Some while ago, when we did Arenig Fawr, we noticed a lonely peak in the distance east of Bala lake. After some checking I worked out that it had to be Foel Goch which at 611m is a Hewitt and is also a Marilyn. It went on my "to do" list as a worthy hill within a reasonable traveling distance. I was going to do it last year as a Saturday special for the Ramblers but that had to be called off because of my ear problem.
Charles was feeling a bit down because he hadn't been away walking during the Bank Holiday weekend (in fact he hasn't walked properly since our trip up Helvellyn) so we both got a pass-out and I persuaded him that Foel Goch should be the objective. Does this sound manipulative? It's strange; he accused me of being a control freak during the course of the walk whereas everyone else knows how lay-back I really am.
Actually at about 10 o'clock, I was feeling less convinced about the whole thing. It rained most of the way to Bala. We got there at 8:30 intended to check out the openness of the footpaths but nowhere sensible opened until 10. So we had a look at the signs on some footpaths and they suggested everything was fine. We parked at Llanfor and set off. It was dry but still very overcast and we got spectacularly wrong on the first path. We were plodging around wet fields and nothing seemed to fit the map. So back virtually to the start when we picked up the right route (Much to chagrin, it was Charles who sussed it, not me)
From then on the day improved dramatically. The path climbed in a pleasantly gradual fashion so we started to get views. The weather got better and, as we climbed, we could see the cloud lifting off some of the bigger peaks. We had some variety in crossing the forestry land at Coed Creigiau even though at the entrance to the woods I felt like Bilbo Baggins entering Mirkwood. We had two encounters with farmers; the first was very pleasant, told us something about the path ahead and sympathised about the footpaths having been closed for so long. The second told us that the path was still closed until we pointed to a notice on his gate which started "Recommended Code for Walkers". "On your own heads be it," he said "but you won't find the chap at the next farm as friendly as me!" We reached the next farm and there was the yapping of unruly sheepdogs all round but we walked around the edge of the farmyard on to the footpath without problem.
We then took the long, wet pull up Cwm Da to Foel Goch. The path disappeared into bog and, in the attempt to circle round it, we found ourselves on the wrong side of a fence, cut off from the path that was now clear again. As the path recrossed the fence a quarter of a mile or so ahead, we stayed on our side but we had to cross more very rough ground and then take a steeper, rougher route on the start of the final climb.. It was a bit draining. The walking certainly became much easier when we got back on the path.
The top of Foel Goch was everything that I'd hoped it would be. It is rounded and grassy but it has a trig point, a cairn and a boundary stone at the top. The views were glorious; starting to the south and then working clockwise, we could see the Berwyns, the Arans, Cader Idris, Rhobell Fawr, the Arenigs, the Rhinogs, Snowdon, Moel Siabod, the Carneddau, the Denbigh Moors and the Clwydian Hills. Central to it all was Bala lake with Llyn Celyn off to the right. The cloud base was around 1000m so that only the highest tops were covered.
We then took the ridge to Garnedd Fawr. Easy walking across dry (mostly) springy grass and the sun appeared. What's the quote from Wordsworth; "bliss was it in that dawn to be alive".
We did the detour up Garnedd Fawr to reaffirm the fact that this is a glorious view and then took the gradual path back downhill. As we were doing so, a red kite took off just in front of us; we also saw three buzzards at different points on the walk.
We had thought about going up Moel Emoel but had lost a lot of height before we saw a path up and passed it to the west. We skirted the peaceful Llyn Maen Bras before stopping for a drink at a vantage point overlooking Bala lake. In the afternoon sun it was a treat.
We returned via woods and about a mile down the lane. A really good day. Incidentally it was a year to the day since I'd last done a new Hewitt (Buckden Pike)
Beryl and I went off to Kinder. I'd advertised the walk via the Ramblers and Gerald, Chris and Veronica came with us. It was a lovely day and we had a really good walk in good company.
We parked by the road leading from Hayfield to the Kinder reservoir. We walked on up the road and then climbed steeply the right-hand side of the reservoir on to White Brow. Having gained this height we then took the contour line but could enjoy the views of the valley down to Chinley as well as up to Kinder itself. Then followed the big climb of the day along the stream up Williams Clough. Beryl said later how pretty she thought it was; I have to say that I didn't think it anywhere near as good as Crowden Clough which was the route I took on my original ascent of Kinder.
At the top of the clough you turn right and it is fairly level for a short while before the last pull on to the plateau. The walking was very easy and we could take in the views to the west (trying to ignore those over Manchester). We had lunch in a rocky outcrop near the Downfall then went and explored it. There were plenty of people on the plateau but, to my surprise, the Downfall wasn't like the front at Blackpool.
We followed the perimeter path on the plateau as far as Kinder Low, by which time it was becoming a tad monotonous. I've no desire to do the whole perimeter walk even if it is supposed to be a classic. we dropped off there going down to the top of Jacob's Ladder. There were good views into Edale and to the Mam Tor ridge as we did. Then turn right down the big path down Oaken Clough for a while before striking off on a lees considered route parelleling the plateau back to the reservoir
This was a case of a good idea gone wrong. Wrekin & Telford have re-opened all of their footpaths. That's not far, I thought, we'll go there. I advertised it a bit around the Ramblers and Carol and Veronica came with us to Shifnal.
Having led the Ramblers walks for the last three weeks I thought that I was entitled to a day off. So Beryl and I went up to the Roaches and did a very leisurely 9 miles.
I have to say that it was a bit of a fluke that we learned that the Roaches were open again. We'd bumped into one of the Ramblers in town and she told us about this. The place where the information ought to have been available was the Staffordshire County Council web site but it wasn't. They have posted no new information since 25 May and for a while they even took the link to their FMD information from their home page. The latest is that they will be clearing all paths quickly but it'll all be done on a risk assessment basis. OK, I know that the County has had the infection on a very scattered basis but they really ought to be able to do better than that. They did start to publish maps on the initial paths but that has stopped. Really this doesn't give you any basis on which to plan a walk. Put it this way; would you drive for up to an hour on the off chance that paths will be open. And they think that this is the right way to revive the rural economy. Good grief. And just to compound things the Shropshire site is equally useless.
We started going westwards right along the ridge - very much the opposite of the walk I did in January. After passing Hanging Rock we dropped down through the woods into Danebridge. Then we walked up the Dane Valley Way through pleasant woodlands nearly to Gradbach. We stopped for lunch along this section; it was just as we left the woods and the bonus was that we were looking straight up a side valley to Shutlingsloe. That's one of my favourite hills. It reminds me of the old Peter Cook/Dudley Moore sketch about the Mona LIsa; "her eyes seem to follow you round the room"> Well Shutlingsloe seems to watch you as you walk in the vicinty but it keeps moving and the shape changes dramaticakky from its different angles.
From Gradbach we took the lomg pull up Blackbrook and then back the way we came.
It was pretty cold on the top - certainly for June - but much warmer in the valley
A strange walk insofar as the actual venue came as a surprise. This went through lots of twists and turns in the planning phase. I was going to the Lakes with Charles and we went through all sorts of options without reaching a conclusion; we were struggling to find a walk which we both wanted to do (given the limited access at the moment) In the end I decided that I'd rather go to Wales and he decided that he got other non-walking things he needed to do.
Plan B then; there is a set of Hewitts between the Berwyns and the Arans which are a bit of a chore. The Nuttalls call them the Boring Berwyns. "Well," I thought, "if I'm going on my own, I'll do them as I wouldn't want to inflict them on anyone else"
Good plan, eh. Well no; not only did a pleasant morning turn foul crossing the col between Llangynog and Bala but there were still notices warning you off the hills when I got to the start point. That led to a quick reassessment and I did the circuit round the Arans and parked at another col on the road from Dolgellau to Dinas Mawdduy.
The new plan was to walk the hills to the south of there.
Even though I started at 363m it was still a fair pull up away from the road climbing to about 600m very quickly. As I reached the ridge, the cloud was down at about that height. A bit misleading because it soon rose again and I could see most of the walk around Cwm Cerist. But the cloud wasn't much higher and it spoiled the views for the rest of the morning.
The other thing that I picked up as I gained the ridge was a fence. In fact I was following fences for much of the day so the navigation was a doddle. The ridge rose gradually to the first top, Cribin Fawr (659m) Actually there is not much to be said for it. The high point is whichever tussock you think outstrips the others near the stile ie it's a flat grassy bank. I opted for the tussock with a couple of pieces of slate on it. No view today either as the foreground was rather flat (the Bala-Dolgellau valley) and the visibility wasn't good enough for greater distance.
Next comes a sharp drop into another col and then a sharp rise to Waun-oer. I passed another walker on the descent, the only one I saw all day. We had a good chat about Welsh hills and then went our ways. He commended Manod Mawr as a good short walk, with a cracking view.
It's a good pull on to Waun-oer and all the time you are thinking that you are doing this just to tick off a Hewitt and then walk back. This doesn't do justice to the top. It is sharper and better defined than Cribin Fawr and it has a proper (and quite substantial) cairn. I was fortunate as the weather improved again whilst I was there and I stopped for a drink. But Waun-oer's main virtue is that the hill is right next to Cadair Idris and the view across is tremendous, even though the swirling clouds were making interesting patterns round the summit.
Back to Cribin Fawr and then turn right still following a fenceline. The ground is rough, riddled with groughs and there's not much of a path. It is downhill but it's still quite hard work. I was expecting only a short climb at the end on to Craig Portas as it's not even a Nuttall, let alone a Hewitt. Silly me; it's not the elevation that rules it out, it's the total height. At 605 metres it's not quite high enough; it must however be on Paul Saunders' list of metric mountains because he starts at 600m. I did make the short detour to the summit.
The walk across to Craig Portas had been very strange. I'd been expecting a good view of the Arans to the north but the ridge runs very much at right angles and it was blocked off by Glasgwm on the end. I don't know the hills to the south so the configuration was unfamiliar. It's odd, and a little disconserting, to se so many tops than you don't recognise. This feeling was enhanced by the intricate interconnection of ridges on which I was walking. Not quite in control; ye Gods, is Charles right about my being a control-freak?
From Craig Portas it is a bit of a switchback and quite narrow in places as you circuit around Cwm Cerist. But it's all grass rather than rock and still following the fence it is very safe. This eventually took me to the highest point of the day, Measglase. By this time the sun was out and the Arans were in sight and it made a very pleasant spot for lunch. It was also decision time; did I walk back the way I'd come or did I follow a nice-looking descent and then leg it for about 2.5 miles back along the road. I went for the latter - although not unequivcally.
The start is an exceedingly steep angle and very hard on the knees but it does even out somewhat so a pleasant saunter down a concessionary path. You also get a view off the waterfalls off Craig Maesglase. The road is less pleasant and it gets steeper and steeper. When I checked the map the climb is actually 250m. I was really glad to get back to the car.
Still an excellant day's walking with 3 new Hewitts (including a new Marilyn). Sorry - the peak-bagging anorak was showing.