So today I am leaving the mountains behind (after a fashion) and heading for the forest. AllTrails has a 10.3 mile circular in the Gwydir forest which looks very pleasant and has the distinct advantage that it is only about a 30-minute drive away.
This time I thoroughly research the starting point which, it turns out, isand a car park in Betws-y-Coed. That I can manage. I feel that navigation today is on an even keel and for the most part it was, although I had to bypass some interesting looking tracks to stay on course, and still managed enough wrong turns and doubling back to at an extra 2 miles to the walk.
The initial part was a steady climb through the forest alongside the river, culminating in a view over Swallow falls.
From here the walk winds through forest and along country lanes (in fact a good deal of the walk seemed to be on roads or logging tracks) until at roughly the halfway mark I stopped for lunch at a very pleasing spot on the shore of Llyn Geirionydd. Queue a feast of chocolate and peanut protein bar and an opportunity to soak the hat to convert it into a cooling device.
Onwards and a steep climb up above the lake to my first major nav malfunction.
I followed the trail over a style, only to find myself in a fenced-off area, with 3 gates, all tied up fairly securely. This prompted my first doubling back to recheck the trail before assuring myself that I was on the right route and heading back to the human corral (I am getting Torchwood cannibal episode flashbacks again at this point!). Now I generally don’t like to trespass on private property whilst out walking, but someone had clearly gone to some lengths here to block what is presumably a public right of way. A charitable interpretation might be that the land contained some of the fairly common old lead workings and had been blocked off for safety purposes. I am not feeling charitable and there is nothing for it but to climb over one of the gates. Sure enough, a short distance across the field and there is another style out the other side.
Finally back on track, I am rewarded with this stunning view of another small lake…
views out across Snowdonia…
…and a path back into the forest.
I have to say, this is one of the most peaceful walks I have been on in a while. In 5 or 6 hours of walking, I probably didn’t see more than about 20 people and about half of them were picnicking or Kayaking at Llyn Geirionydd.
The next leg of the walk is a bit of a slog at times (largely due to some fairly regular backtracking. I start to spot a number of weird structure which look like machine-gun emplacements, but can’t for the life of me think why they would be here unless there was some secret MOD site here during the war.
I decide that they must be air shafts for old lead mines - a theory which seems more plausible when I stumble across an old mining and smelting settlement.
The last stretch of the path seemed to be a very steep, dry riverbed. Lots of loose rocks and gravel which is never ideal on a steep descent. Luckily I have a trusty walking staff with me today, which proves invaluable at stopping me (a) from going head over heels and (b) doing irreparable damage to my knees. (once again, note to self on getting proper equipment!)
I swear that this creature was laughing at me as I neared the end. I think of it as some sort of guardian wyrm watching over the path. It’s possible that I may have been out in the sun too long.
Walk complete, I head for a well-earned bag of chips and a cold drink amongst the tourists in Betws. Now back to the cottage for a more substantial reward of some cold Gwynt y Ddraig cider.