By: Blonde Two
Running Girl and I have been friends a long time, so when we meet, we obviously feel the need to chat (a lot!)
This is my excuse for us starting my carefully planned route to Lluest Cwm Bach (our first bothy of two) very late and very in the wrong place.
There were two other possible culprits for this tardiness; namely the stop for a last cup of civilised coffee in Rhayader and the wrong turn due to my pathetic car-navigation. Lessons learnt I think!
Our planned starting and finishing point was at the dam at the base of the Claerwyn Reservoir. We actually started, after a little car tour around the Craig Goch reservoir (including a teasing glimpse of our bothy), at the Pennygaregg Dam instead (some 7K into our proposed first day’s walk).
This meant that Day Three of our expedition was set to be far too long; but there was method in my madness, the last section of Day One’s route involved some over-the-hill-through-the-bog navigation and there was no way that I wanted to do it in the dark.
Navigating in the dark is fine if you have some clear attack points; on Dartmoor I would use something like a wall corner or a footbridge to take a bearing and walk from. If you look at the map snippet below, you can see that this route was a case of following the path for a certain distance and then heading off on a bearing. On a 1:25,000 map, you would also see the hilltop blue bits – my suspicions that these were bogs were proved to be correct and there was a fair bit of wading/tussock balancing going on. Thanks to Ordnance Survey for their fabulous online mapping, I spent many hours poring over it before the trip.
There is nothing like a bit of bog floundering to head you off bearing but we found the side of the distinctive little valley (Cwm Bach) easily enough in the daylight (keeping a massive reservoir on your left is a pretty good navigation aid). Running Girl trotted and I crept down the side of the valley, and we had the opportunity to appreciate our surroundings before dark set in. We discovered last year, that arriving at a bothy in the dark can be a bit of a spooky experience!
A very happy if a slightly chilly night was spent and I was left pondering the map and cogitating how we were going to do the extra 7K back to the car on Day Three. Little did I know how tough Day Two was going to turn out to be!