Glyndŵr’s Way Day 6: Machynlleth to Llanbrynmair

Published 9 May 2013

Rolling hills full of fields, green grass and hedges.

Glyndŵr’s Way

Stage: 6 of 9

Distance: 16 miles, 26½ km

Walked on: 28 April 2011

“The RSPB have proclaimed the re-introduction of the Red Kite to Britain to be an outstanding success,” Moira Stewart proclaimed on the radio as we munched our breakfasts.

It’s was hard to argue with the RSPB’s assessment. We’d seen more than a few of those graceful birds of prey gliding in the sky, and the day before had watched as a crow had fought a pitch battle against a kite with a series of swoops and dives as the crow fought to protect its young. The crow, naturally, won.

Throughout the walk we’d see lots of Red Kites, however it was the sheep that were the principal animals on the Glyndŵr’s Way. Being April there were lambs a plenty, leaping through the fields and gambling happily. We saw some more as we left Machllynleth, munching away on land that our maps and some signs proclaimed was actually a golf course.

Golf course outside Machynlleth

The first stretch of the day pottered along a road to the village of Forge and it felt slightly odd to be walking a section of a long distance walk that was also a bus route.

The morning’s walk had been surprisingly flat. Well until we arrived at the village of Penegoes anyway where the Glyndŵr’s Way reverted to type, and slowly but surely we were led up the hill of Bryn Wg where we did, at least, get to enjoy a fine view of the Dyfi Valley; Mach nestling off in the distance.

Fine views were without doubt the Glyndŵr’s Way’s speciality, and this day provided some of the finest presenting us with one stunning panoramic view after another; the trail delighting at showing off as much of the area as possible. And as if the view wasn’t good enough, the RAF were doing to their best to entertain as well. A series of fighter bombers and supply planes spent the morning swooping low over the valley.

It was a joy to behold. It’s always lovely to have some reward for the hard work of an upward slog. Can there be anything worse than a walk which sees you trudge up a steep hill, only to find yourself stuck in a forest with absolutely nothing to see? Well, yes. It could involve lots of mud and bog as well.

On the sides of Moel Eiddew

High up above a hill we sat and ate our lunch looking down on the nearby village of Glantwymym where cars thundered along the busy A470 road that weaved through the village.

The official route down through the village actually followed the A470 before turning off down another busy road, but the map showed a short cut which went through some fields and over the railway line, saving ourselves some road walking.

Having come down to the valley floor, we naturally had to head back up again, and a series of deserted paths, tracks and fields took us high up again until the bulking hill of Moel Eiddw was firmly in sight. With a height of 453m it towered over the relatively low level local scenery; the flat-topped summit providing a home to another of the wind farms that filled many of the Mid-Wales peaks.

Whilst some consider wind farms to be a eyesore, I’ve often found them to be a rather graceful addition to the landscape; their giant arms merrily turning around converting wind into something useful, and let’s be honest, they are far more attractive than the pylons and transmitters that often litter the landscape. Ultimately most of Britain’s countryside is influenced by man, from mighty viaducts to ramshackle barns covered in rusting corrugated iron. Having walked through fields covered with feed bags and farming debris, I knew I’d rather have the sight of a wind turbine whirring away any day.

Llanbrynmair down below

Our destination of Llanbrynmair began to appear, sat in the valley down below. It looked just so near, yet our descent down 300m proved to be rather slow and it seemed to take forever to get to the village below.

As with most parts of the Glyndŵr’s Way, the accommodation at Llanbrynmair was rather restricted in choice and we’d booked in to the Wynnstay Arms pub almost by default. It was closed and silent when we arrived, but a message on a small blackboard just inside the front door told us to head upstairs to room 1 and we let ourselves in to what proved to be a eccentrically decorated room. One wall had a long, murky brown stain, like someone had thrown a cup of tea along it, whilst another was decorated with two pictures. One was one of the near-obligatory hunting scenes that seem to be compulsory for any rural pub across the land. In contrast the second was a large poster of a red 1972 BMW.

The Wynnstay Arms, Llanbrynmair

There was also the interesting omission of any soap or toiletries and with no staff around to provide some there was only one thing to do. Go on a savaging mission around the toilets and bathrooms to see what could be found.

After extensive searches Catherine eventually returned brandishing the tiniest sliver of pink soap between finger and thumb, with a huge grin on her face.

“We may wash tonight!” she exclaimed happily. “But it is from the ladies toilets,” she added with a hint of pensiveness.

“Oh well, it will be all right. Women are very clean,” I stereotyped before rushing off to the shower where I managed to find where all the soap had been hiding. Attached high up a wall was a soap dish, and inside lay a veritable treasure trove; four different bars of bright pink soap, all congregated together.

Next time: forests and lanes lead to a mighty reservoir and an impressive dam.

Have your say