For the last two years I’ve had the focus of doing the TGO Challenge for my backpacking year. This year I was vetoed from going again because my wife didn’t want me to be away for two weeks at a time. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been thinking what to do this year.
The Cambrian Way has been on my mind for about three years, but doing it in one go entails too much time. It might well be beyond my physical capabilities as it is probably the toughest long distance walk in the UK, stretching for 291 miles with nearly 24,000m of total ascent.
I started to look at doing it in sections. Tony Drake’s guidebook divides it into three sections: Southern (Cardiff to Llandovery) 108 miles, Central (Llandovery to Dinas Mawddwy) 78 miles, Northern (Dinas Mawddwy to Conwy) 88 miles.
The trouble with trails is they feel like straight jackets, so I started playing around with the route. I didn’t fancy Cardiff to Abergavenny that much, so I decided I would start at Abergavenny (good rail link). Next I decided that I’d skip the Black Mountains and go from Abergavenny to Crickhowell to pick up the Cambrian Way proper there. This gives me a nice introduction of around five days to Llandovery over the Brecon Beacons. Llandovery is a good break point as it has a railway station.
I think I will extend the Central section to Barmouth rather than stop at Dinas Mawddwy. This makes the section about 100 miles. While I’ve mapped it, I’ve not divided it up into days, but expect it to take about 7/8 days. Barmouth is a convenient break point as it has a railway station. It also makes the next section a convenient block.
The Northern section from Barmouth to Conwy is about 68 miles, but is the toughest in terms of terrain and ascent. My rough plan at the moment is to do this in six days, but possibly to add an extra “slack” day. I shall save this for the last of the three sections, probably in August.
If I get the urge to complete the whole Cambrian Way and nothing but the Cambrian Way, then I might do the Cardiff and Black Mountains section in September. I’m not really a box ticker at heart, so I’m not that bothered. On the other hand it would be nice to complete the whole walk.
One significant advantage of doing the Cambrian Way in stages is that it gives me some flexibility in timing. I had pencilled in a couple of trips to Scotland but travel takes more planning. Unfortunately my mother is seriously ill, so I need to be sensitive to what is happening with her.
At the moment my tentative plan is Abergavenny to Llandovery in June, Llandovery to Barmouth in July and Barmouth to Conwy in August. I’m also hoping to camp all the way. I need to do some more detailed planning, particularly on the central section, which looks logistically challenging (8 days food?). I’ll do some more posts later in the year to let you know how I’m getting on.