Wilderness Wales


Wreckage in the Mist

At 6am I awoke to the sound of stars. I shuffled outside and gazed at the sparkling black sky. The perfect day?

After wasting a bit of time on the Net I checked the forecast - doom and gloom! By that time however my flask was filled and my brain was in walking mode. There was no stopping me. The prospect of rain implied low cloud, a good day for playing with my GPS methought. Carreg Goch seemed an ideal locale, not the easiest place to navigate in bad visibility.

I began at Craig y Nos, no way was I going to pay for the car park when I could leave my car a few dozen yards further along the road. I began at a right of way through Nant-y-Gwared farm and was immediately met with the sign; "Bridleway to field only, no access to hill". Yet there was the path to the hill, just twenty yards away. I don't like walking through people's front gardens but I had the OS on my side, not that that would do much good up against the logic of an irate farmer.

I climbed over the gate and was immediately met with a chorus of three barking dogs, strategically positioned just out of sight of the gate. Fortunately they were tethered. I expected an angry farmer to burst out of the nearby door at any moment but I was committed to my course of action. I calmy negotiated two more gates with no incident. The third gate said "Beware of the dog!" All the way to the top of the first slope the dogs continued to bark. Even after crossing the crest the sound of barking continued, gradually fading as I made my way across the moorland.

The first feature of interest was the waterfall at Pwll-yr-Wydden shake hole, only a small stream but spilling over quite a high drop and disappearing amongst the boulders at the bottom of the shake hole. It made a nice photo. I then made my way along the rocky outcrops toward Castell y Geifr (Goat Castle). The cloudbase was lowering all the time and the wind was increasing. Castell y Geifr was suitable craggy. Although I'd visited this area many times previously I'd never been able to identify the exact summit (531m) amongst the many outcrops. It was nice to have the certainty of GPS to hand.

The mist was starting to close in now. I passed a large pond and contoured around the slope in the general direction of the aircraft wreck. Since I wasn't certain of the grid ref I used the "aiming-off" technique and purposely headed toward the south of my speculative waypoint. Sometimes the mist closed in, at other times it cleared allowing me to see quite far. No sign of the wreck though. I then headed north toward the waypoint. The many rocky outcrops that I had to walk over were very greasy and I had to take care. A simple slip could have had disastrous consequences; I could have smashed my GPS!

{[cg18.jpg]}The wreck soon appeared, in much the same place as the waypoint, and at the same moment the wind got up and it started to snow, although it was very wet. I took a long rest, acquired some photos and consumed a few of cups of tea. There were a number of crosses and red flowers placed amongst the wreckage. The plaque reported the wreck as being a Canadian Wellington bomber which crashed there on November 20th 1944.

The snow/rain stopped, the mist pretty much cleared, and a large number of white objects appeared out of the mist in the distance. At first I thought they were sheep sheltering on a distant hillside. Then I realised they were buildings! I was looking at Cwmllynfell. After 45 minutes of averaging my GPS decided that the grid ref of the wreck was SN 81622 16923, with an estimated error of 8 metres.

I headed on to Disgwylfa and the mist once more closed in. When it became really thick the GPS was in it's element. I blindly followed the arrow until I reached the summit. The GPS reported a distance to waypoint of 0.01km, just 10 metres, pretty impressive. I verified my track later with OziExplorer and it was spot on. In spite of having walked extensively over this area, and walked past it many times, I've never actually stood on the summit of Disgwylfa before. Ironic then that it means "Viewpoint". I could barely see ten yards.

I started my return journey. I'd have liked to stay out longer but I had to return early for an appointment. I made my way past the crags up to Carreg Goch (558m). As I approached the summit I could see a distinct pink/red tint in much of the bedrock, evidently the reason for the name Carreg Goch (Red Stone) As I once more passed the pool the mist cleared and I had good visibility for the rest of the walk.

There's a vague boggy depression, not quite a valley, heading southeast from the summit (west of the Castell y Geifr crags). There are a few pools, bogs and peat hags hemmed in by the many crags and boulders strewn around. It's an atmospheric place. I was reminded a few times of the Rhinogs, but without the heather and the altitude. One area was covered in dead bracken. Unusually for overcast weather the colour was a deep red, or so it seemed to me. It made a great contrast against the dull grey of the rocks, and was one of the sights that reminded me of the Rhinogs, but with the bracken substituting for the heather. I've always liked this area, ever since I first started walking here seventeen years ago, but I've never made this comparison before. My recent visit to Moel Ysgyfarnogod probably had something to do with it.

After rounding the last crag there was little left to look forward to, just a race against the clock to get back to the car. I took the opportunity to visit Saith Maen on my return. It means "Seven Stones" and is a line of seven large flat slabs of rock arranged in a perfect straight line, pointing toward the head of the valley. Unfortunately two of the stones have fallen over.

I took a different route back to the car, reaching the road via Pentre-Cribarth. I crossed a stile, walked a short distance along the edge of a muddy field with a quiet alsation observing my progress at close hand, then crossed another stile next to the road, with a black sheep waiting for me on the other side, which then casually strolled off. After crossing the stile I turned around to read a sign saying "No access to hill". Funny that, there's a dotted green line on the map there too.