I decided to tackle the Rhinogs in Snowdonia , normally it takes me around 2 - 2 1/2 hours to get from my house to this side of Snowdonia , but Being closer the journey was 50 mins .
Weather forecasts were checked , I wanted to pick the best 3 days ,as this would suit everyone .
I planned a modest route of around 18 mile's - to both give me time to explore , and take into account the terrain in the rhinogs - anyone who has walked there will know only too well - Rhinog miles are not normal miles !
I set off from the caravan we were staying in at around 7 am keen to get amongst the hills , the weather forecast suggested a cloudy start ,with patchy rain/drizzle clearing later in the day .
Driving down the single track lane, I could see Rhinog Fawr & Rhinog Fach ahead - their summits in cloud . I hoped they would clear , as navigating these complex hills in the mist is not very easy at all .
Parking the car at Graigddu - isaf I set off towards Pistyll Gwyn, picking up the path to llyn du further on. Soon reached it's shores , but with nil views I continued to the summit of Rhinog Fawr arriving at the same time as another backpackpacker ( the only person I would see for the next few days ) . By now it was also raining so I didn't hang around for long , I checked the map & descended on a path heading south east the- terrain getting more complex as I went .
Eventually I made it down to the Bwlch & the cairn .I needed to source water for a camp just beyond the summit of Rhinog Fawr . luckily I cloud hear the sound of running water , only problem was - it was running under a stone wall . Following it downhill, I located a gap which was big enough to get my MSR Titan mug into , which I used to fill 2 -2 ltr. platypus water carriers.
Surveying the route ahead I could see no direct path to Rhinog Fach , so I decided to tackle it head on , climbing steeply through the heather and around rocky outcrops .
As I went there were tantalizing views back towards Rhinog Fawr .
Eventually I arrived at the summit to thick clag - the predicted clearing didn't seem to be happening so I continued on to find a camp spot - Tomorrow (weds.) was forecast to be the best of the week , so I aimed to find somewhere to pitch ,rest up and eat in readiness for an early start.
The area I planned to camp was reached , but the winds had increased - I would need to find shelter on the leeward side .
Half an hour later I still hadn't found anywhere flat enough that was sheltered , so I weighed up the options before I decided to continue to Y Llethr , although I've not camped there before I knew from previous visits that it was fairly flat grass , with a stout wall for shelter.
Heading for the summit the terrain changes , dense heather clad slabs of rock are replaced with grass covered hill's and I quickly located a good spot on the eastern side of the wall . Soon the Duomid was up , and I was settled in side with a brew .
A pleasant evening was spent eating drinking and looking out of the open door , later I noticed very brief glimpses of blue sky- very surreal giving hopes of it clearing . It didn't however and I shut the door of the Duomid and turned in.
I was awoken at around 1 am. The Duomid was lit up by bright moon light , so I put on my Goose feet gear over boots ( first time using these and they worked very well !) and opened the shelter door .
I emerged to much clearer skies , stars were out , the moon was full , and an inversion was forming below me !
The full moon meant I couldn't get any star pics , but I got some nice eerie moonlight shots though.
After taking it all in I returned to the Duomid , set my alarm for 4 am , and went back to sleep.
I awoke just before the alarm went off - I always sleep better under canvas and peered out under the door , there was a warm predawn glow so I lit my meths stove for a morning brew and got ready to get up .
There was quite a good sunrise , giving hopes of a better day today , pics were taken - breakfast eaten - followed by more coffee , then I struck camp at around 6 am .
Starting a walk at this time in a morning is one of the things I love about Wild camping , an opportunity to see the changing light on the landscape , watching it wake up and come to life, for me its a magical time - depending on the weather of course !
After descending to Crib-y-Rhiw and visiting the site of a previous camp a few years back I continued to Diffwys.
From there I descended towards Cwm mynach following a steep , but enjoyable path towards Llyn Cwm Mynach . My next target Y Garn and tonights wild camp spot dominated the sky line in front.
I hadn't intended to visit Llyn Cwm Mynach but the heat of the day combined with a hot dog that needed cooling down, I wandered down to it's shoreline , and i'm glad I did - it's a delightful location .
After spening some time here I headed back to the track that follows a curved line around the forest , a check of the map showed no water sources once I started the descent to Y Garn , but the path crossed a stream en route and I collected very good clear /cool water here . I filtered a litre which I drank to keep hydtrated on the climb and added 4 ltrs to my pack for use at camp .
From here I couldn't see any signs of path so I continued on the track for a little while longer , to where the angle of ascent lessens and tackled it head on from here .
The first obstacle was reached - a solid high stone wall with barbed wire above it . I followed it until I found somewhere to cross, then commenced the hard upward slog through wild rough and pathless slopes . Further up a path starts to appear , it is hard to follow in amongst the deep bracken , but the key is to look at the line and see where it continues further along .
Y Garn has a lot of false summits , the heat of the day combined with the terrain made for hot /tiring work and I reached the upper slopes - and a welcome breeze to much relief , 1 final push and I gained the summit .
I located of pitch with an excellent view back to Rhinog Fawr & Rhinog Fach , with Llyn Trawsfynydd in the distance & Cadair Idris behind.
The mist came in again in the evening spoiling the chance of a good sunset , but it was enjoyable non the less - going over the last few days , relaxing with a nice single malt .
The next morning I awoke to strong winds - 40 mph gusts & heavy rain , lighting my meths stove for a morning brew I readied myself for a wet / windy decsent .
Once breakfast was eaten , a 2nd coffee drank I packed everything away under the cover of the Duomid , leaving just the fly sheet which was hastily packed away once outside .
Descending the pathless and often very boggy terrain I aimed for the wall which I handrailed to get down to the valley floor . By now the rain was easing and the return journey was a rather enjoyable one and soon I was back at forest where I started , all that remained was to find the minor path through the forest that led to the track back to the car park .
I located the ladder stile at the start of the path , but it was evident that it hadn't been walked for a very long time - I could find no signs of a path .
After a little head scratching , I decided to just go for it - it didn't seem very far , the next 3 - 400 yards were some of the roughest I have ever walked , felled trees had been laced in some sort of criss cross pattern , with was over grown with grass with deep bog underneath , every step was a slow one - feeling the way using my poles , even then I went through to my thighs on a couple of occasions !
Once back on the main track all was forgiven and I was back at my car , another very enjoayable trip over.
Till next time ....
Happy Wild Camping.