84. Machynlleth- Borth
Distance: 16.09 miles
Max Altitude: 113 m
Min Altitude: 2 m
Height Gain: 318 m
Height Loss: 296 m
Behold! There’s a large, yellow, circular object in the sky above our heads! Ok, slight exaggeration, but that was pretty much my euphoria level when I realised that it was going to be a sunny day (as promised in the forecast) rather than yet more rain.
After porridge and a coffee in the hostel I set off. The first part was done via road. The Wales Coast Path soon got routed up into a forest once more. But on a fine day, I didn’t want to miss out on being next to the estuary, so I continued via road.
It was was fine at first, with beautiful views of the Dyfi.
But then I ran out of pavement and had to find an alternative route in order to avoid the cars roaring past me.
I ended up in a pickle, I don’t mind admitting. To cut a very long story short, I’ll give you the story of what happened in short bursts: hill, barbed wire, dangerous horse, soaking wet feet in waterfall, barbed wire, angry bees, gardens, back to the road again. Ask me face to face for the uncensored version.
With my heart in my throat and sweating like a pig I arrived, somewhat appropriately, in Ffwrnais. It is the location of the Dyfi Furnace, used from the 1700s to the 19th century to make pig iron with charcoal as fuel (hence the term ‘sweating like a pig’….this blog can be just as educational as other more highbrow offerings, you know).
I stopped to contemplate my precarious journey so far and studied the map. I needed to get back on to the Wales Coast Path, pronto. But it was, still, quite a distance away from me and the coast in a forest way above. I had no choice though. I found a road, a steep road, and started climbing. It was tiring and miserable. But at least it wasn’t raining right?
After struggling through undergrowth, over mud, rock and stream, and falling over, I got to the WCP. Delight!
As a reward, I was treated to this view.
From there on, it was pretty dull trail walking, through fields and under tree cover. It seemed to go on forever.
I almost forgot though… By now I was in Ceredigion having crossed the border from Powys earlier on. To me, this represented a small psychological victory. Ceredigion is the county of one side of my family so suddenly I felt as though I was actually ‘home’. A strange sensation since I’ve never been this far north in the county before, or not that I remember anyway.
Anyway, I knew that there was a cafe in Tre’r Ddôl and I was beyond delighted when I finally saw it ahead. Siop Cynfelyn is a community-run project that re-opened the former Cletwr Services as a cafe and shop. What a fantastic idea, and to the weary walker, it represents nothing less than an oasis.
I had tea, orange juice and a huge scone. I also stocked up on a few supplies while I was there. I noticed another few walkers re-fuelling while I was there and felt happy that such a place exists. Then it was on through the pretty village.
The WCP joined a long path next to a ditch. The trail became dull again. And frustrating too since by this point I had entered Cors Fochno – a raised peat mire – and had become the prime item of interest to the local insect population. My feet were aching and I was also very tired. Just what I needed to be ankle deep in sludge, then.
I hobbled into Borth and felt relief at seeing the sign. It had been a tough day.
But it didn’t end there. I still had a long walk and climb up Borth hill to get to camp. The views at sunset were spectacular though.
Wendy, the owner of Pen y Graig was waiting for me when I finally did limp into the campsite. She was so kind and welcoming and I can’t thank her enough. Also, my perfect camp – quiet and on a farm.
I had just enough energy to put up Clark Tent before collapsing inside in my stinky, boggy clothing. No two ways about it, I needed a shower and my clothes needed a wash. So I killed two birds with one stone and took my clothes into the shower with me and washed them that way. It felt good to rid my shoes and clothing of the mud clagged up on them.
I cooked a quick meal and virtually passed out. I had managed 16.5 miles and more than 1000ft of climbing in ridiculous circumstances (many of my own doing I admit). A moment of pride turned into a fantastic night’s sleep.