Tuesday 26th August 2008
Gyrn Ddu GW/NW-050
Guess what? The Bardsey boat was still not sailing. Aargh! Four days on the Lleyn, and no Bardsey Island. It will have to be done another time, but without the company of those fine little hills on the peninsular. Unless we do them again of course - that’s not against the rules, is it?
The weather looked exactly the same as yesterday. Low cloud, shrouding the summits of the local one pointers, and hiding most of Yr Eifl and Gyrn Ddu from view. Windy, but, not raining. A possibility of an activation, I thought.
However, after unpitching the tent and loading the car, Campbell suggested we all meet in Pwllheli for breakfast. Knowing that he was referring to the cafe adjoining the arcade, and a “Full Welsh Breakfast” of sausage, bacon, egg, tomato, mushrooms, soda bread, black pudding, toast and tea, for £5.20, we didn’t need any persuading! Recommended - very very good indeed.
Then it was time to go our separate ways. Campbell and Calum were considering camping over in the Llandudno area, but we had to be back home for Liam’s hospital tests the following day. I decided we would have a crack at Gyrn Ddu, but with the option of bottling-out and retreating if things didn’t go too well. The weather looked like it was capable of doing anything without warning, and I well recall Shirley MW0YLS’s lack of enthusiasm for this hill.
In actual fact, this turned out to be the best outing of the holiday. We parked on a small grass verge by the entrance to Cwm-coryn farm at SH403452. We progressed up the PROW which was initially coincidental with the farm drive, but then soon mislaid the path. This was not a problem though, for we were able to progress easily enough, and in the right direction through gaps in walls through the fields.
The side of a large house loomed eerily and unexectedly through the mist, and this was marked on the map as Homestead, and was quite an impressive ruin, if that is not too much of a contradiction in terms! We met the West-East running PROW at around SH403460, and followed it to the wall running steeply uphill at SH409462. Jimmy had been researching, and knew that G3CWI struck off uphill at the very point.
Therefore so did we, but our initial hard work came to nought. At the top of this steep field was a high wall with barned wire fence, completely enclosing us. There was no way through. We had no alternative but to retreat down the the PROW, go over the stile, and ascend on the other side of the wall!
At about SH406465, was a large hole in the wall. Jimmy suggested that we crawl through it to get on the side the the summit was in, in case we were similarly blocked further up. I agreed, so through we went. The next section was hellishly steep on long wet greasy grass, and not pleasant at all. I aimed west, so as to relieve the gradient by “contouring” up the hill, and to aim for the saddle, rather than unneccessarily climbing to the 491m peak at SH405467.
We didn’t quite make the saddle, and had a gentle downhill section to achieve it. We then angled right to avoid the 490m contour ring at SH402467, and out of the mist loomed a big lump of high rocks. Bingo! We had successfully navigated across a desolate and lonely place, with little more than 20 feet of visability, to the summit of Gyrn Ddu.
However, there was work to be done. This big lump of rocks had to be scrambled up to attain the summit. The rocks were greasy, and many deep holes lurked between them, each with genuine leg-breaking or body-trapping potential. This was exacerbated by hardly any of the rocks lying with horizontal surfaces at the top on which to place one’s boots!
Slowly, surely, and safely, we picked our way to the summit cairn at the top, and paused for breath. Liam sat down on the only flat rock surface in a half-mile radius, while Jimmy and I stood, passing the VX-7R between each other. If we could activate this one on HH/RD, we would. A challenging descent remained, and I did not want the boys getting too cold or tired.
As it was, we each easily made four contacts each, including one with EI5GQB/M working on an electiricty substation in County Wicklow. After carefully picking our way back down the rocks, we headed East over the moor and slightly downhill. We came across a tractor track, so I changed the descent plan and said “Follow this!”. We did, and it gave us very easy and reassuring walking back down to the PROW. We hit this path further West than where we did on the ascent, but we continued through the fields in a south-westerly direction and spotted the ruins at Homestead lurking through the clag.
This was good to see, and we knew we would be reunited with the car within quarter of an hour. Back at the lane, the boys and I were busy drying our feet, removing socks and changing into sandals. I went a little further, changing everything, fortunate that no other vehicles passed by as I did!
We had all run out of water from our hydration packs during the day, so a liquid refreshment stop at a pub in Bethesda was a welcome one. Then it was foot down, A55, M56, M6 and home. That finest of establishments, the Weston Balti Raj issued the take-away that fed us upon our return home.
So, disappointing weather, missed out on the Bardsey Island trip, and altogether nothing like my last trip to the Lleyn back in 2004. But really, we made the best of it and got six activations done, all required uniques for Jimmy, and even Unique number 195 for me. The highlight was definitely the expedition on Gyrn Ddu, the navigation involved, and Liam’s fine performance on a challenging hike.
73, Tom M1EYP