Weather the whether

Snuffle, snuffle, low grunt. Bark.

Time to get up, then, and after a brief garden run and breakfast, off we went to the hills. Fan Llia this time, for a slightly longer walk in the clouds. Sure enough, as we left the car park, the grey mist was descending to hide the tops of the hills and after the recent deluge, the ground was like a sponge underfoot. Within five minutes, my boots were soaked through despite their proofing, and a few minutes after that, my feet were soaking.

This route has a particularly awkward stile right at the start and I always try and get to it before Rufus to give him a helping hand over it. I was over first and Rufus took a run but slipped on the wet wood. In slow motion, he slipped backwards but landed on his feet and with little encouragement from me, he had another go. This time I caught him as he got to the top of the stile and I managed to bring him over.

From then on, it was relatively easy going. We splashed and slipped along the vague path and soon found ourselves in the clouds. The rock cairn loomed and Rufus, as usual, beat me to it. After a few minutes rest and some snacks, we carried on along the ridge. The wind was gusting strongly and before long, the rain started. Fortunately, it was being blown from my back and so the backpack took the brunt. Every so often, the clouds would lift and we’d catch a glimpse of some landmark in the distance. The Ystradfellte reservoir popped into view and then disappeared again, the road along the Llia valley flashed through the mist.

Soon we were making good progress with the wind at our backs. In the distance, we spotted a pair of walkers coming towards us. They were jogging and clearly part of some race. Not long afterwards, we spotted several more pairs, most of whom were consulting maps and heading across our path. None seemed dressed for the weather.

We walked the length of the ridge, over Fan Dringarth and on to Cefn Perfedd. I wanted to do 10km and three hours so once we’d reached the empty sheep pens, it was time to turn around.

But now we were walking into the wind and the going was tougher. Rufus is quite aerodynamic and with his ears blowing back in the wind, he was fine. I felt every gust and, shortly after, every drop of rain that was blown in my face. The slog back to the cairn on Fan Llia was long and hard and there were no great vistas to make the experience worthwhile, I was reduced to convincing myself I’d benefit from this on the trek.  We passed more runners, all heading down towards the road and eventually the cairn came inot view. ASfter a brief stop, we set off for the car.

Heading down the side of Fan Llia, I found out how slippery the water had made things. It was running down over the grass in sheets, which made it almost like walking on ice. I was reduced to walking in the bed of a small stream, where the stones gave me some purchase. Nevertheless, I slipped and slid down to the marshy ground and the stile. Rufus, with four paw drive, had no such troubles. He cleared the stile in two bounds and waited while I struggled across.

We walked into the car park, where an errant sheep jumped out in front of Rufus. It actually brushed past him and while he went to chase it (instinct takes over whenever anything runs away from Rufus – me, the cats he shares the house with) One call from me stopped him in his tracks. I was so pleased with him as he doesn’t really have any control over that instinct. As a reward (and in addition to the treats he got) we went down to the river where Rufus washed his paws in the fast flowing water. I was cautious as the river was in full spate so I didn’t throw stones for him to chase but no sooner had I turned my back to take a photo than Rufus had managed to get himself on to a little island in the middle of the river. Marvelling at his swimming skills, I was disappointed to watch as he skirted the deep, fast flowing parts and found a shallow bit to tip toe across to get back to the bank!

Back at home, there was much snoring and sofa surfing.

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