Day 30: 22 Apr 2014; Machynlleth to Dolgellau

Day 30: 22 Apr 2014; Machynlleth to Dolgellau
Walk descriptor LEJOG2014 Day 30
Date Tue 22 Apr 2014 Start to end time 05h 58m
Start point Machynlleth End point Dolgellau
Miles today 15.25 Cu miles 563.76
Ft today 2,754 Cu ft 92,310
Route miles left 905.43 Route ft left 106,174
Today’s weather Very dull and overcast all day. No significant rain. Very little wind. About 14C
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Today’s location
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)

Today started with a bang. Well, more of a pop actually. I was enjoying a cup of tea in my B&B when I suddenly heard an ominous explosion noise from my rucksack. I wondered if one of my electronic devices had decided to discharge itself spectacularly but in fact what had happened was that I had crammed so much into my bag that a packet of crisps had succumbed to the over-packing and had exploded. So I spent much of the rest of the morning before I set out picking bits of cheese and onion potato snack out of my luggage.

I’d originally planned to walk North West from Machynlleth following a classic “Snowdonia to the Gower” long distance path. However, when I looked at the map more carefully, I realised that this route would take me over the high and remote Cadair Idris mountain range, and land me in Barmouth, from where it would be very difficult to get to Snowdon without a high-level wild-camp. Neither seemed very attractive, especially with the weather looking a bit iffy, so instead I followed the National Cycleway Route 8, which passes to the East of Cadair Idris, to Dolgellau.

The walk was extremely straightforward, along a quiet track which was tarmac-ed for much of its length. I only saw a couple of cyclists on the path, and then only on the lower-level section. The route passed the Centre for Alternative Technology, which I remember being a great rainy-day destination for family holidays in Wales (when you’ve got tired of shivering round a thermos flask in the driving rain on the beach, that is). The entrance to the Centre is via an interesting cliff-lift which is powered by pouring water into the downward lift base, to counterbalance the weight of passengers travelling up in the other lift. I did notice that today the wind wasn’t blowing and the sun wasn’t shining, so I wondered how they’d be making out for electricity up in the Centre.

The valley I walked up was full of the evidence of the slate industry – abandoned mines and heaps of cast-off slates adorned the hillsides, often in huge and unstable looking mounds.   There was so much slate everywhere, that even the fences were made of slate up there – shards of slate driven vertically into the ground to mark field boundaries and to act as retaining walls.

The sky looked extremely forbidding all day – low, dark clouds which threatened precipitation at any moment. But in the event, the rain never came and somewhat to my surprise, I stayed dry. But when I looked back towards Cadair Idris, where I should have been walking, it was shrouded in mist and evident rain-clouds, so I felt fully justified in taking the “low road”.

It was only a short walk today, so I arrived at the campsite in Dolgellau early. I had a quick look round, but it wasn’t looking its best in the rather overcast circumstances. I’m having dinner in a hotel tonight which I’m sharing with a funeral wake, which rather compounds the sense of gloom.

NB: The next couple of updates may be delayed – I’m entering the remoter part of Snowdonia and it may not be possible to get an internet connection. Rest assured, though – nothing will be missed, I’ll save them all and upload them as soon as I can access the network.

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
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Town clock in Machynlleth this morning. Eagle-eyed readers will note that I had a lie-in this morning! Flowering grasses in the hedgerows. When this blog features close ups of flowers, it usually means I am doing a long road walk. This was indeed the case today
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At the Centre for Alternative Technology. The cliff-lift in the background is powered by the weight of water, taken from a nearby stream Stately pine-trees adjacent to the track
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Looking back towards forbidding Cadair Idris. Today’s route was supposed to go over this mountain range A somewhat gloomy evening in Dolgellau today
Looking back down the Afon Dulas valley – extensive slate quarries all round. Mostly abandoned, I think
The previous day’s blog follows below the blue line
Solid line blue