Oh so close to freedom.
Sometimes, just sometimes, the British weather gives way to something a little more exotic. With our seasons seemingly blending into one another year on year, the thought of clear skies, still air and unlimited visibility in the height of October isn’t as far-fetched as one may think.
Occasionally, I enjoy going on a walk that’s a little less demanding on the body; this gives you a chance to really enjoy the views and capture some pictures that have a little more thought behind them.
So, with the weather looking promising and Polly in tow, we set off for a lesser walked area of Wales.
Teetering on the edge of Snowdonia National Park, Maesglase is the highest of the Dyfi Hills, boasting dramatic cliffs and waterfalls when approached from Dinas Mawddwy. A handy car park in the middle of Dinas Mawddwy serves as a perfect base for the start of the route, using a forest track to avoid walking down the busy A-Road.
After a few kilometres of farm track, with views of the cliff edge occasionally teasing through the trees, you start to skirt around the flanks of Foel Dinas. Following the path straight towards the left-hand side of the cliffs, you’ll pass seemingly ancient mine tips and buildings.
There’s something amusing in how quickly nature will righteously take over these sorts of industrial buildings, something that is made evident by the huge tree breaking straight out of the old foreman’s building within the disused tips. In fact, if it weren’t for the complex stonework of the building, you’d struggle to see exactly where the spoil tips are!
The next part of the route is a little challenging. The path up and round the side of the cliff is steep. Calf burning, thigh throbbing, steep. Don’t let it put you off though, the path is easy to follow and spacious, working its way up and onto the back of the cliffs that cast the shadows down into the valley you approached from.
From here, you’ll follow the cliff line, taking in the outrageous views back into the valleys below. There’s lots of rocky outcrops, perfect for some real breath-taking pictures if your legs and will allows!
As you gently climb to the summit of Maen Du, take a moment to appreciate the views south. On a clear day, the Cambrian Mountain range extends for as far as the eye can see, with a clear trace of the coast all around. This summit is the highest point of the day, with the thick grass and soft ground proving perfect for a sit-down and a coffee.
The descent is pretty serious from here; you may be more tempted to roll down with the soft grass that surrounds you – be careful of your ankles and tread lightly. Keep the fence on your right-hand side and try not to give into the temptation to cross it to follow the spur into the valley – this is private land and leads back to a farmhouse below.
As you intercept the A road, you can either follow it back to Dinas Mawddwy, or cross over and take the back roads back, crossing streams and passing through forests to finish the day. If the current pandemic allows for it, there’s a pub primely placed in the centre of the village for an after hike pint and meal!
As I write this, the current lockdown is on the edge of being eased, and the world seems to be healing from the wounds that the pandemic has caused. Hopefully, as we start to return to our normal lives, we keep an appreciation for what the outdoors has to offer; from the views you can see here, to the fitness levels a hike every weekend can bring. There’s a lot we can gain from spending time outside, even on easier walks in lesser trodden places that routes like this provide.
Follow My Route
Remember to always carry the paper version of the map you’re using! I like to add a trace of my route and date it, providing a record of all the places I’ve been!