did it happen?"  "Was I lucky or unlucky?" and a brief final update. Finally I would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to my wife Sue. She must have been seriously worried for quite some time, not to mention coping on her own a long way from home, but she never let it show and spent long periods at the hospital, keeping me company and doing whatever she could to help. Henrique and Jo, owners of the Castlebank Hotel, were also wonderfully supportive and we are both very grateful to them. If you go to Conwy - which is a lovely, walled and fortified medieval town, definitely worth a visit - do stay at the Castlebank!

Castlebank Hotel, Conwy

One of several stone circles around the Carneddau

I think this is Foel-fras .. we are over 3,000ft already and the terrain is rocky and difficult. More Carneddau in the distance
Carnedd Gwenllian, with peaks including Snowdon in the distance..

Carnedd Llewelyn, high point of the Carneddau. Spectacular views from here

This is a view from Carnedd Dafydd

Left centre is Tryfan, across the Ogwen valley, with the Glyders behind. At right is Pen yr Ole Wen, which I fell off...

My tracklog for the day.. first walking, then in the helicopter. You can see how nearly I got to Idwal Cottage

How Did it Happen?

Accidents can happen to anyone I suppose, and this was my first serious fall in thirty years of walking. But still, experienced mountain walkers are not supposed to fall off mountains. As usual, it was a combination of several factors that caused the fall and with 20/20 hindsight, like most accidents it could have been avoided:
  • This was quite a challenging walk for a first day in the hills and I must have been a little tired, towards the end, even though I was not particularly conscious of it
  •  I was nearly at the end, my destination in sight, and late for a rendezvous. Pressing on a little too enthusiastically, perhaps
  • There is a marked path down Pen yr Ole Wen and although it looked steep, I just assumed I would be able to follow it. It is not an easy route however and, I would say, considerably easier to climb than to descend. Perhaps I underestimated it a little
  • I had strayed a few yards off the marked route. There is a sharp ridge and the marked path is a few yards to the left of it, I was a few yards to the right. I knew this, but I decided to continue anyway because I could see a flatter bit below which I figured I could reach and get back to the proper path from
Next time I am in this position - and frankly, I doubt if that will be any time soon - I will not try to descend the difficult rock chute. I will climb back up a few yards, find my way back across the ridge and look harder for the trodden path. Perhaps I would also phone Idwal Cottage and ask them very politely to go and tell my wife I am running late and invite her in for a tea. But overall I do not feel I was negligent, just a little hasty and a little unlucky.

Was I lucky or unlucky?

Hmm. It felt strange, lying flat on my back in hospital with six fractures, trauma damage to my prostate, liver, kidney and large intestine, and more cuts, abrasions and bruises than I thought one body could have, to conclude that I had been lucky. But so I have, very lucky:

  • looking at the hill side I was on, it would have been much easier to fall 500ft or more than it was to fall 50ft and then stop. A lady died very close to that spot, only two weeks earlier
  • I had two large contusions on my head, either one of which could have caused a skull fracture or worse, but didn't
  • my phone was not damaged in the fall and I was able to summon help, which arrived pretty quickly. My wife knew where I was and would have summoned help in due course anyway, but it would have taken longer and they would have had to search for me
  • before I fell I reckoned myself pretty well-equipped, but a lot of stuff was lost in the fall including all my water, a windproof and my thicker fleece. Fortunately I had a second fleece inside the rucksack that I was able to don, and it was a warm (for Snowdonia!) evening

A surprising number of people have asked me "Were you on your own?" in that manner that means I shouldn't have been, in their opinion. Frankly I rather resent the question. Walking in the mountains is entirely different, if you are on your own. You become one with the environment, you become a part of it. You experience it in a way that no party of two or more ever can because they take their own little bubble with them, and peer out from it at the landscape. I will strongly defend the right of a well prepared and properly equipped adult to go into the mountains unaccompanied - most of those I saw in the Carneddau that day were unaccompanied - and although obviously almost any activity carried out unaccompanied carries a risk, it would not in fact have helped me at all in this particular case, and could well have made things worse. For example I might have asked a companion to find a way back to the proper path and help me to get to it, which would not have been a good idea at all, as it turned out. Or I might have landed on them and taken them down with me.. So, feel free to ask me that question, but be prepared to receive a lengthy response!

Enough. This has been a life-changing experience for me, and has caused me to rethink my whole approach to steep, rocky pointy bits. For now I will continue to rest and heal. I will post here again when I am fully recovered, which may be a while yet. I will not be going to Andorra this year, maybe not ever - we shall see!

A small postscript

I was finally discharged from outpatient care in November 2018. I now (January 2019) feel almost completely recovered. I am back walking, but will be more careful on the steep pointy bits in future. I have a couple of minor aches and pains in my back and wrist that help me to predict if it will rain tomorrow, but otherwise I am 100%. A final "Thank you" to the NHS for the outstanding healthcare I have received throughout.

In mid-August I had a telephone call from a lady in North London, Jenny, whose son had found my spare glasses, undamaged in their case, while walking up Pen y Ole Wen. She sent them back to me .. very nice of her. I sent them a bit of money to say thank you, which they have donated to the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue. Even nicer of them. I am still waiting for someone to find the glasses I was wearing, my spare fleece and sundry other items!

Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue ended up 2018 with 130 incidents, which they said was unusually low. Use the link above to donate if you can, they are a very fine, unfailingly cheerful bunch of volunteers, giving up their leisure time to help others, usually in difficult terrain, and in one of the wettest places in Britain!

Monday, 9 April 2018

Andorra ... still three months to go (almost!)

Time for an update on the great Andorra Circumnavigation.

Interior view of Refugi des Fonts. Four spaces, not palatial!

Inside Refugi de Rulhe - actually in France, by a kilometre or so. there is a stove left of centre, which is in the process of burning a hole in my walking socks!

Using the same headings as last time:

- a timetable. I leave for Andorra on the 4th July (Independence Day 😀) and expect to start walking on 6th. Returning to England on 24th July, so plenty of time, in theory. If I find I have days left over I will look for other challenges, it is not so very far from Andorra to Aneto, for example. I have also booked out a few days later this month for a walk here in the South East of England, and a week in May when I may go back to Snowdonia, or to the Cheviots.

- information. I now have a (digital) copy of the 2005 Cicerone guide "The Mountains of Andorra" by Robertson & Meadowcroft which I hope will be useful though it is rather old. In addition I have found some more up-to-date information online, especially about the huts and refuges - I was pleased to see that there are now five guarded huts where food can be bought, and 30 huts altogether.

- mapping. I have acquired two paper maps, rather expensive. The 1:50k Rando Editions 07, Haute Ariege is not especially useful as it covers only the Northern boundary of Andorra. The Editorial Alpina 1:40k map 40, Andorra, on the other hand is ideal as it is quite light and compact but covers the whole of Andorra. Like most Spanish maps it is probably not especially accurate but for route planning it should do the job. When I set off I intend to rely on digital mapping and following a tip from Eef Berns, I have installed OsmAnd on my trusty Samsung S8+ phone. OsmAnd in its basic form is free but I paid the princely sum of 99p to have contour lines added to the maps. I am still learning how to use it, but have been able to load Eef's route around Andorra onto it, which means that as far as navigation is concerned I am good to go. Fortunately the days of aligning map and compass and squinting at where the sun should be, and wondering if you are where you think you are have gone, for me, and I don't miss them much.

- route. Ha, this has been done for me, see link above! And almost certainly, better than I could do it myself. THANK YOU,  Eef! I still have plenty of work to do here, examining the route more closely and trying to decide which way to go round (anticlockwise, I'm thinking) and where to stop. My idea is to do it in two halves, and try to hitch or bus back from Arinsal or from La Farge de Moles for a zero day in the middle. Though both places do have some accommodation.

- accommodation. Something that still needs to be arranged. My basic plan is to stay in l'Hospitalet for my first night, last night, and in the middle too, perhaps.

- travel. After some thought, I have decided to drive to l'Hospitalet. The car can be left there in the care of the gite d'etape. It will give me more flexibility and allow me to take more clothing, provisions etc so that I can be pretty much self-sufficient. It is a long drive, especially solo, so I am planning to allow a full day and part of the next for the journey. The ferry is booked!

- equipment. I think I have everything I will need. I have bought a pair of trail shoes and will take them and my Berghaus Supalite boots. Because I am so dependent on my phone - maps, gps, guide book - I will take a spare phone with me. But I may leave it in the car, as if the S8 stops working it would be a nuisance but not quite the catastrophe it would be if I were half way along the HRP. I should be able to get back to a road, and hence to l'Hospitalet, within a day from most parts of Andorra

So that is it .. as you can see there are quite a lot of loose ends and vague areas, but that is OK, it is pretty much intentional.  It will allow me to be flexible, and adapt to conditions and to circumstances. I will do another post or two, shortly before I set off.

On the Col de Pluviometre (raingauge!) 2240m, between the two etangs, de Couart and de Pedourres
Looking far down towards l'Hospitalet-pres-l'Andorre. I will climb up here, on day 1!

In l'Hospitalet

The Gite d'Etape (hostel) in l'Hospitalet. I remember it as friendly and with decent food, but like everywhere around, not luxurious

My trip to Andorra continues (and finishes!) here...

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Andorra! Initial Thoughts

Approaching Andorra from the North .. the pointy bits ahead

I want to go back to Andorra! I want to walk round it, to circumnavigate it in fact!

I went through Andorra in 2015, during my trek along the Pyrenees on the HRP (see other posts. Andorra is from Day 38 through to day 43). So it was well into the second half of the walk. I was already starting to think about finishing .. the weather in Andorra was rather mixed .. Refugi Coma Pedrosa was the worst manned refuge I stayed in, on the whole journey .. and I got lost once or twice .. so overall, Andorra and I did not get on terribly well on first acquaintance. However I suspect that was really more because of me, than the country itself.

The scenery in Andorra is nothing short of magnificent: remote, wild even, uncrowded, and unspoilt. There is only the one manned refuge, but Andorra does have a very neat network of small, unspoilt refugis. They are free to use, and they all have bunks (no mattresses though!) and fireplaces and usually, a wood supply. Even at the time, when I was not feeling on top form, I remember thinking that if you were properly prepared and equipped, you could have a really good time in Andorra. This thought has nagged at me since and although I feel in many ways I have done my time in the Pyrenees now, I want to go back to Andorra - and now I shall.

The first thing to do is to make a basic plan, with the following elements:

- a timetable, not just for the trip itself but for preparation. Andorra goes up and down a lot and I will need to be fit.
- information. Look at available books, interact with a walkers forum or two, look for others who have done the same.
- mapping. I prefer digital maps these days but Andorra is not huge so a paper map of the whole thing might be useful. I might even have them already from HRP days.
- route. Plot a viable route and work out rough timings. I am thinking three weeks may suffice for the whole thing including travel there and back but I need to confirm that
- accommodation. Can't book it until I know roughly where I will be when. I will take a tent but would like a base to work from, especially if I drive there.
- travel. Drive or train? L'Hospitalet pres d'Andorre has a train station.. driving or train, each has their pluses and minuses.
- equipment. Check I have everything I will need. With the possible exception of walking boots/shoes, I bet I do have everything I need but hey, never miss an opportunity to buy an exciting new toy of some kind.
- other. What else is needed? There are bound to be some logistics I've forgotten to think of .. phone coverage is an issue in Andorra for example, Spain and France are now just like being at home in England, but not Andorra, oh no.

So, that is my starting point. I hope to have the information and mapping sorted within the next month or so. I will do some more posts here as things develop.


.. if you have ever been to Andorra, maybe you drove along the main road between France & Spain that goes across it. It is a dire experience, full of petrol stations and duty free tat, but that is not the real Andorra. Below are some photos that I took in 2015, passing through from NW to SE along the HRP. They will show you, I hope, what Andorra is really like:

Estany Negre, which had lumps of ice in it.. in August!

Refugi Les Fonts, a typical unmanned Andorran refugi

.. and the view from its door

Two Dutch friends, Gert & Thijs, met en route. It is hard to see but Refugi Coma Pedrosa is visible on the shelf in the centre of the picture

the view from the Collada des Meners, looking forward..

.. and the view looking back. Between the two pictures, you can see most of Andorra.

You see what I mean, about wild and unspoilt? It is not an area that is to everyone's taste, i admit, but I found it thrilling. I am hoping that it will be even more thrilling next time, if I am properly prepared and equipped, free to wander, and not preoccupied with the HRP.

we shall see! Meantime, my next update is here

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Thoughts on Completing the Snowdonia Way.. and Photo Gallery

Well, my first thought is that I haven't fully completed it, after all. I did all of the lower route, except for one or two bits where I altered the route to make it more interesting, eg adding Cnicht and Glyder Fach to the route North from Machynlleth to Conwy. As for the mountain route, I did most parts but not all, as well as a couple of parts not on either route, such as the Snowdon Horseshoe. But I had a good time..

There is a PHOTO GALLERY here .. with lots of photos and captions

That said, what do I think of Snowdonia, and of the Cicerone Snowdonia Way guide and the two routes it contains? Well, all of them have plus points and minus points:

Points in favour:

  • Snowdonia National Park and its environs certainly are highly scenic and attractive areas, worth a visit in anyone's money
  •  They include some proper hill walking, climbing and scrambling.. proper mountaineering too, if one is so inclined
  • The Snowdonia Way guidebook is well written, concise but not overly so. I could find no fault with it, apart from a couple of trivial points
  • The two routes are distinct and different. The lower route is suitable for any walker, but you will get only distant glimpses of Snowdonia proper. The mountain route on the other hand has some quite hard days and some quite difficult navigation, especially in poor visibility. But most of Snowdonia's higher points are included.
  • It is good that the routes overlap and can be intermingled according to preference (or the weather)
  • The Snowdon massif was impressive and enjoyable, despite the crowds. It helped that it was sunny then!

Points against:

  • It is fair to say that despite its popularity, much of Snowdonia really is not well geared to tourists and visitors. Of the towns I visited, some (Dolgellau, Colwyn, Machynlleth) were welcoming and had good facilities. Some on the other hand, (Beddgelert, Penrhindeudraeth, Bethesda, Trawsfynydd) were not, and I have to say made me feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. I will avoid these places in future. If you intend staying or eating in any of them, I recommend that you book up in advance, or use campsites, which are plentiful and tend to be friendlier and more flexible.
  • The weather! Crib Goch according to Wikipedia is the wettest place in the whole of the United Kingdom, with over 176" rain per year .. 1/2" day on average! I was lucky there, but over the sixteen days it rained on every day but three. In July! It will rain a lot, in Snowdonia..

In summary, I definitely would recommend Snowdonia and the Snowdonia Way. You will have to be philosophical about the weather, and it will be best to book accommodation and meals in advance if you can, or use campsites. My turn-up-and-see approach did not work very well for me.


I stayed at, or ate at, or visited, the following establishments. I have done reviews of most of them on the invaluable Tripadvisor, and posted links to them below:

Dolgeylynen B&B, Machynlleth (Elinor)
Torrent Walk Hotel, Dolgellau
Tafarn y Gader Tapas, Dolgellau
Cross Foxes Hotel, Trawsfynydd
Cae Adda campsite, Trawsfynydd
Busy Bees Caffi, Penrhindeudraeth
National Trust campsite, Hafod-y-llan
Pen-y-Gwryd hotel
Victoria Bunkhouse, Bethesda
Y Llangollen gastro pub, Bethesda
Bryn Guesthouse, Conwy (Alison)
Erskine Arms, Conwy
Castle Hotel, Conwy
Joys of Life, Bethesda
Campsite, Nant Peris
Vaynol Arms, Nant Peris
YHA, Pen-y-Pass
Royal Goat Hotel, Beddgelert
Tanronnen Inn, Beddgelert
White Lion, Machynlleth

Of all the above, the best hotel was the Torrent Walk, the best campsite was Cae Adda, and the best B&B was the Bryn, in Conwy. Easily the worst hotel was the Royal Goat. I wouldn't say I had a bad campsite or B&B, one or two of the pubs were perhaps a bit iffy.

Well that's it for the Snowdonia Way. I have some unfinished business here, in particular a wish to go over the rest of the Glyders and the Carneddau in good weather, and to go to the top of Cader Idris. So one day I will return.. in the meantime I have also done a brief equipment review.

If you have any questions, please do get in touch.. you can comment on any of these pages, and it will get to me. If you include an email address, I will reply to that

Snowdon Day 14

Dolgellau - Machynlleth, 15.8 miles

The forecast for today was dire, and so it proved. It rained all day, sometimes in buckets, sometimes just steady rain. So, no point in trying any mountainous stuff, I just got the full rain gear on and ploughed away. I had done almost all of this route on day 1, in the other direction, and it was surprising how different things looked just because I was going the opposite way - insofar as you could see anything, that is. I got to Machynlleth at about 6pm, and was able to have a shower and a complete set of clean clothes from the stuff I had left in the car.

Not much more to say, really, the walking is done. It has been an enjoyable and occasionally quite challenging fortnight. I will do another post, of thoughts on completing the Snowdonia Way, in a day or two

Looking back towards Cefn Naw Clawdd. The only photo I have of this day, because of all the rain.

Snowdon Day 13

Up Cader Idris from Dolgellau, 10.9 miles

OK, this day could have gone better I'm afraid. Because I saw it as a rest day I had a lie in and a leisurely breakfast, then it rained for a while, so I did not start walking until after 9.45am. I was planning to walk up to the highest point of Cader Idris, which is called Penygadair (893m, 2,930ft). There is a shelter there. No problems to start with, the first mile or two is up narrow lanes. The fun starts past a farm called Bwlch Coch, where you start walking over boggy ground full of reeds, gullies and such, and the path totally disappears. I found my way through it all eventually, but it took quite a long time. It was well into the afternoon by the time I was on Gau Graig, the ridge leading up to the top. I ploughed on up, getting a little nervous about the time, until I got to the top of Mynydd Moel (863m, 2,831ft). This is the summit before Penygadair and only 30m lower, though as usual you go must down and then back up again. Surprisingly for such a well-known hill, i saw nobody all day, not a soul.
I sat on Mynydd Moel for a few minutes, and then decided to go back down, partly for reasons of time, partly because the weather was still iffy, and partly because frankly Penygadair looked pretty much the same as Mynydd Moel with much the same views. Looking back now I can't imagine why I didn't carry on, it is not as if daylight was an issue, but there we go.

Cader Idris. The further lump is Mynydd Moel, you can't see Penygadair yet

I floundered back down the hill side, a little quicker than coming up because now I could follow the quite detailed instructions in the Cicerone guidebook. Even so I had to climb a couple of barbed wire fences, because the gaps the guidebook mentioned did not exist. I got back to Dolgellau about 6.30pm, after a full-but-very-slightly-unsatisfactory day.

Tomorrow is the last day, when I walk back to Machynlleth and my car.

Penygadair from Mynydd Moel

View from near the top of Mynydd Moel

Monday, 24 July 2017

Snowdon Day 12

Trawsfynydd - Dolgellau, 16.8 miles

For the second time, I had a good night's sleep at Cae Adda, and for once I took the trouble to cook myself a breakfast. Then I set off about 8am for Dolgellau. The plan was to follow the lower level route to Dolgellau and then spend two nights there. Tomorrow, a day trip up Cader Idris, then the day after walk back to my car at Machynlleth.

A huge bull encountered just after leaving the campsite.. he seemed quiet enough but I was glad of the fence

Farewell to Llyn Trawsfynydd. Cae Adda campsite is just beyond the small promontory that sticks out on the left side.

After that I just plodded on in mixed weather, showery but not steady rain.

I'm getting a little confused over my Snowdonia mountains .. is this the Rhinogs again? Could be ..

I got to Dolgellau about 5pm and checked into the Torrent Walk Hotel, which I had taken the precaution of booking that morning. I stayed there on day 2 and really liked the place. The Ritz, it is not - but it is cheerful and friendly, which seems less usual in Snowdonia than it ought to be. And the food is excellent, and the rooms are cheap. My room had a truly vast bed which filled it almost completely .. not sure why but it was comfortable.

Tomorrow, Cader Idris.