Day 2’s 10.6km route with 333 metres of ascent and 426 metres of descent. Top right one can see the experimental short ascent I made to see how my heels would cope. (Click for full sized image)
Day 2 was decision day. Do I proceed with the walk and head further into the wilderness or do I turn around and head back?
The heel injuries picked up the previous day from the new boots had really upset what was supposed to have been a relatively easy walk.
If I choose to proceed with the walk, I would be doing around 20km, most of which would be cross country over some pretty rugged terrain. I wasn’t sure whether my heels would be up to such a journey. What’s worse is that it could potentially result in them deteriorating further whilst also placing me deeper into the wilderness.
On the other hand, if I headed back the way I came, I would still have to walk at least 10km. But at least this would mainly be on tracks, with each step taking me closer to the railway station.
Heading back would also have the advantage that I didn’t have to worry about timing. 10km over a whole day is easily achievable – even with injuries.
The elevation profile for day 2.
The day was a glorious one, with hot sunshine and little in the way of winds. In many respects I couldn’t have hoped for better weather.
Anyways, enough of the preamble. Read on for the virtual walk for Day 2…
The view from the tent on the morning of day 2.
First things first… Breakfast! It should be noted that putting the boots on this morning was extremely painful
After breakfast I go through my well practiced decamping routine. As usual I leave the spot in a pristine condition – no one will ever know that I have camped here!
Although my heels were very painful, I decided to do a test climb up the hill to see how they would cope. It seems that any kind of ascent really aggravated them. Nevertheless I’m kind of hoping they would numb out a little to make the rest of the walk a possibility.
After a slow and painful ascent, I sit on this boulder to ponder whether or not I should proceed with the rest of the walk.
The view from the boulder is actually pretty good!
After much pondering I decide to turn back. I knew that most of today’s walk would be off trail with many steep ascents, some requiring climbing. Right now I was around 12km from a railway station, to commit further to the walk would have placed me much further away from help. In addition, I feared that the rougher terrain would exacerbate the heel situation. It was a tough decision, especially as I had no one around to discuss it with. I never like cancelling or curtailing a walk, but sometimes it is the right thing to do.
The descent seems to reduce the pain in the heels somewhat. I’m guessing this is because the foot’s weight is primarily bearing down on the front of the boot.
To my left on the hilltops I notice that the walls have significant holes in them. It looks like a ridge walk may well be a possibility here. During planning I had shied away from that ridge for fear that there would be no way across the hill’s extensive man made boundaries.
I soon get to the bottom of the hill and proceed broadly Westward toward the sea. Up ahead beyond the low ridge line should be the Llyn Irddyn tarn.
As soon as I clear that ridge line the tarn turns up just as expected!
Most of the walk back to the coast is downhill on a well made track. I feel robbed that the walk got cut short with such good weather and scenery.
I spot this beetle on my travels. Not sure what species it is – answers on a post card!
Wall boundaries like these make it exceedingly easy to work out one’s precise position on the trail, which helps with monitoring progress.
One of the many streams that I had to cross. I used this particular one to top up the Travel Tap water bottle. Copious green healthy vegetation like this is a sure sign that the water is clean!
Up ahead the sea becomes visible. I know I will soon be at the point where I will need to hang a left and start my first real ascent of the day.
To my right is the distinctive hill called Moelfre. It’s amazing how a little sun can make the scenery seem so much more inviting.
I take one last look behind me as I leave the hills behind.
The track’s descent gets steeper. I will soon be at the junction.
The obligatory ‘I-was-really-there’ shot 🙂
The junction soon pops into view. This marks the end of the initial descent.
The route I’m taking is called the Ardudwy Way! Not sure I can pronounce it!
The ascent has started. The pain in my heels has now gone up several notches. What’s worse is that it’s not a continuous pain that can be tuned out. I find myself shouting random expletives on particularly painful foot-falls.
This is a look behind me back to the sign. Even this short stint required a concerted effort. In many ways this has validated my decision to cut the walk short.
At least I have some decent scenery to try and take my mind off things!
It’s amazing how the state off one’s feet can have such a profound impact on a walk. This part should have been an easy stroll, but instead it was a painful and slow trek.
A look behind me shows that I have regained a fair bit of elevation, despite my difficulties.
The trail starts to flatten out much to my heel’s relief!
To my right are superb views over Cardigan Bay. This is a very scenic part of Wales and one that I’m surprised had taken me so long to visit!
Up ahead I can see the Bwlch Rhiwgr pass in the hills. This track will take me right up there before turning South.
The pass beckons. Although still painful, my heels have kind of numbed themselves out – it’s only the occasional foot fall that produces a shooting pain. I wonder how much of this is psychological? After all I only have two large blisters…
I’m now on the final ascent to the track at the pass. This part of the walk was particularly difficult. I consoled myself in that today’s walk was very short with no time pressures whatsoever. As such, I could take my time. Every foot placement was effectively put in the bank!
Behind me is a great view onto the coast. Here we are looking directly at a local airfield – though you will have to peer carefully through the haze to see it. I only spotted it when I saw a plane flying rather too low to the ground, until I noticed it was actually landing!
There’s the pass and my turn off to the right. I can’t wait to get up there so as to alleviate the pressure on my heels.
Having reached the pass, I now turn toward the coast. This part thankfully has a slight descent.
The boulder field I find myself in requires careful foot placement. Occasionally I get it wrong and end up involuntarily shouting out loud expletives. Thankfully there was no one around to hear them. There are many large quartz boulders here, like the one in the picture.
Once out of the bolder field the rest of the walk West is rather pleasant. I know that once I clear the wall up ahead I will need to contour around Southwards and start ascending again.
Here I am now starting to contour around the hill Southwards. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the track which should be somewhere below me to the right.
This is the view behind me to the coast. Given that there are no real time constraints on today’s walk, I spend some time practicing getting navigational fixes from the compass. I’m particularly interested in the wall shapes and how they differ from the ones on the map.
As I head Southward I start coming across these fenced off areas delineating the boundaries of old Mine subsidence.
When I peer into these areas they don’t look too dangerous, but the sign on the barbed wire clearly shows a falling man and the danger of serious injury.
I’m now on a shallow ascent Southward. Water is starting to get a little low, but I know that I’m around 1km away from a water source, so there are no worries.
As I’m hiking I keep hearing an occasional loud and rather odd sound. At first I think it’s wildlife until I look upwards…
At this point I’m boundary counting so as to obtain my precise position on the map. Above me, the glider pilot seems to be following, so I stop to wave!
Although the ascent is painful, this part is very idyllic. I take my time and savour the moment!
The original plan for today was around 20km further into the wilds. Instead I find myself doing a short 10km extraction stint. As such I have plenty of time to play with. I decide to stop off here for an hour to enjoy the scenery and watch the world go by.
Behind me, one can see that the Moelfre hill has now receded into the distance. I can remember the feeling of pure bliss I had simply by lying down on the grass on such a warm day with superb views.
In the distance I can see three gliders riding the thermals. I wish I was up there with them!
After around an hour, I decide it’s time to finish off today’s short journey. I know I’m around 2km away from the planned end point, so there are no pressures whatsoever.
These ladders prove to be a problem for my heels. Unfortunately there are many of them to gingerly traverse.
After going over the wall, it’s a case of following the hill Southward until I see another wall. There should be a stream in the field bounded by that wall. I decided that I would make this a stop off point for a late lunch.
I soon come across the corner of the wall. The map shows the entrance to the field in the wrong place, but this isn’t an issue with today’s superb visibility.
Here’s the entrance to the field! It’s on the West wall not the North wall…. cough…cough…..Ordnance Survey….
I’m in the field headed Southward on a descent that should take me to the last water source before camp.
I now have eyes on the stream!
There it is! Time to take off the rucksack and get the bottles filled.
Although I’m only stopping off for a lunch break, I fill up all three bottles as this is the last water source before my planned camp spot.
On with the lunch! The JetBoil Sol is exceedingly efficient at boiling water. It’s also extremely light and takes up very little space in the rucksack. Highly recommended!
Lunch consists of a mulligatawny soup accompanied by cheese oatcakes and cheese spread. Absolutely delicious!
After lunch I climb over the wall and head Southward towards these old mine workings. I know I need to cross them to intercept a wall to the West.
I soon get eyes on the wall. It’s now a case of hand-railing it until I get to the ladder crossing it. The extra 3kg from the extra water that I’m carrying is definitely making itself felt!
The view directly ahead toward Barmouth in the South.
The superb view behind me over Cardigan Bay.
There’s my route across the wall. In addition I can see the planned camp spot at the edge of the hill by the sheepfold in the distance.
I spot a grassy area to the left of the sheep fold up ahead. The rocks are giving me some concern over the depth of the soil. Would there be enough to make camp here?
As it turns out, soil depth is not an issue provided I use shallow peg angles. This is the superb view out of the Akto tent.
The view Southward from the tent. In terms of views, I had picked the perfect spot. In addition, I knew I was around 1.5km away from the railway station which would all be downhill too! A bonus!
The view over the Akto Tent Northwards over the bay.
The view down the hill from the tent. Somewhere below by the sea is the railway station for tomorrow’s departure.
Another view of the Akto Tent!
I scout around to see if I can eyeball the ladder exiting this field for tomorrows walk. Better to place it now whilst I have assured visibility.
I get back to the tent and gingerly take off my boots. Even with plasters, both blisters had become much worse. I hate to think what state they would have been in had I elected for the full 20km cross country walk further into the wilderness. (You might want to skip the next two pictures 🙂 )
An inspection of the left foot shows that the blisters have got a lot redder and a little deeper…
It looks like the right foot has faired little better. I can even see where the sock has imprinted its pattern. Although these are only blisters, they were exceedingly painful and made today’s walk a lot harder than it should have been.
Boots are off and feet re-plastered. I lie back and enjoy the peace and tranquillity.
Eventually it’s time for supper. Tonight as is traditional for my walks the last meal is always a curry. Here it is prior to reconstitution.
After 10 minutes with boiling water I have one excellent curry. I had bought these Mountain House large meals a long time ago. Alas, they are not made any more – at least in Europe. Any future meals will be much smaller. I will probably take this opportunity to try out other vendors.
My figure casts a long shadow as the sun starts to sink in the West. The moon has also put in an appearance!
I love the yellow-orange colour tones of the scenery during sunset – it really lends a different character to the view.
To the North the bay starts to take on an yellow-orange haze too!
It’s not often that I have the tent orientated Westward toward sunset. But when I do, the views are superb!
Down below, various lights are starting to come on in the various small towns and villages below.
A beautiful sunset!
The sun soon starts to dip below the horizon. The end of the day is nigh!
With the sun gone, it’s time to turn in for a spot of reading and an early night as I need to get to the train station relatively early tomorrow.
The camp spot with a view at the end of day 2. The red circle, bottom left, is the railway station that I need to hike to the following morning – one of my shortest station hikes ever! (Click for larger version)
That’s it for day 2! Although I was initially uncertain about my decision to abort, the walking on this day pretty much confirmed that it was the right thing to do.
I always leave the last day as a spare day to take up journey slack, but I have never been in a position where I’m camped so close to the railway station. This should make tomorrow morning’s walk a breeze!
Tune in for the next instalment for the short walk to the station.