The Time Traveller's Wife.

Trip Start Oct 10, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Wales,
Sunday, April 17, 2011

According to legend, Plynlimon is the home of an ancient giant with a penchant for waylaying and robbing travellers. King Arthur's huge hunting hound was secured with a leash made from the beard of the giant, so tough were the hairs.

We, that is Vince, Jan, Steve, Steve's neighbour John, Graham and I, arrived at the car park at Hafren Forest before eleven and waited in vain for Marlene and Richard. Vince looked at his watch and suggested the walk would be somewhere between 3 and 7 hours long, with occasional rests. John looked mildly worried (he'd not done this before) and Graham lent him a water bottle, which, we later discovered, John filled up with the Do Not Drink water from the wash block tap.

In the end we set off for giant country without the two remaining BMC members, in the hope that they would catch us up. There was no phone signal to call them, so no way of knowing if they were even on their way. The route follows the tumbling stream of the River Severn gently uphill through the forest, flanking the rockier hillside as it ascends. Steve spent the ascent fretting that his wife was going to roast his chestnuts for going out on their wedding anniversary. He absolutely had to be back by 5pm, he claimed, in order to avoid a night on the sofa.

"No problem," said Vince, "It's only a couple of hours." And he and Jan set off at a pace that meant it probably would be.

We made it to a boggy plateau, along a path made from flat, grey, laid stones. I was pleasantly surprised to see a wooden post sticking out of the bog, proclaiming that we had made it to the Source of the Severn. For some reason, the fact that we were heading towards the Source had completely passed me by. It seems the Wye starts around here somewhere too, but we didn't pass that bog-post.

Time to veer off the main track and head along a fence up onto the bare hills. Underfoot it was short dry grass and moorland, with occasional boggy patches. I discovered why my hiking boots were leaking - it appears they are falling apart. Looks like I know what Nick is getting me for my birthday!

By the time we got to the circular, bunker-shaped cairn on the top of Pumlumon Arwystli, it was 2pm. (Couple of hours, my foot!). We stopped for snack food and Vince tried yet again to call Marlene, and yet again failed. I got a text to tell me my friend Matt had run the London Marathon in a mere 2hr 44mins. My knees hurt at the thought.

Pumlumon Arwystli is 741m, but our goal for the day, giant's notwithstanding, was to reach the top of Pumlumon Fawr (a.k.a. Plynlimon Fawr) at 752m (2467ft). Naturally this meant going down a bit first, and then back up. Despite Vince's protestations that it was only half an hour, John decided to stay and rest, while we did the summit and then retraced our steps to collect him.

An hour later, we stood on the top of Pumlumon Fawr, the highest point in the Cambrian Mountains, looking at the lake below. Steve bought himself an extra hour or so, by calling his wife, grovelling manfully and trying to make it sound like we hadn't abandoned his next-door-neighbour on a completely different peak a long way away.

And so it came to pass, that nearly two hours after we set off on a half hour sally to the tallest summit, we were re-united with John. By this time, we'd been walking five hours and Steve was looking at castration upon his return to the family home. John, however, was looking very happy and rested.

The trip back to the car park was allegedly 'not as far', though quite why we were still asking Vince how long it was likely to take, was anyone's guess. He tapped the GPS like Captain Kirk bashing a faulty Tricorder and muttered something about 15km so far. We trudged heroically onwards and downwards. Captain Kirk, presumably following advice from the faulty Tricorder, took us directly down a vertical, bramble and bilberry covered hillside to join a path next to the Severn. From there on it was easy walking.

Just as we reached the lower stretches of the walk, on paths we had set out on, Marlene and Richard came into view. They had eventually arrived after getting horribly lost in the Welsh hills, and had walked off to see the Source of the Wye.

Vince consulted his technology for a final time: 22km, 13 miles, 7hr 15min.

Presumably Steve's body is buried in his back garden.

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