Its kinda funny how when you build up to a great day in Ogwen or Keswick it often doesn’t live up to the expectation created beforehand, yet when you least expect to have a really great day out it jumps up and whacks you on the nose. This was one of those days, had a ball.
I didn’t really expect much of the Clwydian Hills to be quite honest, I knew that I wouldn’t be on anything huge today, I also knew that I was not going to tick any more Nuttalls. I suppose I had the perception that todays walk would be almost entirely social, and there would be little emphasis on the hills themselves.
I am very happy to say that I was wrong on all accounts. The hills were absolutely fantastic, and we put in nearly 1000m of ascent I would imagine, quickly glancing at the map which I created from several Jpegs ‘borrowed’ from the getamap service the previous evening. The meet too was not entirely social, although I enjoyed walking with people that I would not normally do so.
We set off from West Bromwich at about 09:20, having a somewhat later start than a normal meet would involve. We arrived at Loggerheads at about 11:30, and spent a few moments gathering our gear before we set off on a very long looking walk to Moel Famau. At virtually all points during the walk today Moel Famau was apparent as the highest land in the area. We continued along a dirt track until we came to a fence by a house with a right of way sign pointing towards a gate.
At this point we took to a muddy track, skirting right at a brook, and proceeded across several fields until we came to a field with no apparent exit. There was quite clearly a bridleway at the top of the field, and it was the route that we required, yet there was no obvious route on to it. John Rod and I scaled the fence, but I being by far the shorter of the three happened to be the one to catch the barbed wire in quite a painful area. On crossing the fence it became apparent that there was a gap approximately 100m further down the field, and the remainder of the group came through that, although we were quite widely spread at this point and I did not see the rear of the group which would only catch uop with us at the summit of Moel Famau.
We followed the bridleway on which we had landed for only about 10m before again skirting off the track and in to the open fields to the right. We ploughed through the fields, which were very muddy and obviously a path of some description judging by the number of footprints ahead. For some time we continued through these fields until we came to a track that skirted around the forests on Moel Famau. The ascent of the hill from here seemed to take forever, and my legs felt very heavy, although I kept up a good pace being amongst the first group to make it up. I was somewhat surprised that my hamstring hadn’t already gone, although I had opted for the three season boots today rather than four.
It was incredibly windy on top of Moel Famau, the summit being 554m. On ascending the Jubilee Tower one landed in a sort of vaccuum. On descending the tower, at one point, the wind blew me part way back up. I was glad to reach the shelter below and have a bite to eat. I tested out my new winter coattoday which I will be taking to Newtonmore in February, but it was really too warm for today, and I drank a considerable amount of fluid for a half day walk and still felt somewhat dehydrated towards the end.
After perhaps 20 minutes on top we left, having arrived at about 12:30. We proceeded straight down the Offa’s Dyke path in the general direction of Foel Fenlli which we could see rising off to the left. At a juncture we took a diversion to the left taking to the open hillside, we took a track to the left that petered out, and dropped down to the original track on which we had been. At this point we contoured around the corner, taking in the drop toBwlch Penbarras, and a very steep rise up to Foel Fenlli.
I was very concerned about this steep slope, expecting the hamstring to go at any point. The path up was not obvious on descent, buit when we reached the Bwlch Foel Fenlli was quite clearly marked, and you simply follow a track through some zig zags. I wasn’t nearly so fast going up Foel Fenlli, and was not quite able to keep up with the lead group. I was again very pleased that my hamstring did not go on this section, although the third hill would turn out to be steeper! I arrived on top only a couple of minutes after the two Johns, Mike and Rod, and again the wind was quite fierce on top. When Emily came up and started ascending the cairn it appeared for a moment as though it may blow her over, though it never quite achieved this.
I hadn’t anticipated the walk down from Foel Fenlli being quite so long as it was, We followed a series of very muddy tracks through fields until we eventually emerged at The Forge. We had arrived at the 511m summit of Foel Fenlli at approximately 14:30, so clearly we had been making good time. It was not a difficult decision to persist on to Moel Gyw. Turning right at the roaf juncture, and then almost immediately left, we followed a private road for perhaps 400m before finding a signposted right of way for Moel Gyw. We followed this to the foot of the hill where we were met by a large area of heather. With retrospect there are several easier routes to the summit than the one we chose. You can skirt the fence avoiding the worst of the bracken, or you can extend the walk to ascend a good path from the South. On finding the heather we immediately began to contour through it. Myself and Emily could not keep up with John, Mike and Rod, and t’other John soon caught up with us. We seemed to going nowhere. Eventually John headed straight up through the bracken and I followed suit, Emily continued to contour around falling over continually. At this point Mike Smith arrived at the bottom of the section of heather, and immediately turned with his tail between his legs, scared off by a few plants. I just hope there arent any weeds growing on Crib Goch when we do the 3000s. I must rub it in, don’t get the chance very often!
Eventually the gradient lessened and before long we reached the summit trig point where there was a collapsed antenna of some description. The lead group had contoured on to a path which we would later use for descent. Before long Emily joined us on top, and we paused only momentarilly before the first drops of rain of the day began to fall. We raced back down through the fields to The Forge staying largely dry and being quite forunate to escape the downpour that began as we arrived back at the coach. We promptly got changed and ate a giant carvery in the pub. Must say thanks to Andy Brown for organising a wicked event, even if he does criticise my photogrphically challenged attempts at taking decent piccies!