Its about that time of year when The Pieman likes to go a-bagging of Hewitts down in Wales. And so, last Tuesday, the knipemobile was all packed and off I went up the A66, M6 and various other important highways till I got to just the other side of Welshpool where I stopped for the bagging of the notoriously easy Marilyn Y Golfa.
It became obvious almost straight away that it was much too hot for this sort of thing and despite the shortness of three-quarter mile uphill walk, with about 500 feet of naughty brown contours, I was fair lathered when I got to the top. Y Golfa is, of course, a golf course (of course it is, what else would it be..?) and it was noticeable that nobody was playing any golf today. I returned to the knipemobile and took it a further thirty-odd miles to Dinas Mawddwy where I lighted on the Celyn Brithinion campsite which, being within easy reach of at least three public bars (notably, the Red Lion) would be an ideal, if warm, base for the next few days baggings.
First of the Hewitts to be bagged was Maesglase. This was lightly defended by a hugely steep pull up through the woods to some quarries where, I was delighted to discover a tunnel or level out of which gushed a bright stream of ice-cold water and a freezing breeze. I considered staying here for the rest of the day, indeed, having brought the akto as a backup in case my cheap tent failed in a strong breeze, i could have set up camp here for the rest of the week….
But I didn’t. Onwards and upwards through tussocks, bog, heather and horseflies, I eventually reached the top of Foel Dinas – a HuMP which is linked to Maesglase by a grassy ridge and which, fortified by a banana and defended by Ultrathon super-dooper insect repellent (the horseflies hated it) soon, or , at least, eventually succumbed to a combination of sweat, determination and a refill of my entire water supply from a nice cold beck.
The path here goes alongside the huge Eastern escarpment of Maesglase and thus, provides entertainment and big views. Further entertainment was had from the regular visits of RAF trainer aircraft and Eurofighters who passed by noisily below, occasionally upside-down. Maesglase has two tops – the place which people used to think was the top at Maen Du, and the place which really is the top. There was no relief from the heat on either and the horseflies were still buzzing around but not biting (apart from the one that successfully invaded my shorts which, undefended by Ultrathon’s jungle strength deet, took advantage of the sweet and delicate flesh lying in there, and took a huge lump; an action which caused a sudden reaction on my part and the untimely meeting of horsefly and it’s Maker.
I descended a steep ridge and joined a permissive path down the hill to Ty’n-y-Celyn farm where I reported to the farmer, his wife and four dogs (including quite a nice pup which the farmer insulted by calling it a mongrel in Welsh) that a lamb was “in bother” just up the hill. The animal had collapsed and was shivering and groaning and Mr Jones (I expect that this could well have been his name) diagnosed heat exhaustion, a conclusion which I suspected could have been spot on. Who knows… I’m not a vet, innit…? But it was stupidly hot to be wearing a thick wooly fleece, or, in fact, anything…
I repaired to the Red Lion for cold cider and a general sit-about. I considered this to be my best idea of the day.
later, I got back to the tent, where it was still far too hot. I had to rehydrate with several tins of Thwaites dark mild. It was awful. When the sun went in, the midges came out and more Ultrathon deet juice was applied. The midgies gathered in clouds around my head, but bit not a bit of a bite.
The walk was 8 miles and 3200 feet. Here’s a little map.
Don’t relax yet, there’s another two days of this rubbish to come…..
Incidentally, the Ultrathon insect repellant was supplied free for a review absolutely ages ago, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to use it as a defence against insects – up to now, just the knowledge that I had this stuff in my rucksack seems to have been putting them off. I’ll do a proper review fairly shortly.