Glyndŵr’s Way Day 3: Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

Published 30 April 2013

Cool sign for a farm

Glyndŵr’s Way

Stage: 3 of 9

Distance: 15 miles, 24 km

Walked on: 25 April 2011

By the third day we’d come to terms with the fact that the devisers of the Glyndŵr’s Way liked starting each day with a good, steep climb up any available hill in the area. But coming to terms with it didn’t actually make it any easier as we struggled up the forested hill that surround the village of Abbeycwmhir.

It was a short, sharp shock though, and within minutes we’d reached a crossroads. Left for a forest track into a deep section of dark conifers; right climb up to the top of Y Glog, a small hill studded with tiny trees, dry earth and wild flowers; or straight on and down for the Glyndŵr’s Way and a lane of the finest tarmacadam.

Ah tarmac, how I love walking on thee. And I was about to enjoy an extra dose of the stuff as a rather permanent looking “temporary diversion” pointed us off down the narrow road in the opposite direction to the official route.

The diversion would also mean we’d miss out on a treat that our guidebook had spent ages describing the virtues of with great gusto. Sadly though, a stream where water appears to flow uphill simply wouldn’t be seen by us but in consolation we were treated to the sights of a tractor and a Volvo Estate driving down the road, which certainly made up for it.

The diversion was only a single kilometre of road walking, but I couldn’t help but notice that when we did finally return to the main path, we did so by climbing another steep hill.


The tree lined path beyond Bwlch-y-sarnau

The tiny village of Bwlch-y-sarnau was in complete slumber as we passed through it along a route that led us to another plantation owned by the Forestry Commission. The trees were all relatively young and sparsely spread out; it would be some years before the route would be going through a patch of dark, dense woodland.

Another paved road led us briefly into the open before travelling along the edge of an older part of the plantation. Pounding the road proved as tiring on the feet as ever, but eventually the highway turned off in another direction leaving us to meander along a far nicer earth track lined by large trees which towered over us. Soon the trees ended once more, leaving us to wander in a landscape of farmland and gloriously wide, panoramic views.

We ate launch on the side of a steep hill, soaking in the views as we munched enthusiastically on our egg sandwiches before heading onwards once more on a meandering farm track and through fields and fields of green grass.

Wind farm on Dethenydd

The path zig-zagged around in a vaguely infuriating manor as the huge turbines of a wind farm spun on the hill above us. Under their watchful gaze the track plunged steeply downhill, heading towards a stream. After going along its banks for a short way, a waymark directed us back up hill once more, initially through a field so steep that even the sheep that grazed it seemed to be battling to stay upright. As a lamb ran to its mother, I half expected it to stumble and end up rolling down the hill in a big ball of wool.

“You know what I’m going to have tonight?” I panted.

“What?” Catherine gasped in reply.

“A pint.”

“Hmm. Yeah. Me too.”

“I think we deserve it.”

The more immediate reward was when we finally got to a state that was just a bit more horizontal, was a fine view of valleys and fells ahead of us; a sweeping panoramic of epic proportions. The people who had created the trail had clearly decided this was the finest view in the area, and that the walk had to visit it, and it was hard to argue with their decision even if it was exhausting to get to.

Moelfre

Having gone up a steep hill, naturally we had to go down one again, with the trail taking a curiously indirect route along field edges, including along a rather grim hillside ridge full of feeding troughs and mud which I half expected to be full of dead lambs. Agricultural litter was strewn everywhere and as we approached the isolated house at Moelfre we encountered what was clearly another of the Glyndŵr’s Way’s specialities; a set of gates locked up tight. With no way round them, there was little option but to try to climb over whilst avoiding falling in the mud on the other side. There’d been at least one such locked gate every day so far which was especially annoying given how much money had clearly been spent on the trail.

All around the signs of the local council’s investment on the trail were highly visible. Good quality gates, decent waymarking and well made paths. Yet far too often someone had come along and shoved a great big padlock on the gates, as if some local landowner just didn’t want walkers on their land, and as such, were determined to make life for those that dared to try, as difficult as possible. Later on our trip we heard about one chicken farmer who’d caused such a stink about a suggestion that the Glyndŵr’s Way would cross his land on an existing right of way, that the ensuing battle had resulted in the trail being routed along a busy country lane instead. The B&B owner who told us this, a former farmer himself, went on to tell us that most farmers just saw walkers as a nuisance rather than thinking about how they (or the local area) could potentially benefit from the tourist pound; that they’d rather try to block the routes than think about how they could make money by offering farmhouse accommodation or perhaps a walkers tea shop. More fool them, I thought.


Llanidloes Market Hall

More fields followed and after watching a sheep take a run up and enthusiastically leap successfully over a wire fence, we lay on some soft grass basking in the April sun. With an hour or so of walking still to do, there was just one last obstacle to tackle. After another stint of road walking, we were sent into a second wooded glade, plunging steeply down once more before another climb up to join – oh joy – another section of Wales’s finest tarmac which would lead us to the town of Llanidloes.

It was Bank Holiday Monday and the shops were shut and the streets deserted as we made our way along a road lined with grand buildings, towards the town’s black and white Market Hall; a half-timbered delight of a building which sat on large wooden stilts, allowing people to walk beneath it.

At one end stood a small, worn stone with a plaque rather clumsily attached to it. The plaque noted to those who read it, that the preacher and co-founder of Methodism John Wesley had preached in the town several times, standing on the stone to do it.

More important than the stone was the Red Lion pub, round the corner. It was one of many, many pubs in the town but was noticeably important as it was the one we were staying in.

The Pulpit Stone


Nice as Llanidloes was, it didn’t really have “thriving metropolis” written all over it and we approached the town’s Indian restaurant with some trepidation. Normally you wouldn’t expect to get a decent curry in a small town in a rural location; no decent chef would generally decide to open up in such a place when they could make a killing in a city.

That said, the plight of the rural curry house seems to be changing. The year before we’d had a superb curry in rural Yorkshire and Llanidloes’s “Spice Club” turned out to be something special too. Based on the first floor of a building opposite the town hall, the restaurant looked large enough to accommodate the whole town but was mostly empty that Monday. Given the huge amounts of space and empty tables, it was rather strange that the staff lined up the few customers that were there all together along one wall.

The menu was full of sections marked “specials”, “recommendations” and more. If it wasn’t a “special”, it was a “chef’s special”. Several sections included the word “fusion” as well, and all were regularly used in a wide variety of combinations leading to the inevitable “chef’s special fusion recommendation”. Clearly you wouldn’t want anything from the “bog standard” section at the back, although as nothing that the chef recommended or thought special fitted in with Catherine’s vegetarian requirements, Catherine had to opt for a balti instead. Meanwhile I was like a child in a candy shop with absolutely no idea what to choose, and wanting to try everything to see if the chef’s skills met up to the expectations raised by his menu.

Judging by our fellow diners though, the imaginative menu wasn’t going particularly well with everyone. To my left, a woman lazily dunked chips into some curry sauce whilst her partner wolfed down two naan breads. And on my right, another customer ordered that well known Indian dish, “Vegetarian Lasagne with chips”. One can only hope some of Llanidloes’s other residents were a bit more appreciative of the gem of a restaurant on their doorstep as frankly my trout was absolutely superb. The pint of Worthingtons Bitter I had with it, rather less so.

Next time: Powys’s lead mining heritage, a giant reservoir and dam, a lost camera and a pub in the middle of nowhere.

Walking with the Last Prince: Following Owain on the Glyndwr’s Way

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Your Comments

Adam Cordingley

28 February 2016 at 10:23 pm

Great walking descriptions so far and looking forward to doing this in the future! Also have your Pennine Way book which is very good. Have to take you to task here though, there’s not much better than a pint of Worthies Creamflow! Amazing stuff 🙂

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