Post image for Cambrian Way Day 16:  Ty’n Cornel hostel to Pontrhydfendigaid

Cambrian Way Day 16: Ty’n Cornel hostel to Pontrhydfendigaid

April 16, 2017 · 18 comments

A challenging hike on The Cambrian Way in Ceredigion over difficult but beautiful moorland.

 

Date walked: 25th January 2017

Distance: about 11 miles

Map used: OS Explorer  187- Llandovery

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

****

We had stayed last night in this most remote but charming  Ty’n Cornel hostel. Paul had been banished to a room on his own on account of his self-declared snoring. Neil had no complaints about my nocturnal performance. Strangely, I don’t even remember getting up to go to the loo. Perhaps my subconscious did not fancy the cold trek downstairs in the middle of the night. Or perhaps it was my sedation from wine and whisky. But I woke with a clear head, matched by a bright and sunny, though chilly day.

View from the Ty'n Cornel hostel on the Cambrian way, photographed by Charles Hawes

Lovely day!

Whilst the boys tidied up I made us all a bacon butty and had enough bread left over for a cheese sarnie for lunch.  We were booted up by 9.30am and grateful that our packs were considerably lighter than the day before – one pays a price for carrying ones own food and drink (especially the drink).  A quick selfie outside the hostel….

The Ty'n Cornel hostel on the Cambrian Way, Wales. photographed by Charles hawes

Neil is always asking me to smile so, perversely, I tend to scowl – its not a good look, I know

 … and we were off.

The Ty'n Conel hostel on the Cambrain Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

We continued climbing slowly on the track, struck once again by the beauty of the Doethie  valley.

view from the Ty'n Conel hostel in Ceredigion, Wales, photographed from the cambrian way by Charles Hawes

You can understand why this might be described as the most remote hostel in Wales

Below us the river had shrunk to a small stream, the tussocky  hillside ahead glowed in the early morning sun.

The upper Doelithe valley in Ceredigion, photographed from The cambrain Way by Charles Hawes

I bet they’ve got Superfast Broadband

We passed a small group of rams who seemed  content to sit around and warm up a bit before starting the days business.

Sheep on the Cambrian Way in the upper Doelithe valley, photographed by Charles Hawes

Horny rams?

At the top of the valley, at a spot named on the map as Cerrig Ysgyfarnog (possibly the farm just up the hill) ,  Paul made a hopeless attempt to right a fallen finger post….

Finger post on the Cambrian Way in Ceredigion photographed by Charles Hawes

I don’t wish to appear rude but it had broken off at the base

… whilst Neil studied the map.

Our Guide shows our route following the side of a plantation and carries a note “often very boggy better on higher ground”.  There is nothing on the map to suggest a path. The ground was churned up before we reached the wood, forcing us to clamber rather awkwardly by the side of a steep bank.

Churned up ground at Cerrig Ysgyfarnog, photographed from the Cambrain Way by Charles Hawes

The challenge of the boggy ground begins

Over to the left, it looked as through someone was intending to harness the stream in some way (but were clearly making quite a mess of the land in the process).

Small hydro scheme(?) at Cerrig Ysgyfarnog photographed from the Cambrain way by Charles Hawes

We scanned ahead in search of a path or failing that any evidence that anyone had gone before us but all we saw was a lot of very wet and rutted land.  We would have had nearly two miles or more of this to cross if we had kept to the dotted line shown on the Guide. None of us fancied that much and we thought that we might find better ground if we  entered the wood rather than seek “higher ground” as advised in the Guide.

The Cwm Berwyn Plantation was gloomy, but mostly dry underfoot.

The Cwm Berwyn plantation in Ceredigion photographed from near the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

The OS map does show tracks and we did find one after a while which made the going easier…….

The Cwm Berwyn plantation in Ceredigion photographed from near the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Paul offering a pose for Neil’s pic

…., and after about half a mile and having forded a stream, we reached a wide, somewhat muddy forestry road.

The Cwm Berwyn plantation in Ceredigion photographed from near the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

We did feel a bit naughty but, hey, what could anyone do to us?

A truck laden with stone whizzed by, its driver unfazed by our presence…..

The Cwm Berwyn plantation in Ceredigion photographed from near the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Making access tracks for the timber extraction

… so when we came to the digger that was loading the stone we gave the operator a cheerful wave.

Quarrying stone in the Cwm Berwyn plantation in Ceredigion photographed from near the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

This forestry road twisted and turned somewhat. We  passed several stacks of freshly cut trunks….

The Cwm Berwyn plantation in Ceredigion photographed from near the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

… and were certainly making better and easier progress than we would have achieved if we had kept to the “official” path.

The Cwm Berwyn plantation in Ceredigion photographed from near the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

We  forked right to make for a forestry car park with a fine view north.

Car park in the Cwm Berwyn plantation in Ceredigion photographed from near the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

We were legit now

We stopped for a cup of coffee and a couple of pics.

The Cwm Berwyn plantation car park in Ceredigion photographed from near the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

This is the closest to a smile I can normally achieve for Neil’s pics

Unfortunately and for no obvious reason I had began to get a pain in my left knee, so I took some painkillers and rubbed some Ibuprofen gel into the offending area.

Studying the map, we had the choice of a two mile walk due East along the road to pick up our “official” route or go off piste again and head north through the wood, where, according to the map we ought to be able to pick up a path that would join our intended route. All votes were for the forestry alternative.

This was quite straightforward until we reached a point where we knew from my GPS that we had to wade into the plantation and drop down the side of the hill to reach our path. It was steep and the ground littered with branches from felling work.

In search of the Cambrian Way in Ceredigion, photographed by Neil Smurthwaite

Thanks to Neil for this pic

It wasn’t as bad as it looked and lasted for only about a quarter of a mile until we were out of the woods and on the wrong side of Groes Fawr.

Crossing Groes Fawr near the Cambrian Way in Ceredigion, photographed by Neil Smurthwaite

I know, I make it look easy

Having made our awkward crossing we paused to contemplate what a beautiful little valley we found ourselves in…

Groes Fawr in Ceredigion, photographed from near the Cambrain way by Charles Hawes

… and to have a little sit.

A rest on the Cambrian Way in Ceredigion, photographed by Charles Hawes

Neil may be talking to the reeds; Paul is clearly talking to God

And in my case another application of gel, though it wasn’t helping that much.

We were soon joined up again with our intended path and climbing slowly towards Garn Gron. This was a wonderfully empty and relatively featureless landscape but on such a lovely day its beauty was quite overwhelming.

Moorland near Garn Gron in Ceredigion, photographed from The Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

The ground returned to being quite boggy and uneven, which my knee did not appreciate.

Approaching Garn Gron in Ceredigion, photographed from the Cambrain Way by Charles hawes

Our path took a double track op the side of the hill, the wind picking up as we climbed.

Approaching Garn Gron on the Cambrain Way in Ceredigion, photograhed by Charles Hawes

Even in the most isolated places there is usually a contrail in the sky

No footpath is shown on the map leading to the Trig point (1776 feet) of Garn Gron and we found none but Drake defines it as Check Point No 16, so reaching it was a necessity. The wind was cold and ferocious when we got there, so we stopped only for a pic…

… or two….

Trig point an Cairn on Garn Gron photographed from the Cambrain way by Neil Smurthwaite

Nice snap from Neil on his phone

…and a brief appreciation of the fabulous views.

View north from Garn Gron in Ceredigion, photographed from the Cambrain way by Charles Hawes

The moor remained boggy and finding and then keeping to a path was not easy. For most of the time we either followed something that the sheep had made for us or simply made our way as best we could…..

Moor below garn Gron in Ceredigion, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

… aiming for the edge of a wood where we hoped to find a more distinct footpath.

Moor below Garn Gron in Ceredigion, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

We passed close by a ruined farmhouse…

Ruined farmhouse on the edge of the moor below Garn Gron in Ceredigion photographed from the Cambrain Way by Charles Hawes

… and from there more or less took its long abandoned track down to the Afon Fflur.

Afon Fflur, Ceredigion, photographed from the Cambrain way by Charles Hawes

Too broken up even to guess

My knee was hurting quite badly now and Neil began to suggest possible ways that I might stop and they find way to come and get me but I re-dosed myself with painkillers and gel and we carried on along a decent track leading to a property called Bryneithinog.

Drive to Bryneithinog, Ceredigion, photographed from The Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

Love these exposed tree roots

 They had a lot of very amusing objects in their garden.

We all thought this was very jolly

A little climb from here gave us an opportunity to watch some sheep racing…

Sheep on the cambrian way in Ceredigion, photographed by Charles Hawes

We, like sheep… (racing)

…. before we descended again….

The Cambrian Way in Ceredigion near Strata Florida, photographed by Charles Hawes

….to the edge of  what the map showed as a wood, but was now an ex-wood.

The Cambrian Way in Ceredigion near Strata Florida, photographed by Charles Hawes

I often wonder why the occasional tree trunk gets left standing

Next to the ex-wood was a rather nice ruin that a tree was making its home in.

Ruin on the Cambrian Way in Ceredigion near Strata Florida, photographed by Charles Hawes

And had clearly been doing so for a good few years.

Ruin on the Cambrian Way in Ceredigion near Strata Florida, photographed by Charles Hawes

This wood was only partly ex, though.  A new one had been planted to take its place.

The Cambrian Way in Ceredigion near Strata Florida, photographed by Charles Hawes

I think this may indicate that it is on a Strata Florida trail

These forestry plantations seldom delight but Coed Cnwch that we passed through next was, indeed, delightful.

Coed Cnwch on the Cambrain way in Ceredigion, photographed by Charles Hawes

All those twisted trunks and branches!

With the sun now getting low in the sky there were plenty of contre-jour pics to be had.

Coed Cnwch near Strata Florida photographed from The Cambrain Way by Charles Hawes

In a clearing Paul came across a rams skull complete with curly horns.

Paul admiring nature in the raw

“Alas, poor Yorick!”

He was so taken with it I was surprised that he didn’t stuff it into his rucksack for further contemplation.

Do not feed the hand that bites you.

Coed Cnwch seems to have been embraced by the local community. There were some seats…

Coed Cnwch near strata Florida, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

… and several installations….

Coed Cnwch near Strata Florida, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

… where local artists have a chance to display their creativity.

Ahhh!

Further signs of local amenity were evidenced by a static caravan park on the outskirts of Pontrhydfendigaid.

Caravan site at Pontrhydfendigaid photographed from the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Memories of the Wales Coast Path come flooding back

Our path joined Abbey Road (we’ll visit the abbey at Strata Florida on the next days walk). We turned left onto it and made our way to the Black Lion Hotel where I had left my car, having stayed there the night before last. No time for a drink now though.

I went to see the doc about the knee. He prodded and pushed and suggested that I do some exercises. But that wasn’t the answer as you will later find out.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

David Marsden April 16, 2017 at 6:45 am

Ouch, sorry to hear about the knee, Charles. All that rough ground and no foot-paths won’t have helped, I guess. I had to abandon my latest walk because of something similar (and because I simply wasn’t enjoying it). The Lack Lion Hotel? Unusual name. Dave

Reply

Charles April 16, 2017 at 8:17 am

Thanks Dave. It’s continued to be problematic and without wanting this to be a spoiler I am seeing an Orthopaedic Consultant next week. Phisio and exercises did not do the trick. This blog may have to change tack…..(Thanks for the typo flag)

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David Marsden April 16, 2017 at 8:45 am

Not a typo but the last photo! D

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Charles April 16, 2017 at 10:21 am

Yes, I see it now. Mind you, I saw no Lions in the village so perhaps it was correctly named.

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Bob April 16, 2017 at 7:36 am

Great photos and script.
I am heavily invested in your knee rehab but I think I reference per blog is sufficient!

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Charles April 16, 2017 at 8:18 am

I thought I was being very restrained!

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Anne Wareham April 16, 2017 at 10:32 am

Not sure I understand why you should be restrained about the knee. You’ve always stayed with your realities, good and ill, and that’s a major one. What’s more – you’re not alone with it. Who knows how sharing may help? Xxx

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Charles April 16, 2017 at 12:49 pm

I think he is just being a bit macho.

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Paul Steer April 16, 2017 at 11:11 am

It was lacking in lions, but the sheep made up for it and the hounds that barked at Neil the lion tamer. I wish I had brought that skull home 🙁

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Charles April 16, 2017 at 12:50 pm

But no Black Sheep. Though the Felin Foel was perfectly nice. 22 Kites. Who’d have believed it? Never pass a skull by if you don’t have to.

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John Kingdon April 16, 2017 at 7:27 pm

Hmm. When you frown you remind me of Andrew Neill! I’ll skip the usual photo praise and head straight for your kneecap! Your response to DM is only a spoiler in the sense that it forebodes a possible limitation of your walking in future. I hope that’s not the case, not for us readers but for you as a walker. Based purely (and selfishly) on personal experience, I also hope it’s your left knee.

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Charles April 17, 2017 at 3:43 pm

Andrew Neil! He is near bald. Thanks for your sympathy about the knee. It is a worry. Most interested in why you might hope it’s the left knee! (It is, in fact).

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John Kingdon April 17, 2017 at 5:39 pm

You have the option of a car without a clutch pedal but not without accelerator and brake pedals! I can only drive a three-pedalled car for short distances as too many gear changes knackers the leg. Depending on what is wrong with the knee, and if you have any sort of operation on it, you could well find operating the clutch painful if not impossible. And I doubt you have buses passing your garden every 20 minutes like wot I do.

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Charles April 18, 2017 at 8:30 am

Aha! I drive an automatic. But I have no problem when the knee is rested for a couple of days. It’s only flaring up on the long walks.

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Kev tY April 17, 2017 at 1:10 pm

First, Grace had already “Spoilers!” alerted me about your knee, so I was, personally, hoping you would mention what was going on in your posting today. So sorry to hear about it all in all! I think I may have mentioned to you that I had a knee injury, then surgery, a decade ago. (Meniscal necrosis leading to partial removal of the meniscus of the right knee). I’m hoping this is not your issue! Page 2, such wonderful photos! When I saw the skull photo, before I saw the caption, I too was moved to quote Shakespeare! Great Minds and all…

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Charles April 17, 2017 at 3:46 pm

Yes, the lovely Grace has been in touch. You might have mentioned your surgery but if the surgeon i see on Wednesday wants to poke around himself i will be all ears for your chapter and verse experience. You are a very cultured man!

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Neil Smurthwaite April 17, 2017 at 4:57 pm

I had forgotten what a beautiful morning it was… Fresh, but utterly delightful…. And after such a good stay at the Ty’n Cornell hostel, (http://www.elenydd-hostels.co.uk/), a splendid start to the day. Lovely to be reminded of that as my main memory was of bogs, ski slopes, and that bitingly cold wind on Carn Grom….
(And love the new Pub name. Hadn’t spotted that either….)
🙂

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Charles April 18, 2017 at 8:31 am

Yes, a fabulous but challenging day.

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