Lliw Valley Reservoirs and Cwm Clydach

The Sunday evening conference call to “The Navigator” informed me that the walk for Monday would start from the Lliw Valley Reservoirs and then would become an adventure.

As we left the car at the Lower Lliw Reservoir it started to snow but thankfully this was short lived.
The route is shown here and I will not give a blow by blow account. We left the reservoir complex and walked on the minor roads to just beyond Cynhordy, where a bridle path was taken which led down to Craig Cefn-Parc and our morning coffee by the river.

So this is where the horse meat came from

An ideal elevenses stop
We now walked upstream along Cwm Clydach which is a waymarked  trail
Although the temperature was rising there were still lots of icicles to be seen.
 We left this trail near Nant Moel Isaf and walked west and then south back down towards  the Upper Lliw reservoir and then the lower reservoir back to the car. This latter stretch follows the Gower Way, albeit at this point it is  a long way from the Gower.
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Upper Tywi – Bike and walk!

I have a bike ride in mind which takes in the upper Afon Tywi and then cuts across to the Afon Cothi and back, about 28 miles.  So today I thought Paul and I could do a part of this just to see how it may pan out.

The weather was dry but cold, cold, cold! We set off from near Llandovery and headed up the valley.  Our first photo opportunity was at Dolauhirion Bridge.  This bridge was our usual egress point when open boating down the river. The stretch above the bridge is a fine grade 2 river.

I had thought to cross the river and head for Cilycwm, but we covered the ground quicker than I thought and so we continued up the valley to Rhandimwyn and were going to cross over the river at that point.

Route

 

If you are considering this area, Rhandirmwyn has a tea room where the prices are very good.  There is also a pub and a small shop.

Next to the shop is a house clearly occupied by someone with a sense of humour. They have a weather station with a wind sock – literally a sock! There is also a stone on a string to show wind strength.

 

 

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In addition there is a good size Camping site which looks as if it has all the required necessities of life.  This would be a good base for cycling and hill walking.

As we headed down to the bridge to cross the river I noticed my front tyre was flat.  No problem just change the tube. We found a thorn causing the problem – anyone want to join a campaign to stop hedge cutting? Once again the new tube I had bought was the wrong size, despite explaining to the bike shop where I bought it that I had a previous problem with wrong sizing. There was no alternative but to fix the puncture. There were a few puddles, but all iced over. I broke a hole in the ice  but the tube would not show any tell tale bubbles and the tyre had not gone down. The front tyre was put back together and then I managed to break the pump!!

Paul agreed to cycle back to the car and pick me up, trip abandoned. I meanwhile, started walking back pushing the bike.  The trip computer shows I can average 3.5mph whilst walking on flat tarmac – this will ruin my average bike speed.

Paul turned up and the bikes were loaded for the return journey.

Unfinished business – as Arnie might say “We will return”

There is a little more to the above puncture incident.  On Saturday I took the actual wheel and inner tube to a local independent bike shop to ensure I bought the correct tubes. The owner told me that the tube I thought was the wrong size would be fine! I bought a second tube and a new pump and ordered a bottle of “Slime” which may slow down thorn punctures.

Sustrans Litter Pick

I became a Sustrans volunteer last year as I was impressed with the cycle paths they help organise.

On 20th February it was my local area’s annual litter pick on the cycle path which utilizes an old railway and starts in Cross Hands and finishes in Llanelli.

In the spirit of Sustrans I cycled to the venue from my village and then cycled back on a slightly different route.

Route

The stretch we were going to litter pick was from Cross Hands to just before Tumble. The day was shared with “Keep Wales Tidy” and we collected 20 bags of litter.

Clearly there is a drink problem in this area as there were numerous beer cans and a large collection of some Polish bottled beer.

One of the “Keep Wales Tidy” group explained that many small mammals crawl inside fizzy drink cans for the sugar but unfortunately cannot then find the way out. He has found many small skeletons in these cans.  Similar scenarios can be found in discarded bottles.

What is so hard in carrying away empty containers?

A worthwhile day and of course a chance for a bike ride, oh and I was given a nice drink’s bottle for my trouble.

Capel Gwynfe & Black Mountain

With the weather forecast showing yellow suns all day, it was a foregone conclusion that we would be having a day out. The Navigator had decided on a walk partially based on one described in Alan Richards excellent guide book volume 2 of Great Walks in Carmarthenshire. This one was to start at Capel Gwynfe and take in part of the far western end of the Black Mountain and finish back in Capel Gwynfe.

Today we had a new member to our weekly party.  Chris, who is gradually winding down to retirement and is enjoying a four day week and I am told, trying to reduce this even further.

Route

Capel Gwynfe is a small hamlet but has its own Information Office, albeit on the small side!

The weather was fine but there was a chill in the air. The route was downhill for the first hour, always a bad sign as you just know there will be a stiff climb to come.  We could already see that climb.

Elevenses was had  near the ford just after the farm, Neuadd Fach.

We now started on the climb which in due course led us, somewhat wind blown to Cefn y Cylchau, where hidden behind a convenient rock we had lunch.

Heading downhill we came to the Afon Clydach and we were able to easily cross this just upstream of the waterfalls and then made for the large disused quarries.

From there we continued downhill on a graded path which leads to the hairpin to the hairpin and minor road which will take you back to Capel Gwynfe.  However we struck off north from Clogau Bach using paths and bridle ways leading to a converted school just short of the car.

Northern Rhinogydd (Day 7)

Here we are on our last day and potentially the hardest. I had walked  in the Rhinogydd quite some years ago when the bigger hills of Rhinog Fawr, Rhinog Fach and Y Llethr were tackled.  My memory was of hard going – I soon found there had been no change.

Today we were heading towards Moel Ysgyfarnogod and the northern Diffwys.

Route I must add that this is not accurate once we hit the heavily shaded area!

We parked the car in a small quarry scraping east of Cefn Clawdd, the only occupied holding in this area, and then took the path leading to Wern Fach.

I say path, more like a small river. The whole area is one huge bog with lots squelching and the occasional swear word when your foothold sinks beyond the top of your gaiter. There is one signpost directing you to Cwm Bychan and the path roughly follows a wall.

 

As the land rose the bog became less and a coffee break was well deserved.

Our way up to the tops was via Bwlch Gwylim, a steep pull through snow.

 

Once at the bwlch the views  opened up over to the estuary and Portmerion ( remember the series “The Prisoner?”). A lunch spot was found overlooking Llyn Corn Ystwc.

 

 

From here the route map should be taken with a pinch of salt. We were roughly heading for the ground below Moel Ysgyfarnogod and Diffwys. There was a lot of up and down, the latter involving some scrambling, not the place to be caught out in the mist – with hindsight good fun.

Having had enough “fun” we headed down to the wall and as planned found the track which led us back to Cefn Clawdd and the car.

 

If you want the wilderness field, this the place to come.

The end of an enjoyable week.

Llyn Trawsfynydd (Day 6)

It was time for a rest day, of sorts, so a flattish walk was called for and as Llyn Trawsfynydd was close at hand, plan A was a goer.

The weather was the usual, mixed.
We walked through Trawsfynydd village, which is larger than one may expect. One famous resident was Hedd Wyn click and we passed by his home.  I understand that his nephew lives there and a guided tour can be arranged – shouldn’t take long!
We turned down to the lake and followed a good hard surface path, which is also the National Cycle Path 8, reading the occasional information board about the flora and fauna.
At the power station we were surprised to see so many cars, bearing in mind the station is now closed.  However reading more information panels, the decommissioning is on-going and will not end until 2020. Click
The path continues adjacent to woods which have the most vivid green moss I have ever seen – I assume there is no connection to the nuclear facility!
In the north west corner is the dam under which the Afon Prysor exits, it enters from the south east corner. The narrow,gorge shown as Ceunant Llennyrch looks worth exploring, but not today by two weary walkers.
From here the easy walking stops and wet moorland is met, passing Coed y Rhygen Nature Reserve. We found a lunch stop near here with good views down to the lake and beyond.
Reluctantly we set off for the last leg where we were soon back on a minor road and heading for the long footbridge which takes you back into the village of Trawsfynydd.
Hopefully tomorrow we will have a bit more fuel in our tanks as the Rhinogydd beckons.

Manod Mawr (Day 5)

Unfortunately for Andy who had returned home on Tuesday night, the forecast for today was looking much better, albeit still cold.

The Navigator’s plan was for an ascent of Manod Mawr which overlooks Blaenau Festiniog.

Route

The day did not start well for me as I discovered that my flask had leaked its whole contents into my rucksack.(The leak I discovered later that evening was my fault.) I would have to be polite to The Navigator today as I would need to share his hot drink.

We parked in Manod Village and headed for the paths which would take us to the bwlch between Manod Bach and Manod Mawr.

 

 

 

 

 

There was more snow on the ground than we had seen in previous days and as  we climbed the inclined path  past Llyn-y-Manod it became deeper,  perhaps leaving our microspikes back at base could be a mistake. There were good views over to the Moelwyns and the Stwlan Dam and down to Blaenau Festiniog.

 

 

 

Near the top of the path we heard what seemed to be siren and then saw a sign explaining that when it stopped an explosion may follow! We did wait but heard nothing more. As we reached the top of the path there was clearly work going on with a large quarry lorry and digger in sight.

Before the climb to the summit we stopped for lunch, sitting in the snow.

 

Although the height of Manod Mawr is moderate the views are well worth the climb.  It was again windy up here. We retraced our steps to the quarry road as the direct route south from the top would lead to an unfortunate end!

 

The track led us down to Cwm Teigl and a minor road.

We left this to take a footpath past Caecano Mawr and back to the car.

The Three Rivers (day 4)

Even stronger winds were forecast for today, so once again plan B (or it could have been plan C) was decided on. To avoid the winds the route today would keep us mainly within river valleys and the chance to see more waterfalls.

Route

We parked in Ganllwyd and walked up north alongside the Afon Mawddach and through Coed Y Brenin.

There are a number of bike trails through the woods with some interesting names.

 

You will note from the route map a property shown as “Ferndale”, which is now on sale but looked like it had been set up as accommodation to take advantage of the popular mountain bike trade, but it is in the middle of nowhere. We had a coffee break near here.

Continuing on the path we came to the junction of the Afon Gain and Afon Mawddach, both with large waterfalls.

 

 

There is a bridge here and if you look carefully underneath, the original bridge structure is steadily collapsing.

After some photos we continued up the Afon Mawddach where we came across what appeared to be a disbanded mine. There were a number of unwelcoming signs here which suggested that one should not enter.  However as the public footpath goes through here and no diversions  we continued on. The land does need care but once through the area a typical upland path appears and at the end there is a public footpath sign pointing back down.

We were  now back on a minor road which would make for some interesting motoring. We stayed on the road and then took the National Cycle Trail number 8 which headed south.  It had now began to snow so we took shelter in the woods to have lunch.

 

We were now back near the Afon Gain. The bike route switches back and fore a bit and then takes you alongside the Afon Eden, the third of today’s rivers.

We were unlucky for the last quarter of a mile as the rain had began to fall and we were glad of our rain wear.

 

Rhobell Fawr (Day 3)

Today’s forecast was for clearer weather but high winds especially near the coast. The high tops were again off limits but The Navigator thought a good compromise would be Rhobell Fawr,  a top I had often glimpsed on the way to Bala.

Route

We parked the car in the woodlands near Fridd Carmel and walked east to the junction of the green dotted lane.

 

We stayed on this path all the way until we cut uphill following a wall near Graig Fach. The contour lines tell their own  tale!

At the trig point it was difficult to stand up in the strong wind and we realised that  the “bigger hills” would have been impossible.  Well done to The Navigator”.

We followed the wall which leads south west past Ffynnon Shon and onto another green dotted lane back to the car.

This area looks ripe for exploration when longer daylight hours are available with Rhobell Ganol and Rhobell-y- Big to be walked.

We had an interesting scenic route back to Trawsfynydd, which I am sure The Navigator meant us to take and took in the well known bustling hamlet of Abergeirw. Despite there being about only two farms there is a community centre!

Waterfalls and Moorlands (Day 2)

Sunday’s weather was not looking inviting and definitely not one for the tops. My bedroom overlooked Llyn Trawsfynydd and if the map is to believed the hills beyond, but nothing but mist.

However The navigator had plan B and we set off for Llan Festiniog and the waterfalls of the Cwm Cynfal.

Route

We walked down to the Ceunant Cynfal Nature Reserve and the deep gorge made for some spectacular waterfalls.

 

 

 

 

 

A coffee break was had under the old archways of the disbanded railway before we carried on upstream to Cwm Farm.

 

The scenery gave way to a narrow gorge with no way through.

 

 The footpath then took us uphill around Bryn Llech and onto a view point overlooking yet another waterfall.

 

The path met the B4391 and although there was an opportunity to walk back down to the car on this road we decided to carry on with Plan B. Just before Llyn Dubach we struck onto the moorland and around the south of Llyn Morwynion and onto Carreglwyd.  From here we headed for the minor road and the old chapel and our route back to the start.

Cwm Cynfal is certainly worth exploring for the waterfalls.