Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wales day 3 -Pistyll Rhaeadr

 Today we went climbing mountains. We started out at a waterfall.
We climbed up from that to a mountain range called the Berwyns. We first went to the waterfall, known as Pistyll Rhaeadr. We thought the trail went past it and to the south, and walked that way for a short distance. The trail went steadily downwards through a forested area, and then opened into a large, rocky valley with huge cliffs on both sides. We made it this far before realizing that the trail actually went the opposite direction. That excursion did yield some good views of the cliffs around us...
After tracking back to the real trailhead, we went over a fance and headed up the mountain.
The trail went nearly straight up the first hill, before giving way to a sheep filled field.

We followed this sheep track for a short ways, before realizing that we should be on top of the mountain, not down in the grassy valley. We were at roughly 1300 feet of elevation at this point. We saw an even fainter sheep track going straight up the side of the nearby mountain, and took it up. After a hard and painful climb, we reached the ridge top and found the main trail. The trails here were lined with a fern-like plant that we were calling Bracken.
 We then looked off to our left (North), and saw another sizable hill. We set of to climbing that, following a sheep fence. The path climbed up and out of the thick Bracken, and the number of sheep willing to climb that high shrunk.
 The above is looking toward our goal, the rolling mountain in front. There is a lake in the circular cliff area.
 The view down toward the valley we began in.
We looked on from the hill we had just climbed, which was a long climb, towards the next peak. This one was 500 feet above us then. 
 We set off for it, the path following along the edge of the fence. The views became even more impressive as we escalated further. Halfway up we looked back and saw the peak we had just scaled, and realized it was reletively quite small. The view beyond it was stunning. The Welch countryside is very pretty, and very different from what I am used to, due to the small number of trees. There are many peaceful valleys and impressive, largely barren, landscapes.
Before long, we could see the cairn at the summit.
I can not find any information as to whether this is an ancient structure built by ancient people, or if it was just piled up by villagers in the 1900's, but it is marked on the OS map as "Historical; Non-Roman," so I am going to pretend that I know it was built by an ancient people. Some hunter gatherers who made the long trekk up this vast mountain in order to bury an elder of their village.
We then carried on toward the cliff, to look for the trail down.

After looking at the map, then looking at the land, then looking back to the map, we realized that the very faint sheep track running directly along the edge of the thousand foot cliff was actually supposed to be the trail. We walked on it for a moment, but then decided to cut cross country a few yard further away from the cliff. I stopped to take pictures as Dad and uncle Gene made it far ahead.
A brief glance back up at the craig above us revealed a foreboding cliff face.

We continued down into the valley, passing more sheep, and the walls rose around us.
The mountain towering well above us, we walked down into the valley until we came to the road, which lead us back to the car. It was over seven miles of walking, with a 2000+ foot difference in elevation between the top and bottom. It was a great hike, and a fascinating one, due to the contrast between the environment here and the one at home.

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