Sorry we haven’t posted! We are still alive just haven’t had signal.
So Sunday was pretty incredible. We thought the views on Saturday were breathtaking but on Sunday we were just blown away. When we made it to our first summit Mynedd Cefn-Caer we were able to look back down the estuary we followed on Saturdays walk. The valley simply looked beautiful from this point. However when we finally reached the top of Mynedd Rhyd-Galed we were astounded. We had to walk up a steep 1900ft through reeds and thistles to get to this point and hadn’t come across another soul in a good hour or two. In fact many of the paths we were taking that day didn’t really seem like they had been used in a very long time. This all added to the beauty and made us feel like real adventurers. At the summit of Rhyd-Galed we were grinning ear to ear. On the other side we knew we had a steep decent through thick forest and we were quite looking forward to it. However we never could have guessed how difficult that part of our hike would have been.
Our map for this area was at 1:25 scale which gave us much more detail compared to the previous days map. However when it came to the forests of Tarrenhendre and Hendre the map became almost completely useless. After descending down a steep face of more reeds and bogs which trapped and tripped us up many times, we found ourselves in a complicated maze of forest paths. These paths were clearly used for tree fellers and I can only assume that because the paths change somewhat regularly to accommodate for more tree chopping that the map we were using became useless. In hindsight we think it may have been our very first decision to take a left up a mountain forest path instead of a right that meant we spent the next 2-3 hours on a seemingly endless hunt for a way out of this tree lined maze. The trees were pine and absolutely huge on either side, looking into the forest was like looking into pure darkness. So there was no way to find a vantage point to get a good view of where we were. To boot, the fact that we still hadn’t seen anyone started to give this part of the hike a somewhat creepy feel. We started to imagine a scene straight out of an American horror movie, perhaps bumping into a family of genetically challenged loggers who wanted to take us back to their hut. Just as we had finished joking about this, what did we find? A loggers hut! Which would have fit perfectly in any horror movie and had a very Erie feel to it. Luckily if anyone was staying in the pretty disgusting cabin they were out preying on some other innocent hikers, phew! Anyway all these ramblings probably show that the tree maze we had found ourselves in was taking a mental toll.
On top of all that just as Paul figured out that the path we were now on finally married up with some lines on our map he slipped and fell over cutting his trousers, grazing his knee and chucking his recently found shepherds walking stick a few meters into a ditch (Paul’s tip: never walk while reading a map). Paul was now worse off but our rucksacks were again hindering us greatly and causing us a lot of pain.
By the time we eventually figured our way out and down towards the town Abergynolwyn we had lost a lot of time and had a long long way to go over at least 5 more mountains of similar size. Our ambition of getting to Barmouth was not looking achievable at all. We had two options, head on up into the mountains and wild camp somewhere. This would have meant we would be at least a day or 2 behind schedule which isn’t really an option. So we decided on our second option. The mountains had defeated us this day, it was pretty foolish to think we could cross 6 or 7 2000 ft mountains in one day. So we headed for the coast on a steam train to figure out another route. However by the time we reached the Coast, Barmouth was looking even further from reach and by pure luck we had befriended another hiker called John who supported Macclesfield (Paul quickly found out) and he offered us a lift to get a little closer. John had a lovely sheep dog called Gwen (who Paul obviously befriended) John gave us a lot of worldly advice including tips on how to wild camp. We still had a bit of a trek on our hands across the bridge and across Barmouth to our campsite but we made it and were able to look back on the mountains we had first intended to go over in awe and look forward across cardigan bay to the Llyn Peninsular as the sun went down!
Now to explain this posts title. Over the past few days Paul has started to become ever more philosophical in his thinking. It must be the fresh air and constant dealings with the natural world that’s rubbing off on him.
At one point on our first day we were pretty exasperated as we realised we were going to have to walk away from our destination because of how the footpaths were layed out. Paul’s profound interpretation of the situation was this: “Just goes to show, sometimes, you need to walk away from something to get closer to it”
Also when reflecting on our desperate and confused hike through the tree maze earlier that day, Paul mused “The only reason we know that the paths we chose are bad is because we had to live them”.
What a guy.
On another note we’ve also befriended an Austrian couple – Burt and Gondola, who seem to lead quite an amazing travelling life and found our tales of mistakes and lack of preparation hilarious. Burt was rather surprised we actually had maps.
One final point. Barmouth may win the prize for most oddly named venue yet… The “Arousal Cafe”.