Diaries from my Wonderful Walks in Wales
December 1, 2012
The East wind is blowing, and it feels likeSiberia!
But , the sub zero temperatures have created a winter wonderland, with frosted leaves, and ice topped mountains all twinkling in the clear thin sunlight.
The air is cold , but crystal clear; perfect for visiting my favourite viewpoint.
There is a road which crosses the mountains behind Machynlleth which was once designated by the AA as one of the top 10 most scenic routes in the world!
The road is partly unclassified, and for the most part single track but the surface is great . The most spectacular views are to be had traveling East to West. Starting from the little town ofLlanidloesas the B4518, the road winds very steeply up behind the town.
Signposted to Lyn Clywedog, this beautiful reservoir is soon visible in the distance. The reservoir was built in 1965-7 on the upper reaches of theSevernto regulate the flow as well as provide water storage. This 6 mile long lake with stunning views, has not one building overlooking its shores.
It offers water sports and fishing, and miles of walks around its shores and the lovely Haffren forest surrounding it. I have walked here many times, and rarely see another soul, save the Kites , Buzzards and Osprey soaring above.
The road drops to the bridge over the dam, then climbs almost vertically up. There are amazing views back down towards the lake , with the trees of the forest frosted with ice , and the sky clear blue above and the ice topped mountains reflecting in the water .
Dropping down first to the little settlement of Staylittle, then on, to turn off onto the unclassified road to Dylife.
We climb again high on to open moors. We are well above 400 metres here, and the temperature is well below freezing. Every drop of water is frozen solid, the little rivers are sparkling with icicles. The little settlement of Dylife is a remnant of a thriving mining village, long since abandoned. The old workings of the lead mines apparent all around us. The mines have been worked since Roman times, and reached their peak in the Industrial revolution.The evidence of great Victorian engineering is still to be seen
everywhere; old pipes and pumps to keep the water at bay and remnants of huge wheels and pulleys at the addit mine entrances.
The moors are bleak and wild here today, the East wind whistling through the bare trees.
We drive up again, out of Dylife, climbing to well over 500 metres. The panorama begins to unfold around us. To the left the footpath to the Glaslyn Nature reserve winds down through the peat bog to the lovely Glaslyn lake. This reserve is home to merlin, red grouse, red kites, skylarks, ospreys, meadow pipets and many more. We were tempted to stop here and explore, but we couldn’t resist driving on to see the views in this superb translucent light.
The road winds up near to the very summit of Foel Fadian , which at 564 metres is the highest point in Montgomeryshire. To the right, several huge, deep, steep sided valleys drop down to the Twymyn valley.
The topography up here is very intriguing, and takes a while to understand.
These are glacial overspill channels and are basically a relic of the Ice Ages, and carved by both ice, and glacial melt water in a very complex and spectacular way.
As we reach the summit, the view is simply breathtaking. The land falls steeply away, and in every direction there are mountains , valleys and forests. We can make out the shape of Snowdon to theNorth West, Cader Idris in the nearer distance, and can see the sweep ofCardigan Bayin the distant West. Plynlimon is to the South west , etched in snow.
The view is 360 degrees, and in every direction it is glorious! On a clear day you can see forever!
The road from here follows the top of a ridge, and so the views continue to unfold as we descend.
Just round the next bend we can park and walk to the Wynford Vaughn Thomas Memorial. Erected after his death, on the spot of his favourite view and has been called a ‘pulpit to infinity’. Easily justified on a remarkable day like today!
We run down the path toward Aberhosan, gulping in the freezing air, and wondering at the awesome view.
The boggy ground frozen solid beneath our feet.
Oscar can’t resist biting the frozen grass, and throwing himself into a forward roll like a huge puppy !
This weather is perfection for him, his ‘Mountain Dog’ genes sensing his natural habitat.
The bracken and reeds etched with frost. A pair of buzzards circle above us with the characteristic mewing call.
We walk down through the gate into the forest, where we get a little shelter from the wind .We wander through the trees, Oscar distracted by the scents of moles, foxes and badgers.
The cold is seeping into my hands now so we climb back slower now towards the memorial.
The setting sun turning the sky golden now. By the time we reach the
Car the clouds are turning pink, and the whole sky is alight as if on fire.
We sit and watch the spectacle unfold.
No where in the world could be better than here. How many times do I thank my lucky stars that I live in such a place!
We drive home as the light fades, looking forward to a roaring fire and a cup of tea!