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In my last blog post (see post #268) I made the comment that “You’re never far from a mountain in Wales”. It also has to be said that you’re also never far from a bog! Regular hikers in the Peak District and Pennines can rightly lay claim on the blackest, foulest bogs in the UK, but Wales is up there in the ‘Bog Top 10’. Mind you, some bogs are not what they seem to be.
The Migneint-Arenig-Dduallt Special Area of Conservation is thought to be the biggest area of blanket bog in Wales – it’s also an eco-system which can store more greenhouse gasses than the Amazon rainforest. Recent work there has restored the bog to its original state by filling in centuries-old drainage ditches, which is helping to prevent floods in lower areas as well as capturing greenhouse gasses. Thankfully, our planned walk back in February 2019 avoided the wettest area.
At this point, many readers will be thinking ‘where the hell is this?’ Snowdonia is better known for its soaring peaks and rocky crests or big mountain ranges such as the Carneddau, but where do you find the Welsh equivalent of the Amazon rainforest? And why would anyone want to hike through a soggy blanket bog? The lonely outpost of Y Gamallt gave us the best of both worlds, a glimpse into the Migneint without getting our boots too wet.
The interest began even before we arrived at the start point. High on the B4407 road between Pentrefoelas and Ffestiniog lies the ancient Ffynnon Eidda (Eidda’s Well). Eidda is believed to be a 6th Century Welsh saint, but the site was probably a holy place before Christian times. The well is now surrounded by a low stone enclosure with the inscription ‘Ffynnon Eidda – Yf a bu ddiolchgar’ (‘Drink and be thankful’) and in the 18th and 19th centuries it was a stopping place for cattle drovers herding their animals towards Pentrefoelas, then on into England.
We weren’t tempted to test the possible healing effects of the spring water and carried on to the parking place for our walk at Llyn Dubach (Small Black Lake). We then had a short (1 km) walk back up the road before heading across country towards Y Gamallt and the soaring cliffs of Craig Goch (Red Crag). The views were superb and constantly changing, but the cliff-top walk didn’t last long before we were heading down to the twin lakes of Llynnau Gamallt and an old shooting hut, now used by fishermen.
Being a bit of a fan of bothies, shooting huts and the like, I decided to get some pics of the interior – a bit shabby by standards, but this didn’t phase Border Collie ‘Mist’, whose search for possible crumbs left by the fishermen was so rapid that the photo came out blurred! Even more odd was the photo of David Bowie next to the window…..next to a dodgy looking axe! What that was all about, I have no idea!
Then it was time to head back. It had been a short outing on a short February day, but worth the effort if only to walk through an area that doesn’t get much attention from hikers. We probably spent as long travelling to and from the area as we did walking, but the best time was to come, at least for the Collie – by the time we arrived home it was dinner time.
Text and images © Paul Shorrock, except Images tagged Nigel Brown, David Medcalf and Jeremy Bolwell, which are taken from the Geograph Project and are reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence