A walk in the Tarren Hills

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After our first night in Dolfannog Fawr, in the Tal-y-llyn valley, we were determined to get out for a walk in the surrounding hills. We asked Alex, our host, for some advice and he suggested we try a favourite route of his, which would take us up two mountains in quiet countryside. He said the countryside was beautiful with good views and that we probably wouldn’t see another soul once we got on the hills. The route is described in a number of guidebooks including the Mountains of England and Wales: Vol 1 Wales (Cicerone Guide) by John and Anne Nuttall. The start of the walk was a short drive away in the village of Abergynolwyn.

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We parked up in the village, in the car park opposite the Railway Inn, a reminder that this was the end of the Tallylyn railway. The narrow gauge railway was originally built to transport slate from the Bryn Eglwys slate quarry, which is up in the Gwernol valley, but later also operated a  passenger service. Today the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society operates regular services carrying tourists between Nant Gwernol station (just up the valley from Abergynolwyn) to Twyn on the coast.

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We passed the sculpture of water nymphs and headed up the steep road that started to take us up along the Gwernol valley

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We were soon in pleasant deciduous woodland, climbing and walking along past a series of waterfalls

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Climbing the hill we came to Nant Gwernol station, the end of the Talyllyn railway line.

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We climbed a steep incline to take us up to the winding house.

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We carried on along the paths through the woods, eventually reaching the forest road that wound through the commercial evergreen plantation

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Eventually we veered off the forest road heading up a steep path up to a “notch” in the ridge which led to the summit of Tarrenhendre. It wasn’t so easy to spot the path but we’d been told to watch out for an Outward Bound hut on the road. The path ran up the hill a short distance before it.

As we climbed a great view over the hills towards Cadair Idris opened up.

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It was a steep climb up to the summit of Tarrenhendre which, at 2,080 ft, just qualifies as a mountain.

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As we climbed higher, looking west  and south west there were great views towards Cardigan Bay and the Dovey estuary.

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Another view of Cadair Idris looking north east

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Reaching the summit we headed east and could see our next objective, Tarren-y-Gesail, ad the ridge we needed to walk along to reach it

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Looking back towards Tarrenhendre from the ridge

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and over to Tarren-y-Gesail

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The route seemed to veer into the forest  on a path that was clearly indicated on the OS map. It wasn’t very clear in practice! This was the only unpleaant part of the walk as the path was difficult to make out,was overgrown and we had to hack our way through dense vegetation. it would be better to find an alternate route along the ridge avoiding the forest.

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Eventually we escaped from the dense forest and were back on open moorland with another steep climb that took us up Tarren-y-Gesail, which, at 2,188 ft, is slightly higher than Tarrenhendre

The view from the top of Tarren-y-Gesail   looking north

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We walked along the peat covered ridge which was boggy in places. There wasn’t a clear path but we made our way down towards the edge of the forest plantation. Forestry work had been taking place which made navigation and conditions underfoot a little difficult. We came to a forest track and decided our easiest option was to follow this back down the valley. This made navigation easier but as the road meandered down the hill it probably added an extra mile or so to our route.

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Eventually the village came back into view, nestling amongst the hills

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Half an hour later we were back at the car. We hadn’t seen another human being since starting the walk until we reached the edge of the village and passed a local taking his dog for a walk.

It had been an excellent walk taking through some varied countryside – broadleaf woodland, evergreen forest and high moorland with great views over mountains, sea and the Dovey estuary and with some industrial archaeology to provide some additional interest. It had been a long day and we were tired when we got back to Dolfannog Fawr, but after a quick shower and a change of clothing we had a delicious home made meal to look forward to

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