08 May 2022

Pre dissertation presentations walk

I hadn't seen Martin in what felt like ages! And we figured we could combine catching up with a nice hike. So when I was finally done with my preparations for the dissertation presentations I took out some maps and started to plan. We still had the backup idea of the Nantlle Ridge, but that day would have clouds at unfortunate altitudes for that. I designed three routes that stayed a bit lower, and Martin picked one that started and ended in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Sorted! And in the morning I picked him up.

I had designed the route to incorporate the old tramline that goes past Llyn Newydd and Llyn Bowydd, as I really like that area, and I figured Martin would not know it yet. So our first task was to walk through Maenofferen quarry, and somehow ending up on that tramline. And that went well! And we had a cake break on the dam of Llyn Newydd.

The empty landscape between Maenofferen and the tramline

From there we went on. Martin brought out the big camera, inspired by the amazingly black shores of Llyn Bowydd. The area is quite peaty and you can tell!

After that we had a bit of a look at Cwt y Bugail, and from there went on to Rhiwbach. The slate trail goes from there straight to Manod, and then down the asphalt road, but I think asphalt is dull and uncomfortable, and there also was a forestry road on the map. These are often a bit wide and dull too, but at least better than asphalt, so that was where I was heading. 

Llyn Bowydd (my camera phone didn't quite catch the blackness)

View from the spoil heaps of Cwt y Bugail

We bushwhacked to where it was supposed to be. And we found some space in the woods where the trees were a little bit further apart than elsewhere. This must be the road! But it didn't look like a forestry road at all. It looked more like a swamp. And it actually was. Soon we were both in it up to our knees. Oh dear! And I was just too late to take a picture of Martin only sticking out of the gunk with the top two thirds of his body. We decided to find slightly more solid ground a bit away from the "road", and we were mostly successful with that. And it wasn't a long stretch; after about 750 m we came out of the woods, and immediately the path regained its solidity.

Fallen over trees, shallow roots, abominable drainage, hence the swamp?

Made it out of the woods and the path is immediately better!

About a kilometre further on we would rejoin the slate trail, but before we got there we sat down and had lunch. With a view!

After lunch we walked on; we just followed the trail until the river, and then even a bit further because I thought we might as well have a look at the hillfort. But then we left the slate trail; I wanted to follow the river to Hafod Ysbyty, and there was a right of way on the map, but I didn't know if there was a physical path. There was! And there was a tidy driveway back to the asphalt road. And from there there was another right of way, and again there was an actual path. It even had a bridge over the river! That was not on the map. I had especially brought walking poles for this river crossing, but they stayed unused.

Martin on the unexpected bridge

This part of the route had just been me trying to find an acceptably beautiful way back to the car, but it was downright gorgeous! That was bonus. And the route took us back up to Llyn y Manod. From there we would basically only have to trundle back down, so we had a little break just before that. And then we walked down the incline. Strangely enough, I had never done that before! It was beautiful. And it got us back in town a little bit too far south, but what is a kilometre on asphalt among friends (as I probably should have asked  myself a few kilometres earlier).

Llyn y Manod

Maenofferen ruins

Some unexpected art

Coming down the incline

I had had a lovely time! And I even still had two potential routes left for a next time. In addition to Nantlle Ridge! So as far as I'm concerned, we’ll be back…

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