Taking advantage of a start at an altitude of 540+ metres at the car park at the top of Bwlch y Groes for the bagging of the four final tops was a bit of a no-brainer. The temperature at nine o’clock at the top of the pass was 20C. It soon rose to “hot” and , it seems that the long extension of the 2012-13 winter into May not only benefitted several species of wild flowers, but also the mighty cleg or horsefly. I’d noticed that on the previous two walks, there was a lot of cleggy activity, but on this one, the clegs were rampant, and I do mean RAMPANT. Along with the clegs were fahsands and fahsands of little white moths. I don’t mind little white moths. I mean ter say, only fur coats hate yer moth.
I covered myself liberally with more Ultrathon from the lotion bottle (easier to put on, I find…) and marched off on an easy track which handrails the fenceline. This disappears into a bog after a bit and then it’s just Pieman, fenceline and bog – a fairly common combination, I find.
After a bit more, I decided to contour along to a little bealach or bwlch which connect to Foel Rhudd – my first top tick of the day. Another walker appeared from my left and scutterred off at some speed up the hill and, by the time I’d reached the top – he was far away on to the next summit. As for me, I was already lathered and dripping and with tired legs from the previous day’s efforts. Foel Rhudd is nothing much to write home about, to be honest. It has a fine population of healthy horseflies who all have huge appetites and an inability to fly into a deet-covered leg with any dignity. Horseflies came from all directions - and bounced off. The moths ignored me for the most part. I blundered on.
There’s a bit of a path up to top #2 – Esgairiau Gwynion , so I followed that. The horseflies followed me. It was almost reminiscent of a Durham County Council walk in many ways, except that very few of the punters on the Durham walks have evil intentions concerning your legs. Esgairiau Gwynion is a Marilyn, a Hewitt and a Nuttal. Other than that, its has roughly the same level of excitement as Dodd Fell or, maybe, Lovely Seat….
It does have a rather pleasant South ridge, though, which leads the walker and his hungry companions (the clegs) quite suddenly into more scenic territory – with big views of the Aran Fawddwy ridge developing. I stopped here to cool down for a bit. I was taking in vast quantities of water and the opposing slope, up which I would soon have to struggle, looked steep and long and full of contours, all cosily snuggled up together in a lump.
Eventually, I stumbled off down the hill and sweated and heaved my dripping fly-blown carcase up the other side. It wasn’t quite as steep as I’d thought and soon, or, at least, eventually, I was on the ridge for an easy plod to the top of Hill Tick #3 Foel Hafod-fynnydd. This has a nice, conical top, a little quartzy cairn and a specially good view of Aran Fawddwy and the little tarn Creiglyn Dyfi which looked inviting, and probably wouldn’t have taken much effort to get there and back…. but I just couldn’t be arsed. I opted, instead , for a little snooze. There was a little breeze…and the clegs were still failing to nibble.
Top #4 was, it seemed, a long way away, back up the hill I’d just come down and followed by a long plod beside the fence I’d followed earlier. The heat was now getting quite uncomfortable and I was running out of water. I retraced to the fence and then back down the hill to a stile. From here, there is what appears to be an old track climbing the hill diagonally which was a helpful line through the rough ground. . At one point, I refilled my water bottles from a small stream of icy cold water and hit the fence line which is followed to the top of Llechwedd Du. This is very Pennine – a tiny cairn amongst peat hags and I stayed here for a bit and drank more than half of my beautiful icy beckwater.
The return to the knipemobile aka mobile oven (gas mark 9) was a simple plod through the bog. Tragically, my mars bar was a squishy mess. The lesson here (hill-tip coming up) is to scoff the chocolate before it melts. I do like to pass on the skills I’ve picked up over the years…..
And so, the next morning, which was forecast to be even hotter, and, having bagged everything on my List of Things to Bag This Week, I went home. I now have only five Hewitts to bag. Two of these are in the same (ish) area – Tarrenhendre and Tarren y Gesail. Another is Pen y Garn, near Devil’s Bridge, there’s High Willhays on Dartmoor and, finally, and, probably the last one, should be Mynydd Mawr in North Wales.
Here’s a map of today’s walk, though. Just 7 toasty miles today and 1600 sultry feet of up. I’m trying not to complain about the heat. I’m glad I didn’t bring the dog, though. This sorta thing isn’t really good for dogs…