Total ascent 1525m (5003ft).
The Grand Finale! Mike made a good call yesterday when he suggested walking round Llyn Ogwen to knock a mile off today's distance. He made another this morning when he woke me up at 7 ready to go. So it was an early full Welsh breakfast (my only blow out) and we were off. I wish I'd stayed in more B&Bs to be honest because Bron Eryri was excellent compared to most of the pubs I'd stayed in. Relaxing and friendly.
We parked by Ogwen and the plan was simple: we would do the first 3 mountains together, then Mike would loop back down to his car and head off home and I would continue over the 637(ish) remaining peaks to Conwy.
The weather was glorious, another bonus for starting early (it wasn't too warm on the very tough initial climb), and stayed glorious until we split on top of Carnedd Llewelyn, though mist was starting to wander in by then.
Tryfan and Llyn Ogwen on a glorious morning.
I'm standing on Pen Yr Ole Wen but I can touch Snowdon! Ho ho ho!
Once Mike went east and I went north (it was odd saying goodbye to someone at 3000ft!) the mist closed in on me for a good hour. This was because it's such a high level ridge and I simply wasn't dropping below it. The path was good though and the route was straight so a compass wasn't needed.
Jennie asked me the other day what I think about when I'm walking. Since then I've tried to remember things but they often just seems to disappear, like my dreams do. My mind drifts most in mist and rain, which is certainly a bad thing, so I tried to remain conscious of it in the mist today. Top Fives are a common one though, as mentioned earlier in the blog. Eg:
Top 5 Kraftwerk songs.
1. Trans-Europe Express/Metal on Metal (the greatest piece of electronic music ever written*).
2. The Man Machine.
3. Home computer.
4. The one whose name I've forgotten off Tour de France.
5. Autobahn (long version).
*Note hyperbolic comment which always accompanies the number one.
Another is talking to myself, obviously, or guessing how long it will take to get to a particular thing ahead of me. Or calculating the radius a dead sheep has been spread out over. The possibilities are endless!
I also tend to be over-surprised by things that wouldn't usually surprise me, and there are some things that never cease to amaze me. Rams' testicles are a good example. Towards the end of the day I saw two (that's two testicles, one ram), and they truly are a wonder of nature. Unlike sheep the ram didn't run away when I passed his field. He just stood there trying to look intimidating, though I knew he was actually unable to move because his testicles were too big. I wondered how many sheep he was expected to service per day. I reckon at least 30, with a bit to spare. Impressive.
After a while I did indeed drop down out of the mist and was striding along at quite a pace. I was hoping for a 6 o'clock finish but Tony Drake played his final Dark Side card, sending the route over an unexpectedly big, lumpy hill, then over a series of pretty but also pretty irritating switchbacks. It could have finished me off but I regained my composure by stopping straight afterwards for a very late lunch.
The weather during the latter stages was beautiful again, so when I finally reached Sychnant Pass, and a road, I totally failed to get past the ice cream van sitting there. I sat down with a cornet 2 miles short of the finish and watched a girl running behind the van every minute or so for a wee, then returning to her mum and telling her she couldn't go. It was a bit off putting so I ate fast and left.
All that was left was to wander over the heather and gorse covered Conwy Mountain to complete the walk.
The final descent to Conwy.
I had to touch Conwy Castle to officially end the walk, as I had at Cardiff Castle to start it last year. On the road leading to it I checked my total ascent for the day and was horrified to discover that it was 1523m, which is 4997ft, so I ran up a nearby flight of steps, waited to check I'd hit 5000, then finished!
I decided to go for a celebratory pint of shandy, and as is traditional every year I chose a pub from hell, this time the Liverpool Arms on the riverfront. It was packed with very drunk people at a worryingly early time, so I downed the pint and made a hasty retreat to the railway station and home.
And so I'll finish, as a former Flintshire County Council colleague would surely approve of, by briefly reflecting:
Yes it is the hardest long distance walk I've done (my total ascent over the 186 miles was 13,523m, or 44,366ft), and thanks to the terrain and especially the weather it's definitely the best. I wore my waterproof for a day and my fleece not at all - amazing. And I used my compass twice. Tony Drake did a fine job planning the route, even if it really plans itself after Dinas Mawddwy, and I can look back on his Dark Side interventions and laugh now. The Doethie Valley on day 2 this year was a real find, but pretty much all of it was interesting at worst and fantastic at best, except the rest of day 2 and the dreadful forest and valley which followed the wind farm.
As for guidance, I transferred the route from the well drawn sketch maps in the guide book onto my OS maps before I left with a highlighter, and used them. My only gripes with the book are that it encourages you to find the most enjoyable route for you, then insists that you visit certain check points (far too many). I wasn't really bothered about these and visited quite a few peaks and places not in the book. Of course I even followed a better looking walk, the Beacons Way, for part of last year.
The book also refers to me not as a walker but a Mountain Connoisseur! This was quite ridiculous and would have made me sound a right pillock if I'd used it ("Serve me next please barman, I'm a mountain connoisseur.")
The website is great, and rightly gives little detail to make sure you buy the book, but is bang up to date with route changes and diversions. But great as it was, next year I'm going to do something easy!
Last but not least, the dog. I have to say that it was the first time I'd ever walked with a dog of my own and it was great company. In particular I was delighted that after just 10 days it was fully trained, as you can see below, to ignore both sheep AND Blaenau Ffestiniog.
-- Posted from Kev's iPhone