Across Wales Walk
Other years' reports
This page provides further reports on the Across Wales Walk, 1981 - 1996.
I have tried to accumulate every known report on the Across Wales Walk, however I'm missing some reports, in particular those from before 1981. If you have any reports not shown below, I would be pleased to receive them. Alternatively, do you have any memories, experiences or photographs relating to the Across Wales Walk? If so, then these would be much appreciated, and with your permission, I would add them to this site.
If you want to get a 'flavour' of the Across Wales walk without reading every report, then may I recommend those shown below in italics which, in my view, best capture the spirit of the event.
- 18th ACROSS WALES WALK 1981 by Nev Tandy
- 21st ACROSS WALES WALK 1984 by Nev Tandy
- 22nd ACROSS WALES WALK 1985 by Nev Tandy
- 23rd ACROSS WALES WALK 1986 by Nev Tandy
- 24th ACROSS WALES WALK 1987 by Nev Tandy
- 25th ACROSS WALES WALK 1988 by Stuart Lamb
- 26th ACROSS WALES WALK 1989 by Ann Tandy
- 27th ACROSS WALES WALK 1990 by Ian Morton *
- 27th ACROSS WALES WALK 1990 by Nev Tandy
- 28th ACROSS WALES WALK 1991 by Nev Tandy
- 28th ACROSS WALES WALK 1991 by Ian Morton*
- 29th ACROSS WALES WALK 1992 by Ron Morgan
- 29th ACROSS WALES WALK 1992 by Ian Morton*
- 30th ACROSS WALES WALK 1993 by Roy Millard *
- 30th ACROSS WALES WALK 1993: An Observer's View by Vivian Millard *
- 30th ACROSS WALES WALK 1993: Another perspective by David Arnold *
- 30th ACROSS WALES WALK 1993 by Stuart Lamb
- 31st ACROSS WALES WALK 1994 by Stuart Lamb
- 31st ACROSS WALES WALK 1994 by Ian Morton *
- 32nd ACROSS WALES WALK 1995 by Stuart Lamb
- 33rd ACROSS WALES WALK 1996 by Stuart Lamb
If you have taken part in the Across Wales Walk, please sign the Guest Book with your experiences and comments
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I look forward with particular pleasure to the Cross Wales, with its friendly and informal atmosphere. This has been retained over the years, along with a simple but effective organisation.
The route crosses the Principality from the border near Clun to the coast at Clarach Bay, approximately 45 miles. A varied mixture of road, track, moorland and mountain over a little-walked area. Further more, the weather has been good for five years in succession, can't be bad.
A 5:00 a.m. start had its reward in the marvellous sunrise on Kerry Hill, the freshness of the morning lingering like an elusive fragrance for miles. Walking was pure pleasure. By Llanidloes a more practical challenge awaited in the shape of sun-warmed tarmac unwinding along the valley of the infant river Severn. The valley leads into a land of rounded hills and forest, in the heart of which is Plynlimon. Huge, sprawling and bare, it spawns many important rivers, including the Severn and Wye. The view from the summit is breathtaking with hills on three sides and the sea to the west. After descending to the Nant-y-Moch Dam there remains a pleasant valley walk to the final check. Then lanes through Bow Street to Clarach Bay and the finish. A hot bath, food and a bed at Aberystwyth University rounded off a perfect day.
65 people started out and 55 survived to the coast on their feet. Many thanks to West Birmingham Y.H.A. for a memorable day out. Details of next year's Cross Wales will be available April - May next year.
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First badge for Across Wales Walk
This year was special, being the 21st Cross Wales. Doesn't time fly? The event was marked with special 'T' shirts, special certificates, the works! The start, as usual, was a bleary-eyed blast up the road from the border near Clun. By the time we were crossing Kerry Hill in the early morning light, eyes were brightened by the sight of a panorama of hills and valleys that is Wales.
On, to the boggy wilderness of Blae Linas where, in the distance, the massive bulk of Plynlymon could be seen rising out of its surrounding forests. The weather looked wet over there but it cleared in time for a dry crossing to the Nant-y-Moch Dam. It was too cloudy to see much, still you can't have everything. Most of the difficulties were now over. Moorland and valley to the village of Bont Goch followed by seven miles of tarmac road through Bow Street to the finish at Clarach Bay. Sounds like an anti-climax but, with a low, fiery sun setting Cardigan Bay alight, it was a magnificent end to the day.
For my own contribution to the 21st event I decided to fulfil a long standing ambition and do the double. I got a few blisters but it was worth it - I think. Thanks to Bob and Margaret Gold and the rest of the West Birmingham Y.H.A. for a marvellous day out.
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Time once again for the annual pilgrimage across the Principality from the border near Clun to the sea at Clarach.
As usual, the early stages provided some memorable experiences as daylight gently seeped across the Kerry Hills. The crystal clear air, combined with the early morning light resulted in some fabulous views of distant hills, some in silhouette. This is living!
With such a heady start the tarmac slog to Hafren Forest passed by almost easily. The weather stayed fine for the climb out of the forest to the summit of Plynlimon with its superb view of mountains and sea. This must be one of the few events where the finish can be seen 15 miles before you get there - I'm glad it's not all tarmac!
The rest of the route is straight forward: Nant-y-Moch Reservoir, Llyn Craig-y-Pistyll, Elerch, then 7 miles of tarmac, with the glint of the sea to spur us on. 78 people completed the route out of 80 starters, including another double crossing. Unfortunately, I don't have the person's name, but well done anyway! (This was Richard Rosser's first double crossing - SL) Hilary Johnson managed a personal best of 7 hours 55 minutes for the 48 miles incredible! Thanks to West Birmingham Y.H.A. for another superb day.
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I've always reckoned that the hardest part of the Cross Wales is getting out of a warm sleeping bag at 3.30 a.m.: Still, after several cups of tea and some toast, things began to look a little better. The walk in the cold pre-dawn to the coach taking us to the start completed the awakening process. Just as well, because the first few miles over Kerry Hill are done at a brisk pace and daylight comes slowly. It creeps slowly, with a reddish gleam like a furnace door opening behind a barrier of cloud.
At least it was dry and the miles passed quickly. Blue Linns, Llanidloes and leafy lanes leading into the heart of Hafren Forest. The approach to Plynlimon looked different this year, with large areas of forest newly felled. Strange to see an open network of valleys instead of an impenetrable barrier of conifers. The upper regions of Plynlimon lay in dense mist resulting in some interesting navigation, especially for two people who found themselves on the wrong side of the ridge. On to the Nant-y-Moch Dam and clear weather again. The hard part is over and there is a luminescence on the western horizon that can only be the sea.
On past lonely Llyn Craig-y-Pistyll and down into the rocky defile of Lawr-y-Cwm, an idyllic place on a sunny day. Down the valley to Elerch and from here it is tarmac all the way to the finish at Clarach Bay. The accommodation at Aberystwyth University was excellent (especially the hot bath!). There was a second successful double crossing by Richard Rosser - unsupported. Distance walking par excellence.
23rd Across Wales Walk - artwork
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Over the last few years the Cross Wales has gained a reputation for good weather. This year it nearly lost it! Five am found us standing on the Welsh Border near Clun, clad in waterproofs as a blustery wind and intermittent rain lay in ambush. The usual Kerry Hill sunrise was marred somewhat by low cloud, chased by the rain laden wind. Fortunately conditions dried out over the road miles through Llanidloes and along the infant Severn to Hafren Forest.
The solid mass of Plynlimon lay like a barrier in our path, covered with an even more solid mass of cloud. Conditions relented however, with only the summit area being badly affected. Some people got slightly lost I believe! By the time we reached the Nant-y-Moch dam and checkpoint 4 the weather was improving. Time for a quick cup of tea and off again, just Chris, Pete and me - sounds like a song! On past Llyn Craig-y-Pistyll followed by 2 miles of delightful valley tracks to Elerch and the final checkpoint.
The last few miles are tarmac but pleasant nevertheless. The finish is near, with tantalising views of the sea to spur us on. As always, the sight of the finish at Clarach Bay is most welcome.
Thanks to West Birmingham YHA group for another excellent event. Richard Rosser completed his third consecutive double crossing, congratulations Richard. 25th anniversary next year; shall I go for another double? I wonder....
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1988 is a special year for West Birmingham YHA Group. Not only is it the fortieth anniversary of its founding but 1988 also was the twenty-fifth year that the group has organised one of the classics of the walking calendar, the Across Wales Walk.
As celebration of the Silver Jubilee, the number of entrants was raised to 130, entailing the use of additional accommodation at Clun on the Friday evening. Special activities were also planned for the Sunday on return to Clun.
Reveille was at 3.15 am followed by breakfast, then transport to the border at Anchor for a 5 am start. Despite overnight showers the weather remained fine for the early stages, though underfoot conditions were reported 'wetter than usual' particularly in the Blue Linns area.
The 11 mile road section from checkpoint 2, through Llanidloes, to checkpoint 3 was, as usual, uneventful, but by the time the Hafren Forest was entered, the weather had changed to intermittent heavy downpours, seemingly so characteristic of the area.
At the traditional lunch stop the large number of entrants imposed a greater than usual strain on the resources of checkpoint assistants, but they excelled themselves in providing tired walkers with soup, tea, coffee and moral support!
Through the desolate remains of the harvested Hafren Forest then onto the summit of Plynlimon, most walkers had the privilege of viewing the finish at the coast still some 16 miles away. One group of walkers, having been unable to shake off the attention of a Collie dog at checkpoint 3, arrived at Nant-y-Moch, 7 miles distant. Like some of the other exhausted participants, the dog could only by persuaded to drink whilst in the prone position! (The dog later repaid the checkers' charitable actions by being sick in the minibus on the way to Aberystwyth Police Station!) Meanwhile the first walkers had reached the finish at Clarach Bay in 9 hours 15 minutes to be met by bright sunshine but a strong onshore wind that sapped walkers' energy and extinguished checkers' gas stoves for the rest of the day. The last determined walkers arrived some 7 hours later and with only 11 retirements from the 117 starters; the number of finishers represented an all-time record.
Individual performances particularly worthy of note were those of Richard Rosser and John Hodges who set out from Clarach Bay at 2 pm on Friday making a 15 hour unsupported crossing to Anchor through the night. They then joined the field at the start and re-traced their steps back to Clarach. This was Richard's fourth consecutive 'double' although he informs me it will be his last, for the moment! Credit must also go to Neville Tandy on his twenty-third completion of the event, a record that will really take some beating.
Following the Saturday evening spent at Aberystwyth, participants returned to Clun for an enjoyable barbecue lunch and presentation ceremony. The highlight of proceedings was a description of the very first Across Wales Walk by its organiser Roy Millard. Roy, having successfully completed the walk the previous day, explained the origins of the walk initially as a means to link youth hostels adopted by West Birmingham YHA Group to encourage an increase in 'overnights' at the end of the summer season. Roy also reflected on how the walk had changed from its humble beginnings to the form it is today.
Congratulations to all who took part and thanks to 'West' for putting together a most enjoyable event.
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Most of the checkers and walkers met up at the Memorial Hall, Clun, on the night of Friday September 1 - ready for a very early start the next day. We were woken at 3.15 am to bright lights and music. We sleepily ate toast and marmalade, helped down by tea and coffee. This was followed by a short coach ride to the Welsh border for a 5 am start. There, two walkers who had walked over from the finish at Clarach met us to start their return journey!
Dawn came quite early as we walked up the road to Kerry Hill, but no sunshine! In fact, we were to see very little sunshine all day, although visibility was excellent.
The section between checkpoints 1 and 2, over the Blue Linns, is usually very wet, but was much drier this year because of the dry summer. We were very glad to see the refreshments at checkpoint 2. Then came the long road section through Llanidloes to the Hafren Forest picnic site (checkpoint 3). There were many large juicy blackberries on this stretch!
Then on through Hafren Forest - the upper part now extensively felled. It does look different without the trees! Then a long climb onto Plynlimon followed - but what a view from the ridge! Most of Cardigan Bay was visible ahead, still a distance away, but we could see where we would finish the walk. Then followed the awkward descent of Plynlimon to the Nant-y-Moch dam, with checkpoint 4 on the other side.
A little further on we approached Llyn Craig-y-Pistyll, expecting to search for a rather hidden path. We were amazed to see an eight foot wide swathe cut across the lumpy heather, apparently cut by the Water Board. It led in the right direction, so most people followed it. Then came the steep drop into the valley leading to Bontgoch (checkpoint 5). Unusually, there were many mushrooms to be found on the valley floor.
All that remained was the seven mile road walk to Clarach - a marvellous finish by a shimmering silver sea, the horizon broken by the mountains of North Wales, jet black against the fading light.
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There are walks, and there are challenge walks, and there is the Across Wales Walk. Nothing in the walking calendar can quite compare with this 45-mile walk from the Welsh border at Anchor, near Clun, to Clarach Bay on the coast near Aberystwyth. It is a unique walking experience and one which leaves you with a feeling of immense satisfaction.
It really ought not to because at 3.15am (yes, you did read that correctly) walking is the last thing you want to think about. But there we were (George, Sheila, Eric, Pam and me, Ian) tucking into coffee and toast after perhaps as much as 3 hours sleep. At 4am we left the hall at Clun to catch the coach which tools us to the border at Anchor from where at 5am we began walking across Wales.
The route tools us over Kerry Hill and into the daylight. We teamed up with Gillian Walker, a good friend from Tenbury Wells. She was being sponsored for the walk to raise money for Tenbury Hospital. True to form, despite setting a good pace we found ourselves sweeping yet again!
From the first checkpoint (7 miles) we crossed the Blue Linns. Just over the top you can see the next checkpoint (14 miles), but not the deep valley in between. With its steep descent and equally steep ascent, this is the place where you take off those extra layers of clothing!
Next, the road wanders down to the town of Llanidloes from where you begin an 8-mile walk (slog, some might say) into the Hafron Forest and checkpoint 3 (25-miles). The six of us were now a little way up the field and walking well; nevertheless the checkpoint seemed to take an eternity to reach. We arrived there just after noon. The warm, buttered scones went down well and set us up for the trek over Plymlimon.
At almost 2500 feet Plynlimon is most definitely a mountain and when the mist is down, as it was that day, careful navigation and sensible clothes are essential. We came across a fellow walker ill-clad for the wet weather going the wrong way. The mist spoiled a splendid view from the top of Plynlimon. On a clear day you can see the entire coastline of Cardigan Bay, Snowdonia and Cader Idris and almost as far as the Blacks Mountains. We did not linger but made our way across the tussock to the next checkpoint at the Nant-y-Moch Dam (32-miles and 3.30pm).
It is here that a great feeling of elation sets in. The walk is nearly over - only 13 miles to go! Only 13 miles, and about 8 of those along roads, but never mind, with the scent of the sea in our nostrils we set off once again. The last seven miles from the last checkpoint (38 miles) to the finish are a real test of mind over feet. After coming so far the will to get to Clarach Bay is very strong, even though Clarach never seemed to get any nearer.
We did finish, in great style, at 7.30pm (14.5 hours in all) and, yes, I did get my boots wet. I hadn't meant to, but I was too stiff to dodge the wave. This was the first time we had ever finished in the daylight, but what a dingy place Clarach is. It looks much better in the dark!
And now for the good bit - overnight accommodation is at the Penbryn Halls of Aberystwyth University. Here is a chance to have a long, soothing bath, free cups of tea or coffee and a comfy bed. A trip to the pub is another option but we had to walk up a hill to get to it. On Sunday morning there is the choice of a full English of a continental breakfast followed by the presentation of the certificates and a coach trip back to Clun.
There is no other walk like the Across Wales, it is a marvellous weekend away and one no long distance walker should miss. The organisers,· West Birmingham Hostelling Group, did an excellent job.
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It was 5 am on a dark September Saturday on the Welsh border just west of Clun. Was the early coffee and toast, followed by the coach ride from Clun village just a dream? No, the hard tarmac and the chill morning air proclaimed the reality. By the time the track across Kerry Hill was reached, mind and body were awake and the legs were pounding out the first of 48 miles of Welsh countryside under a paling dawn sky. At checkpoint 2, after 14 miles, there was tea and biscuits before the descent to Llanidloes in what was now bright and sunny weather, with the promise of better to come. The next 7 miles is a tarmac slog, saved from tedium by superb views along the valley of the infant Severn. After checkpoint 3 in the Hafren Forest, the way rises onto the bare flanks of Plynlimon, source of the Severn and Wye. On, to the summit and magnificent views to Aberystwyth and Cardigan Bay, seen through groping tendrils of cloud just above my head. Time to descend into a kinder, coastal climate. The final 14 miles from Nant-y-Moch to the finish, at Clarach Bay, were done in mild sunny conditions, a perfect end to a superb event. Thanks again West Birmingham YHA Group for all the hard work, it was worth it
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Do you find that challenge events have an atmosphere all their own? For me the Cross Wales is noted for it's spectacular sunrises. This year was no exception.
Six a.m. may be an ungodly hour but if you are standing on top of Kerry Hill bathed in the orange glow of a dawn sky, well, it made the 5am start from the border near Clun worthwhile. Dawn's blazing panoply overlaid ground mist which chilled the hollows, leaving a thin hoar frost on the grass. It was a time to be up and walking before the magic was extinguished by the sun's warmth.
Descending from the Blue Linns the magic was gone, replaced by a perfect late summer day. For the next few miles a tarmac lane is followed, through the valley of the infant Severn in gorgeous hill country leading up to Hafren Forest and checkpoint 3. An excellent place to relax and recover before tackling Pumlumon, at over 2,400 feet, the highest section of the route. With a cloudless sky and fairly good visibility, navigation was easy all the way to checkpoint 4 at the Nant-y-Moch dam. Here, the Black Country group's tea reached parts that other tea can't reach! Then westward again, past Llyn Craigypistyll and on to Bontgoch and checkpoint 5.
From here it's just seven miles grind on tarmac to the finish at Clarach Bay. Not so simple of course if legs and feet are suffering badly. As usual, there were many who, against all odds, forced shattered limbs to continue functioning to complete the crossing, as well as others who finished by early afternoon, with a new record time of 7 hours 22 minutes being achieved. They all deserve our congratulations and respect. Thanks to West Birmingham Hostelling Group for another excellent weekend.
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The walk began at Anchor at 5am under brilliant starry sky which soon gave way to a magnificent sunrise. By then we (Mark, Eric, Don and Ian) were well along the Kerry Ridgeway and once the mist had cleared, the day turned out to be superb - blue skies, sun and the hint of a breeze. Llanidloes was passed just after 10am and by noon we had reached the Hafren Forest checkpoint (25 miles) and time for a spot of lunch.
Mark by this time had left the rest of us, a sensible move as our ascent of Plynlimon was rather slow. Haze spoiled the views from the summit, but we could just make a caravan at the Nant Y Moch Dam, (32 miles), where Sheila and George (Boden) were manning the checkpoint.
The drinks and jam sandwiches offered by Sheila and George were most welcome, especially as there were still 13 miles to go. Steady walking brought us to Clarach Bay (45 miles) just in time to see the sun sink into the sea. We finished at 7.50pm. Mark finished a little ahead of us at 6.29pm!
The overnight accommodation at Aberystwyth University was excellent and after a good breakfast next morning a coach returned us to Clun.
It was a lovely walk and one well worth doing.
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45 miles across Wales in 18 hours, from the English border at Anchor to the sea at Clarach Bay.
This was the fourth time I had entered the Across Wales Walk. To say I had walked across a country in one day was, if I am honest, my first lure to the event, but since that first entry it has become the first I enter on my walking calendar every year.
The pre-5am start is no deterrent to my enthusiasm as I anticipate the splendour of sunrise over the Kerry Ridgeway. Then onto Blue Linns, a little on the soggy side this year due to the'August Monsoon'.
Just before Blue Linns we tagged on to a young fellow who seemed to be stretching his muscles! A little early to be having cramp we thought. Our embarrassment became apparent at the awards event next morning when we realised he was a 'double traverser: having already walked from Clarach Bay to Anchor the night before, he was just returning with us, and he disappeared ahead of us. Amazing!!
I always know what's coming at the second checkpoint; you see the old school house nestled on the top of this hill ahead of you, but the drop to the valley floor then the short steep climb to the checkpoint still leaves me breathless! Then it's the long hard slog on the metalled road through Llanidloes to the Hafren Forest. It's quite a pretty trek to the forest but the road is mentally and physically sapping.
It was more than worth it for the succulent juicy bread pudding and copious amounts of hot tea at this splendid checkpoint.
Now for Pumlumon; should we wade across the stream or go 30 yards down stream and take the bridge. Guess what we did the first year? Now we take the bridge! Pumlumon was where we expected to meet all the rain and gales forecast, but we were lucky. Not only did it stay fine here, but for the entire day. For me, once over this mound it's downhill to home and Clarach Bay, but it would be unfair on this beautiful terrain not to mention this dramatic hill country, the joy of first catching sight of the sea from the trig point, with other distant ranges in view. Through Llyn Craig-y-pystyll and on to checkpoint 5. Don't take the right hand side down this valley: it's too steep and with dubious scree, definitely precarious.
By now Janice, one of my fellow walkers, was consuming her eighth Mars bar. "These are great!" she exclaimed, speeding on like a new car with a full tank of fuel.
We did not linger long at the reservoir, checkpoint 4, due to the number of biting insects. We have christened this checkpoint 'Midge-y-Moch' as opposed to Nant-y-Moch.
Seven miles to go now, all road downhill after Bontgoch, Elerch, checkpoint 5. Graham changed into his turbo trainers, Chris disappeared ahead to finish in the top 30, whilst we looked forward to a hot cup of tea at the finish on the beach, and so it was sunrise to sunset, Janice's ninth Mars bar, another beautiful day and a wonderful walk.
This walk is fantastic, it has everything including great overnight accommodation when you finish. Well done Chris Palmer, Stuart and the team of West Birmingham Hostelling Group.
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This walk is a particular favourite of mine in spite of the unavoidable amount of road walking involved This year's walk, my fifth, was the best yet.
The 45 mile walk began for George, Eric and me, at the Welsh border, just before 5 am, under a brilliant starry sky. We were on the Kerry Ridgeway in time to witness a truly glorious sunrise, a prelude to what proved to be, despite the forecast, ideal walking weather: cool but clear and sunny.
Underfoot, the Blue Linns didn't disappoint us; they were as wet and soggy as ever. The great surprise was the construction work that was going on up there. A wind farm, so we discovered later, is being built on the summit ridge. Next year we may be dodging the blades but at least the navigation will be easier!
Plynlimon is always something of a climb but it was worth it -the views were superb. To the north you could see Snowdonia so clearly that it was possible to pick out Crib Goch; in front, to the west, the whole of the Cardigan Bay coast could be seen from the Lleyn Peninsula to Pembrokeshire; whilst to the south the mountains stood out in clear relief. Behind us, to the east, was Mid Wales. There can be few places with panoramas like that.
Our walk to the coast was a real treat, with occasional glimpses of the sea and the sun glistening on the water. We finished at Clarach Bay (a place that looks much better in the dark) just in time to witness a magnificent sunset.
We were taken from Clarach to Aberystwyth University where accommodation was provided for us. Now, finding our way across Wales was one thing, finding our way to the Students Union bar in the evening was another thing entirely, so we retired early, a little fatigued.
A full English or continental breakfast is provided next morning, followed by the presentation of certificates and a coach trip back to Clun. It is a tremendous weekend and next year is the 30th Across Wales Walk. It is a walk I can heartily recommend.
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91 walkers left Anchor on the Welsh Border at 5am at the start of the 30th annual Across Wales Walk. Thankfully the morning weather was dry but with a crisp frost, that ensured walkers shoes remained unusually dry during the early stages. In the Blue Linns area many walkers were surprised to encounter the ever-growing wind farm, interesting yet somewhat out of place in this desolate area. By midday most walkers had reached the Hafren Forest and checkpoint 3 by which time walking conditions were near ideal, with only light breezes and prolonged spells of sunshine, tempered only by the monotony of the long road from Llanidloes.
Later arrivals at checkpoint 4, Nant-y-moch Reservoir, were bemused to find their route clashing with that of the "Targa Rusticana" motor rally for classic cars. This provided interest and much amusement for checkpoint staff who were regularly mistaken for Marshals and asked for directions and times.
The good weather persisted for the remainder of the day as walkers proceeded through checkpoint 5 and on to the finish at Clarach Bay, as incongruous as ever with its fairground, caravan site, chip shop, 'tourists' and tired yet elated walkers. 85 walkers completed the event with three hardy souls completing 'doubles' having made unsupported 45 mile crossings through the previous day and night to reach Anchor in time for the start.
Little did walkers know that, on arrival at Aberystwyth Halls of Residence they faced the final challenge - Hunt the Room Number, followed by Find The Bar! Sorry folks, the place is like a rabbit warren and the last place for tired legs to explore; we'll try a different system next year.
Thanks to West Birmingham Hostelling Group, Raynet and all who took part for making this event a continued success. See you all again next year.
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30th Across Wales Walk - September 4th 1993It's 4.57am. What a brilliant sky A bright moon to show us the way and we were off. Al, Ann, George, Sheila and myself struck off through the forest at the first bend and left the other 88 to find their own way. Half an hour on our own and then we were back with the madding crowd having overtaken quite a few of them. Along the Kerry Ridgeway the eastern sky was becoming lighter and we descended through frost pockets to the first checkpoint. Alma, Arthur, Bob and Sandra overtook us on the road to the wind farm and couldn't understand why we were in front, but our group did have an old sage to guide them!
Viv was at the second checkpoint when we arrived and took our wet socks and boots to get dried for the mountain. The 11 miles of road to Checkpoint Three still drags, but we managed to find a path behind Kwik-Save in Llanidloes that saved half a mile. We briefly saw George, Sheila, Eric and Ian at the Hafron Forest picnic spot before taking the forest track to Plynlimon. With dry socks and boots and feet repaired after the hot road, the ascent of the mountain was easier than I expected.
It was quite clear at the summit and we had good views of Cardigan Bay with Lleyn and Bardsey to the north and misty Preselys in the south. A brief photo stop with the Thorns and then down to Nant-y-Moch across some very boggy ground. The two-mile stretch into the fifth checkpoint at Bont Goch is idyllic walking - beautiful scenery, grass like a velvet carpet and only seven miles to go. If only it would stop here - the road to the sea goes on for ever and I hate it!
We arrived before sunset and dipped our feet in the sea before being transported to Aberystwyth University. What a day! I loved it! Roll on the 35th!
The eight members
of the former Black Country LDWA Local Group who completed the 30th
Across Wales Walk
proudly display their certificates, report authors Ian Morton (R) and Roy Millard (next to R).
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Saturday, 4th September - up at 6.00am (they must be well onto the Kerry Hills by now) - quick dash to the School House [2nd] Checkpoint (took me 2hrs 5mins from home!) - found an old friend, Wendy, in charge of the checkpoint - not many minutes passed before Ray, Ann and Al turned up - phew! I'd only just made it!
I was given wet, sweaty socks and boots to dry and the car became a mobile washing line, with socks and trousers hanging out of the windows and boots on the back shelf. George and Sheila and then Eric, Ian and friends arrived - nice to see they are all doing well.
They set off to Llanidloes and the Hafron Forest - 11 miles of road walking and I dawdled past them in the car. "I'll wait in Llanidloes and take photos" I thought - I chose a good spot and waited patiently. Suddenly there were George and Sheila - where is Ray - and Ann and Al? They had left the School House well in front of these two! "Short cut" says George, licking his lolly -"nice to know", I thought. I did at least get an apology of sorts as I passed them once again on the road.
I arrived at the picnic spot. The checkers suggested I took my smelly socks to the other side of the car park!! I did and spread myself and my chattels over the fence in the corner and made myself a coffee and waited. I went to find Ray's bag and the girl on the checkpoint said "Oh, you must be Viv if that's your bag" - she'd just been reading the 'walk' article in the "Strider" - so now I'm famousl!
Roy arrives at 11.45 with Ann and Al close behind. Half an hour Roy allows himself for Iunch and sore feet administration and then its off again for the onslaught on Plynlimon I'm once again left with wet footwear to dry out as best I can!
Then after 40 minutes of Rod Stewart and wonderful scenery for company I find myself at Nant-y-Moch - much easier in the car than all that way over the mountain, although the gated roads are a bit of a bother when you are on your own especially when you have to shoo sheep away before you dare open them! I sat and watched "my lot" all the way down Plynlimon, through the binoculars. I noticed that Ann and Al made Roy lead the way through the bogs! I met them on the road and gave Ann's rucksack a lift back to the dam. They really look very fit considering the distance they've walked. Such lovely views today.
After those three left the checkpoint I went back to where the road meets the mountain, passing Ian and Eric on the way, to wait for George and Sheila who I could see coming down the mountain. Sheila suddenly disappeared in the long bog-grass. I don't know what she was doing but she came back up in a very muddy state! I gave them drinks and carried Sheila's rucksack back to the dam.
Then it was Barbara Dickson to keep me company back to the main road and round to Bow Street. Navigation became a bit difficult for me because I had only a road atlas to find the next checkpoint with. Several wrong turnings later and I found myself back at Bow Street. I had to ask one of the walkers where he had come from! Nearly there and I met hubby and company and was once again presented with rucksacks to carry. I went on to the checkpoint to find Ian and Eric lounging about on picnic chairs. Suddenly George's red shirt appeared on the approaching path - up jumped Ian and Eric "We're off now or George will catch up!" - or words to that effect. George and Sheila had made up a lot of time in the last few miles.
Then it was the last long plod to the sea - even in the car it seemed an unending road! The sun was casting lovely red reflection on the sea as Roy, Ann and Al appeared at the top of the last hill. I set up the banner, set the camera and waited for the magic moment when they reached the end. It was 7.15pm when they triumphantly crossed the finishing line. Half an hour later George, Sheila, Eric and Ian made it too just its the sun was dropping over the horizon What timing!
Well done everyone - you all have my utmost admiration!
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As I limped into the office on Monday morning the usual conversations of "have you had a nice weekend?", followed by "What did you do?", punctuated around the corridors.
I explained. "Oh" they said as they calculated the speed of my weekend procession to be a mere three miles per hour and immediately relegated the achievement in their minds to a "So what, that ain't much''.
So that was that, my weekend dismissed as a mere insignificance.
Well, they were wrong. The few words of "I walked the breadth of Wales at the weekend" does not begin to describe the events I experienced. There I was, an interloper, a road runner by preference, who had gate-crashed a private party for a selected few who were to walk across Wales in a day. The rules were simple: get up at 3.00am, start the walk at 5.00am on the Shropshire - Powys border at Anchor and make sure you finish by 11.00pm the same day at Clarach Bay, north of Aberystwyth, calling at five designated points on the way.
Oh what a walk it was, a near full moon, a star lit sky, the Kerry Ridgeway, the wind farm on the Blue Linns, the scenery, the Hafron Forest, the green valleys and streams the stone cottages and chapels - Mid Wales is truly beautiful.
In between the start and the finish was a little matter of Plynlimon - a grassy mound standing at 2467ft. The climb was heart breaking but at the top it was heart stopping -magnificent: Cader Idris to the north, rolling hills to the south, Lleyn Peninsula and Bardsey Island to the north west, and our next objective, the Nant-y-Moch dam below.
"Straight over the top" they said, "not the Girl Guides' route". It appeared to be a sheer drop. It wasn't, but it was pretty close to it. This was where the damage was done. The descent was agony and the next several miles are ones that I wish to erase from my mind forever, including my walking into an arboraceous specimen.
But we finished. The original objective set by us was to complete the 45 miles in under 15 hours. The result was that we came away with new friends and happy memories, courtesy of the Black Country LDWA Group.
For the record, we made our time 14 hours and 59 minutes, but to take part and complete the course was enough in itself. It is a super, remarkable walk.
"So what did you do at the weekend, I see, not much eh!"
Well I saw the sun rise on the Kerry Ridgeway, I topped Plynlimon, and I saw the sun set at Clarach and dipped my toes into the waters of Cardigan Bay and all this in the company of same great people.
Marvellous, just absolutely marvellous.
Europe's largest wind farm above Newtown provides a recent additional feature to the 'Cross Wales; the route cuts between the rows of its 50m high turbines before heading down to checkpoint 2. However most of the 83 starters who left the English border at Anchor at 5:00 am could only hear the whooshing of the blades above them a s they struggled to navigate through the mist and drizzle that cloaked the high ground of mid-Wales. By lunch time, the organisers began to expect that a significant number of retirements would occur before the crossing of Plynlimon as the weather appeared to have set in for the day but, on the whole, the walkers showed they were made of sterner stuff; the drizzle, fortunately accompanied by only light winds, providing much needed cooling on the 11 mile road section either side of Llanidloes.
Plynlimon in mist played its usual cruel tricks on some participants who experienced difficulties in locating checkpoint 4 at Nant-y-Moch but the majority of walkers, by now soaked to the skin, continued on to checkpoint 5 at Elerch and then on to the finish at Clarach, the last brave souls arriving at 10:30 p.m. in lashing rain. Credit must go to those who took part, all but 13 finishing in what was the wettest AWW since 1983. Clive Lungmuss, Peter Stevenson and Richard Rosser performed double crossings of the route, the latter completing this feat of endurance for the ninth occasion. Commiserations go particularly to Peter Gretton who retired on the return leg of the double.
Thanks go to West Birmingham Hostelling Group and friends who organised and marshalled the walk, to RAYNET who went to great efforts to maintain communications and of course to all the walkers who took part. Cloth badges are still available - send cheque for £1 + SAE to S Lamb, 42 Hunt End Lane, Redditch, Worcestershire, B97 5UW
Stuart Lamb 
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This year's Walk - the 31st and my 8th - was altogether a different experience from any of the previous Walks. The weather was not good. Several Black Country folk were there: Frank and Richard Stallard, Bob Bills, Trevor Woodcock, Mike Buckley, Eric Duckett and myself.
Although we started the walk under starry skies by around 7.30 it had begun to rain and walking in waterproofs is not a pleasant experience. At least we were warm and wet with our waterproofs instead of being cold and wet without them!
The instructions for crossing the Blue Linns (head for wind turbine LT30 and then head for the radio aerial) were rather pointless as we could not see any of the wind turbines because of the hill fog, and as for the aerial... Anyway, a nifty piece of navigating brought us to Checkpoint 2.
After Checkpoint 3 the weather worsened, the wind increased and the rain came heavier, just what was needed for crossing Plynlimon. Hill fog again made navigating very tricky. When we reached the ridge leading to Plynlimon we realised we were actually heading the wrong way, east instead of west towards the summit. It is so easy to make mistakes and lose your way in hill fog. At least two people missed Plynlimon altogether and found themselves to the north of the mountain instead of being to the west of it. (Don't worry Bob and Trevor, your secret is safe with me!)
At the bottom of the mountain we changed into dry socks and I put dry trousers on. Not that it made any difference because we were just as wet before we reached the next checkpoint, but at least I felt better.
The rain actually stopped about five minutes before we reached the finish. We were all very wet and bedraggled and looking forward to a nice hot bath. Despite it all I really enjoyed the walk, it has been a long time since I had to do some 'real' navigating. I look forward to next years Across Wales Walk.
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Major alterations to the New Memorial Hall at Clun forced a change of venue for the Friday night 'sleep-in' before the event. The alternative accommodation proved small but just about adequate for the brief interval between lights-out and reveille at 3:15 a.m. However, after breakfast the dripping roof of the church rooms indicated that heavy rain, which lashed the entire event in 1994, had returned to quench drought-bound Central Wales. Accordingly, the walkers had a very wet start at Anchor at 4:45 a.m. but, by the time most of the participants had passed checkpoint 1, the heavy rain had stopped and the mist, which often seems to clothe the Blue Linns area, progressively began to clear. By lunch time at Hafren forest, most walkers were now enjoying good clear weather but those on the summit of Plynlimon experienced an increasingly strong westerly wind which, characteristically, blew in the face of the participants for the remainder of the walk. Nevertheless, the conditions were close to ideal and some good times were recorded, first home being Paul Aird in 8 hours 18 minutes.
Three stalwarts of the event, Peter Stevenson, Peter Gretton and Clive Lungmuss, completed the 'conventional' double crossing, setting off from Aberystwyth on the preceding Friday and arriving at Anchor in time to take part in the event proper. A further two walkers, Ian Jones and Claire Matthews, did a new variant on the double by heading east after breakfast on Sunday morning to return to Clun via Rhayader on foot over the next two days; this made an unprecedented five 'double-crossers' in all. Also what is believed to be the first 'canine' completion took place. Not some enterprising attempt by a super-fit individual to make the event more difficult by walking on all-fours (although we expect someone will try this next year now we've mentioned it!) but the achievement of Flossie who appeared to take the event completely in her stride.
As a postscript to the presentation ceremony at the end of the event, those present may have been given the impression that the future of the 'AWW' is in doubt. We would like to reassure all those who loyally support this event each year that the 33rd Across Wales Walk will definitely take place in 1996. In addition, a revision to the route may be implemented to reduce the amount of road walking in the middle section, April's 'Strider' will carry more details. We therefore look forward to seeing both regulars and first-timers next year.
Finally, thanks to West Birmingham Hostelling Group, Dyfed and Powys RAYNET, and all those who took part for making this event a continuing success.
Stuart Lamb 
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Walkers 'sleeping-in' at Clun before the event benefited from the recently completed renovation of the New Memorial Hall. However, despite the increase in sleeping area, reveille came as early as ever at 3:15 a.m. followed by the usual quick breakfast before taking the coach to Anchor for a 4:55 am start. Fortunately, conditions were dry for the early stages of the walk, apart from the dew which usually settles upon the Kerry Hills on these late summer mornings. The walkers then followed the revised route for 1996 with its new locations for checkpoints 1 and 2, thus avoiding the original 11 mile stretch of road walking, passing well north of Llanidloes. Major navigation problems over this infrequently-walked area of Powys were generally averted, waymarking and comprehensive 'recce-ing' having been carried out prior to the event by both entrants and organisers. The original route was then followed through the Hafren Forest, over Plynlimon, Nant-y-Moch and on to Clarach Bay. The weather remained kind for the full duration of the event and, as ever, the hospitality of Penbryn Halls, University of Aberystwyth was generally enjoyed by all.
After breakfast on the Sunday morning, certificates were presented to the 58 walkers who completed the event within the time limit. Fastest times were recorded by the trio of Martin McGreary, Will Etheridge and John Newman who completed the event in 9 hours 16 minutes. Another regular trio of 'hardmen', Peter Stevenson, Richard Rosser and Clive Lungmuss, completed particularly creditable unsupported 'double crossings' of the new route through the Friday night before the event. Congratulations must go to Richard on his tenth such 'double' and also to Neville Tandy on his thirtieth completion of the event.
Overall, the revised route was generally enjoyed by the entrants, passing, as it does, through some particularly scenic countryside. However, the revision was also judged to have increased the challenge of the event, a view exemplified by Clive Lungmuss' experiences on the outward leg of his 'double'. He rigidly followed his yellow tape markers from a previous recce, fighting his way through the more thorny and impenetrable sections of the new route. Only in daylight on his return leg did he discover a parallel line of brand new stiles a few feet to one side of his markers, these having been installed just a few days before the event!
On a sad note, regulars on the AWW may remember John Dixon, a valued helper on the walk for many years, who died in May after a long fight against cancer. We were honoured to be joined by John's widow, Mary, who laid John's ashes to rest on the slopes of Plynlimon during the event. John's humour, enthusiasm and sheer determination in the face of his illness will be missed by all who knew him.
Finally, thanks to the members of West Birmingham Hostelling Group, Dyfed and Powys RAYNET, and all those who took part for making this event such a success. See you all again in September 1997.
Stuart Lamb 
All the above articles are reproduced from 'Strider' with permission except those marked '*' which originally appeared in LDWA Black Country Group Newsletters.
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