the Ty'n Cornel in The  Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Cambrian Way day 15: Near Rhandirmwyn to the Ty’n Cornel hostel

April 2, 2017 · 13 comments

 

A wonderful walk on The Cambrian Way in Wales through the beautiful  Doethie valley in Ceredigion, finishing at the most isolated hostel in Wales.

Date walked: 24th January 2017

Distance: about 9 miles

Map used: OS Explorer  187- Llandovery

Guide book: Cambrian Way by AJ Drake (7th edition)

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Our destination today was a hostel in the middle of nowhere, though its postal address is Lllanddewi Brefi, Ceredigion, SY25 6PH.  To get there we were to continue to walk up the Doethie valley which Drake opines is “the most attractive valley in the whole of the Cambrian Way”. A debatable opinion, I am sure. It was drizzling moving towards raining as we set off from a lay-by near Gallt-y-Bera , so this most beautiful valley will not be revealed to you in its best light.

Preparing to walk the Cambrian Way photographed by Charles Hawes

Paul well set up for a wet day

For the first mile and a half we followed the little No Through Road that sits in the valley bottom, enjoying the twisted  forms of the trees….

Woodland in the Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

In many ways the winter is the best time of year to enjoy trees

….and the views to the river without having to pay much attention to our feet.

The Doethie valley, Ceredigion, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Bracken is such a lovely colour in the winter

Below the hill called  Craig Clungwyn the road crossed a wooden-planked iron-framed bridge …

The Doethie valley, Ceredigion, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

…. and then climbed a little, providing us with a fine view of the purple haze created by the birches on the opposite side of the valley.

Woodland in the Doethie valley, Ceredigion, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

One way that trees are so enjoyable in winter – the texture they form in the landscape

The last dwelling before our road became a farm track was the wonderfully named Troedrhiwrhuddwen.

Troedrhiwrhuddwen in the Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Love the little red dragon above the name just in case you did not know you were in Wales

I don’t know what Rhuddwen means but the first two parts translate as foot of the hill. A not untypically ramshackle place we thought the inhabitants of No 31 particularly unfortunate.

Troedrhiwrhuddwen in the Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

“If you don’t stop pestering the sheep you’ll be spending the night in No 31”

A path off to the right was duly studied on the map and passed by….

Troedrhiwrhuddwen in the Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

… but we soon left the farm track to join the sheep on a much narrower route.

Troedrhiwrhuddwen in the Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

You know we, like sheep

The view ahead was certainly splendid with no obvious sign of man’s activity.

The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

I know, you might say that this is all man-made

The path, though narrow, was at least level for the most part and its surface firm.

The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Paul forging ahead here, as is his wont

We passed through the edge of a wood; I was very struck by the purple catkins of what might well have been Alder.

Catkins in The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Though other opinions as to the species are welcome

We were climbing gently….

The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

…and as we did so, the remoteness of the place impressed itself more and more.

The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

I don’t mind the forestry plantation, do you?

The drizzle had all but petered out and although one might have wished for better weather, the misty clouds seemed only to add to the atmosphere of the place.

The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

A ruined shelter for something or someone reminded us that the valley had had other human activity in the past than recreational walking.

Ruin in the Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

We crossed over the little stream called Nant Cnwch-glas…

Nant Cnwch-glas in the Doethie valley, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawews

… stopping shortly afterwards for a lunch break. Paul must have been unusually stimulated as he produced his sketch book and quietly worked away as we munched our sandwiches.

Sketching in the Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

The Artist at Work

This is the view that I took from the direction he was facing.

Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

I think brown suits this place better than green

This is Paul’s painting which he worked up from his sketch:

Painting of the Doethie Valler by Paul Steer

Painting of the Doethie Valley by Paul Steer

And click here for a link to his own blog.

We carried on up the valley, passing what was probably a sheepfold….

ruined Sheepfold in the Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

… and what I took to be a small section of moss-covered wall…

Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Love all that moss

… until I saw that it was, in fact, the roots of a fallen tree , clinging to the rocky soil.

The tree may have collapsed but it was certainly not dead, its branches forming new trees.

Fallen tree in Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Our valley opened out somewhat…

Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

… and below the peak of Pen y Gurnos, (1,496 feet, and with a Trig Point, but not a hill that Drake mentions) it was joined by another small stream called Liuest-fath. Here we found a ruin of a dwelling.

Ruin below Foel Fraith in Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

In fact there were several buildings…

Ruin below Foel Fraith in Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

… and like as not this was once a farm complex….

Ruin below Foel Fraith in Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Whilst isolated it surely was, its occupants would have had an enviable view to look out onto.

Ahead, we could see out little path continuing  its way along the side of the valley.

The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

We were climbing up the side of Foel Fraith…

The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

… our destination hidden by the shoulder of the hill but only a couple of miles ahead.

After crossing over a footbridge of another stream – Nant y Rhiw …

Crossing Nant y Rhiw in The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

… our path joined a track which led to the hostel.

Ty’n Cornel was purchased from the YHA in 2013 by the Elenydd Hostels Trust and claims to be the most isolated hostel in Wales. I can quite believe it.

Ty'n Cornel in The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Outside it is a rather crude wooden bench with a dedication plate to A.J. Drake, the person who established the Cambrian Way and author of our Guide.

Ty'n Cornel in The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

You can’t see this but it has the route of the Cambrian Way marked on the back

On the wall of this old farmhouse  is a map and fuller description of Drake’s achievement.

Plaque to Tony Drake at Ty'n Cornel in The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Normally staffed at more popular times of the year for walking, for a very modest  £12 each a night, the three of us were to have the place to ourselves. We were given a detailed description of where everything was in an email beforehand and on the table in the living room was a hand written welcome.

Ty'n Cornel in The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Inside it was very cold, the kitchen near freezing, but we had been left a good supply of wood and coal and Neil soon had the living room fire blazing.

Ty'n Cornel in The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

The kitchen was certainly well equipped.

Ty'n Cornel in The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

I had a menu planned of roasted chicken and Mediterranean vegetables followed by an apple crumble with custard with strict instructions to my friends to bring their own booze. Paul and I had a bottle of wine each and Neil some whisky; we were in for a good night.

The bunk rooms upstairs had a few low-wattage heaters to take the chill off but there were ample duvets and blankets to keep us warm. I couldn’t face stripping off for a shower but Paul assured us that the water was hot. With a little rearranging of the furniture and after a couple of hours of heating up the room it was almost (Neil never quite reached his optimal temperature) cosy.

Ty'n Cornel in The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Picture of domestic bliss

My supper was a great success, the crumble perhaps a little dry.

Ty'n Cornel in The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Paul here doing a good impression of a 5 year old impatient to eat

Neil had brought along his excellent portable BOSE speaker which talks to our phones so after supper we had a mellow time listening to music and enjoying the warmth form our open fire. I discovered  their visitor book which was full of the most wonderful contributions from people from all over the world.

There were paintings…

Visitor book of the Ty'n Cornel in The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

… and drawings…

Visitor book of the Ty'n Cornel in The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Just a glimpse of my “leisure wear” (which may resemble, but are not PJ’s)

… and dozens of enthusiastic descriptions of how much people had enjoyed being there.

Visitor book of the Ty'n Cornel in The Doethie valley photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

 

Someone had written that they had come with a friend in a car but the car had broken down so he had to leave the friend to summon help and when he had got back his friend had died. The writer had returned another time and planted a tree outside the hostel in his memory. It was altogether a rather lovely and moving experience sitting reading about what others had done in this very special place.

 

 

 

 

 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Wareham April 2, 2017 at 9:29 am

Your last story about the hostel was a bit shocking! Glad you lot all survived. Xxxxx

Reply

John Kingdon April 2, 2017 at 7:59 pm

Your sudden Welsh ability is impressive though you sort of give the game away when you can’t translate the last bit. Google’s useless with mutations 🙂

I don’t know the locale but I’d look at the “rhuddwen” bit in two parts. “Rhudd” is likely to be a mutation of “Rudd” which means cheek (as a noun) or “red-ish” (as an adjective). “Wen” means white. So do we have a hill that is named after a white cheek or is it a ruddy white (pink?)? With that, smartipants rides off on his white charger into the distance, wondering what the hell “cheek” has to do with anything …..

Seriously though, thanks for the usual bevy of lovely scenic shots (and smelly shoes, no doubt). And before you claim disinterest on the part of your readers again, I await the next wondrous part of Italy.

Reply

Charles April 3, 2017 at 9:45 pm

I find I am getting a little more interested in Welsh place names,yes. So thanks for your further thoughts on this one. Don’t hold your breath for the next Italian instalment!

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John Kingdon April 4, 2017 at 8:43 am

Well it may be just a place name. Here’s a few links: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/887319, http://cilycwm.com/historygroup/?page_id=514 and http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4098333.

Interestingly, the last of these (which I hadn’t seen until today – Tues – also wonders about “reddish-white”! Though he’s the only one to spell it “rHuddwen” and you’d have to drop that “H” to get the reddish meaning.

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Charles April 4, 2017 at 11:37 am

Thanks for your further educative investigations!

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Paul Steer April 2, 2017 at 9:46 pm

We did pass by the narrow track – only to return to it to find it was the right one ! It is interesting to see how an interpretation of a landscape through drawing differs to the interpretation of the camera lens . I like that .

Reply

Charles April 3, 2017 at 9:47 pm

I wondered if we did take that narrow track. Yes, very different views. I am intrigued by yours being in two parts .

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Kev the Y(ou-know) April 2, 2017 at 11:10 pm

What an absolutely fabulous and stunningly beautiful walk!!! And I can almost smell supper cooking…. or was this Tea… not like the Tea you invited Grace & I to, but Tea, like the one you hoped I didn’t expect…. 🙂

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Charles April 3, 2017 at 9:49 pm

Hello Kevin! It was quite fragrant – lots of garlic? No, this is not tea. Well, not tea for me. It might have been for Paul, though. It’s a cultural thing.

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Neil Smurthwaite April 3, 2017 at 10:57 am

A lovely winters valley stroll, despite the drizzle. The stay overnight in the hostel was lovely, and as you say Charles, an amazing visitors book !!! A delightfully relaxing evening with great food ! 🙂 (Just as well, as we needed a relaxing night in preparation for the ski slope descent the next day !!!!)

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Charles April 3, 2017 at 9:52 pm

Yeah. Fab day and a great stay- well done you for organising it!

Reply

Caleb Melchior April 4, 2017 at 1:46 am

Charles – what a stunning post. Incredible views, especially the “I know, you might say that this is all man-made” image. Thank you for sharing your beautiful saunters!

Reply

Charles April 4, 2017 at 11:36 am

Thnaks Caleb. Nice of you to comment and I hope you will stay in touch with the blog. Yours looks interesting, too.

Reply

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