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Walk 206A (#52) [6.8 miles] - Elan Valley, Claerwen circular walk

OS200 OS147 garmin

Seven of us set off on what looks like being the H-C’s biennial Lingen Loop walk. With some concern I was reminded that we lead this walk in 2008, 2011, 2013 and now 2015! Shows lack of originality on our part, or, more accurately, the only walk I can remember easily when doing a recce for new walks proves difficult.

However every time you do a walk it is a bit different and that proved to be the case this time. We were very lucky with the weather. Raining in Bucknell when we assembled at the lych-gate, sunshine at Lingen when we set off at 9.25am. And it stayed that way. We stopped, as usual, to talk to the pigs, tossed them a few windfalls from the tree by their enclosure and admired the two rings that the boar has in his nose – very trendy.

Really cold along this stretch of path

The first couple of miles headed roughly north alongside the Claerwen Reservoir. The path was a made up one but covered here and there with snow and ice which made for tricky walking.

Looking north along the Claerwen Reservoir

Ice underfoot

Coming into the sun at last

Frequent stops to wipe our eyes dry became the norm and it was really good to turn into one of the sheltered inlets to get some relief from the wind. "Never mind" I said to Sue and Geri, "Once we start to climb, and up on the top we'll have the wind behind us and it'll be better then". Prophetic words indeed.

Anyway, we carried on alongside the reservoir only to be forced to take to the side of the track to allow about a dozen off road motor cyclists to speed past us. We rounded a second corner and here it was - our climb up onto the top. We had come 2 miles already as we began to climb the western side of Cloddau. After a short distance we sheltered for a quick coffee break.

Climbing up the side of Cloddau

Tussocks looking just like hedgehogs

Once we got going again the path continued right handed and gently climbing and I was beginning to think this wasn't so bad after all....until the path (as expected) petered out. Then we were left with snow covered grassy tussocks and little else - and we needed to keep climbing to the top. This seemed to take forever - with frequent stops to re-group, catch our breath and plod forward - feeling and prodding with our poles for each footstep. Occasionally our poles just went down without touching anything, and sometimes our feet did the same. We were all struggling and, as we neared the top of our climb, Geri fell flat on her face doing a spectacular 'face plant' (sorry, no photo available). Suffice it to say her face was covered in snow and her right ear was full as well. After dusting herself down we set off again.

Near the top of Craig Dyfnant
looking back the way we came...


...and a panorama looking towards the east
use + or - key to zoom

At times the going became slightly easier as we came across a less tussocky stretch, but for the most part we plodded forward at a slow, careful pace. By now I was looking to cut corners off the planned route and just get us back to the car quickly and safely. We had reached a point of no return and we all agreed that it was preferable to carry on rather than turn round and retrace our steps.

Our path took us round Craig Dyfnant, and near to Cae Blaemethan we turned south in an attempt to intersect our original planned route. Luckily the wind was still behind us and so we kept warm enough. Ahead we could see quadbike tracks which occasionally made walking a bit easier, but for the most part it was back to tussock hopping.- with the occasional stop and regroup when either Sue or Geri let out an "Ooof" or a squeak as they slipped over. It was by no means easy walking at all.

From near Cefn Cmw-coel looking down onto Garreg Ddu dam

At Cefn Cwm-coel we could see our path ahead in the distance and below us. Another quadbike track helpfully took us along our way and walking became a little easier. We eventually gained a made up track near Blaencoel and stopped for a late and much needed lunch.

The final stretch

Our final stretch followed this track for a while and then branched off and gently climbed back up to the Claerwen Dam. At about half a mile to go I suggested that Sue and Geri might like to wait whilst I did the last half a mile of so to the car.

Claerwen Dam

So, in conclusion, it was a really interesting but hard walk. I'll certainly chalk this one up to experience and won't take the group there - oh dear me NO!


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