|Outline Maps: NE section||SW section|
Date: 16 Aug 2002
Start / Finish: Llanuwchllyn. Car park.
Maps: Explorer OL23 Cadair Idris and Explorer 215 Newtown & Machynlleth.
|Day 1||Aran Fawddwy & Pistyll Gwyn||12 miles / 4400 feet (19.3km / 1340m)|
|Day 2||Ceseiliau & Moel Eiddew||19 miles / 2600 feet (30.6km / 792m)|
|Day 3||Commins Coch & Machynlleth||20 miles / 2300 feet (32.2km / 700m)|
|Day 4||The Dyfi Estuary & Llyn Barfog||18 miles / 1300 feet (29.0km / 396m)|
|Day 5||Pennal Forest & the Western Dyfi Forest||19 miles / 2750 feet (30.6km / 838m)|
|Day 6||The Eastern Dyfi Forest & The Aran Ridge||19 miles / 3050 feet (30.6km / 929m)|
Note: For Day 1, following the DVW book route up the valley to Bwlch Sirddyn, the figures would be 11 miles / 2550 feet (17.7km / 777m).
There are several comments about the DVW route, first a couple of points about the literature:
We started the DVW at Llanuwchllyn at the N end for convenience, and made one major modification to the route: rather than walk up the valley to Bwlch Sirddyn, we climbed the ridge and descended E via Creiglyn Dyfi to pick up the route there. This description concentrates on other modifications and observations from our trip.
Climbing the N ridge to Aran Fawddwy was a great way to start a walk and avoided the question that would have nagged us on the valley route: 'What are we doing down here?. We should be up there!'. Returning to Erw y Ddafad-ddu we descended via the one weakness in the E face, the steep grassy slope leading to Creiglyn Dyfi and a fine view of the cliffs over the lake. A short climb to Foel Hafod-fynydd and a descent NE to Bwlch Sirddyn and we were on the DVW. The route is clear past the Rhiw March waterfalls to Llanmawddwy and on the ascent of Cwm Dyniewyd, watch out for the crossing point to the R side which is indicated by a pole across the Afon Pumryd by a boulder. Climbing very steeply at the end, we emerged on good grass above the falls.
Just after passing Ceseiliau with its surprise view of the steep cwm, rather than follow the bridleway it is easier and more logical to continue on the farm track which leads down to the lane at Bwlch Coediog.
On the ascent of Esgair Ddu (880105), the bridleway is another theoretical joke and takes a daft line anyway. From Craig-For, we climbed easily SW directly up the side of the shallow ravine and continued in the same direction to the fence, where we walked along it a short way to the stile.
On Mynydd y Cemmaes, another theoretical bridleway follows an illogical twisting line for the first half of the ridge, then adds insult to injury by descending the side and climbing part way up again!. Just ignore that daft bridleway and walk along the ridge track enjoying the fine views on either hand. Near the S end, the track arrives at a gate and a short way beyond is the trig point on Moel Eiddew, where there was a small group of people flying their model aircraft on the W edge.
Returning to the gate, we descended the access track W to pick up the DVW at 862055. Here is another trap for the distracted, the obvious reedy track curves down W but the parallel DVW is a few metres higher and diverges SE through a sloping pathless field of chest-high bracken.
After climbing out of Commins Coch the DVW takes a signed footpath R at 842033 which descends steeply into a small ravine. How can it take so long to negotiate one's way out of an area a few square mm on the map?. Maybe the pouring rain didn't help our concentration, but if you find the same problems, this might save your sanity: ignore the original footpath sign and continue on the lane to a surfaced track leading off R. Go down this and as it bends R look out for an old farm gate set back on the L. Go through the gate and turn R up the field to the forest edge and you are back on the DVW
At 780990 The DVW leaves the minor road NW to cross Gwynfan, but as we were behind schedule we had to omit this short stretch and continue on the road to Machynlleth. This did have the advantage of an almost traffic-free road and it eliminated the daunting long walk along the busy A489.
We restocked supplies for one day in Machynlleth and bought water to save time. We were back on schedule at our intended pitch area, most of the day having walked in miserable conditions like these:-
Walking without problems to Tre'r-ddol we set off on the B4353, which was hardly a highlight but it was fast and we reached Borth in plenty of time for the first of a two-train journey to Aberdyfi. Borth has public toilets with a drinking water tap on the outside wall.
From the map, the obvious station to change for Aberdyfi is Dovey Junction but it is not recommended. It is a strange setup, it is exactly as the name suggests - a rail junction and literally nothing else. Located in the middle of nowhere, it doesn't even have road access. Better to go one more stop to Machynlleth (same price) and use the time between connections to restock supplies in the town. From Aberdyfi it is easy walking to Llyn Barfog where we made a very good pitch.
Walking through Pennal we entered the Western forest. We remember just a couple of points to watch out for here:
At the multitrack junction at 730033, take the ascending track NW, not the more obvious track W.
At the path junction at Pantyspydedd (728041), turn L before the ruined building, then after a short way R. From here the climb to the quarry below Tarren y Gesail seemed to take a lot longer than expected and we thought we had gone wrong, but all was well.
We could not find the public toilets marked on the map SW of Aberllefenni (768094).
Continuing NE into the forest again, we pitched on a rough reedy track near the track junction S of Hendre-ddu quarry near spot-height 369. This was the first unsatisfactory pitch we had but the best we could find in the limited time.
This was where the real fun started. Being certain of our location, we looked for the waymarked path E from the track junction. After several searches we spotted a faint speck of yellow peeping out from the vegetation - it was the waymark, pointing into an awful overgrown mess that quickly dissuaded us from pursuing it. Instead we took a wet reedy track which roughly paralleled the path line, hoping to pick it up further on but suspecting that things would get worse - and we were right in spades. After a little while we were in terrain that had it all - stumps, broken branches, tussocks, hidden rocks, potholes and tangled briars. I can't remember which deteriorated faster, the terrain or the language, but we decided to cut our losses and take our chances on the forest tracks. Retreating to the track junction, the outline map roughly shows the route we took, which cut out all that dreadful stuff in minutes. Where the forest track crossed the path line we looked for any sign of a path emerging or continuing on the steep thickly covered slopes and we saw none. If anyone has successfully negotiated this section in the last year or so we would be interested to hear about it.
Taking the upper contouring track all around Mynydd y Foel we turned R (SE) down the main access track to the lane to Aberangell. This route was at least fast, so fast that we almost made up the lost time. Climbing to Aran Fawddwy via the familiar Drysgol route, we were compensated by quite dramatic views of the sunlit estuary and western mountains from beneath a dark canopy of cloud hanging over the Arans. Descending the N ridge seemed a lot longer than the ascent a few days before and we arrived at the car at 8pm.