Sun 28th Oct, 2007
WWW (Wild Wales Walk)
Members and guests present: James Richardson, Anja, Roger Dyke, Dave Bone.
I drove the Manchester contingent out in heavy rain to meet Roger at the layby. After waiting past the deadline in case, we started off in thick drizzle and mist. Oh ye of little faith, those little men & women in the Met Office actually got the forecast right for as we cleared the woods on the first ascent, there were clear signs of it breaking up. Sunshine on wet grass looking like snow. By the time the incongruous road crossing the moor was reached, the sun was out and waterproofs off. Long sunny spells were now the order of the day.
Through the woods and across the fields, we fought our way down to the valley road, scattering the squawking hordes of pheasants. Down the road we sped, passing a lake with a Duck's Convention. Much noise and agitation was evident as we passed, just like an AGM, and then onto the "London Road". We then had to dodge military style convoys of Landrovers out for the day, with trailbike outriders. Elevenses were taken while the air cleared.
Over the top of the hill, and down into the next valley on forgotten 'paths', where glorious autumn colours were to be seen - these dead-end valleys don't usually see many people. Up the not quite dead-end road for quite a way, with more off-roaders coming the other way (were they the same?), then a turn off past the last dwelling at the mouth of a side valley and out into the wilderness for lunch.
With it now cloudier and cooler (though dry until we returned to the car), we battled the non-existent paths onto the Berwyn ridge, passing the lone signpost pointing forlornly into the marsh. By now the group were more strung out but good views were to be had as we headed north along a worn path to the foot of Moel Fferna. The path to the top has been much hammered by trail bikes, and path to reach the summit shelter at 4pm was very gloopy as a result. After a break, the party were pulled to their feet and it was back down the ridge and a descent to the old quarries, closed in 1960, actually mostly under ground as shown on the information boards.
The trail bikes had been active here in the previous two months, with a deep trench down the incline path, and much mess. With the sun now down, we 'sped' along the old railway bed, forced up over a rise with much grumbling, and skidded down into a deep valley to pick up the railway track again. A massive, eyesore, landslip like feature on the valley side, was revealed to have been made by bikes, again in the last 2 months. Carrying a length of razor wire between the group if you're out there should see a reduction in the effect? Into the dark woods, owls calling, with one last bit of up and a bit of blind searching for a gate, then we were back on the outward route again.
Back at the car by 17:50, with a degree of relief from the team. Thanks to those who came out - this was Roger's first scary Dave Bone walk, actually a 'gentle' introduction, but there were few outward signs of stress.
This year's Wild Wales Walk may not quite suit the adjective, but should be easier than last year's effort, as there a good deal of tracks. Nevertheless, I have still discovered some long forgotten paths and untracked terrain for you in the moorlands of the Northern Berwyn, south of the Corwen - Llangollen valley. There are some fine peephole views and quiet valleys, horizons will be broadened. Start point: Head for Llangollen then Corwen on the A5. Just after the brown sign for Glyndyfrdwy, park in the layby on the right hand side in front of the "Original Butterfly Man" (source of many of the kitsch house ornaments hereabouts). GR 158424 - about 1hr10 from S Manchester. Start walking at 9.45am.
Map: OS 1:50,000 No. 125 Bala. Remember a head-torch as the clocks have just gone back.
The route (subject to variation and the fitness of the party): Head south up the dead end road, taking the right fork, at its end picking up a vague path that wanders into the conifers. A short period of darkness and the little used path emerges on the open moorland. Put the map away and follow a trail 90? from where you want to go, hoping the trail bikes that formed it aren't out, picking up an incongruous tarmaced road crossing the ridge. Into the Ceiriog Forest and a bridleway, dropping sharply into the valley. For speed take the road E to Tyn-y-celyn and turn R onto the 'London' road (according to the unofficial side of the sign). Officially the Ceiriog Trail, a rocky track heading for the high ground. Now, following a long forgotten non-path across the moor to an out-building at 149350 the known route drops to the Afon Ceiriog at Dolwen, though we can search for a short-cut.
Up the valley to tarmac's end - I was going W from here (and still may), but time will likely mean taking the path past Swch-cae-rhiw - on the open hill, no trace of path can be found, but the rim of the attractive, waterfalled valley is followed. Reeds do well here, then heather before the wet bit. Reed defences lead to the stream bank, Long jumpers move swiftly on, engineers start constructing pontoon bridges, then all flail about before the sanctuary of a heavily eroded track (don't fall into the ravines). Not many people pass this way and with luck the central Berwyn will be glowing in the sun. Now for the Berwyn ridge and a mile North to the northernmost top of the Berwyn, Moel Fferna at ~630m. E down the ridge to a stile, but turn L on the flattened heather. Take the right fork into yet another forgotten Welsh Quarry, and pick up the dismantled quarry railway, now part of the North Berwyn Way. If on time, down the valley the Llangollen limestone will be a golden glow in the low sun. The route leaves the railway, forced over a neck of land by a fence. Leaving the Way, we drop abruptly into the valley and return to the railway at a bridge. Keeping to the track, we cross the tarmac (which continues on as that met in the morning, and take the path over the neck of land (right hand gate of pair) to pick up the outward trail, 1/3 mile from the start.
Total distance as described: 15miles ~900m ascent. Time - up to you. Hope to see you there!