31 Oct 2022
The drive to Dolserau Hall hotel near Dolgellau takes just over 2 hours from Sandbach. This was just enough time to work up an appetite for the lunch the walkers took with them. They comprised mainly members of the long walking group who were supplemented by spouse, partners and a few survivors from the intermediate walking group. The weather allowed the walkers to take lunch on the picnic tables by the car park before 30 of them set off for the Torrent Walk along a gorge on the nearby river Clywedog. The gorge is home to a wealth of wildlife, including otters, dormice, lesser horseshoe bats. Not only that, but in olden times, the banks of the river were bursting with industrial activity. There was a mill, smithy, woollen mill and an iron furnace. The walkers saw nothing of these interesting sights but under the forest canopy they saw glimpses of the military aircraft which flew low and noisily above.
At the furthest point of the walk away from the hotel, there was a choice; go straight back through the forest path on the other side of the river or visit the redundant church of St Mark’s in Brithdir. It was consecrated in 1898 and is now designated as a Grade I listed building. It is under the care of the Friends of Friendless Churches. It is considered to be one of the finest Arts and Crafts churches in Wales despite having no friends!
Most of the walkers chose to visit the church and found the vegetation overtaking the graves at a great rate. When all the walkers returned to the hotel the rooms were available and a sumptuous afternoon tea had been served. This was cake-lovers’ heaven. There was no messing about with dainty crustless cucumber sandwiches. It was all cake; there were scones with jam and cream, mince pies, Welsh cakes, bara brith and Eccles cakes. There was enough for second helpings and guests were encouraged to take some to their rooms for a midnight snack. Thus, a week of overeating began.
After dinner, Linda and Kath organised a skittles competition, where the contestants displayed varying levels of skill until a winner emerged. Well done Dave!
1 Nov 2022
On the first full day of the holiday the group split into a long group and a short group. They all became very wet. The long walk started in sunshine with views of the US warplanes practising their attacks but deteriorated into continuous rain as the walkers tramped over hillside and forest paths. It was one of the wettest walks in long walking history. Fortunately, the hotel boot room was ready to accommodate the dripping equipment and clothing.
The evening entertainment comprised a quiz. Kevin was the question master using general knowledge questions and a picture round from Julie Clarke with a round on parts of the body that he had acquired. The teams were expected to answer the general knowledge questions at the same as completing the picture round and the parts of the body questions. Doing the rounds together saves time and increases the level of jollity. There was joy as teams, that came up with new parts of the body as answers, were allowed them in some case, but controversy when the question master ruled that “tissue” is not a part of the body. You have to draw the line somewhere.
2 Nov 2022
The weather forecast for Wednesday was high winds and heavy rain. The scheduled long walk was called the Precipice Walk, and the threat of being blown off in rainy gust struck terror in the hearts of some walkers. In the event, nobody was blown off the edge or even to the ground and the rain was nowhere near as heavy as the day before. The long walk did a figure of eight in which the second loop was the short walk. The rain intensified as the long walkers finished their loop and they decided to eat their lunch back in the hotel.
Stephen gave a talk on Welsh geology but some of the party missed and demanded that Stephen repeat it on Thursday.
Stephen provided the evening entertainment with his talk about walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Nobody present indicated that they would follow Stephen’s lead; it didn’t look easy.
3 Nov 2022
Sunshine arrived on Thursday as the background for the long walk entitled New Precipice Walk. The high point of the walk uses a tramway that was built to service the Voel gold mine and this is where the walkers sat for lunch in the sunshine overlooking Dolgellau, the Mawddach Estuary and the sea.
After lunch the party walked down to the river, which they crossed over the toll bridge to the George III pub. As they approached the river the short walk party appeared on the other bank for a dramatic reunion in the pub.
For the final evening the musicians in the party performed on their instruments and led the lusty sing of traditional favourites.
4 Nov 2022
The weather allowed an outdoor shot of all the walkers in front of the hotel before they set off for home or the final walk to Blackwater Falls.