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Washed Out on Waun Rydd

PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:10 pm
by Daveyf

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The rain was a little drizzly on arrival at the Blaen y Glyn Uchaf car park, it wasn’t cold but I was being foolishly optimistic as I donned the waterproofs hoping it would pass. Once kitted up I left the car park at the South East corner and headed down through the trees along the path that followed the stream known as Nant Bwrefwr which is a series of beautiful waterfalls feeding into the Caerfanell. My usual route from leaving the car is nearly always upwards, so it felt a little odd leaving the car and heading down hill losing 300ft before the path changed direction and started heading up again. There are a number of paths around these waterfalls, all of them seem to lead to some beautiful spots with views of the water flowing over the rocks, some with substantial falls and others a succession of steps and stones.
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Waterfalls along the Bwrefwr

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A distant Allt Forgan

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Waterfalls along the Bwrefwr

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Waterfalls along the Bwrefwr

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Waterfalls along the Bwrefwr

Once the path starts to head up hill, it moves away from the Nant Bwrefwr and draws nearer the Caerfanell. Soon the Caerfanell has to be crossed, there is a stile on the right which has had its step removed, not quite sure what that now makes it, just a fence I guess! It’s not a problem to clamber over and at this point the Caerfanell can be crossed, during times of heavy rain however this may be tricky at this point so it may be worth crossing the river further down before the route starts to climb.
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The stepless stile

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Crossing point at the Caerfanell

Having crossed the Caerfanell the path goes left and alongside the river climbing slowly up, this path can be followed heading north and eventually loops round to the right before heading south again, it’s quite a long detour which is why after crossing the river I opted for the more direct pathless route straight through the trees. Heading east, there is no clear way to go at all. It’s a matter of glimpsing a peak of Allt Forgan through the trees and heading in that direction. The grass is long and soaking wet and shortly turns to waist high fern, all I can do is brush through it heading for the occasional patch of shorter grass but this offers little respite as the shorter grass often turns out to be the ankle breaking tussocky grass that I despise with a passion, even the few sheep scattered around look at me strangely, probably thinking that they ‘haven’t seen one of those this far off the track for a while’. Eventually the ground starts to level out a bit as the dome of Allt Forgan is reached and I’m presented with a fence guarding an empty field. A short distance along I spot a stile, this one complete with step and head towards that. Over the stile, the empty field of tussock is ahead of me, there are a couple of points that appear slightly higher and I head to those. Any one of these minor rises could actually be the summit, there’s nothing to choose between any of them, they are all very indistinct. The view at the top of the 1683ft Allt Forgan is unfortunately pretty much an unknown, the mist hangs around blocking out any views, I suspect if the weather was clear there may be views up towards Waun Rydd, it seems unlikely there would be any views from the summit down to the Talybont Reservoir due to the roundness of this top.
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Allt Forgan 'summit' is somewhere in that field

Having admired the non-views from the highest tussocks, there’s little to keep me here, so it’s time to move off this barren hill. Heading east I soon spot a track before the pine forest heading south east. It feels almost joyous being on a recognised path and I’m now able to pick up the pace a little. The track heads slightly downhill alongside a stone wall and the forest beyond and soon swings sharp left and through a gate and then north into the forest. At a point where the track now swings sharp right, my GPS tells me there is a path straight ahead and through the forest, well its true there is a gap made between the trees following some tree felling but I would hardly call it a path. I decide to take it anyway and head down through the pines. I eventually emerge onto a logging road, the GPS again tells me the ‘path’ continues straight between the trees, however I’ve had enough of that, it’s not much fun cutting through the trees in near darkness so decide to follow the road left in a clockwise loop. Once the road starts to turn south again I know that to my left Allt Lwyd awaits and I look for a gap in the trees but totally in vain, the forest is thick and dense and there is no way up through the trees so I keep on walking down the road eventually coming to a clearing which I head up through. Although a clearing it’s still a minefield of tree stumps, bracken and fern, but at least I can see the sky, or more precisely the clouds supplying the continuous drizzle. At about 1400ft the minefield is at an end and it’s a hop over a wire fence into the fern. There are occasional traces of footpaths which I occasionally follow for a few yards here and there however they all seem to traverse the hill side rather than go straight up it so I ignore then and head straight up. It’s a bit of a calf buster but the grass isn’t nearly as long as it is on Allt Forgan and eventually I’m at the top of another flat hill. Again it’s difficult to tell where exactly the high point is, there is a collection of stones loosely resembling a cairn which is where the recognised summit of 2143ft is, but I couldn’t honestly say it was any higher than anywhere else nearby.
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Allt Lwyd summit stones

The assortment of stones on Allt Lwyd actually sit on a very faint grassy path cutting through the heather, following this path North West eventually leads through the mist out onto a more prominent path which is Waun Rydd bound. Coming off Allt Lwyd the ground dips slightly and I’m exposed to sharp wind coming from the South West, for virtually all of this walk so far this wind has been behind me pushing me up the hills. Now it’s almost in my face and seems to be getting stronger with every step. Through the mist I can see the ground is rising as I head up the South East shoulder of Wynn Rydd. The wind has now stepped up from a constant gale and is heading towards a relentless hooley with the rain not so much coming down more literally across.
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Featureless moorland heading up towards Waun Rydd

Head down and pressing on I continue up the hill which before long levels out. Just after a mile from Allt Lwyd there is a 4 way path junction and I know I have to continue straight over and then look for a path heading right towards Wynn Rydd summit. I keep my eye on scanning duties searching out a path but I see nothing, I pass by the higher ground to the right and realise that I’ve clearly missed the path so it’s an about turn and look again, still absolutely nothing so it’s off piste again into the unknown in seek of the Waun Rydd summit. Guided by GPS, I hone in on the summit cairn which for a change is fairly obvious. Waun Rydd is the highest point east of Cribyn in the central Fans and at 2524ft I’m sure the views of the ridge round to Fan y Big and Cribyn beyond are fantastic, any other day other than today that is for today nowhere else can be seen at all.
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Waun Rydd summit

Leaving the summit cairn I navigate back across the clumpy stuff back to the path and continue west along the ridge path. The path is good and easy to follow if not full of puddles the only difficulty is trying not to get blown off it and down into cwm below, at least I assume there’s a cwm below, that’s what the map says but I can’t see a thing. It’s a crying shame I’m walking through the clouds and I imagine the views are to die for.
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Dramatic views alongside the path edge...maybe

With my head down, trying to keep the horizontal rain from my face, I’m walking along virtually looking at my boots, after all there’s no view to admire. Because of my stoop I walk right past the next summit, which apparently is a cairn representing Bwlch y Ddwyallt. It’s not a massive cairn by all accounts set only a couple of yards off the path but unforgivably I completely miss it! Continuing on I come across a cairn of a different breed, more like a spread out pile of stones that look like a truck load of fly tipped builders rubble, maybe it’s carefully selected stones dumped by helicopter for a later path improvement project? The location for this pile does not appear to be a summit as it’s in a slight dip, it is nearby to Gwaun Cerrig Llwydion which according to GPS is a little further on, I think further investigation is required on a return trip when hopefully I can see further than 50 yards.
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Builders rubble?

The rain and wind are now so miserable I just want to get off the hill. So I carry on along the track also passing the clumps of grass that are supposed to be Gwaun Cerrig Llwydon and then due to the despondent weather I decide to miss out Fan y Big altogether and head down the path slightly left in an attempt to get off the hill, it’s still a little breezy but as I slowly loose height I also feel I’m leaving the worse of the weather behind. Soon the track draws near to the Roman Road, I turn left across approx. 100 yards of grass just to cut the corner off and start heading south down the Roman Road. I can’t imagine why the Romans would want to build a road up here. Soldiers from all eras have always known to seize the high ground, but seriously, up here, just the weather would keep most enemies at bay. The road itself is rocky in places but by Roman standards, not exactly straight, having a slight curve to it to follow the contours of the hill side, so forgive my scepticism but I’m not sold on the Roman story.

The route back to the car park is fairly straightforward. Eventually the track swings left then right, near to earthworks by the Lower Neuadd Reservoir which I understand is being drained and returned to its natural wild state. The track crosses a stream and heads up a short incline, through a gate and onto a wider track, after 50 yards turn left keeping the forest on the right. After approx. 10 minutes the path emerges onto a large turning circle at the end of a rough road. Follow the road for approx. 1¼ miles and turn left at the main road, over the brow of the hill and the car park is on the left. I guess I’ve been overdue for some bad weather and I certainly got more than my ration today.If I’d have spent the afternoon in a washing machine on a cold wash I’d have been dryer! I’m glad to be back at the car park and can’t wait to peel off my soaking clothing. It’s been a frustrating day, some draining ascents through pathless terrain and views blocked out by clag. However the days frustrations are resolutely met by a determination to return on a better day and experience it all again.