Long Walk Holiday 30 Oct 2023 – 3 Nov 2023

After a successful holiday in 2022, the group returned to the HF Dolserau Hall Hotel near Dolgellau and took all the rooms.

The holiday comprised 5 days of walking, with a short walk on arrival day and another on the way home. On days 2-4 there was a choice of walk each day.

Day 1 – Torrent Walk (Becks and Millingtons)

 This walk started at the hotel, and included forestry, waterfalls, and open fields. The river is the Clywedog, which flows through a beautiful rocky gorge. Walkers were aware of RAF fighter planes exercising in the area, but they tend to come over when the trees prevent a good view of them. The walk up one side of the Clywedog and down the other generated an appetite for the cakes that appeared in the hotel bar at 4pm.

The evening entertainment saw the walkers take turns to hurl almost spherical wooden balls at wooden skittles with varying degrees of skill. Christine Dennel, fortified by a rare glass of cider was declared the winner.

Day 2 – Long walk – Mary Jones Heritage Walk (Simon Wisbey)

Mary Jones famously walked from her house near Cadair Idris to Bala to buy a bible in Welsh. She walked barefoot but carried her clogs. The state of the roads at the time – early 19th century – is not recorded but was probably largely mud. There is an exhibition in the chapel near the start of the walk.

The walk was hyped beforehand as finding walkers bogged down in marshes and requiring people to be hurled across rivers. There was certainly plenty of marshy ground to cover and streams that required wading through but no hurling. One hazard that the walkers were not prepared for was the field containing cows, calves and a solitary bull. By keeping well away from the livestock, the group crossed the field safely without any unseemly panic.

After skirting a flank of Cadair Idris, the group took lunch on a sunny hillside high above Tal-y-llynn Lake. Then the long descent went through a recently logged forest. As the group neared the car park, Kath and Dave decided to put on a show of acrobatic falling down the slope. First Kath slipped on her bottom, but Dave thought he could do better. First his feet went from under him, then he rolled over banging his spectacles to give him a noticeable black eye and started sliding on his back towards a fast-moving stream. Desperate fingertip work and the braking effect of his rucksack kept him out of the water, but it was a lively time.

Short Walk – Blackwater Falls (Minshulls)

The walk took in the picturesque Ganllwyd stream up to the Blackwater Falls. The route then covered forest paths and open countryside, crossing the valley and the Afon Mawddach back to the car park.

After dinner Kevin read out the general knowledge questions devised by Julie Clarke and handed out Julie’s picture round (appropriately for Wales they were all people with the surname Jones) and her round of cryptic retail chains. Kevin also added a fiendish round that required musical instruments to be fitted into a story. He finished off by failing to add up the scores correctly, so that a perfectly inoffensive team was excluded from the tie-breaker for second place. This is what happens when you rely on the elderly.

 Day 3 – Crennegen Lakes Walks

Both walks centred round Llynau Cregennen. The short and long groups, coming from different directions, met by the lakes but failed to synchronize lunch. Given the small number of seats available that was lucky.


Long walk: 7.5 miles (Becks and Millingtons)

The walk headed gently upwards to start, and then more steeply for a short way through woods. A ruined chapel with a graveyard still being used provided the location for a coffee stop.

From there the walkers battled against the strong wind and occasional rain along an undulating valley to reach the lakes. There were views over Barmouth and seats overlooking the lakes. Fortunately, the rain stopped for lunch. After lunch the return along the valley mostly used the narrow lane back to the car park. The short group in their cars passed the long walkers striding out along the tarmac.

Short walk: (Stephen Davies)

This was a highish-level 4 mile walk with extensive views, starting from the high-level car park.

The route circumnavigated the two lakes, descending part way into the valley before climbing back to the car park.

After dinner Simon and Lynda coached the walkers in a line dance entitled “Cowboy Shuffle” and Richard Luther recorded the resulting mess on his camera. Richard planned to show the video on the screen in the bar, but technical problems prevented the screening.

Day 4 – 2nd November 2023

Long walk (Keith Saywell)

Keith called off the planned walk to Dolgoch Falls in case storm Cieran caused problems. He replaced it with a walk from the hotel up the Torrent Walk and then higher up to a feature marked on the OS map as “Y Foel”. This is a lump of rock on top of a hill, so the group duly walked up it, took pictures and came down again. The return route passed the site of a Roman fortlet at Brithdir, which is a raised mound with no visible evidence of its Roman construction. After lunching on a small mound in a field near the sewage works, the group returned to the hotel through a soggy forest. Storm Cieran did not cause any problems for this walk.

Short walk: (Stephen Davies)

Panorama Walk, Barmouth

This was another highish-level walk starting from a high-level car park. The first section of the walk led through woodland to the Panorama viewpoint across the Mawddach Estuary.

On return from the viewpoint the walkers passed the cars, with a steady climb up the lane before striking uphill to the radio mast, the highest point of the route. After a downhill section across the moorland towards the coast, the group turned uphill back to the cars.

After dinner the traditional last night singing session filled the hotel with noise with Christine on the keyboard and Keith Haines on the guitar. The singers enjoyed the experience and Gareth, the hotel manager, smiled benevolently. He is a professional.

Day 5 – 3rd November 2023

The final day, and on the way home, one last walk for the willing.

 Bala Lake (Minshulls)

The 5 mile walk took the group along the dyke to the far side of the lake, crossing the river Dee at its exit from the lake. The route ascended along forest trails and crossed a heath before descending through tracks and paths, along part of the Cross Britain Way.  Back down at lakeside level the route crossed the bridge over the Bala Lake light railway before returning across the dyke and on to the car park. The surrounding hills were washed by the rain which eventually struck the walkers as well. An appropriate farewell to Wales.

© Sandbach U3A 2024