53rd Across Wales Walk
3 September 2016
One of the wettest events on record!
This page provides reports and timing information for the 53rd Across Wales Walk.
2016 Photo Gallery:
Sorry that there are so few photos this year: just too wet to get the camera out!
Saturday morning at Clun: still dry!
Busy times at CP1
Vote of thanks by Peter Stevenson
Peter asks the girls to award a 'Gold Medal' to Stuart
Thanks to the following for allowing their photographs to be reproduced on this website:
To view a table of entrants and times for the main event in Excel format Left click here. To Save the file, right click here and follow the instructions.
As a warm, dry August turned into September, the inevitable breaking of the fine weather loomed ominously: would it coincide with the ‘Across Wales’ or, with everything crossed, would it stay fine for just one more day? Well, as it turned-out, no amount of wishing could forestall the inevitable, and the 53rd edition of the Across Wales Walk experienced the worst conditions seen on the event for a decade.
The weekend started promisingly enough with fine weather for the Friday night spent in the Memorial Hall, Clun, followed by breakfast, before coaches delivered the entrants to the Welsh border for the 5 am start at Anchor. Early on, the 109 starters were treated to clear, starlit skies and all appeared rather fine. However by 0800, the band of weather, predicted by the Met Office to arrive from the west in the morning, started making its presence felt. Conditions progressively deteriorated until 1000 when, at CP2, it was as if someone ‘on high’ was ‘hosing Wales down’. The only positive at that stage was that the high winds, predicted to accompany the torrential rain, had not yet ‘read the script’ and all remained calm in the predominantly vertical rain. Nevertheless on the basis of the forecast for 45 mph winds gusting to 60mph on Plynlimon, the organiser made contingency plans to suspend the event at CP3 and possibly evacuate all entrants by coach as was last necessary in 2006.
Conditions at CP3 were however unexpectedly benign and reports received from those arriving at CP4 were mixed as to the actual severity of conditions over ‘The Big P’. Accordingly, the organisers instigated just the first level of the event’s severe weather procedure, namely ‘grouping’, over this critical stretch. Thanks go to all those who provided guidance, assistance and support to other entrants and, in particular to those unfamiliar with the terrain of the highest mountain in mid-Wales. Ultimately, Plynlimon appeared to have saved the worst conditions for entrants in the second half of the field heading down from the summit, and there were instances of gusts blowing walkers to the ground. Nevertheless, all arrived safely at Nant-y-Moch even though conditions were certainly challenging and occasionally frightening according to the testimonies of those arriving at CP4.
In the later afternoon the weather eased for a short while but once CP4 had closed, ‘The Gods’ returned ‘the tap’ back to the fully-on position and heavy rain lashed both entrants and checkers for the remainder of the event.
Of the 109 starters, 96 completed the challenge. Once again fastest home was Gary Upstone in a time of 8 hours 42 minutes followed by Mark Lewis and Balazs Pinter 44 minutes later. In complete contrast, last home was Richard Haynes with a completion time of 18 hours.
Twelve attempts were made to ‘double’ the event with Bill Lancashire, Chris Poole, Stuart Livingstone and Steven Rose ultimately completing the course within the 36 hour limit. However this was far from the full story of ‘extreme’ completions. Following-on from his completion of the first ever ‘quadruple crossing’ last year, Brian Layton left Anchor on the Wednesday morning before the event and then completed four consecutive crossings before arriving at the start of the event. Brian then embarked upon his final fifth leg some 45 minutes after the rest of the field had departed Anchor but thereafter he struggled to meet checkpoint closing times. Between CPs 2 and 3, Brian recognised that, although he probably had sufficient stamina in reserve to complete the distance, he would not make the 2300 closing time at the finish and he decided to retire. Nevertheless, Brian completed more than 200 miles in 82 hours. Though ultimately Brian did not achieve his objective, this certainly now overtakes his previous efforts as the most extreme feat of endurance ever witnessed in the history of this event.
After a comfortable night in Aberystwyth University Halls of Residence, the presentation ceremony was held on the following morning during which performances were celebrated and certificates awarded. So came to an end another most memorable event!
Thanks go to former members of West Birmingham Hostelling Group, RAYNET and the welcome band of friends and walkers-turned-checkers who once again made the event possible.
A very many thanks to you and your family and all the many dedicated helpers that made this another very enjoyable event for me.
This year was the seventh consecutive year that I have completed a Double-Crossing. It doesn't get any easier as the years go by but I still like to think I will be doing a few more.
As with any significant undertaking like this I always take the approach that I am going to enjoy it whatever the conditions and for that reason I prepare myself both mentally and with the necessary 'kit' for the worst scenario. This years was certainly a bit more challenging than some of the previous but caused no significant problem for me.
I was lucky this year to get to Wales a few days before the event which enabled me to leave supplies at Anchor and Hafren and also spend a bit a time roaming the lovely coast line and other areas around Aberystwyth and Borth
On the Thursday evening as is tradition several of the 'Doublers' met up for a couple of drinks and some food. This year there were more people than ever and it gave Richard Rosser and Clive Lungmuss the chance to clarify the logistics to get all of us to our chosen starting points on Friday morning.
On Friday Richard gave me a lift to Borth and we stopped by Clarach on the way to see if Brian was around but no sign at that time. I set off on my own from Borth at 11am. Swiftly on through Tal-y-Bont where Richard and Clive were relaxing for a tea but for me it was onwards into the hills. As I joined the 'official route' near the ford approaching Nant-y-Moch Richard was just arriving there. I collected my lunch bag and made may way to the 'lunch-stop' at the Pumping Station.
Just as I finished lunch quite a group of the others arrived there. It was very pleasant walking conditions a I made my way over Pumlumon. It was rather wetter underfoot than I expected. Just a gently fine drizzle for a while as I approached the forest track but no need for waterproofs. I didn't stop at Hafren but carried on swiftly to Llanidloes where I planed to spend an hour in the chip-shop. Richard was still there having dinner on his way to Clun. Just as I was leaving a few other 'doublers' arrived.
I got all the way to the 'old' Community Centre before it got dark. The weather was still mild as I made made the climb up to the windfarm in darkness. The sky was quite clear and I was amazed at the clarity of stars in the sky. Kerry Ridgeway was much drier underfoot than I had ever seen which was a pleasant change. I arrived at Anchor about 12.50pm. I sorted my bag out and got into my 'survival-bag' by the road side. Within the hour Chris Poole arrived. I must have dosed of a bit as I was awoken some time later by others arriving. Much later when I was having 'breakfast' Hannah Brown arrived and prepared herself for a quick rest before the main event group arrived.
I was pleased to see them arrive as I was getting cold. It was great as usual to be greeted by many AWW friends as they arrived and always give me encouragement for the return journey.
After that start it seemed to get lighter quite soon with the clear sky. The were some great views and cloud formations but nothing to indicate what was to come later. CP1 went by and I stopped to take a layer of clothing off. As I approach Llandinam drops of rain appeared and I stopped in the shelter just to put my rucksack cover on. However very soon the intensity of rain increased and it was time for waterproof top. From then on the rain seemed to get heavier by the minute. As I approached CP2 the checkers were doing there best to find shelter.
It was certainly heavy rain through to Hafren but I was making good progress. On the 'Double-Crossing' CP3 is important for me as I eat a substantial lunch. I endeavoured to do this same this year under the welcome shelter. We set-off in a group of three and made our way up Pumlumon with increasing winds including some really strong gusts. On the summit ridge we all agreed that it would be unpleasant and possibly risky to go the summit route so we descended via the small reservoir. At the track we split the group and I carried on walking on my own.
CP4 was a welcome sight where I stopped briefly for a hot soup. I was a little concerned what to expect as I approached the 'scree'. The gusty wind made me a bit nervous and I also went very cautiously down the slippery path into the valley. I was then pleased to be on the level making my way to CP5 with bread pudding in mind. I was not disappointed and as a bonus I had hot chocolate.
Swiftly on then towards Bow Street and then towards Clarach. I was more pleased than ever this year to see the welcome sight of the 'Finish' checkpoint. Four of us were kindly given a lift to the Uni. Fortunately the rain had stopped again as we got to Cwrt Mawr which was fortunate as I needed to walk to my car to get bags and stuff.
After a welcome shower I enjoyed the excellent meal in the Ta Med Da taking the opportunity to share experiences of the event with others.
In summary, it was a lovely day on the Friday for the first 'crossing' and the second day was a bit challenging but still enjoyable.
All the very best wishes,
What a lovely event and not spoilt by the weather, just making it a true challenge. The countryside was stunning and I'm so glad you didn't have to stop us going over the top. Yes, the wind was challenging to say the least, but with Mike’s wonderful navigation we didn't need to think too hard about where we were going, just "enjoyed" I think could be a description, the fresh air, battle, tremendous freedom of pure raw outdoors.
Thank you to all your wonderful helpers and lovely family. I know personally how invaluable these people are.
I too organise a LDWA challenge event, so know these events can not run without their loyal support and commitment.
Now relax for a few months before it all starts again.
Regards, Jackie Barker
I'm pleased that I was able to take part in the Across Wales Walk; despite the challenging weather I enjoyed the entire walk. It was a great event; the ceremony at the end was a beautiful touch, as where the speeches.
I will definitely be back next year if circumstance permit.
Great job on organizing such an event
Just a quick note to say thank you for an excellent weekend, although the walk was tough it was also an incredibly enjoyable and satisfying experience and if I ever dry out I’m sure I will return for another go.
Jason M Towriess Bsc (Hons) MRICS
Just to add Peter's comments. Despite the weather I think I enjoyed this crossing as much if not more than the previous 2. I know it is a challenge rather than a race, but there is still always a desire to cross quicker than last time!
All was going well with regard to a pb up to CP1 and even CP2, but the weather from there on meant sub 13 hours would not be on again, which meant that the pressure was off for me and the event was exactly what it should have been a challenge to finish.
I was the weakest in our group for the ascent and I felt confident with Pete's navigation and map reading skills but was even more reassured by having Patrick on board with his wealth of AWW experience.
As Pete said 3 of us got separated from Patrick and our other friend due to the poor visibility (the other 2 had disappeared by this stage), but Patrick did exactly what he should and stayed put and blew a whistle for us to help locate him. Once we were reconnected with our GPS we were only 30m from the all important fence and Patrick. Under no circumstances would Patrick have left us when he realised we had become separated.
On the dreaded descent the wind was wicked and one of our group got blown over, I felt I was delaying the group on the descent and one of our group was getting very cold and I encouraged the others to go on as at this point as we were on the track, had some visibility and I knew Pete was confident of the route and would stay with me, but Patrick refused to let the group splinter on the descent however slow I was and however much I protested!
I would like to thank Patrick for his responsibility for a group which he had only been acquainted with over the previous leg and having little idea of the group ability, he showed exemplary leadership skills and we felt very guilty when we overtook him in the last mile in our desire to crack 14 hours!
It is people like Patrick, alongside all your wonderful helpers who make AWW what it is and why people return year after year.
With many thanks again
P.S. Sarah's beaming smile kept me going, so please if she can't make it next time just have a life size cut out at every CP!
Thanks very much for a really well organised AWW.
It was my first attempt & was lucky I completed it thanks to the support of Mike P!
I enjoyed parts of it & found most of it really challenging!
I am chuffed to have completed it but not sure I will manage another one? But will certainly sign up for more LDWA events.
Many thanks to you & all your support team for organising a very special event.
All the best,
It's been a few days now since I stumbled into the van at Clarach Bay, a dripping wet creature suffering from so many mixed emotions, most of them hidden beneath a veneer of shivering wet flesh. It was my first AWW and it was much tougher than I expected; the weather was of course responsible for most of this but, as in all outdoor events, we take it as it comes on the day.
I will certainly aim to be on next year's AWW. The views must be terrific when you can see them!
Many, many thanks to all the marshals and helpers - they were all so friendly and their encouragement and advice along the way helped to keep us going. A final thank you to your wife and your daughter (sorry, I did not catch their names) and yourself. I have never taken part before in an event that had such a family element in it. You must all have spent so much time and effort in making sure that the AWW was the success that it is. Very well done!
Hope to see you again in 2017.
Thanks once again and best wishes,
Many thanks to you, your family and all of the volunteers for making this event so enjoyable. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire event which was perfectly organised and managed.
Also thanks for squeezing me in at the last minute and I hope my payment arrived, if not please let me know.
No reply required, I just wanted to say thank you.
Steve Chave (121)
I just wanted to thank you for enabling me to participate in the AWW this year and to say how much I enjoyed my first experience of the event, albeit by doing the west-east leg with the doublers rather than the main event. I apologise again for having created extra work for you at a time when you must have been very busy – but I did enjoy my introduction to the AWW enormously, and of course I was lucky enough to do the walk in excellent weather when Saturday’s walkers were not nearly so fortunate. We had a splendid day’s walking and reached Anchor at about 2.30 a.m.
As well as enjoying a superb walk, it was fascinating to have my first glimpse of how the walk works and what the doublers are undertaking. The support from Richard and Clive was brilliant and much appreciated. I can see what attracts people to keep coming back to this event and I hope to be there again to do it “properly” next year.
Thank you again for all the work that you and your team put into this.
All best wishes,
Yet again, thanks to you all for your appreciative comments, Stuart.
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