After a decent breakfast, with proper strength coffee for a change, a ten minute yomp got me back to the GW and an easy walking moorland path. The weather was very different though. There was a clinging mist making it feel quite chilly and I’d put a fleece on for the first time on the walk!
About ten minutes further on, you arrive at the remains of the Roman military garrison of Penycrocbren. You can just make out the walls in the picture but the mist ruined it, sorry. Anyway, it’s the fort that counts..
Still up on the moors you skirt the banks of Glaslyn and then reach the highest point on the entire 135 mile trail at just over 500 metres.
There had been no moorland birds of note – why weren’t there curlews here? But on the descent down to Nantyfyda the mist lifted properly for the first time and I got a really good look at a beautiful stonechat. He just wouldn’t sit still long enough to have his picture taken.
About two minutes later one of the dozens of cuckoos I’d been hearing finally put in an appearance and decided to go for a fly round just in front of me.
I’d been dawdling quite a bit – mostly trying to get a decent picture of the stonechat – and was trying to get a bit of time back when I heard a bird singing that I didn’t recognize. After a couple of minutes I spotted him and was fairly sure it was a willow warbler. A quick listen to the UK birds sounds app confirmed my suspicions and I was fairly confident that, today, one of the ‘willows’ would hold on for ‘bird of the day’!
The June sun was now ‘busting out all over’ (one for the musicals fans there) and I felt slightly relieved, as, at breakfast, I had told the ladies on the next table that the mist would ‘all burn off in an hour’ – a favourite line from my Snow Chalet days when recalcitrant guests were thinking about staying in and thereby getting in my way!
I parked up for lunch with the view above but the Y Star packed lunch lacked punch. Even with a bag of Walkers thrown in the mix. It was getting hotter still so I factor 30ed up and trudged on for what would be a long, hard, undulating afternoon.
When you cross a farmyard, as mentioned on day 2, you’re always a bit wary of the farm dog running at you. Well this afternoon my adversary was a 4 year old boy and what an able foe he turned out to be…
Boy: You need to go that way mister (pointing)
Me: Thanks mate
Boy: What have you got those sticks for?
Me: Because my knees hurt
Boy: Why do your knees hurt?
Me: Because I’m getting old
Boy: If you’re getting old you might die
Me: I hope I’ve got a few good years in me yet
Boy (now accompanying me on my walk) : Why aren’t you using them now
Me: I only use them going up hill
Boy: This is uphill
Me: Look, will you sod off!
I didn’t actually say that last bit. His Mum and Dad appeared round the corner to check he was OK but he had cheered me up no end. So articulate for one so young. He must have thought he was having a battle of wits with an unarmed man.
For the next two hours it was up and down, up and down and dead hot but the RAF had decided to lay on some entertainment. I’d heard fighter jets earlier but as I was walking on a footpath alongside a valley two flew almost directly over my head. Then just above Machynlleth, a Hercules flew right up the Dyfy Valley in front of me.
My favourite flying thing of the day however happened just after this. I heard a bird call I didn’t recognize ‘Tsee’ ‘Tsee’. Even though I didn’t want to play any more, I couldn’t resist trying to see if I could spot it.
I saw him at the top of a nearby tree and I thought, can I be arsed getting my binos out? The bird in question usually flies off just as I’m raising them to my eye. But I did and he didn’t and it was a bird I’d always wanted to see and never had done before. His being covered in spots was one clue to his identity but the confirmation was the massive fly he had in his mouth! My first spotted flycatcher! I was made up!
Sorry willow warbler but you were beaten by a better bird!
A few minutes later Machynlleth was spread out before me and I couldn’t wait to get down there, check in and have a shower.
Today’s blog has been brought to you in association with Bepanthen…
Sounds like another long day in the field (as any English cricketer in any Ashes between 1986 and 2005 would know) but bit more rewarding on the willow front (unlike English cricketers), despite being jocked off ‘bird of the day’ keep it up la!
Keep it up mate, you’re doing well. I think we all know you’re genuine response to the boy though!