Ron Jeffries, our Uncle and great cyclist, passed away in early in December so, in his honour, a ride was planned to his favourite trekking grounds, the Tywi Valley. During this winter trip we were to ascend his and our much-loved mountain - Drygarn Fawr. Things were cold as we set off from Beulah, -2 degrees Celsius and it was not to rise above freezing for the whole weekend. Camping was not a good idea in this weather so our destination was the Dolgoch bunkhouse, a remote and isolated farmhouse in the Tywi valley which had been turned into accommodation by the Youth Hostel Association. Our route was more or less the reverse of a ride we took in September. The forest track up from the mountain bike centre at Nant-y-Hwch was ascended easily; the open mountain up to Carnau 537metres was not too bad, although crossing an icy stream proved awkward for a minute! The chilly wind was behind us, the sun shone and our first view of the magical Drygarn was sighted! The path to Drygarn looked simple, less than 2 miles over the mountain, in practice this was to be difficult as it involved a lot of tussock humping. A track could be found for a while but would disappear into more tussocks. There was one factor in our favour; the famous bogs of this area were frozen so we were able to hop over creaking ice without getting soaked to our knees! After awhile the lower cairn of Drygarn was reached. The wind was cold and the ground frozen solid as we climbed our way to the great summit of Drygarn 645 metres. Here we had a beautiful view of the setting Sun but night-time was approaching so we made a quick descent down the track towards the forestry. The mud we had picked up earlier had frozen solid which made our wheels seized up, my front wheel had to be taken out to free it of ice. As it neared complete darkness the forest track was joined. The lamps were lit, but there was another problem, our brakes were frozen which made for an interesting descent! This track drops down at the head of the Irfon valley, ahead of us lay the infamous Devil's Staircase that climbs, snakes and weaves its way up to 475 metres over the Pen-y-Cnwc Mountain. The temperature plummeted and the road turned into a sheet of ice in places. There was no moon that night just a display of stars, in the valley below the faint gas lights of the bunkhouse could be made out. We were frozen solid by now and the small sign for Dolgoch was a welcome sight! There is a rough track down to the house which has no electricity, thankfully there were about nine very friendly people there and there was a large open fire burning. After cooking our food and talking to the other occupants for a while, we retired to our ice cold bunks for the night.
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Day 1 ~ Day 2