20100102_Cawston – Potford’s Dam Pool Dawn Circular Walk

20100102_Cawston – Potford’s Dam Pool Dawn Circular Walk 

When : 2nd January 2010  … Who : Just Me … Where : Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire. 

Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No.222, Rugby & Daventry, Southam & Lutterworth. 

Grid ref. : Potford’s Dam Pool = 465,727  

Approx Distance : 4 miles (6.5 km). 

Significant Heights : Negligible… a couple of gentle rises.

Summary : An early morning walk to the frozen pool at Potford’s Dam/Cawston Spinney to see the sun rise as opposed to watching the sun set the evening before (and take a few more photo’s) which I guessed could be worth braving the cold for again. 

I’d woken up early with the first signs of the dawn light which seemed just a little brighter than normal. The reason soon became evident; there’d been a light sprinkling of snow overnight and this was adding its own special feel to the morning. So, I quickly decided to grab my camera and head out for a dawn walk before my family got themselves going for the day. 

I hurried myself and was very soon out on the perimeter path that skirts the outer edge of the Cawston Grange Housing Estate and was approaching the B4642 (was A4071) Coventry Road on this path when the sun just raised itself above the horizon. I love being out early to see this happen; it’s difficult to say exactly why, but there’s something special about this exact moment in the change from night to day. A couple of minutes later and I was out on the Coventry Road (near the end of Cawston Lane) and the orangey glow of the sunrise had intensified even in that short time. I knew this wouldn’t last long though and I quickly weighed up where I’d get the best view of the developing sunrise. I figured it might take too long to reach the other side of Cawston Woods and a decent place for a few photo’s and decided a visit back to Potford’s Dam Pool might be worth a try … effectively reprising my evening walk of the day before. The idea of adding a set of sunrise pic’s to go with my set of the sun-setting over the pool appealed, so off I set at a very brisk pace (and I mean a VERY brisk pace – Not quite at a run, but certainly shifting some). 

The route was down the side of the Coventry Road (away from Bilton), on a path set back from the road, straight past Nature Trails Nursery and Cawston Farm (both on the opposite side of the road) to cross the main road at Brickyard Spinney. I was exactly re-tracing my route of the day before, taking the path behind the spinney and then crossing a ploughed field, roughly heading for the right hand end of a line of trees in the dip ahead, this in turn brought me to the reservoir pool. I was expecting the pool to still be frozen over from the day before, but what I wasn’t expecting was the almost perfectly pristine covering of snow over the pool’s surface; it looked like the whole area had been dusted with icing sugar. 

By dropping down to the pool the sun had disappeared from my view again, hidden by the dark mass of Cawston Woods (more correctly known as Cawston Spinney here) and the pool was completely in shadow. I figured that I might just get a sighting of the sun rising above the trees by heading over to the old disused Rugby to Leamington railway line that passes very close by, on a raised embankment. So, off I set, again at a brisk pace, skirting a field boundary, avoiding some very large frozen puddles on my way to where I could see a thin pathway up the side of the bank. 

Once on top of the bank, the view back over to the pool and the impending rise of the sun over the trees didn’t in fact produce the hoped for photo opportunity. However, looking over the other side showed a perfect view of the new traffic island forming the brand new A4071/B4642 junction. This is the southern end of The Rugby Western Relief Road [it hadn’t opened at the time, but it has now]. 

I headed back to the pool, descending the narrow path down the embankment with care, the frost and snow making it rather slippery. Back at the water’s edge the sun did start its appearance, peeking out from behind the trees, however, by now the orange glow of earlier had been burnt off and the emerging light was bright and rather harsh in comparison. Taking photo’s in that direction proved nigh on impossible but what was lost in colour was gained by the way the snow covered pool was lit up; I particularly liked the alternating streaks of light contrasting with the long shadows of the trees and waterside bull rushes stretching across the surface. 

I wandered back and forth on the broad sweeping path of the reservoir dam, trying to get some half decent images; I tried to be a little inventive regarding some of the camera angles to avoid the harshest of light from the low sun …. I’ll leave it to you to decide how successful I was, but I quite like some of my shots, hope you do too. 

 

                             

                             

After that I headed into the woods, winding my way through on a rough track, to meet a farm track that splits the woods in two. The area just walked through is Cawston Spinney; on the other side of the track is Fox Covert. It was so dark in amongst the trees it wasn’t worth even trying to take a photo, but after turning right up the track I liked the way the silhouettes and diffused light interacted together as I reached the woods’ boundary with mixed use farmland, both arable and pastureland.

Once out of the woods I picked up paths and bridleways across the farmland, criss-crossed by fences and hedges with occasional specimen trees.

I touched on Boat House Spinney before reaching Cawston Lane, crossing straight over to follow a bridle track down to Little Scotland Farm and then on to Alwyn Road. Crossing straight over, I followed the tarmac drive down the side of the sports pitches (both association and rugby union codes of football) of Alwyn Road Rec’, passed the 7th Rugby (Bilton) Scout Hut and then through allotment gardens to emerge onto Magnet Lane next to Bilton Infant School. I again crossed straight over to follow a path between fences and after a very short time this reached the centre of Bilton Village near to the CO-OP convenience store (where I bought a newspaper).  Directly opposite is The George Pub, but I can’t say what it’s like inside as I’ve never been in, but I’ve always thought it looks a little downbeat from the outside, although it did rather standout in the sunshine, almost like it was guarding the main road junction and village-cross on the small green near-by. From here, I turned left to follow the main road all the way through Bilton passing a good variety of shops as I went [including a couple of small supermarkets, a Lloyds bank, hairdressers, Chippy, Chinese take away, Black Horse Pub, Florist, Chemists, Bookies, Post-Office, Funeral Directors and a couple of churches, etc. etc.]. Once out of Bilton it becomes more rural again and I continued on to Cawston, where I headed into the new housing estate at a large traffic island …. and thence to home … and still in time for breakfast. 

­­­­­­­­­­­I hope you enjoyed my scribblings.

T.T.F.N. Gary 

Next posts = 20100103_Brinklow-Wolston-Coombe Abbey Circular Walk (section-1) and 20100103_Brinklow Circular Walk (section-2)

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20100101_Cawston – Potford’s Dam Pool Sunset Walk

20100101_Cawston – Potford’s Dam Pool Sunset Walk

 When : 1st January 2010 

Who : Just Me 

Where : Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire. 

Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No.222, Rugby & Daventry, Southam & Lutterworth. 

Grid ref. : Potford’s Dam Pool = 465,727  

Approx Distance : About 1.5 miles (2.5 km) on top of my walk earlier in the day. 

Significant Heights : None worth mentioning … a couple of gentle rises.

Summary : A small extension to a family walk down to the pool at Potford’s Dam/Cawston Spinney to see the sunset (and take a few photo’s) which I guessed could be worth braving the cold for. 

We (that’s me and my family) had nearly completed our New Years Days Walk and we’d emerged from Cawston Woods using the track that separates Fox Covert from Cawston Spinney and made our way up to the B4642 (was called the A4071) Coventry Road at Cawston (on the south-western outskirts of Rugby near Bilton Village). 

As we rose up the incline on the farm track, approaching the main road, the snow clouds had begun to disperse and clearer skies were breaking through. The clouds themselves were taking on an orangey-pinky glow as the sun dropped towards the horizon. I liked the colours, (who doesn’t like a nice sunset) and I imagined it might be worth seeing over the waters of Potford’s Dam Pool on the western fringes of Cawston Spinney. 

So upon reaching the B4642, we all crossed the main road where my lovely wife and kids turned right (heading off towards the Cawston housing estate and home), whilst I turned left and set off in the opposite direction on my own. After just a hundred yards or so, I re-crossed the road to find a path heading diagonally away from the road behind Brickyard Spinney. The spinney forms part of the gardens of a rather nice looking home; the grounds below the trees are landscaped in a rough bowl shape and in the spring a sprinkling of flowering bulbs lights up this corner of Cawston. 

Anyway, I’ve digressed, the path here is wide and grassy and even if I hadn’t walked this way before, it would have been very obvious where to go ….. after a very short distance a ploughed field is reached and the way is nearly always completely indistinct. My map however shows it cutting diagonally across whatever crops are planted. The field dips about half way across, meaning the far end of the path can’t be seen, so in the past I’ve tended to use a compass here to be as accurate as possible, but in general the aim is to the right hand end of a line of trees … Since doing this walk, I’ve had to force my way through growing oil seed rape (yuk) and I’ve also been forced to skirt around the outside edge of the field because the direct path has been made completely impassable by the crops – it’s still perfectly possible but is a longer route to reach the desired destination. 

Don’t be put off though, if the way across the field isn’t easy, the destination really is worth it, because sat behind the line of trees in the bottom of the dip, is a small reservoir …. To use the word “pond” would seem to diminish the waters too much, but I certainly wouldn’t use the term “lake” either, as that would suggest a much larger body of water …. so pool it will stay, at least for the purposes of this blog. My 1:25000 scale OS map doesn’t name the pool at all …. I’ve always known it as Potford’s Dam Pool but I’ve also heard it called Cawston Woods Pool or Cawston Woods Lake … probably all equally as descriptive as each other as it’s the only one hereabouts. 

I’ve digressed again – Back to my walk – The sun was setting quite quickly, creating a pretty rather than spectacular scene, but there was still enough light to make a complete circuit of the pool taking some photo’s as I went. It’d obviously been really cold all day long here in the dip, evidenced by virtually the whole pool being frozen over. The icy pool diffused the light from the sunset and the whole atmosphere was subdued and quiet, as if the whole world had gone to sleep, even the hum of traffic in the distance seemed particularly hushed …. The whole feel was quite magical really and I felt honoured to be the only one around to see it. 

The circuit around the west and south of the pool is very easy, on wide paths, much on the low arching embankment which forms the dam holding the waters back (I’m guessing, but I don’t think the pool can be very deep). Eventually the path becomes sandwiched between a ditch and the pool itself as it narrows to its inflow brook emerging from the woods. Once in the woods, I found a place to cross the brook and climb a bank on the other side, rising to join a wide verge around a ploughed field. I turned left to skirt the northern edge of the pool, a narrow line of trees growing on the bank dropping between me and the water’s edge. In a couple of places I managed to get down the slope in an attempt to get some better framed pic’s with the sun setting over the pool. I’m not overly sure about the results, but I quite like some of the effects the twigs made silhouetted against the lighter backdrop of the sky and pool.

The sun itself had disappeared completely now and it’s parting salvo was to intensify its orangey glow briefly – lovely. It was now time to go, for three reasons: I was starting to feel the cold seep into my bones; If I’d stayed much longer and I’d have been walking back across the fields in the pitch black; and I guessed my family would be wondering if I’d ever rejoin them (it’s amazing how time flies when you’re enjoying yourself). So, I retraced my steps back over the ploughed field to Brickyard Spinney and thence to the main road. Once back at the top of the rise, I thought I might just get a half-decent image of the sunset from under the old railway bridge, off down the hill to my left. I even managed a bit of a jog down the side of the road to try and get there before the glow faded and destroyed my idea. 

As it happened, the scene didn’t materialise quite as expected, the fading glow of the sunset didn’t quite line up with the bridge arch as I’d hoped. However, I did like the effect of the passing cars with their lights reflected on the wet tarmac and in particular in a large puddle by the road side, framed by the arch of the brick bridge. It often floods here after rain – the drainage is terrible despite some recent works to improve the situation. It’ll be interesting to see whether the new round-about and other road works associated with the new Rugby Western Relief Road [starts/finishes just the other side of the bridge] improves or worsens the flooding here.

    

After taking a few pic’s, I turned around and headed back up the road away from the bridge and soon picked up a tarmac path which became set back from the side of the road. I could stride out here and started to generate a little warmth in myself again as I passed Cawston Farm and the Nature Trails Nursery Building (where I’d separated from my family earlier) and I soon found myself nearing home, leaving the main road to join the perimeter path around the Cawston estate.

The glow from the sunset had re-intensified, so I fired off a few more pic’s and actually I’m quite happy with this last little set of images. It didn’t take long from here to reach home and rejoin my family. 

 

This little walk was a super ending to a New Years Day; Much better than soporifically watching the old Goggle-Box (TV for those who don’t know the term) all day long. 

 

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings. TTFN. Gary. 

Oh, and one final aside …. Instead of using the correct name of “Potford’s Dam”, “Potsford” is very often used (both spoken and written), so if you’re searching for more info’ on the W-W-Web you might like to deliberately misspell your search entry – you might find some different results.

Bye again. Gary.

Next post = 20100102_Cawston-Potfords Dam Pool Dawn Walk

20100101_Cawston-Dunchurch Circular New Years Day Walk

20100101_Cawston-Dunchurch Circular New Years Day Walk 

When : 1st January 2010

Who : Me and my Family

Where : Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire.

Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No.222, Rugby & Daventry

Start + End Point : 469,735 Cawston Estate (end of Trussell Way is as a good place as any to start from).

Approx Distance : 6.25 miles, (10 km)

Significant Heights : approx 70 ft (25m) climb up Toft Hill., otherwise none worth mentioning.

Parking : On street parking on the Cawston Estate – end of Trussell way off Cawston Grange Drive I suppose is as good as place as any …. Please park politely and with consideration as this is a residential area.

Public Transport : No.4 Bus stops on the estate, on Calvestone Road near the large Island at 474.734.

Summary : Circular walk starting (and therefore finishing) at Cawston, south-west of Rugby and including :- Cawston, Cawston Woods, Northampton Lane, Thurlaston, Toft Hill (near Draycote Water), Dunchurch, Dun Cow Pub, Northampton Lane (again), Cawston Woods (again), Cawston.

 

This is almost a reprise of my early morning walk of 4th October 2009, but this time it was with my family as a “New Year’s Day – Clear-away the Christmas Holiday Cobwebs Walk” in pleasant countryside near where we live. This time though, instead of autumn it was very much winter and the timing was much later in the day – I don’t think my family will ever be out walking with me before sunrise, as I’ve occasionally done in the past – I think they think I’m a bit loopy enjoying being out that early!

New Year’s Day turned out to be bright and chilly and I readily agreed to a family walk when my wife suggested we take advantage and get some fresh air. Our two kids took a bit longer to persuade, but they eventually came round to the idea (they had no choice in the matter really). We all donned warm clothes and suitable foot-ware (walking boots or wellies) and headed through the Cawston Estate to join the perimeter path (it passes the end of Trussell Way). Turning left along the path lead us up to the B4642 (used to be called the A4071) where we turned right for a very short distance before then turning left to cross the main road into Cawston Lane. This looks to be a quiet lane, but don’t be fooled as it sees regular traffic and cars can (and do) zip along here at a rapid rate of knots. So, single file was required until we reached a dirt lay-by at the boundary with a small wood. This is Fox Covert, but it’s better known as Cawston Woods and it was here we turned right off the road, to enter the woods passing a disused brick water-works construction as we went. 

I’d tried to sort out a route that I thought would give plenty of interest throughout, (especially good if you’re walking with youngsters), and the woods really fitted this self-imposed brief very well … woods always have interest, especially deciduous ones, and we decided to take a longish route through them, making an arching swing to the left, to follow a pathway up into Boat House Spinney. I’m not sure where exactly the woods change name, but they narrow to a quite thin strip between farmer’s fields until a group of small ponds is reached. Even though sheltered by the trees the ponds were frozen over, in places the crystalline structure being quite pronounced and pretty to look at … along the path though, the ice didn’t completely save us from some muddy patches – small enough for me to stride over and shallow enough for welly-booted feet to test out.

20100101-06_Mud + Wellie-Cawston Woods
 At the end of Boat House Spinney a bridle track crosses to get us onto an official right-of-way and we turned right (heading south) across pastureland, easy grassy walking to reach Northampton Lane – another bridle track, but this time a very well used farm track which can be very muddy at times, the tractor ruts being very pronounced.

We turned right to reach and pass Windmill Farm. Luckily, it wasn’t as muddy as I’d feared, because the heavy frost had hardened the mud and grassy verges to a solid, allowing us to easily circumvent the deep puddles, themselves with a frozen film of ice. It took quite an effort to keep my 8 year old son from trying to walk on water – his hiking boots are not Gore-Tex lined and would have soon left him with soggy feet! 

Upon passing Windmill Farm and Cottages (no sign of a windmill though!), the track becomes better finished as a drive (called Windmill Lane) and makes a left bend heading towards the B4429 Coventry Road.  Rather than head down the drive, almost straight away we turned off to the right to pick up Northampton Lane once again. The Lane pretty much continued as before with distinct lines of tractor ruts heading off in front of us, a perfect example of perspective – parallel lines converging to a vanishing point in the distance. 

Everyone seemed very happy, highlighted by the two girls singing songs. Craig and I were serenaded with a combination of Christmas carols and not so seasonal pop songs … They even played Mica, Natasha Bedingfield and Take That on one of their phones to sing along to … Craig was happy just breaking the ice on the puddles, although I did manage to get a photo of one that stood out from the others, it’s formation had resulted in a series of concentric rings, looking a bit like the contours of a hill on my map (imagination is a wonderful thing). As for me, it was just nice being out in the sunshine with my whole family. 

Anyway, the green lane gave way to become just a pathway with the way ahead narrowing, with more trees either side in the substantial hedgerows. I got everyone to keep a look-out for a footpath heading off on the left. The path was duly found (it wasn’t difficult to spot really – it’s harder in the summer when the verges are in full growth). Once we’d left the bridle way we headed almost due south to join the B4429 Coventry Road, where we turned left for a several hundred yards to reach a small group of buildings. These included a pick-your-own farm and a used car lot. However, by far the most stand-out building was a large but simple cottage with extremely bright white-washed walls (nothing unusual in that you might say) but topped off with an even brighter sunshine yellow roof made from some sort of corrugated material (metal at a guess) … Personally it’s not to my taste, but hey what a statement! 

Almost directly opposite is a side road (Main Street) and we crossed the main road to follow this (heading south) where it rose gently to a bridge crossing the M45 motorway and then a gentle decent on the other side which brought us into the village of Thurlaston. We took advantage of a bench on a small green next to a set of stocks for some refreshments (I had the drinks and snacks in a rucksack). The stocks are positioned at the junction of a side road (imaginatively named Stocks Lane). The younger members of our party enjoyed pretending to be trapped as I think kids of all ages tend to do.

I like Thurlaston, with its mix of cottages: – some thatched/some tiled; some modern/some old; some half-timbered/some not; but the most visible is the old converted windmill which stands tall above the surrounding buildings. Quite close to this, is St Edmunds Church and my kids liked the nativity scene in the grounds just off Church Lane (note, Church Lane not Church Walk). From the corner of Church Lane, our route took us through a large gate to drop down a drive to some trees at the bottom of the slope. We had to take particular care near the bottom in the shade because the frost was still quite hard and very slippery…. a short distance later we emerged onto the perimeter road that encircles Draycote Water Reservoir.

 

    

Draycote Water (pronounced Dray-kott) is the largest body of water for many a mile and the full circuit is about 5 miles, but this wasn’t our plan; our route was to turn left for a fraction of that distance, to reach the most north easterly tip of the reservoir. I think this northern edge of the lake is the most interesting, with a few ups and downs and groupings of trees. Along the little section we were walking there’s been a wooden walkway constructed nearer the water’s edge to give good views out over Toft Bay where quite a number of gulls and other water birds congregate. 

There are several possible paths that can be taken here and we chose the bridle track heading up the hill to Toft House. It’s a bit of a pull up this hill compared to the rest of the walk, but really nothing to write home about and we soon reached the top of the rise, which affords some super views of the reservoir and over to Thurlaston and the old windmill standing proud. Toft farm rears Alpacas (always very cute looking) and these can be seen in several fields hereabouts and especially by the side of the drive way that leads past the farm buildings to meet the A426 Southam Road.

Turning left here, along the side of the Main Road, we had to endure a section on hard footpaths, I say endure, but it’s not too bad really as it facilitates crossing over the M45 and then into Dunchurch village, with modern houses giving way to quainter cottages and then a fair few shops clustered around the main cross-roads. There are a couple of pubs in the village; The Green Man which I’ve never been in, and The Dun Cow which was our next port of call, but not before passing the statue of Lord John Douglas Montague Scot. The statue is dressed up as a film or cartoon character every Christmas and it’s always fun trying to guess what or who it’ll be each year – Normally a figure from a big film hit of the year just gone. It’s reputedly pupils from Ruby School that do the dressing in secret overnight just before Christmas. This year it was Homer Simpson standing sentinel over the cross roads. 

There’s a lot of history in Dunchurch, not least members of The Gunpowder Plot holed themselves up in the village awaiting news that Guy Fawkes had successfully blown up Parliament … A half timbered house in the village is reputedly the very building (then an inn) and carries the name “Guy Fawkes’ House”. Also in a more modern vein, Wing Commander Guy Gibson (leader of the famous WWII, 617 Squadron’s Dambusters mission) had family links with the area and there is a framed photo & letter mentioning the Dun Cow hanging on the wall quite close to the inn’s main entrance …. We sat directly under the picture enjoying a drink and warming ourselves …. I think the kids really appreciated the rest. 

When we emerged from the pub we turned left to follow the A426 away from the cross roads (towards Rugby). We had another short length of road walking to do now, which included leaving the main road to head down Cawston Lane, almost immediately passing The Methodist Church. As we continued down Cawston Lane the houses on the left gave way to farmland with just a line of properties remaining on our right. These petered out at the junction with Northampton Lane. To the right Northampton Lane is a proper tarmac road with houses; to the left however (and our route) the Lane is the wide muddy farm track we’d walked on earlier in the day and we headed off towards Windmill Farm again. 

After a short while we had another stop, this time for the kids to say hello to a couple of handsome looking horses, although they didn’t seem too bothered about coming over to say hello to us and we set off again, not least as it was now getting really quite cold and the weather was all of a sudden closing in with dark angry looking clouds replacing the blue skies that’d been with us most of the day. In an odd sort of way I liked the juxtaposition of conditions, the light taking on a pinky-orangey-steely sort glow. A couple of hundred yards or so before reaching Windmill Farm we turned right off the farm-track onto a bridlepath down a grassy field. 

We were now on familiar ground (walked on earlier in the day) heading back to Boathouse Spinney, but before we reached the trees the threatening weather broke as a flurry of snow swept in across us. Iit was odd though, as we were still in sunshine and the large flakes were lit up as they swirled around – quite magical in a chilly kind of way. When we reached the trees, we turned left to make our way back through the thin strip of woods and then, as we entered the main body of the woods, we hung to the left to meet a farm track that splits the woods in two. We turned right along this very pleasant track to emerge onto the B4642 (was the A4071 until recently) between Cawston Farm and Nature Trails Nursery. I particularly liked the glow of the late afternoon sun on the Nursery buildings brickwork, with strongly contrasting shadows of nearby trees in stark contrast.

The walk was coming to an end now, dusk was drawing in and all that was required was to cross the road, turn right along the footpath set back from the road, pass the end of Cawston Lane before entering the Cawston Estate and making our way home ….. And that’s exactly what my family did to end their walk – but not me – No, I decided to head off on my own to extend the walk but that’s for my next diary post. 

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings.     T.T.F.N. Gary. 

Next post = 20100101_Cawston-Potfords Dam Pool Sunset Walk

20091115_MHW_Llyn Celyn to Pentrefoelas Walk

20091115_MHW_Llyn Celyn to Pentrefoelas Walk

When : 15th November 2009

Who : The Midland Hill Walkers – Club Walk

Where : North Wales, Starting near Llyn Celyn (near Bala), Just inside the Eastern fringes of Snowdonia and then walking north to Pentrfoelas (on the A5, just outside Snowdonia)

Maps : OS Outdoor Leisure Map no.18 – Snowdonia Harlech & Bala Areas showing part of the national park (vast majority of walk)  …. and/or OS Landranger Maps No. 125 (Bala + Lake Vyrnwy) and No.116 (Denbigh + Colwyn Bay Area) cover all of the walk. 

Transport : Coach Hired by the walking club.

Start Point: 894,401     End Point : 874,514 

Approx Distance : 12 miles, 19 km

Heights Gained : Difficult to say as lots of undulating ups and downs but something in the region of about 1500 ft (about 460 m) of significant ups spread over about four rises during the day.

Summary : A rather damp linear walk in a part of Wales I’d only ever driven past before …. Very interesting countryside despite the weather which was less than ideal.

More photo’s to follow with the text in a while or visit my flickr set for pic’s on their own. 

This was the second walk I did with The Midland Hill Walkers (The 1st was Goyt Valley to Peak Forest in The Peak District). It meant an early start, leaving my home before 6:30 in the cold and dark of a Mid-November Sunday morning for the drive down the A45+A46 to Kenilworth to meet the coach that the club hire for the day. I’m finding it hard to believe this is over a year ago now but it’s still fairly fresh in my mind (helped by my set of photo’s and having marked the route on my maps soon afterwards). 

Using a coach has various advantages, in that there are no long tiring drives either side of the walk; the leaders can organise a linear walk (which I think can give a sense of journey, that a circular route maybe can’t) and very often there’s a pub at the end of the walk for a relaxing drink before the journey home and a bit of a snooze. Obviously if you like company on a walk then a club using a 50+ seater coach gives plenty of opportunity for a chat …. but if the thought of 50 people in a long trail across the moors and hills is a bit much, don’t worry as there’s always an A+B walk, and the numbers generally split pretty much down the middle. 

I was feeling reasonably fit at the time and opted to join the A-walkers for the day (probably about 15 or 16 of us in all on this walk) and we alighted from the coach onto a side road about 3 or 4 miles north of Bala on the A4212 at Ciltalgarth. This was very near The National White Water Centre (Canolfan Tryweryn) which uses the outflow river from the reservoir Llyn Celyn a little further to the west. We didn’t head down the side road though, instead having a short stretch of road walking on the main road (heading back towards Bala) and then crossing to head up the hillside northwards and then picking up a small stream near Tyn-y-Bont. This wasn’t the easiest of starts as the ground up by the stream side was wet and boggy, the rocks were slippy with moss and overhanging tree branches often made stooping down a necessity but eventually (not long really) we emerged into more open farmland. 

After the closeness of the little stream area, it was good to get some views out over the Afon Treyweryn Valley …. well the views could have been better, but what was lost in extensive panoramas was made up for by the moody atmospheric conditions – It was quite stormy looking, at times almost turning the vibrant welsh greens a monotone shade of grey. 

  

I believe the leaders’ original plan was to head up and over the hill of Craig y Garn and possibly Bwlch Graianog and Craig Ddu. However when reconnoitering, this proved a difficult route (fences etc baring the way) and so a slightly different way was required; this included rising up out of relatively kempt farmland to head into rough grass moorland. We’d had so much rain over the preceding days and weeks (well most of the year really) that the ground was very soggy as we climbed to a small rectangular stand of trees on the flanks of Craig y Garn. We caught a very brief glimpse of Lyn Celyn in the distance backed by Mynydd Nodol and Arenig Fawr further away.

   

The stormy clouds occasionally parted to give a glimpse of blue sky and we were treated to some lovely sunbursts in the distance – it’s an old cliché but every cloud has a silver lining and the rays of sunshine breaking through certainly lit up the gloominess, in particular an area of hills off to the east were lit up most attractively. 

 

Once we’d passed behind the small wood we promptly started to lose much of the height gained as we picked up a route through Maesgadfa farmstead and then down to the smaller Nant Hir further down the hill. Our route then took a combination of tracks and paths across farmland … I got the impression that farming here could be quite hard but that could be because the very damp conditions both underfoot and from up above, this was highlighted by the awkward crossing of a small rill we had to cross near Beudy Ty-Canol, it wasn’t so much the stream itself that caused problems, more the soggy rough ground either side that forced us to hunt a little for a crossing point – I was glad I was wearing gaiters! 

Soon after that, as we approached Pentre, amazingly a patch of blue sky appeared overhead, somewhat lifting the gloom as we headed over to Hafodnwydog. We’d pretty much been heading north to this point but our route was to take a left turn (westwards) to head away from the farmland back up into rough moorland – very rough moorland. The path on the map heads pretty much straight up to a shallow col between the hills of Craig Ddu and Craig yr Hafod, initially crossing a sort of natural bowl. This proved impossible to cross however due to the extremely boggy ground and we had to make a wide detour finding some higher and less boggy ground at first following the line of a wire fence northwards (the lichen covered wooden posts testament to the wet conditions here) and then swinging west and south through the moor in a big semi-circular loop across Cyfiau. This way was extremely tiring having to wind our way through large mounds of moss, course tussucks of grass and wet boggy patches. Somehow I ended up at the front of the party, probably aided by my long legs clearing the ground easier than my fellow walkers (an advantage of being over 6’ 4”). 

    

 It was quite a relief (at least speaking for myself) when we reached a rough stone sheepfold near to meeting the path again and quite near the col mentioned earlier. The walls of the sheepfold afforded a little protection from the elements as we had a short stop for some refreshments (tomato soup from a flask and a cheese sandwich for me – yum!). Once restarted, it only took a few minutes to reach the top of the rise and then start a descent into the upper reaches of the wild and remote feeling Hesgyn valley. The path swung northwards again to meet a track contouring above the small Llyn Hesgyn (lake). The path was easy to follow but was somewhat waterlogged and at times felt like I was splashing through a shallow river. This didn’t last long though as we swung right, rising out of the valley to skirt the top of Llechwedd Du (hill) and then about a mile descent to reach a minor road at Cadair Benllyn. It was here that we crossed out of The Snowdonia National Park although you wouldn’t know it unless you had a map with you. 

The weather by now had brightened a bit, but had dropped in temperature quite considerably as the cloud cover lifted and broke up a little. Depending on which way you faced it looked either bright and sunny or stormy and angry, almost two days worth of weather all at the same time. The earlier adage of every cloud having a silver lining was even more apt now. 

  

The way ahead now was very straight forward taking the minor road northwards and all downhill for about a mile to reach the small settlement of Ty Mawr Cwm by the side of the Afon Ceirw (river). It was here that we settled down for our main lunch stop. This turned out a little longer than ideal as our leader headed off ahead to try to suss out a slightly different route to the one pioneered. On our leaders return, we set off (still on the original route) heading for Cappele (farm). There was one very short sharp climb as we left the Afon Ceirw and after our lunch stop my legs really didn’t want to do this …. I don’t think I was the only one either.

However, we soon reached more level ground and then had to negotiate a rather awkward fence baring the right of way (without stile or gate) which was what our leader had gone searching for an alternative for. There was no other route, so we had a bit of clambering to do to cross the obstacle but once over we were easily able to skirt around the farm meet another minor road and then head north again rising and skirting around to the west of Moel Eglwys before another track joined our path to take us to another minor road  to the east of Garyn Prys. 

The gloom had returned again and was unlikely to get much better now that day was giving way to the early dusk of Mid-November. The next ¾ of a mile or so was on the road passing several places that I probably couldn’t begin to pronounce properly, but I’ll note them here (just to confuse my computer’s spell checker) … Brynffynnon; Bryn-hyfryd; Bryn-dedwydd and Hafotty-bach. 

It was just after Hafotty-bach that we again left the road to head west on a bridle track, across country skirting under a sizable wooded area, pitch-dark against the stormy skies, to reach Gilar and then onwards to zig-zag on farm tracks to Plas Lolyn. Gilar had a somewhat fortified feel to it, the drain pipes on the gatehouse sporting the date 1623 giving an indication of the age of at least a part of the farmstead …. what might those walls have seen over the best part of 400 years of history ? 

After a very little research on “the web”, it turns out the grade-II listed farmhouse was built c.1600 as the seat of the High Sherriff of Denbighshire … part of the farm is still a 500 acre working hill farm and part is now a Holiday Home and it’s their web site  that also informs me the gatehouse is no longer used as entrance but still houses the original gate. 

Dusk was now really drawing in and I’d hardly taken a photo’ since our lunch stop, and from here I might as well have put my camera in my rucksack for the final mile or so on a combination of paths and roads into Pentrefoelas (by far the largest place seen on the walk all day) and the end of today’s walk where we met up with the B-party and the coach. It turned out towards the end of the B-teams walk that they’d had to ford a swollen stream (they’d been unable to find a suitable crossing place) and they’d all ended up with their boots full of water and rather wet trouser legs to finish in Pentrefoelas a little before us. 

Once changed into drier and more comfortable clothing, some headed up to a pub further up the village on the A5, whilst some of us chose the nearer Tea Rooms …. Well, the description Tea Rooms doesn’t do anywhere near justice to the small establishment, which turns out to be a well known (or even famous) chocolate shop called simply “The Riverside Chocolate House and Tea-room”, selling delicious homemade chocolates of all descriptions as well as a superb hot-chocolate drink which I enjoyed considerably. A superb ending to a rather strenuous day’s walking. 

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

Next Walk = 2010 … to follow.