On the Mothering Sunday weekend, myself and 4 female friends Fran, Susie, Lowri and Hattie (the dog) set off for a 2 day walk with an overnight stay at a bothy. The area in Mid-Wales around the Elan Valley is very remote, and in fact during the 1800’s was considered one of the remotest areas of the UK, it’s stark, bleak but beautiful (in a bleak sort of way…)
Parking the car and starting at Grid Ref 873637 the route is very easy to navigate (apart from the final bit – if it’s dark), non-technical and primarily flat. Some would think it a bit of a slog, but there are great panoramic views and sociable too as you can walk 2-3 abreast.
About two thirds along there is a river crossing, and depending upon time of year it can either be jumped over or in our case waded through. Icy cold water, however after several river crossings thigh deep in Iceland – everything is relative!
The route continues along a wide track until the turn off to the bothy that cannot be seen from the track. It was dark by then so we took a compass bearing off the map and followed that, the route we took was very very boggy and we didn’t spot the bothy until we were pretty much at it – and that was only thanks to Lowri’s super head torch (as described in From Dusk to Dawn).
The bothy REALLY is the Hilton of bothies – it is clean and well stocked. We carried everything in with us including the wood for the log burner but there was no need as there was an entire woodstore full, plus a gas stove, pans, plates, mugs, cutlery, candles, matches and even a dozen or so tins of baked beans! There is even a flush toilet (with toilet paper) – pure bothy luxury…
On my return from the trip I contacted the Elan Valley Trust who maintain the bothy to enquire into it’s past, this is what Alec the Estate Manager said:-
I understand the house dates back to the mid 19th Century and was for a large part of its life the farmhouse for the surrounding Claerddu Farm. This use ceased in the mid 20th Century and the property was used as a shelter for shepherds whilst carrying out sheep operations. About 20 years ago we undertook some basic restoration works so as to be able to encourage people to use it as a bothy. It is still used by shepherds when gathering the adjoining sheep flocks.
We had a lovely ‘girlie’ evening eating our fresh pasta meal washed down with wine (no need to skimp on lovely food) whilst crowding around the log burner – with our feet in plastic bags while we dried our boots and socks out. Then it was upstairs on the sleeping platforms for a broken night sleep caused by a roomful of females with small bladders!
The next morning we woke up to snow! Alas not enough for a snowman but did make for a great monochrome landscape around the bothy. After our Mothering Sunday breakfast – porridge with a fried egg butty washed down with several large mugs of tea, we headed off (on the much easier path) back to the metalled road.
There are several options to come in from different directions that would be more challenging both physically and navigationally, and there is even a very simple road walk into it! The route we took out would also make a simple mountain bike ride, although the river crossing could be interesting – especially after a wet wet winter!
We really did have all weathers – sunshine, wind, hail, sleet and snow – that allowed the landscape to show all shades of its personality. It was a fun short break with great company, great food, great scenery and a great bothy – a perfect way to celebrate Mother’s Day ☺