Last night I booked a campsite at Lake Vyrnwy for tomorrow, as I wasn’t that happy with the way potential wild camps aligned with places to get water. I decided to create some certainty and effectively break this final 4 days into 2 sections of 2 days.
That just left tonight to think about, and with Llanbrynmair towards the end of the day’s planned distance, it should be all good. On paper, Llanbrynmair has a shop, cafe and pub, although I have seen already on this walk that that combination doesn’t guarantee anything.
Day 6 – Machynlleth to Cerrig y Tan: 32.48km, 1266m ascent / 890m descent
I left Machynlleth in decent shape, due to a better than average pub breakfast, and an expectation that I was due some fitness today. I even allowed for a slightly big day on that assumption.
I initially made good time along lanes and easy paths to Abercegir, the only issue being loads of high bracken on the hillside right before the village.
I slowed down a bit after this and it was around 2pm when I walked into Cemmaes Road, the approximate half way point for the day. Largely unremarkable walking, in Glyndŵr’s Way terms, lay behind me.
I think knowing that I was a bit behind where I hoped to be put some sort of unconscious pressure on me, and further slowed me down on the next section. It was nice to see the Mynydd y Cemmaes windfarm (bear with me on this), largely because of the sign of progress it made, along with a little nostalgia for the last chunk of Cambrian Way I did which saw me camp up there.
Whether that reflection from my last visit to the area was justified, I was still finding out, of course. What this invisible junction did signify, though, was that Llanbrynmair wasn’t that far off. One climb on to an outlying ridge and then a direct descent to the village.
Just before that climb, I met a guy going the other way, and his updates on all things Llanbrynmair meant I expected to find a shut cafe. That still left the shop and the pub, which after he’d disappeared from sight, I wished I’d asked about.
On the ridge after emerging from a short section of woodland, I was half tempted to stop there, notwithstanding the fact that I was short on water, and that it would leave a big day to come.
The one possible benefit is that I’d have then hit Llanbrynmair in the morning (so breakfast, and shops) rather than very late afternoon, with its perils of closing times. I’d probably have needed to force myself to have a lie-in to be sure, though, on a day when I’d have a lot more work to do. No, this really just moved the current problem to another problem.
I dropped down into Llanbrynmair, even getting up some speed, as if by knocking a couple of minutes off my time, I’d miraculously ensure shops would be open. I arrived in Llanbrynmair to find that had all been a waste of time – everything was shut: cafe (expected), shop (attached to cafe), pub (looking very shut indeed for a Saturday). A momentary surge of hope when I saw a public toilet block, but (you guessed it) that was locked too.
I trudged disconsolately back up the road to join Glyndŵr’s Way. There was nothing for it but to implement rationing. I climbed up the next ridge through farmland. With some late evening farming activity going on, I felt quite conspicuous as I headed up and so decided to just find a corner to tuck myself away in, finding a spot off path over by the edge of the forest. No water anywhere of course.
After the day’s efforts, my feet weren’t in great shape, having got wet a couple of times and not having dried out before hitting the hard surfaces, they’d been painful to walk on for the last few kilometres.
Also, water was down to about a litre plus the small amount in my drinking water bottle. Not enough for a full scale camp, leaving me a choice between using it for hot food or drinks. Luckily I’d bought some baps and ham etc for lunch that would last two days, and so had a repeat of my lunch, freeing up the meagre water supply for a cup of tea. In morale terms, the right decision.
I settled down after what was now the new longest, hardest day of the trail so far.