My legs are reluctant to cooperate today on account of me overworking them yesterday with a 15 hilly miles walk. I’ve been waiting weeks for a clear dry day in order to walk the mountain ridge perimeter of the Anafon valley in North Wales. I use the valley in my Left Luggage sci fi novel and although some of the characters go on patrol up on the ridges I’d not actually been up there to verify what they would see. OK I’ve been up some of it but not all the way around and not Moel Llywtmor, the summit of which I’ve been keen to see. There is the remains of a second world war bomber up there.
I caught the train from Chester 60 miles away at 0732 only to find it clicketyclacked really slow. The driver announced to frustrated passengers: “We’ve been trying to overtake a slow moving cargo train but we’ll have to wait until we reach Rhyll!” Surely I wasn’t the only one with a smile at the idea of our train nipping out to overtake?
The station at Llanfairfechan (try repeat saying that!) is at sea-level and my first 7 miles was uphill. I wasn’t sure of the path and asked a postman. Instead of the lyrical Welsh accent he was a Cockney and had started there only last week! With friends such as John Marchant I had hiked up to Drum and Foel Fras earlier this year but it was too foggy to risk going further then. Today, there was ice and snow on the summits but clear on top. I had to cross a col between Foel Fras and Llywtmor that I knew was going to be boggy, but luckily it was so cold that most of the boggy bits were frozen – yeay! By the time I was halfway up to the summit of Moel Llwytmor my legs said they didn’t want to go any further knowing, as they did, that we’ll probably have to return the same way with climbing up Foel Fras and Drum again. However, I said: “How hard can mountain walking be? It’s only putting one foot in front of another.” So onwards. I reached the summit.
Photographs of my walk are here.
I rewarded myself by opening my flask of hot water and making a hot chocolate drink. It was so windy up there that my right hand became covered with hot chocolate, so I licked it off. I poured over my Ordnance Survey map to decide whether to retrace my route, as my legs feared, or to go on. Going on westwards meant all downhill the nearly 900 metres height back to sea level but with no footpath and so possible dodgy steep slopes. I had two hours before the winter sun set. Nevertheless, that’s what I did and all went well until I met the river Afon Goch. A thin footpath seemed to follow my side of the river but only in places. It might have been a sheep track or made by the dozen or so feral ponies that eyed me and kept their distance. Following the river made sense because they eventually reach the sea. Then I remembered this one becomes the high waterfall, Aber Falls! I found another track but missed its proper route and ended up slipsliding down a gully and crunch sliding down a screeslope. Eventually I made it to a decent path and met a man with a border collie. I asked if he knew where the local bus stop was to Llanfairfechan so I could catch the train back. He offered me a lift to Conwy instead. Great! Until he was caught in a traffic jam and I saw my train whiz by. Sometimes a stranger kindly performs a favour you’d be better off without! So from Conwy I walked another mile to Llandudno and caught the train home. Phew.