Day 31: 23 Apr 2014; Dolgellau to Maentwrog

Day 31: 23 Apr 2014; Dolgellau to Maentwrog
Walk descriptor LEJOG2014 Day 31
Date Wed 23 Apr 2014 Start to end time 08h 53m
Start point Dolgellau End point Maentwrog
Miles today 22.22 Cu miles 585.98
Ft today 3,638 Cu ft 95,948
Route miles left 883.32 Route ft left 102,107
Today’s weather Dull all day with showery drizzly rain. Heavy rain in afternoon. Almost no 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)

“I had originally intended to have a short day today, and just cover the 14 miles or so to Trawsfynydd. But a quick look at the map showed that the day after, to Bethania, would be very long and further that there were no shops or pubs anywhere near the campsite where I was thinking of staying. So I decided to extend my walk and head for a campsite near Maentwrog, in the Ffestiniog valley, about six miles further on from Trawsfynydd.

The walk was long but easy. I followed a cycle route (no 82) out of Dolgellau and up to Trawsfynydd. These cycle routes are either very quiet country lanes or forestry trails, and I’ve found them very good for walking. So I made rapid progress up the Afon Eden, heading North. The path mostly passed through dense forest, planted by the forestry commission in the 1920s. Some of the trees were well over a hundred feet tall, and looking impressive.

About halfway through today’s walk I came across (yet another) interpretive sign explaining how the whole area was of volcanic origin and as a result had rich seams of copper and gold. And to my amazement, I came across a man and his wife who were panning for gold in one of the side streams. He showed me the collection of gold nuggets which he’d built up over the past months. “Not enough to live on” he said but because Welsh gold is apparently worth three times the market price of “normal” gold, his small vial was worth several hundred pounds. He told me that the wedding rings of the kings and queens of England are traditionally made from this material.

Further up the valley, I came to the village of Trawsfynydd. I needed there to be a shop there, as I was running low on food and luckily there was a small one-stop shop where I could stock up. I’m finding that in this section of the walk, teashops, cafes and villages are far fewer than they were further south, and I can no longer rely on finding one at a convenient mealtime. So I have to carry a full day’s food with me (which is heavy) at the moment, in case I can’t find anything when I need it. Spars and Co-ops are my lifeline!

The cycle trail left the village and passed along the shores of Traws Lake, which also dates back to the 1920s, when it was built to power a hydroelectric generator which at the time produced all the electricity for the whole of North Wales. It is now home to a decommissioned nuclear power station and at the time it was operating, it was the only nuclear plant in the UK not located on the coast. The monolithic reactor building was designed by Sir Basil Spence – the same architect who built Coventry Cathedral.

I’m camping down in the valley, not far from the Dduallt station on the Ffestiniog preserved steam railway. So with gold, uranium and steam, what more could you want to make this a perfect day. Apart perhaps from sticky toffee pudding at the pub (again)?”

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
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Slippery visitor to my tent this morning. Had to be hastily removed. Mind you I was feeling a bit hungry… I have absolutely no idea what this sign, encountered in the Afon Eden this morning, was supposed to mean
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I met a man who was panning for gold and yes, this is what he had found (but not in my hand and not all today!) This tree-gobbling machine was hard at work in the upper reaches of the valley
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Setting out along the Roman Road to Trawsfynydd On the bleak moorland approaching Trawsfynydd
A gold-bearing(??) stream in the Afon Eden
The previous day’s blog follows below the blue line
Solid line blue