The Cambrian Way 2005

Author: George Tod

This walk is illustrated with photographs. Click on small photo to enlarge in situ, or click caption to enlarge into new window.
Part 12 - Days 20 and 21 - Rowen Youth Hostel to Conwy and Home

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Day 22 - Friday 24th June - 6.4 miles - 909 ft ascent

Rowen Youth Hostel to Conwy via Conwy Mountain

On North Wales Path Conwy Castle and Town 3 Views near the Finish Cambrian Way Map Day 22

Although I had only a short way to go, I made a fairly early start by getting up at 7.15, as I wanted to be in good time for my daughter Jen to pick me up from Conwy Castle at 11.15. I didn't have much for breakfast, but I made some tea and ate up some fruit cake from my packed lunch leftovers. There were a couple of Australian ladies staying at the hostel, touring the area by car, and a few others including one chap from my dormitory who was still in bed. As I was packing up my things at 8.00, the fire alarm went off - one of the Australians had set it off whilst making toast, so anyone still asleep got a rude awakening.

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Craig Hafodwen and Foel Lus (hills bordering coast) from North Wales Path near Maen Esgob
On N Wales Path
Conwy Castle from descent of Conwy Mountain
Conwy Castle

I managed to get off at 8.15, more or less retracing my route back to the standing stone near the old mine workings. It was rather grey and overcast but not cold, and I got quite hot climbing up the steep hillside until it levelled out a little and the walking became easier. Once I had rejoined the main route there was some very quick and easy walking along the common on a soft green track giving a constant view of Conwy and its castle gradually getting nearer and nearer. It all looked quite drab in the dull weather conditions and not a bit like it did in yesterday's sunshine. After a while, the route swung away to the west side of the common, giving views of the hills that line the coast, and joining up with the North Wales Path, which is well signposted. I stopped for a break at Pen y Sychnant, overlooking Conwy Mountain with about three miles left to go. From there was a drop down to the Sychnant Pass itself, part of the road built by Thomas Telford, and then on to the last climb of the walk, up Conwy Mountain, an old hill fort commanding fine views over Conwy and across to Llandudno, though a couple of large static caravan sites mar the view in places. Despite the 'mountain' in its name, this was hardly a climb at all compared with those along the way, and I reached the summit (checkpoint 40) at 10.45.

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Town walls of Conwy
Conwy Town Walls
Finish of walk at Conwy Castle
Finish at Conwy Castle
At the finish of the walk by Conwy Castle, ready then for home
At Conwy Castle

An easy, grassy path led me down into the town, with good views overlooking the town and castle along the way. I was soon entering the town through its well preserved town walls, then to the finishing point at the castle (checkpoint 41 at 11.05). My daughter Jen soon arrived to collect me and take me back home where a welcoming party of family, people from the hospice and other friends, who were gathering for drinks and a buffet lunch. As everyone eventually drifted away, it was back to reality and back to work again, catching up on outstanding jobs.

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Thoughts at the End of the Walk

All in all, this had been an excellent walk, although I did have a few days in the mist and rain, which is only to be expected from a mountain walk lasting for three weeks. In contrast, I had had some spectacularly good weather on quite a few days, which showed the magnificent scenery at its best, more than compensating for the bad days, and confirming to me that this is the best long distance walk that I know of in Britain for scenery. I was particularly glad that I had managed to have good weather in some of the places where I had missed the scenery last time I did the walk, especially the latter part of the Black Mountains, which was a great pity to have missed before. Some parts that I missed this time because of bad weather, I had seen on other occasions, but there were still a few parts where the weather was bad on both walks. One of these was on Blorenge, another on Mynydd y Cemaes, and another from Barmouth to Rhinog Fach, so I will have to make another visit to these some other time to see what I missed.

I did manage to fare considerably better with my navigation on this occasion, partly because I had done the walk before and could remember some of the places where I had lost my way, and partly because I had a GPS to help me this time. However, this is still a walk which requires constant vigilance to keep on the right route, particularly through mid Wales. There were places where I had found my way last time but went off the track this time - it is not easy to remember the whole route from some years ago, though it does help quite a bit. The problem that sometimes can occur is that a route is taken because it looks familiar, but it was actually one that was taken in error before. Considering the length and complexity of the task, I did manage to follow the route faithfully for most of the way, not that this mattered too much, as the walk is still considered to be completed so long as all the checkpoints have been reached, and there has been a continuous route from start to finish on foot. However, I prefer to keep to the route as much as possible, as I don't like to miss any good views by straying off course. On some occasions, however, I opt for a slightly different route if I think it is going to give me a better view.

One of the things I was concerned about, that my age would start working against me, proved not to be true. In general, I fared better this time than I did five years ago, which was heartening and gives hope for future walks, even if they are strenuous ones. I found that the schedule I worked to was not too difficult, and there was nowhere that I thought I had taken on too much. The only thing I would change if I were to do the walk again is the estimated times of arrival at my daily destinations. The difficult walking in many parts meant that I was often left rushing towards the end of the day so that I didn't have people worrying about my non-arrival. By adding an hour to most of my estimated arrival times I would have avoided this and would have managed to end each day in a more leisurely way.

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