Continued from http://www.hillandatree.com/thoughts/a-walk-in-wales-1
We follow the path for some distance until we reach the opening of a tunnel into the hillside. Recognising this is not a good idea, we turn back for some distance before standing on the hill. We have to admit we have no real idea where we are.
M checks the guidebook. ‘I think we should try that path down there,’ he says. ‘The book mentions a fence and a stile.’
I mutter something about guidebooks that think that fences and stiles are useful distinguishing landmarks in the middle of rural Wales, and set off after M.
At the stile, we check my iPhone and consult the book again. ‘I think we are a couple of miles further east than we should be,’ I say. ‘The guide book is no good now. But I don’t have a detailed enough map on the phone to know where to go. All I know is that we need to be heading north, and this path is heading east. What do you think?’
We stare at the fence that runs due north, but can see no track or path. ‘Nah,’ we both say. ‘Better to stick to the path.’
We follow the path around the hill in a huge semi circle, eventually meeting the fence again, with another stile. ‘Ha!’ M says. ‘We could have followed it after all. Be careful by this stile – the ground is a bit boggy!’
Too late: I’ve sunk into it to mid calf depth and have to clamber out.
We reach the brow of a hill and realise we’re looking down over a valley.
‘Brilliant!’ says M. ‘I can see roads. We just need to get down to them.’
‘I wonder which one is the A470?’ M says. That’s the one we need.’
We stare at the roads for some time. There is not a single car. I check the iPhone again. ‘It’s the wrong valley. The A470 is in the valley that must be on the other side of that hill.’
We both stare up at the hill looming over us. ‘There must be a way of getting round it at this level,’ M says. Let’s go down to that fence and follow it round.’
We make our way down the slope, which is proving to be very boggy. M decides we’d be better off to get right down by the barbed fence, under the over hanging trees. This proves to be the slippiest part yet (more swearing from me) and although M decides it must be a real path because he finds a sweet wrapper (M&S Percy Pigs, to be precise), we soon meet a dead end.
To be fair, it may not have been a real dead end but it would involve scrambling over very steep, wet rocks and probably remembering the tears and snot from earlier he decides we should go back up, go over the barbed wire fence and straight down the hill, picking up one of the roads and following it due north to Dolwydellan.
‘Erm, isn’t a barbed wire fence there for a reason?’ I say.
‘Have you got any better ideas?’ M says. ‘And look, that bit of fence up there isn’t barbed. It must be ok to cross it!’
I emerge from the trees totally covered in midges, though whether they truly want to be on me or are just stuck in my sweat I’m not sure.
We cross the non barbed bit of fence using an old branch as a stile (much shouting and swearing from me) and stare at the slope in front of us. ‘Are you sure we can get down this way?’ I say, jumping as a small frog sits momentarily on my toe.’
‘The trees have been cleared,’ says M. ‘Someone must have physically stood here to do that. So I’m sure we can get down this way.’
Marveling at his (quite reasonable, for a change) logic, I follow him down a very steep and very challenging section until finally – FINALLY – we reach a trackway that’s clearly been made by a vehicle. (I’ve cut this bit down because nothing interesting happened other than me falling down a couple of holes and telling M I’d be finding a good divorce lawyer if I ever reached civilisation, but suffice to say it was bloody hard work!)
With our feet on solid ground, rejoicing ensued – and we finish the Jaffa Cakes and water whilst observing passing frogs.
We set off, following the path downhill in the logical NW direction to discover… a dead end. A total dead end with a turning circle surrounded by trees.
We check the phone, debate the sense in turning back to follow a path that goes UP the hill in the WRONG direction, then shrug and follow it, reasoning that a vehicle track must lead somewhere.
By this time I’m asking M how many daylight hours we have left (many, apparently, unless the mist comes down).
To our utter joy (and amazement, given our day so far) the route made several sharp bends in the right direction and headed down the hill. Even more amazingly, the iPhone Sat Nav app suddenly recognised this route as a proper road and started giving us directions. Only three miles to go. We’d now been walking for 4.5 hours.
The rest of the route was easy (despite M being convinced we’d suddenly find the A470) and we happily followed roads and paths down the hill.
We finally arrived at the bottom and look back at the previous small section of our walk.
And then we go to the spa shop and buy vodka.