I'd had a late night from the 6m contest on The Cloud G/SP-015 the night before, so we didn't go for the oft-used 5am get-up for our trip to North-West Wales. Instead, it was more like 6.30am on Wednesday 27th February 2013, although we were on the road and cruising down the M56 in short order after that. Turning down the A483 towards Welshpool, we stopped at a Little Chef for its famous Olympic Breakfast before continuing our journey. The A458 was followed west for some distance, before turning right onto the A470 towards Dolgellau. Jimmy then directed me left along a narrow lane to the farm at Ty'n-y-braich, where the farmer said we may park just off the road next to the bridge by the public footpath at SH839152. This was handy, as it was our intended starting point for today's walk.
Jimmy had done his research and said that we now followed a tree line to connect with the main path coming from Ty'n-y-celyn. And up he went, following a line of trees along the side of a steeply sloping field. Suddenly, we heard a load of shouting. Below us we could see the farmer on his quadbike coming towards the field we were in with his four dogs, yelling constantly. "There's no path there" he roared, even though we had discussed our intended approach with him some minutes earlier. I tried the polite, humble and diplomatic approach and offered "Yes, I'm sorry if we've gone wrong. Which is the correct way?". It didn't work. "You've got a map aven't you? Read the <insert inappropriate and unnecessary adjective> thing" he barked, fiercer than any of his dogs. For a Welshman, he certainly had an impressive command of Anglo-Saxon.
We dropped down the steep field and continued alongside the stream on a level contour for a while. The map did not indicate a PROW between the track we were on and the summit path, although they did pass close to each other and research indicated this was a standard route. We passed beyond the horizon of the farmer's view, and then cut left to join the main path at a much lower and more sensible level. I explained to Jimmy that the farmer has probably done us a favour in forcing us to take a wider and less steep route to the other path. Jimmy agreed, but insisted there was no excuse for rudeness!
This path was well established, but incessant hard work as it climbed through the contours on the flanks of Moel Cwm y Eglwys. I required frequent rest stops, much to Jimmy's annoyance, although he did cooperate better when those stops including the consumption of Double Decker chocolate bars, or today's soup which was sausage & vegetable. A final rest stop was taken at the saddle SH825155, before the final push for the summit. The next section involved a rather uncomfortable walk along a narrow path with the hill curving steeply down by its right-hand-side. I was relieved when this section was over and we could turn left and get on the final ascent.
The official summit for this one used to be at the 674m spot height on Maen Du. In fact, the original name of the hill in the RHB and SOTA list was Maesglase-Maen Du, but it was renamed to simply Maesglase after resurveying relocated the official summit to Craig Rhiw-erch in the middle of a wider flatter section within the 670m contour. Jimmy and I located the summit cairn and made for that point to set up our aerials. Jimmy was using the SOTA Beams MFD, mounted vertically on a SOTA pole, while I was on the Olde Faithefulle 40m dipole.
Jimmy seemed to have quite a pile-up going on 2m FM, and the omnidirectionality of the MFD set-up was having the desired effect. He made 13 QSOs, while I made 42 on 40m CW. On the descent, we broke for soup again at the same saddle, after getting the slightly exposed section out of the way first. Even Jimmy admitted to a little nervousness on this stretch! We reached the car in fading light after a long and tiring walk, and it was time to find some accommodation. A call to the YHA revealed that Kings Youth Hostel, Dolgellau, had been booked out to a private function for a few days, which was slightly irritating. I told Jimmy to look out for the word "Accommodation" on each pub we drove past in the town. The very first one - The Royal Ship Inn - had vacancies, and I was able to negotiate a very favourable rate based on four nights' stay including breakfasts. Jimmy agreed to pay half, so here was our base for the next four nights. A comfortable twin room with tea/coffee facilities, telly, ensuite bathroom (with electric shower), excellent food and Robinsons ales on hand pull. Very nice.
On that first evening in the restaurant, Jimmy had the venison sausage, while I had the steak & ale pie which was magnificent. In fact it turned out that it was this place's signature dish, and I resolved to have it at least once more before leaving! We got to bed ahead of our intended traverse of the Tarrens the following day.