After walking almost everywhere in Wales, Mid Wales was my last unexplored region and what better way to explore it than by walking my last Welsh National Trail, the Glyndŵr’s Way.
The path is an 135 mile semi circle through the Welsh heartland. It begins at Knighton, right on the border, then when it reaches Machynlleth on the other side of Wales, it heads back to the border to finish at Welshpool. In between, is mainly just hills. So, so many hills.
Of course, I found a truly wild Welsh landscape with incredible views of not only mid Wales but either side to the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia, but it really makes you work for them.
Large parts of the day seemed to be spent on the hilltops, bumping up and down along the drovers’ roads. On occasions the path dropped down to a little village with a good old fashioned pub but in the southern section of the trail even this was rare. Apart from the start and end points, the route only passes two towns, Llanidloes and Machynlleth. Both market towns had a strangely cosmopolitan feel to them (though, after two days in wilderness perhaps anywhere with a population larger than 50 would).
There were also the two reservoirs to break up the hills, Clywedog and Vyrnwy (pictured), both of which were formed by damming the valley. Apparently in Lake Vyrnwy, when the water is low you can still see the remains of the village that was flooded in the process.
This time spent in the middle of nowhere did mean that I managed to find some incredible spots to camp. There was so much choice it almost became frustrating deliberating over the best one to go for.
The best pitch by far was up on Commins Gwalia near Machynlleth. There I had not only amazing views of the peaks of southern Snowdonia, but the most incredible sunset behind them. Not a bad view to have while cooking my supernoodles.
It was a very isolated, tiring trek and I got truly soaked to the bone on a couple of days, yet when the weather was good Wales really did look at its best.
I would have enjoyed it a lot more had I not turned it into some kind of speed march for myself. When I left my car at the campsite in Knighton, I said to the owner of the site i’d be back in under a week, to which they replied: ”oh you’ll be lucky if you manage that”. And there the challenge was set, turning what could have been a nice 9 day stroll into a 5 1/2 day endurance test.
So if you walk the trail, don’t rush it- enjoy it.
If you’d like to read about my trek in a bit more detail, see some more pictures and find out where my recommended sections are and how to walk them, have a look in the next issue (July) of Country Walking Magazine.