Saturday, 20 August 2011
Hen Stent in a Tent
Alert readers will remember that just after posting the stuff about the folkworks, I went to Wales.
Now I’m back and this is what happened:
I used the Primavera 3 tent that was sent to be by Millets for review and which I broke in Scotland whilst showing off to some DofE kids how to put up a tent in a hurricane. Anyway, I mended the over-pronated pole with some sticky-tape stuff and took it to Wales. I also took the little Karrimor tent as well, just in case……
I stayed at Hen Stent, strictly, Coed Hen Stent, which is an old Welsh medical term for an old wooden heart spring thingy. My stent is nearly five years old now, but, not made of wood. (I almost played an Elvis song here...)
Coed Hen Stent is just outside the small village of Llangynog which has two pubs but no shop. Lets get our priorities right, eh? All of this is pretty much at the head of Dyffryn Tanat aka the Tanat valley, who’s major town seems to be Oswestry, which is in a different country.
But never mind – it’s very beautiful and looks not unlike the Lake District with lead mines and old slate workings and everything.
My mission was to bag stuff, and I started with a little Marilyn – one Mynydd-y-briw, a right steep little beggar with a chapel at the bottom. Its just about half a mile from the chapel to the summit.
Tuesday was a horribly wet morning, so I stayed in bed quite late and eventually dragged myself out for Cyrniau, a hill looming over the campsite in a steep and looming kind of way, and occupied by a nervous herd of sucklers who ran away, followed me and ran away again. I followed this up by a Fford Gefn, where a gang of fencers were fencing in the top. They’d left a gap for me to bag the summit which is a fifteen –foot high sitka spruce in the midst of lots of closely packed sitka spruce. On the up side, I got my hair combed. A path returning to Llangynog proved to be a jungle of high bracken and fallen trees. I cheered myself up from this with some of my Sainsbury’s whisky. In fact I was a lot happier for quite a long time.
Wednesday was the day for Hewitts – Post Gwyn and Foel Cwm Sian Llwyd – all very heathery and a bit sloppy in a friendly Pennine kind of way. On Wednesday, I was sustained a little by the enormous crops of sweet bilberries which I had by the handful. The best of these hills is, I’m afraid, the views of other places…. Unless you like sloppy slutch and bilberries. It was a very hot and sweaty job with lots of big black flies with red legs. They swarmed around but showed no inclination to bite or sting. One was accidentally transported back to the tent. I let it go. I hope its OK… A few drams of Sainsbury’s whisky were allowed afterwards by way of a victory celebration.
More Hewitts fell to the knipe ticking pencil on Thursday. A long drive on stupidly narrow roads, happily without any traffic, brought me into Cwm Maen Gwynedd – an outrageously beautiful green dale which ends in the steep black wall of Y Berwyn.
It is said that the word “Gwynedd” may derive from Gwyr Y Goggledd – the men of the North –warriors from Goddodin who rode to save Wales from he naughty barbarians. The Goddodin were the Votadini of the Cheviot Yeavering and the Tweed. So there’s a Northumbrian link here, it would seem. Mynyd Tarw translates as “wha’rs me whippet ya bugga….?” or so I’m told.
The forecast was for rain, but it just got a bit dull and cold – so I managed to bag Mynydd Tarw, Foel Wen and it’s South top, and Tomle before rambling back down the dale to the waiting knipemobile. On drive back , the Cwm Maen Gwynedd rush hour started and I met four cars coming the other way. each one was driven by an old lady (different old ladies, it wasn’t quite that strange). All of these old dears had several things in common:
1) Other old lady passengers
2) A big and powerful car
3) A frightened look.
4) An unwillingness to stop, reverse, pull into the side or indeed to do anything to avoid a collision. I spent quite a bit of time travelling backwards.
5) A Sat Nav set to “pre-menstrual” commentary.
After returning to the Primavera, I managed to console myself with the odd dram of Sainsbury’s whisky and a bottle of plonk wot I’d bought in the Spar shop at Llanrheadr-ym-Mochnant. I also soothed my nervousness about not being able to pronounce the place of the Spar shop (I worried in case I broke down and had to call the RAC) – with some more of the Sainsbury’s whisky. By ten o’clock, I was pretty well soothed, I can tell you.
Friday was for Foel Goch and Foel y Geifr – a couple of heathery, bilberry, tussocky, sloppy lumps just off the road to Bala from some reservoir or other. Hard work. But short. And, as a final fling, on the way back to the Primavera, I bagged Rhialgwm, a Marilyn with lots of trees at the bottom, many of which were in the process of being harvested, so the place was a mess. I was so upset by the state of this hill that I had to console myself once again with the last few drops of Sainsbury’s whisky. Rhialgwm is just next to Pretendgwm, but is bigger. Obviously.
I’m home now.
I did 33 miles and 7000 feet of up.
And a litre of scotch.