This was an enjoyable 11 mile walk in Mid Wales. The main thing that stood out being the differing types of scenery which included farmland, pine forests and moorland. With about 400 m of height gain there’s not too much uphill!
Starting from the car park in the village of Llangurig, there was gentle introduction to this walk along a short section a flat road. Crossing over the River Wye, the single track road lead us towards Clochfaen. Once off the road, the footpath climbed up Pant-gwyn Hill. Looking back, the village of Llangurig with its church can be clearly seen. Llangurig is said to be the highest village in Wales.
Pant-gwyn Hill is a broad, grassy ridge used for grazing sheep, as is much of the lower land in the valley. Walking in the springtime meant that there were lots of cute little lambs and an abundance of daffodils to be observed. We also saw Red Kites hovering over us as well as several species of smaller birds which we could not identify. The weather was quite mild with no imminent threat of rain, so we were quite comfortable wearing mid-weight fleeces.
Lost in the Pine Forest
Heading along the ridge of Pyllau Mawn the green grass gave way to moorland and the path quickly became less visible. This was where the navigational fun started. It was a fine, clear day with good visibility but it seemed prudent to take a bearing along the almost straight, but faint, footpath. This lead us straight up to a gate that entered the pine forest. We were obviously on the right track. However, after following the the footpath and then the gravel logging track for some way, what was on the map and what was in front of us was not same. Obviously the fact that there were lots of pine trees was the same, but the paths seemed to be in the wrong place. This should have been impossible!
At a junction we trusted the compass over gut instinct, took a bearing and followed what surely must have been the correct path. After meeting up with another gravel logging path that headed down the north side of the hill, we knew where were we. We were not on the correct path. No matter, it looked like this direction would take us to the edge of the forest where we could follow the contour around the hill and join back onto the footpath.
Where Had We Been?
So what had happened? After a more thorough investigation of the map we noticed two things. One was that there were two footpaths that entered the wood quite close together, but they joined up with different logging tracks once inside the forest. So from the outset we were not where we thought we were. The other was that there were gaps in the forest that looked like footpaths but that were not footpaths. These were presumably fire breaks and were marked on the map as gaps in the trees. So we thought we were on a footpath, but we were not. Studying the map then, our route through the forest was obvious. Fortunately the forest was only small and we managed to get back on track without too much difficulty. This experience did serve to demonstrate that it is as easy to get lost in the woods as it is on a mountain! Regrettably I had accidentally turned View Ranger off on my phone and so this part of the hike was not recorded on the Social Hiking map.
Back On Track
After walking out of the forest, the landscape had dramatically changed. The green fields and pastures on the other side of the hill had given way to an expanse of moorland covered with last year’s dead, light yellow grass. Now back on the footpath we walked around the side of Glan Fedwen and down to the single track road. This lead us along the side of Afon Elan, which meanders down the valley. Here we saw a single Canada Goose fly from the road into small pools of water in the marsh.
Our route then took us past a farm at Bodtalog, from which point the path quickly disappeared. Hiking boots were essential for walking through the large tufts of dead grass, which was slow going. Had we been in persistent drizzle this section would have been an extremely dull trudge. As it was, the weather remained dry with the sun coming out periodically to keep our spirits up.
At the summit of Esgair Ganol we stopped for a break, which was when I noticed that View Ranger had not been tracking our progress for quite some time and reactivated the program. From here the path was fairly well defined as it cut back through the forest then along the side of Pyllau Mawn. We made a slight deviation on the way down Pant-gwyn Hill to walk past Clochfaen Hall, a manor house designed circa 1913 by architect W.A.S. Benson of the Arts and Crafts movement.
All in all it was hike with plenty of variety and one that we would recommend.