…And then the weather got stuck in a drizzly, mizzly, windy grey glaw. For several days. The BBC/Met people were over-enthusiastic about how there would be an anti-cyclone on the Friday and how this would bring a respite from the driving drizzle.
And so, in between beach-based doggy walks (Morfa Harlech is particularly fab, as is the beach at Barmouth if you feel the need for bucket and spade and ice cream and chips action) – I arranged with TGO Challenger and Fight Club Hiker Peter from Anglesey, in a series of broken phone conversations due to the crap phone signal – to meet at the Minfford car park on the Friday for a trundle around Cadair Idris – a fine and classic mountain walk. It became clear on the journey there that the hillfog was quite low and that it was still drizzling.
As I waited for Peter, the drizzle turned to heavy rain at times. After a long wait, I set off up the hill, after deciding that he’d spotted the duff weather and wasn’t coming. On the heave up the steep path, the cloud base lowered a bit more and the wind and rain did a bit of lashing-down. My map case fell to bits and it was late for a fight against a headwind in driving drizzle, so, I bailed out and went to Morfa Dyffryn to let the dawg indulge in ripping up bits of seaweed. Peter had arrived shortly after I’d left, apparently, had set off in pursuit, hurt his knee and gone off home. He didn’t miss much. I got as far as Llyn Cau, about a thousand feet up, and noted it’s potential for a campsite. I’ll be back for Cadair Idris next summer.
Meanwhile, back at Ardgoed, the farm sheepdog and matriarch has settled in to our cottage. There were occasional visits from Jack the Jack Russell and a little yappy thing that attacked Bruno and got flattened as a result. And there was also Larry the Ram, who attended our short doggy walks down the lane.
The mist and clag remained. But a few days later, I ventured up Cwn Natntcol for the bagging of the big, round Marilyn Moelfre. The hillfog base was 250 metres, so there was 1000 feet of clag. It wasn’t nice, really. I don’t know why I bothered. We repaired to another beach and had another bounce around and a splash.
At the end of the fortnight, the Beeb and the Met were enthusiastic once again. There’s something a bit sinister about having good weather forecasts for Fridays. Maybe they’re just trying to cheer us all up and stop us thinking about how those lovely people at the bank are going to spend our taxes this Christmas. Whatever it is, its not good for planning hillwalks. I decided to have a look at Bwlch Oerddrws, a pass for the road from Central Wales to Dollgellau, around which there are arranged some Hewitts. These Hewitts are arranged in such a way as to be problematical for circular walks, so I had two out-and-back courses worked out.
Number one was from the summit of the pass, up an engineered path (probably for some mines further up the hill) – on to a plateau who’s top is the Hewitt/Nuttal Cribin Fawr. This was in mist and drizzle. (Pah! to the Beeb weather forecasters by the way). We continued beside a fence to a deep bwlch, pass or bealach and up outrageously steep grass to the trig on Waun-oer, another Hewitt/Nuttal in deep and driving hill fog ( I spit in the general direction of Ms Tobin, the fiction writer at the BBC weather forecasting service). Then it was back down outrageously steep grass and back over the still misty (I laugh heartily and a bit ironically at your predictions for the weather, people at the Met) and down the pony track to the knipemobile. I noticed once again that Bruno was less than enthusiastic about doing the outward journey, was dragging behind a bit and took every opportunity for a sit down, and was in a rush to get back. This is unusual behaviour for the superdawg.
After lunch, we forayed once again up more stupidly steep grass on Camlan and, contouring around a small nobble, with heavy legs, we trudged the southern slopes of Pen y Brynfforchog which has a fine little top on a narrow, grassy drumlin. The mist kind-of lifted a bit. Bruno repeated his unenthusiastic approach to the job in hand, but was excited by the prospect of returning. I also noticed that, at the place where we contoured around a nobble, he was following our outward route very accurately. I wanted the nobble in my bag of ticks, though, so we included Pen Ochr y Bwlch, a Dewey in our walk. As we approached our outward route again, Bruno was nose-down and pulling ahead. He clearly had our own scent trail and he followed this exactly back to the car. I’ve noticed the ability of dogs to follow obscure paths before. My previous dog, Jenny, was specially good at it and I got to trust her to go the right way. It seems that Bruno can do the same thing. The potential benefits of being able to follow an out-and-back route over pathless terrain in bad visibility using a friendly dog, a service which doesn’t rely on batteries, or even on daylight, are dawning on me.
As a reward, we visited Morfa Dyffryn once again to worry some more seaweed and to run around in circles barking for a while.
I’m not sure about the dog’s health. He is eleven years old, which means that he is what you might call “veteran”. He’s a bit grey around the chin, and, I did notice some awkwardness on a couple of ladder stiles. But he can still clear a hill-fence in one mighty bound, and he does still run about daft, given the chance. Many dogs don’t get much past eleven before their in their dotage and, he’s far from that. Its probably just the passage of time. I have quite a bit of sympathy for that.
As we drove home Saturday morning, the sun was shining brightly.