Glyndŵr’s Way, day 9: Llangadfan to Pont Llogel

June 11, 2024 0 Comments

We’ve had a comfortable time in the Cann Office Hotel, but it’s time to set off again, without the sun this morning, and move north from Llangadfan.  We turn down a lane next to Pontgadfan, the chapel converted by Eleri Mills that I saw yesterday.  By chance Eleri passes us in her car on the way to check one of her fields – she tells us we’ll be walking through some of them.  Off the lane, we start to climb, past a large farm called Blowty, a couple of Shetland ponies and a curious but friendly sheepdog.  None of us is particularly doggy, and we share varying degrees of doubt about the motivations of dog owners (unusually, I’m the least dogmatic of the three).  By the gate on to a minor road is a rusted sawing machine that looks like a medieval instrument of torture.

We walk on upwards, along an avenue of stunted trees that reminds us of parts of our walk on Offa’s Dyke.  A large sheep stands broadside, blocking our way, in a statement of stubborn entitlement, before reluctantly moving aside to let us by.  Glyndŵr’s Way may be devoid of people but we can never feel alone in this hill country when we share it with so many sheep.  And so much of their shit.  Sheep seem to have a habit of reserving much of their defecation for the very path we’re treading – though this may be a conspiratorial illusion.  What can’t be denied is the constant stench.  But that perception too, we reflect, is subjective: if we were shepherds rather than sanitised urbanites, our noses wouldn’t notice the smell.

For the next few miles we’re in Dyfnant Forest, or on the edge of it.  It’s criss-crossed by many tracks and paths, but as usual the Glyndŵr’s Way signposts keep us from straying.  This isn’t the traditional ‘deep dark conifer’ part of the forest: there are plenty of low-level deciduous trees too, and plenty of birdsong too.  We have an elevenses break in a clearing.  Later the path turns into a stream, ending at a footbridge, and we descend, under the steep wooded slope of Moel Achles, along a tarmac track with home-made signs, ‘Araf: potholes’ and ‘Off the beaten track’, towards Cwm Cownwy.  Passing a remote caravan park at Ddol Cownwy, we enter more woodland.  By now we’re sharing our route with Pererindod Melangell

There’s another climb, and more forest and forest-edge walking, including some tall conifers.  We’re surprised by a noise behind us.  It’s a rare workman on a dumper truck, rumbling along the forest track.  He nods at us happily, and we reflect that there could be less pleasant occupations.  At last, in the distance, across fields of thistles and buttercups, we catch sight of the dam at Lake Vyrnwy, and the Lake Hotel overlooking it on the far side, where Ca and I stayed for a night, very warily, during the height of Covid in 2020.  There’s a long descent to below the dam and then a climb back up on the road.  At Llanwddyn we pass some stout stone cottages built to rehouse the locals turfed out of their ancestral homes by Liverpool Corporation when it constructed the reservoir in the 1880s.

We go past a neat shack selling well-brewed coffee and Belgian chocolates.  They would have been acceptable, and but the place is closed.  We move on and stop at the only café that’s open.  It sells us some tired food.  It’s old fashioned enough, though, to stock picture postcards, now rare objects, and C1 and I snap some up for posting.  There are more people here – almost all English Midlands day-trippers – than we’ve seen since leaving Machynlleth.  Then we walk up to the dam.  It’s a grim construction, as if designed to put the local people in their place psychologically as well as physically, with its rusticated Cyclopean masonry and prison-like miniature towers guarding the roadway across.  The water’s dark and menacing too.  We agree that we prefer the concrete brutalism of the 1960s Clywedog reservoir dam, on the southern leg of Glyndŵr’s Way.

After lunch we retreat from all the Victorian engineering, along a pleasant lane and path to the village of Abertridwr, and then follow a minor road south.  (Today’s walk, like the later Meifod to Welshpool stage, takes a very roundabout route, as if the Way planners found it a challenge to clock up the right number of daily miles.)  Then we’re directed to a long diversion from the original route of the Way, along a lane that eventually leads us to the hamlet of Pont Llogel.

Pont Llogel, situated in a quiet dip on the bank of Afon Efyrnwy, is, quite simply, a delight.  There’s almost nothing here.  A Victorian church, built in Early English style, sits on a rise above the road.  Nearby, a stone schoolhouse, complete with bell to summon the pupils, now a private house.  On the other side, a couple of petrol pumps with a lilliputian office, and, round the corner, a tiny shop and post office.  The pumps and the shop are still in operation.  The shop turns out to be open.  We buy some Magnums to eat on the green outside, and chat in Welsh to the woman behind the counter, who’s run the shop for many years.  She’s a delight too.  On the counter are copies of a paperback book.  She explains that it’s the first novel written by a woman in her nineties who lives down the road. As we eat our ice creams we admire the first of the inscribed and decorated ‘bronze books’ that mark points along the Ann Griffiths Walk, which starts at Pont Llogel; there’ll be more of them to see tomorrow.  I go for a small wander, to the church and along a little path leading to a picnic place beside the old bridge.  By the time I come back Eleri has arrived in her car to take us to our bed for the night, in her B&B outside Meifod.

Next day

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