My nights sleep was good, I was warm and thanked my choice to bring my warmer sleeping gear, in the night there had been a slight rain but nothing that was to keep me awake for long.
I woke and managed to make myself get out of the warmth and into the cold light of the day, packing away was quick as ever and a brew was made and consumed quickly, as I sat drinking my tea I felt the first flutters of snow, I had watched the weather reports closely the night before and expected to wake to snow, but now as I sat consuming my warming elixure it began to come down. I donned my waterproof’s and set forth, the path clear to start soon vanished into nothingness and then branched out into a multitude of paths, at one point I counted almost 7 different tracks, yes I chose the wrong one and was having to check my direction every few steps now to make sure I was heading the correct way, the snow was heavier now but stopped short of a blizzard.
I crossed unforgiving terrain, blasted by icy winds and snow, steep climbs and no paths all made for me begining to get a little fed up of this route, the area is littered with shake holes, also known as sink holes and can make the area a little sketchy to cross at times, so keen eyes were needed as well as strong navigation skills.
I summited Carreg Yr Ogof and thought I would be ok as I had run this part of the route last year on a trip to Wales, alas again I got a little mislaid this time by my own hand trying to take short cuts that turned into a trudge across pathless and boggy ground,
3 hrs had passed now as I sat in the car park for the national show caves for Wales, I felt fed up and pretty much done, I opted not to stop at the cafe here and began a slow canter along towards the Craig-y-nos, I ran through following what I thought was my route before half a mile in I came to an abrupt end by a fence, horses followed me almost mocking me as they walked slowly behind.
I traced my route back and stopped at the cafe, tea, coke and a sausage roll were consumed and I set off along the correct path, the route climbs steeply for a mile out of the country park and I stopped often feeling more irritated with myself than ever at the silly mistakes I had made.
The grassy uplands of ogof ffynnon ddu national nature reserve came into focus and I watched people in rubber suites kit up on their way to explore the many caverns and caves underneath my feet which stretch for some 30 miles. I had nothing but climbing on front of me and even the fantastic limestone pavements held little enjoyment for me.
completely pissed of with myself, sat down for a rest and a drink, I couldn’t have felt more fed up at this point and this was my first low point on the whole project, I had a call from Kerry who listened to me moan before telling me to get on with it, I was ready at this point to chuck it all in, to stop the whole project, feelings of self-doubt, of not being fit enough. I gathered my gear a set off again, reaching into my pouch 2 miles on I discovered that I had now lost my Gopro as well. I sat on the floor and swore loudly, I had no idea where I had lost, it only compounded my already feeling of being pissed of with myself.
I had no time to go and search for it, so I carried on stomping angrily across the
landscape like a bear with a sore head, I came upon a long abandoned building, its walls partially broken down by time and neglect, a man lay on the ground taking a nap and I couldn’t help but think what a lazy git. At Coed-y-Garreg I took on water and some snacks, it seemed losing the gopro had in some way rebooted my mood, it was an object, nothing more nothing less. Yes it contained a days footage but it could be replaced and I was still moving and alive.
Shortly up the path I caught site of a group D of E kids, I felt for them carrying ridiculously large backpacks I offered what support I could before I was coming across an impressive monolith with writing inscribed on the side in latin signalled a burial “Of Dervacus, Son of Justus. He lies here”. A few pictures snapped and off I set passing the remnants of a Roman camp and another a long climb onto the summit of Fan Llila, I sat a moment and took in another fantastic and far-reaching view over the ystradfellte reservoir and as far as the eye could see, more DofE kids passed and other walkers.
The path here wound its way around Rhos Dringarth where I took a seat and looked upon Pen Y Fan, I had covered my allocated 23 miles so far for the day and although I had hours of day light left I neither had the energy or will to climb over this summit today. A quick safety call home and off I set in search of my second camping spot, the car parks below Pen Y Fan teemed with cars and there was no visible place to camp down there, I managed to find a little gully beset with its own magical waterfall and was quite content, a brew was had before I made my way up the stream a little to hide away from the main path. Below I could see the burger vans still serving, they taunted me from afar with their buttyness of delights, but I knew my luck would have it as I arrived they would be closing up for the night and could do nothing but dream at this point.
Despite my closeness to the main path here, I was hidden away from prying eyes enough, I ate my food with glee and settled into my sleeping kit early on, the norm for me now is to doze early on and then sleep however I need in the night.
Pen Y Fan awaited.