The beauty and the trials of Glyndŵr's Way: Part 2
After two years of fitting in sections between lockdowns, Emma Sawyer and her friend Haf finally reached the end of Glyndŵr's Way
We finally finished walking Glyndwr’s Way on a rainy day in early August, having started this gloriously green trail months before (a year before for me – I walked the Knighton to Felindre and on to Llanbadarn Fynydd sections in August 2020!).
We’d been walking it slowly in day and weekend sections intermittently between lockdowns and life events. We were very happy to have some good Welsh rain to see us off and have an excuse to wear the £5 rain trousers we had proudly purchased a few sections earlier.
We’d re-named our rain trousers ‘jockets’– a shortening of ‘joke pockets’ – they had holes in them that led to your proper pockets in your trousers but frustratingly let the rain in if your coat was a bit short or the rain a bit heavy.
A National Trail through mid-Wales
Guidebook to walking Glyndwr's Way, a long-distance National Trail through mid-Wales. The 135 mile route from Knighton via Machynlleth to Welshpool takes 9 days to walk, and 2 days (29 miles) to complete the loop down the Offa's Dyke Path to create a circular trail. A lovely trail through quiet hills, forests and rolling countryside.More information
Armed with our Cicerone guidebook, we’d experienced all kinds of weather on our last few sections of the trail and had lots of laughs along the way. One of the most memorable days was christened ‘hurricane day’, which saw us walking on high hills between Cemaes Road and Llanbrynmair in 50mph winds and sideways rain.
Because we’d polished off some prosecco earlier in the walk we’d significantly added to the challenge of staying upright. We were very relieved to have a full change of clothes and hot coffee when we finished! I was glad we had decided to split that section and not attempted to walk 16 miles on such a stormy day.
In complete contrast, the two days we walked from Dylife to Machynlleth and on to Cemaes Road were gorgeously hot and still – about 26 degrees and sunny. Starting off in Dylife we were happy to enjoy beautiful moorland views and pretty lake views of Glaslyn.
After a bit of a faff involving some very unfriendly farm dogs and a subsequent re-route to rejoin Glyndwr’s Way further on, we had a lovely stroll over hill tops and down into Machynlleth at around 5pm.
A solid day with new blisters meant we were ready to eat and found an amazing deli with take away pizza, which we scoffed in a nearby church yard before finding our digs for the night.
We’d reserved cheap beds at the whimsical and ramshackle Toad Hall – I loved the name and the old boats strewn around the yard.
We sampled a couple of ciders and enjoyed watching the Saturday nightlife of the town before playing old board games we found at Toad Hall (which were hilarious) and collapsing into bed.
The next morning we were up early and hobbling on painful feet through a golf course, where the only visitors at that time of day were the sheep. More steep ups and downs had us sweating as we passed quirky villages and livestock fields.
We began to ration our water, and were again pleased that this section had been split – we had 9 miles to do. On one particularly fierce climb through a never ending sheep field with no shade and no breeze we stopped talking as we concentrated on not getting sunstroke.
We finally sat under a very small tree at the top to rest and officially declared it ‘climb of the day’ – an accolade given on each stretch of this hilly trail. A woman passed us who was doing the whole 16 miles between Machynlleth and Llanbrynmair that day.
As she was just ahead of us we used her as a guide and no longer had to use our sun melted brains for navigation. When we reached the car at Cemas Road we swiftly located a spot to take a wonderful cool river dip before the drive home.
On another two day section we tackled Bwylch Y Sarnau to Llanidloes and Llanidloes to Dylife. When we parked up at Bwlch village hall we noticed some hideous, wet, dirty walking boots that had been discarded in a barrel of foul water.
Moss growing around the tops of them, we were curious about who had left them there and why. We decided (ok, I decided) that as, confusingly, our final section of the hike would see us finishing in Bwlch, Haf should try on the boots in celebration of the end of our Glyndwr adventure!
We found our way to Llanidloes through fields and lanes and even found a very remote cider purveyor on the way. Unfortunately the number it said to call on the gate wasn’t answering so we missed out on a pint with a view.
We finally got our cider in Llanidloes at the delightfully named Whistling Badger just as it started to drizzle. We pitched our tents at Dol Llys Farm campsite, which was a friendly, sweet place and was busy with families as it was the summer holidays.
We slept well after a light dinner and stroll in the campsite by the river before dark.
The following day we left our camping things at the campsite again (with parking one car at each end of the two day section we’d been able to dump and collect the camping stuff on our way between each others cars like the lazy girls we are!) and climbed towards Llyn Clywedog.
We weaved alongside the lake for what felt like a very long time, passing bluebell glens, before leaving it behind and heading through numerous fields and part of the Hafren Forest.
After a detour due to a navigational mistake on my part which involved a steep climb (“oo, sorry, we have to go down again actually”) we passed a huge sheep farm as they were busy frantically shearing which was fascinating to watch.
Climbing high again at the end of the day we were rewarded with stunning views above Dylife before limping back down to the car and heading home, happily exhausted.
On another brief afternoon walk we managed to complete a very short gap between Pont Llogel and Dolanog. It was extremely wet and we were glad to only have 4 miles or so between us and a roast dinner at Haf’s parents house.
That left us with the final stretch between Llanbadarn Fynydd and Bwlch Y Sarnau. I had a very short window of several days between a several week trip to Scotland and one to Spain to squeeze this in but we made it work!
I unwisely imbibed too much wine at my dad's the previous evening but was fine after a fizzy drink and a banana. We started off in blustery wind and sunshine over moorland as we caught up and chatted about Scotland. We had lots of rest stops to enjoy our final stretch and the rain started an hour or so before we reached Bwlch.
After some lovely adventures in deepest Wales we’d finally reached the end of Glyndwr’s Way. We whooped and cackled with laughter one last time as Haf put the disgusting boots from the barrel on in the pouring rain like the trooper that she is- “They fit!” she declared triumphantly.
We slowly made our way back through flooded roads to collect my car from Llanbadarn before heading to Haf’s caravan in the woods to celebrate with her parents and our dear friend (and Haf’s cousin!) Chloe.
We were crowned ‘Glyndwr heroes’ over dinner cooked on the fire and held the ‘Glyndwr Awards’- with prizes such as the ‘where the hell are we?’ award which was given to the most remote stretch.
I feel like I have a new appreciation for mid Wales and for my friendship with the tenacious Haf Pugh- we had the best time walking this beautiful trail.
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