Oh vanity, 666, and the kindness of strangers

(being the second of 3 days based in the village of Llangynog, mid Wales)



For a laugh really.  I had a vague idea of exploring the moors above the Tanat valley to the south of the Berwyn range, and hit upon the idea of heading towards Cyrniau Nod and Foel Cedig, just for the sake of heading somewhere: with a spot height of 666ms, it would be rude not to.  However, it seems as if the beast had my number...
and the beast was a bit directionless in the end!  Before that though, up we go, to the top of the unnamed hill you can see from the kitchen window, about 300ms climb up a beautiful dragons back I'd always admired but never climbed.  A fine crest all the way up a fun sized little mountain, full of baby outcrops and graceful swishes of the gown, following a tiny unmarked path... of course there was one, its a fork, and much too elegant not to.



We go up 'y gribin' (serrated ridge) and then along the 2 to 3 mile ridge.  It gradually broadens out to moorland with the occasional rocky crag overlooking the Melangell, its bronze age burial ground and ancient yew trees down below, unseen.  Tussock grass and increasingly boggy.  We move slowly through the awkward terrain, only stopping for a slurp of scalding mint tea, towards the waterfall at the head of the valley.


An hour or 2 of hard going, stopping for lunch, sit on a fallen fence post.  I decide kettle chips and tea are the way forward for this day walking lark.  Refreshed and aim left, directly following the line of the fencing now, which declares itself initially as a bridleway but soon abandons all hope, and turns into a stoic 2 mile forced march across heather and bog, the uneven ground sucking at our shoes and constantly tripping us up, breaking our stride.  It takes an age, and we're a little peeved and pooped but reach the appointed fence post T junction as the mist threatens.  Again, we hang a left, and then cut off right, spying a slate grey access track cut into what we assume is 'the top'.




After the miserable going we were relieved to find this open path, which then proceeded to steer us wildly off course under increasingly obscuring cloud.  We suspect we have already missed the left turn back down to the valley.  We have certainly missed the pile of stones that is meant to mark the high point of this awkward devils hump.  For some reason though, we keep walking!


Eventually, we hang a left anyway for want of other ideas, following the edge of a clearing that is certain it isn't the way.  I am cursing the FC and farmers for moving fences and trees and tracks, wouldn't be us of course!  Another hour of boggy descent, hoping in vain the valley we can see ahead is ours but knowing that it isn't, heather sometimes chest high.  This is the very first time I've used digital mapping and plainly there's a disadvantage in only printing the area you think you will need - what happens if you fall off the edge of the page!?  What was even more ridiculous is that there were OS maps back at the cottage.  But it was strangely fun being a bit lost. 
 
And it is a pretty valley, northwest of Lake Vyrnwy, with an old cart track high up on the right hand cheek.  We follow this down to the floor, knowing we're losing light and not wanting to go back to the bog!  Along the way the devil's inky black toads dance together in the pools, guarding their unborn multitudes.


We are now left with a long walk, about 12-15miles of road, in the dark, with no map - nice!  I'd been here before in the car, about 7 years ago, but apart from recalling that 'the way' was at the other end of the lake and left, I had no idea.  We quick marched for about an hour on the road, north side of the lake, because T had seen a sign for a Tea rooms that promised evening meals at 7pm.  Eventually we wandered up a driveway pitch black under fingery birch.  A man called out.

We explained our position. 'a pint and a cab?'  There were no taxis in the area, but 'come in, we'll have to sort something out'.  A while later, and Mum was dolling out hot tea in the restaurant.  They had only just opened for half term, but were closed this evening.  Her son, Mathew, had seen our torch light on his way to the cellar.  'If its any consolation, he said, 'my dad and I got lost on those moors once'.  It wasn't really.  He ate his dinner whilst we drank tea and felt a bit silly.
 


They've owned the Lakeview tearooms for 13 years but lived in the area for 40.  Mathew used to be a nurse, working 120 hr weeks, but stopped at 33 because of a heart condition.  Now he farms the small holding and helps his mum run the tea shop.  He drove us home in the rain.  It would have taken us half the night.  How about that.

If you're ever in the area, pay them a visit.  They are about a mile beyond the hotel, on the north eastern side of the lake, near Cedig.  They don't have a web page but the number is 01691 870 286, if you want to book for dinner in the summer.  The building looks out over the lake - the position is really something.