Another Practice Camp – Best Spot Yet!

Saturday started with a busy day in Aberystwyth for us. We did some shopping, collected my glasses and then test drove a very nice Hyundai Ioniq 6. We hadn’t looked at the Ioniq 6 before but they saif they had some good deals on it and the figures they quoted did sound good so we took it for a drive. It’s nice, but probably not as practical as the Kona or the Ioniq 5. It did look particularly nice in the ‘Nocturne Grey’ Matt finish though!

Ioniq 6 – Nocturne Grey Matt

Lunch was a sneaky burger from McDonalds.

Once at home, it looked as though it was going to be a dry and relatively still night so I decided to head off to the local hills for another practice camp. The main new piece of item to try this time was my new Osprey Talon backpack. However, as it was already late in the day there wouldn’t be much time for a long walk first. Instead, I decided that I’d go for a short walk this afternoon, camp out over night not too far from the van/road and then have a longer walk on Sunday.

Wild Camping

So, after a quick drive to Pendam where I left the van I headed off into the hills a little. I found a couple of really nice camping spots, explored a little more and then retraced my steps back to one of the camp spots I had identified. Despite mountain biking and running out here hundreds of times, it’s surprising what you can find if you go off exploring with no real agenda in mind. Whilst wandering around, essentially wasting time and trying not to go too far, I found a few new trails and some hidden views that I’d never seen before.

Lake Views
Lake Views

My campsite for the night was next to the little private fly-fishing lake of Llyn Rhosgoch. I found a nice patch of flat ground nestled just below the dam and sheltered from the breeze by the hill to the east. There was another spot on the other side of the lake that would have got the morning sun but this one was flatter. I took a bit of time to get it as flat as I could and then soon had my tent up and ready for the evening. It’s so much easier when you have a flat area, no wind and it’s dry.

I filled my water filter up from the stream coming out of the lake, took some photos of the lake as the sun disappeared behind the hill and was soon eating dinner.

The temperature was already plummeting though and frost was soon forming on the tent. The trouble with camping at this time of year here in Wales is that it’s dark pretty early so there’s not much to do. I took the obligatory photo of my tent lit up like a lantern, wandered around the camp area a little and then did some stretching and circuit-style exercises just to warm myself up.

Glowing at Dusk
Glowing at Dusk

It was soon completely dark, but that changed as the moon rose from behind the hill lighting my campsite up perfectly. Before long I was snuggling under my quilt for the night.

Moonlit camp site

I did manage to get some sleep on and off. Never more than an hour or so at a time, but I’m a terrible sleeper at the best of times. I was warm enough and relatively comfortable, but I did have a cold nose! I’ve been getting quite a bit of condensation inside my tent so put my waterproof jacket around the footbox of my quilt so that if it rubbed against the tent interior it wouldn’t get wet. It seemed to work, although the condensation wasn’t as bad as it has been either.

Chilling at Camp

I stayed inside the tent as long as I could today – no getting up at 4am like last time. There was no hurry and I was hoping I’d be able to get it all dried out before heading off for a walk. Although, when I did get up and go outside the tent was covered in a thick layer of frost.

Frosty Morning
Frosty Morning

It would take a while for that the thaw out and dry up so I brushed it off to remove most of it. What I didn’t realise was that the interior of the flysheet was covered in an equal amount of frost, so as I brushed it off the outside, the frost on the inside was also coming off and falling onto the interior of the tent – Oops.

Nevermind, it didn’t take much to wipe it up and then let it dry out with the doors open whilst I cooked and ate my breakfast.


A second coffee helped to waste a little more time but by 9:30am I was getting itchy feet and wanted to get moving. I packed up which sheltered from the wind and with no rain was a nice easy task. I packed my rucksack and then headed off into the hills.

Bagging a few more Summits

I wasn’t going anywhere in particular today but headed off along some familiar trails and detoured up to the diminutive summit of Esgair Gorlan (411 m). I then headed back down, along the beginning of the mountain-biking trail known as ‘Joe’s Back Garden’, crossed the road and then headed towards the summit of Disgwylfa Fach (416 m). First I had a river crossing to negotiate and managed to find a spot that I thought I’d just about be able to jump over. It would have been easy, but with walking poles in my hands, very wet and boggy ground to launch and land from and a fully-laden backpack it wasn’t a dead cert! Thankfully I made it without getting wet feet, or worse still over-balancing and falling in completely!

Next was a slow slog to the summit of Disgwylfa Fach. There was some pretty difficult ground to cross to get to it, and the wind had been picking up all morning. It was blowing a gale up here and very cold too. The air temperature was around 0ºC but the wind chill made it feel much less than that. I’m hoping things will be a little warmer once I’m on the West Highland Way, but I should be OK if they aren’t. I did have my insulated jacket on today with the hood up and some thin gloves on, but I had plenty more layers had I needed them.

I descended, re-crossed the river (once again with ease) and then headed off along the road to the Forest plantattion at Banc Creignant Mawr. I hadn’t been here before so followed the fire-track around to the far side of the plantation then headed off along a muddy bridleway and up to the summit of Myndd Ponterwyd or Ponterwyd Mountain. It wasn’t much of a mountain really at 401 m and there wasn’t much in the way of prominence either, but it was another summit bagged. From here, it wasn’t far along the bridleway to Nant yr Arian Visitor Center. So, I headed off with my back to the wind thinking about a nice warm latte and a cake in the café.

As it happened, the late start meant that it was a little later than I had thought by the time I got to the Nant yr Arian trails. So, rather than stopping at the café, I decided not to bother and instead had a quick energy bar and continued on to the van so that I could get home to Anna. It was only another 2-3 miles from here and all along paths that I knew.

It hadn’t been a huge walk today, less than 9 miles and only just over 3 hours. For some reason though I was feeling quite achey. Once at home, my knees and ankles hurt as did my back. That doesn’t bode well for the 100 miles of the West Highland Way. It’ll take me ages if I need a rest day to recover from the aches and pains every so often and every day of my tentative itinerary is quite a lot further than 9 miles. I am beginning to rethink the 18 mile day that I’ve got planned though! Maybe that will become two 9 mile days. So, rather than being the biggest day of the trek it will then become two relatively easy back-to-back days.

Whatever I decide to do, it’s all a good excuse for more days in the hills preparing myself in the meantime.

1 Response

  1. Avatar forComment Author Mum x says:

    We were looking and test driving a car too on Saturday. with Trudi not for us .Trudi being Trudi has bought it this morning ! That’s where the similarities of the day ends as we most certainly didn’t camp out in the wilds

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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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