At last, all the elements came together and when Rufus woke me up at 5.30 this morning, we got ready to head off to the hills. The weather forecast said mist but crucially, not rain. So with snacks, water, extra layers, map and compass packed, we set off for the old Trecastle road and our first proper mountain of 2013.
Leaving the car, the mist was down and visibility was probably no more than 50 yards. But we’ve done this walk in worse conditions and so I wasn’t worried. Rufus was happy – he’d be fine in any conditions – and so we set off along the riverside. No stopping for stones this morning. The goal was to get to Llyn y Fan Fawr and see what the morning was like before climbing Fan Brecheiniog. My only concern was that I hadn’t let Rufus get enough exercise over the last couple of weeks and that he might over do things. He tends to run everywhere and probably covers twice the distance I do on any given walk. As this one included several hundred metres of ascent, I wanted to be sure he’d be okay.
Of course I needn’t have worried. He out walked me on the slog up to Llyn y Fan Fawr, he chased stones, dredged them up from the lake bed and leapt after them when I threw them for him to catch. If I hadn’t been carrying the snacks and treats, I think he would have gone off and walked the circumference of the lake while waiting for me to have a breather!
Fan Brecheiniog wasn’t visible in the mist. Neither was the start of the steep path up its side or the far end of the lake. But we set off anyway. It felt great to be back on a proper mountain again. Fan Nedd was good, but the climb is only a few minutes and at the top you can see all the bigger mountains of the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountain, all tempting you to go there instead.
Half way up the initial climb, the wind started blowing and it got steadily stronger and colder. Although the mist wasn’t wetting, it condensed on the left lens of my glasses and made the visibility even worse. But before too long, we were over the worst of the climb and into the bwlch. The wind was stronger, but the slope was more gentle.
It’s a short, flat walk to the second climb and although that one is steep, it is short. In less than 10 minutes we were on the ridge above the lake, walking on flat stones that carry the remnants of what look like metal railing embedded into them. I’ve always wondered where they come from. Then, out of the mist loomed the little shelter and beyond that, the trig point. As Rufus hasn’t been near a steep drop recently, I put him on the lead for a bit until we could walk away from the edge. The wind was behind me now and with clear glasses, I could see the path ahead. In no time, we were at the cairn of stones at the far end of the ridge, at Fan Foel.
It was too cold to stay long at the cairn. I set the camera to take a photo on self timer and Rufus obliged by standing near me. Then we decided to head back down to the water. In the past when we’ve been in mist, Rufus has wandered off as we descend, disappearing for several minutes in search of some elusive scent. It scares me and I worry so I’ve taken to keeping him on the lead for the little section leading down to the first steep descent. Once past that, he was off to do his own thing – he tends to run around, then stop and watch me as I slowly make my way down the crumbling rock, always conscious of my 48 year old knees.
At the lake we took a break to allow my knees to stop burning and to allow Rufus to expend more energy. Stones were thrown, caught and dredged once more before we set off down to the river and the car. Of course, the mist chose this moment to start to lift and before long we were under blue sky, The sun still hid behind cloud, and the mountain was shrouded in mist but it was more pleasant walking. I like to see where I’m going.
At the car, I dried Rufus’ paws off and he jumped into the car. He was flat out on the back seat before I’d started the engine. I think he enjoyed. I certainly did.