A Jaunt in the Hills

The weather may have been terrible lately, but the New Year dawned slightly better. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was nice, but it wasn’t raining and there was a stiff breeze rather than a raging gale. A small window for me to get out in the hills. It looked as though it would rain again soon so after a short session on the turbo trainer I set off into some local hills for a little walk.

Turbo Trainer Session
Turbo Trainer Session

I had come up with a new project for 2024, to backpack along the West Highland Way so I’d better get out walking as much as I can. I know that means doing it in all weathers as well, but I’d rather stay dry if I can so today was just going to be a local walk before the rain returned.

The van needed a little drive anyway as we’d had to call the recovery service to get it started the day before. The battery was flat and to make matters worse, the bonnet latch had seized thanks to all the salt and sand that had been blowing about recently. So, I couldn’t open the bonnet to jump start it. The recovery man took a while and a whole selection of tools to get into it as well. I therefore drove it today to give it another run, up Artists Valley through floods and slippery roads to the car park.

Here I set off through the verdant forests climbing the hill to Moel y Llyn. The forests were thick with moss and lichens and there was running water everywhere.

I was taking it easy, imagining I was walking the West Highland Way where the aim will be to enjoy my surroundings and not really have a plan or any targets… My challenge will be to slow down, stop to take it all in and take it easy. This isn’t as easy as it might sound for me as once I get going I don’t usually like to stop.

I soon made it to the top of Moel y Llyn where there was a biting wind and some views down to the sea.

Views from Moel-y-Llyn
Views from Moel-y-Llyn

I thought about stopping to have some lunch, but failed to do so and decided to push onto the next summit instead… I’d failed at ‘taking it easy’ already. I did stop to put a jacket on and take a quick photo though. I had my OMM Rotor jacket with me that I just love. It feels so comforting when I put it on, it’s warm but rarely too hot and it stops the wind too. Just what I needed.

The section towards Esgair Foel-ddu took me away from any paths through boggy, tussocky ground where the going was slow.

Slow Going
Slow Going

It was nice up here though, other than the wind all was peaceful and the sun even made a brief appearance (kind of).

Ceredigion Hills
Ceredigion Hills

I headed first to one little peak and then down and back up to the summit of Esgair Foel-Ddu. I’d skirted around this before but had never been to the summit, but as it was listed as a ‘hump’ on Summit Bag it was worth bagging. There was a little stone shelter with lichen covered shrubs in it.

As a fairly innocuous ‘hump’ with nothing much going for it I don’t think many people come up here. I failed again to stop and instead saw another summit in the distance with a cairn on top of it so headed off towards that. Once again it was over tussocky ground with no paths and barely even a sheep track to follow. There were some rocky bits to negotiate and of course plenty of marshy, boggy ground too. I was soon climbing up towards the summit of Foel Goch. This isn’;’t listed on Summit Bag, but once there I was greeted by amazing views of the Dyfi Estuary and the Borth Bog. Our house is down there, right on the coast.

It was now time to stop for lunch, but it was a bit exposed up here so I headed north to find some shelter in the lee of the hill. Here I stopped on the mossy hillside, sat down for five minutes and at my sandwich. I had some nice views down into Artists Valley and off to the shades of brown on the hills beyond. Cadair Idris could be seen in the distance too.

I didn’t stop long and soon made my way down the hillside to the fire road that I know well. I’ve cycled it loads of times so knew where I was and followed its somewhat circuitous route back up the hill and then down into Artists Valley where I rejoined the paths I’d walked up earlier. I arrived back at the van just as it started to spit with rain. By the time I was driving back down the valley, the windscreen wipers were on full.

A nice day in the hills and not a bad distance covered all things considered. Now to start upping the mileage, carrying a bigger rucksack with more kit in it and doing some back-to-back days in preparation for the West Highland Way,

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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