Eifionydd is the collective name for the area to the west of Beddgelert, which includes Moel Hebog with its neighbouring peaks, and the Nantlle ridge. It was an area little known to me as yet, and in which I devised a rather flexible circuit.
Of importance to me this year was the opening of the extension of my local motorway, the M40, to Birmingham, where it links up with the M42 which is a sort of orbital motorway circling the south of that city. I found that the new route lopped nearly an hour off my journey, and in fact I have never since used the M1 to reach the M6. On this occasion I left home at 10:30 a.m., I was on the M42 at 11:45, at Shrewsbury at 1:00 p.m. and at 1:45 p.m. I was eating my sandwich lunch in the car park of the steam railway terminus at Llanfair Caerinion, to the west of Welshpool . Admittedly, I had an extremely fast Mk.2 Astra van then, and the new motorway was fairly empty. The weather, meanwhile, was somewhat autumnal, with gusty winds.
I spent the night at the Forestry Commission campsite at Beddgelert, and once again left my van there, with permission, when I set off with my rucksack in the morning. (Note: Several years later, Forest Enterprise, as it had become, asked a fee for this.) My chosen route initially followed the line of the dismantled Welsh Highland Railway southwards. This was fine until it passed through a long rock cutting, where the track bed became wetter and wetter until it disappeared in a lengthy trench of water. I struggled on, clinging to tree trunks along the edge, until I reached a floating dead sheep, at which point I retreated to a spot where I could climb out, lest I should end up like the sheep.
Footpaths led me south, parallel with the route of the main road in the valley, and then westwards across the southern end of the Pennant valley. I have since forgotten many of the details of what was overall one of my least enjoyable routes, for reasons that will become apparent. For example, I cannot remember exactly where I spent my first night out, except for the fact that it was on an overgrown lawn in the secluded little garden of an uninhabited old cottage with a For Sale board at the edge of a hamlet! The reason for this site was that I was near to the National Park boundary, where the land was more heavily farmed as well as more populated, so there was a distinct lack of wild sites
After an evening and early morning spent in slight apprehension of being discovered, I continued my walk along lanes that followed the aforementioned boundary. Outside of the National Park there was intensive agriculture and the uninterrupted noise of heavy machinery on a distant landfill site. The closest hill of the group known as The Rivals, on the eastern end of the Lleyn peninsula, looked to be no more than a bracken-covered mound. It was in my original plans to climb it, but I now dismissed it as uninviting. A standing stone marked on my map was nowhere to be seen. The scattered villages of Nasareth and Nebo were intriguing, however; for they were surrounded by tiny little fields all with pale-coloured dry-stone walls, perhaps for protection from winds. At Nebo, I turned southeastwards towards the western end of the Nantlle ridge, which I planned to walk along. Somewhere in this area, I spent my second night out, but I have totally forgotten where, it was that unexceptional.
In the morning a roaring northwesterly wind sailed me with ease up the hillside to Bwlch Cwmdulyn, at the western end of the Nantlle Ridge. The strong wind meant that a traverse of the lengthy and lofty ridge was absolutely out of the question, so I dropped down over the watershed into Cwm Pennant, where it was a great relief to walk sheltered from the buffeting gusts. I contoured along faint sheep paths on grass high above the valley floor, then lower down I ploughed through dense, tall bracken until I reached the head of the cwm’s dead-end road. Crossing this I then climbed to the opposite, northeast side of the cwm, on footpaths now, to reach the saddle at Bwlch-y-ddwy-elor where the tops of the conifer trees of Beddgelert Forest could just be seen projecting up from the slopes on the far side of the ridge.
A boggy path through the trees led steeply down to beautifully contoured, sweeping forestry tracks with splendid vistas, particularly those towards the Snowdon massif. In spite of a multitude of such tracks appearing on the map, I was pleased with the fact that I did not take one wrong turning all the way from here to the Forestry Commission campsite.
All in all, this was not one of my most successful walks. Perhaps I started out in the wrong frame of mind for some reason or another, but I found the whole of the western area at the National Park boundary rather depressing, following which the strong winds certainly spoiled my plans.
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