John Dexter Jones

Cylch, Yr Arddu

John Dexter JonesSet out in the rain. Set out in the knowledge that it will be relentless. One o’clock. There are three hours of daylight. The path by the stream that leads up to the lake before Bwlch y Battel should be longer. It is over too soon. There is so much water and roaring and hissing and buffeting. The wind is funnelled at my back until at the unnamed lake it stops. Disappears. Gone. The clouds hang on the surface. Sinister rippling and waving reeds, and then it’s back, scouring the sides of Cerrig y Myllt and Cnicht. It drops on the lee side of the pass. I can hear the rushing everywhere, descending from Bwlch y Battel. Even the wind and the pellet-rain on my bucket-hat cannot compete with the noise of the water. The ground is emptying as quickly as the skies and the invisible lakes can fill it. I’m drenched.

The stream coming to meet me from Llyn y Biswail is thundering forth, a thundering froth. The path from here to Gelli Iago is glorious. In summer, an innocent explorer in trainers and t-shirt might wonder at the line of stepping stones in the middle of the cracked earth, but they are there to serve today’s purpose. The old farm, a mountain centre now, is deserted. Evocative – stunning in fact, in its winter desolation. I know it’s time to turn into the wind, so I enlist a coat for a battle that will, of course, be lost. The lane at Blaen Nanmor appears to bubble as its sheet of surface water meets the resistance of wind-blown debris from the trees above. Stung-faced, I head into the woods onto the river path but abandon it at the first opportunity and rejoin the lane. I guess correctly that my intended route (a re-crossing at the ford) won’t be viable. It isn’t. What ford?

John Dexter JonesThe last leg. The shortcut towards Carreg Bengam begins well. Gradient. Trees. But whilst the rain has a breather, the appearance of ‘butter-wouldn’t-usually-melt-in-its-mouth’ flat land, demands an adjustment in the level of effort. Between the base of the cliffs that flank the western defences of the dolerite intrusion known as Yr Arddu, and the ancient track back to Croesor, there is a hummocky, tussocky bogfull of water. Over the boots it goes. It’s now impossible to pick a dry way. The wind whips up again. And again, the rain.

There are forty five minutes of daylight left, and fifteen minutes to splash and slosh and slip and slide and slither and slog my way to Croesor. My left calf is reminding me it’s not happy about this. Rehydrate. Ha! A long drink of water. Water. Everywhere. No humans today. Six and a half miles. No let-up, no glorious views, no comfort, no shelter, no stopping, no wildlife.

John Dexter JonesNo worries, no fear.

Set out in the rain. You may see nothing, and see so much.