We took our friends Dave and Gaye and headed out of the Ceiriog Valley this week – down to the Vyrnwy River to do part of the Ann Griffiths Walk. Ann Griffiths was a Calvanist Methodist hymn writer (1776 – 1805) who lived near Welshpool. Part of the Glyndwr Way has been waymarked in her name, setting out two circular walks that take you through the countryside that inspired her hymns.
And what countryside! I’d never walked down the Vyrnwy before, and it’s absolutely beautiful. The walk takes you along the banks of the river, between the edges of the warm corn fields and the cool tunnel of the trees flanking the water. The river itself is alive with wildlife: herons, dragonflies, trout – even a kingfisher! We started at Pont Llogel, heading down the river. The path itself is extremely well-signposted and easy to follow. Our plan had been to do a very short, three mile walk, following the Ann Griffiths path for a while, then crossing over the Vyrnwy and looping back to Pont Llogel.
Unfortunately, we decided to venture “off piste”, eschewing a fording of the rather full Vyrnwy and rashly leaving the Ann Griffiths way itself at Dolanog with only a very sketchy map. The end result had us tromping a long and weary eight mile diversion in sandals under a baking sun! Even the dogs thought this was a bit much, and almost gave up 3/4 of the way through. In the end, we had to split the party in half and Dave, Gaye and I walked the final three miles ourselves to collect the car and come back to rescue the very hot dogs!
I can only explain our lack of proper map and footwear as a kind of desperate enthusiasm for having miraculously picked a day with some sunshine in it. Still, if nothing else, it proved that even with aching feet and no map, it was possible to find oneself happily enjoying a wander through the middle of fantastic countryside.
Back at The Hand, pints in hand, maps spread out on the table, we retraced our steps along the paper and realised where we had gone wrong. We started at Pont Llogel and headed to Dolanog, where we rashly left the path. If we had wanted an eight mile walk, we should have continued on to Pontrobert and back. Apparently the stretch of the river down beyond Dolanog is even more spectacular than the bit we walked. Should have brought the OS map with us – should have worn proper shoes and packed some sunscreen as well!
Ah well – live and learn, I suppose. For all our mistakes, we had a fantastic day. It left us more tired and sunburned than we expected, but we did, however, discover that there’s a fantastic little shop (and petrol station) in Pont Llogel – from where we bought restorative ice-creams and bottles of water. The day also left us determined to walk the remainder of the Ann Griffiths path someday soon – and go better prepared!