And now things get serious with the most controversial section of the Cambrian Way. Rough walking over demanding terrain, nowhere to stay overnight, but in the eyes of Tony Drake the most rewarding part of the whole route. Except in my case, I don’t have the accommodation issue…
I know from reading George Tod’s accounts of his 3 Cambrian Way walks, that accommodation here is a headache without adding loads of extra mileage to what is already a plenty long enough and tough enough couple of days. One of the recommended options is to use a taxi to pick you up in Cwm Nantcol, or to walk the first day from Barmouth in reverse after being dropped off by taxi from Barmouth, which also helps lessen the physical effects of the walk through enabling only a lighter daysack to be carried.
You might also think that this section was one of the things that scared me off from attempting this walk before, but you’d be wrong – in fact I’d seriously considered just doing the walk from Barmouth to Conwy. This would have meant a really tough start to the walk though. No, believe it or not it was the seemingly extended amount of time I would have needed to complete the southern part of the Cambrian Way that put me off – because in those days wild camping wasn’t in my equation. But all that’s in the past, and having walked all the way from Cardiff, camping most of the way, I should be perfectly ready to find somewhere to overnight in the Rhinogs, and should also be fit enough for these harder days to not present a significant problem. That should allow me to just focus on enjoying this part of the walk. Indeed, it would be fair to say that the northern section from Barmouth to the end at Conwy is the whole reason I wanted to do the walk in the first place.
A long climb out of Barmouth will take me onto the ridge that leads up to Diffwys and thence byu Crib-y-rhiw to Y Llethr, the highest point in the range. Down a couple of hundred metres and a look at llyns each side before the scramble up onto Rhinog Fach. A descent will then see me find somewhere to spend the night.
The next day will start with Rhinog Fawr and then the descent via the (not actually) Roman Steps to Cwm Bychan. To make good progress I then have to do it all again and climb all the way back up onto Moel Ysgafarnogod before descending down to Trawsfynydd for the night.
The longest and hardest day of this stage now beckons with around 13 miles and 1300 metres of ascent to do. A fairly long walk to Llan Ffestiniog and then I’m into familiar territory, crossing the steam railway at Ddault, before climbing up to Moelwyn Mawr. Where I stop for the night really depends on how many tops I try to pick off in this area, but the hope is to get as far around towards Cnicht as possible, so as to give me a good shot at decent progress on the Snowdon range the following day, and have knock-on benefits to the Glyders and Carneddau.
The final couple of hours of this section should see me finish the climb of Cnicht and descend into Beddgelert for the last re-provisioning of the trip (burger vans and ice cream vans aside). I know Beddgelert well and would have liked to have a pint and a meal here, but think I’ll be passing through too early in order to get to where I need to that day. But hopefully it will be unseasonably warm and sunny and there will be an excuse for a prize-winning ice cream from the shop there.
- CP25 Y Llethr
- CP26 Rhinog Fach
- CP27 Rhinog Fawr
- Cp28 Moel Ysgyfarnogod
- CP29 Moelfryn
- Cp30 Moelwyn Mawr
- CP31 Cnicht
- CP32a Pont Aberglaslyn
Hills en route
- Craig y Grut (589m, Dewey)
- Diffwys West Top (642m, Nuttall)
- Diffwys (750m, Hewitt, Nuttall, HuMP)
- Crib-y-rhiw (670m, Nuttall)
- Y Llethr (756m, Marilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall)
- Rhinog Fach (712m, Hewitt, Nuttall, HuMP)
- Rhinog Fawr (720m, Trail 100, Marilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall)
- Moel Ysgyfarnogod (623m, Trail 100, Marilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall)
- Foel Penolau (614m, Nuttall)
- Moelwyn Bach (710m, Hewitt, Nuttall, HuMP)
- Craigysgafn (689m, Nuttall)
- Moelwyn Mawr (770m, Marilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall)
- Moelwyn Mawr North Ridge Top (Nuttall)
- Cnicht North Top (686m, Nuttall)*
- Cnicht (689m, Trail 100, Hewitt, Nuttall, HuMP)*
(* already bagged)
My feelings on reaching Beddgelert should be an intensification of those on arriving at Barmouth – not just the belief that I can finish the walk, but now the expectation that will be the case. All that lies ahead of me is familiar terrain, which whilst hard walking in its own right, means I’ll feel quite confident in where I’m going and adapting to circumstances. But it also means that there will be less pleasant surprises ahead, and an increased desire to see the sea sparkling in the nearing distance below.