Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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The Roman Steps

I thought I wasn't going to get my exercise today. I'd sat at the computer doing some writing and catching up with LiveJournal and Usenet and was feeling I might just squeeze in a small walk when G asked if I wanted to come out with him and check some rain gauges.

First we drove to a friend's house at the foot of Cadair Idris, not far from where we used to live and did the one that's in his garden. We resisted offers of cups of tea on the grounds that it would soon be dark and set off in search of more data. G has so many rain guages around the Mawddach catchment that you can drive in almost any direction from our house and find some to check.

Next we drove back down to the estuary and across the toll bridge to the north side, at which point G set off up a lane I'd only been up once or twice before. The lane twisted and climbed and soon we were beyond the point where I'd ventured before and were heading into unknown (to me) territory. It's amazing how you can live in a place for years and there are corners you just don't go. Not that you'd normally have any reason to head up beyond the clustering stone houses and into the forest. Another rain gauge checked, it was on again to Trawsfynydd, site of the decommisioned nuclear power station and where much of First Knight was filmed.

Before reaching Traws, however, G dived up another little lane which wound its way though heavily sheep infested fields, over a lovely old stone arched bridge -- which really ought to have had a troll under it -- and again into the forest. Completely ignoring the No Cars Beyond This Point sign, G continued driving up the increasingly rough track until we reached a place where a footpath led off up towards the now darkening mountains.

It was distinctly gloomy by now. The sun had set and the sky was overcast, with a fine drizzle falling intermittently. Looking back, the view was dramatic as we climbed up the ancient track towards the mist shrouded summit, but my little camera wouldn't take any pictures as it was already too dark. This link will give you some idea of the terrain

Climbing the track, I thought Alan Garnerish thoughts and wondered about the people down the ages who must have followed this same route running from the Roman road and camp (with small amphitheatre) to the coast. It's the shortest link over the high mountains and forms a link to ports and ships and hence to Ireland and places round the coast of Wales.

Most sources of information say that the path known as the "Roman Steps" isn't Roman, but is a medieval pack horse route. But to me, that's like saying that the A40 that papersky wrote about wasn't a Roman road because it's now covered in tarmac. It may well be that the stepped bits of the track were "improved" in the middle ages, but people must have travelled that way for thousands of years, even before the Romans came to this area.

We didn't see any of the wild goats that live up on the tops, though I've seen them up there before when we've climbed up from the Harlech side. The sky got gloomier and the path got rougher, but we safely picked our way over the dying heather and tumbled rocks to where G had hidden the tiny rain gauge.

Data safely downloaded into the equally tiny Hobo shuttle, which sucks data from the data loggers and then squirts it into the computer once you get home, we picked our way back down the darkening hillside. Fortunately we had a torch, which we needed before we got to the forest to see our way over the particularly rough bits and the boggy bits and we definitely needed it in the forest, where the dark, fragrent smelling conifers closed overhead and shut out the last fading light from the sky.

Back in the Daihatsu, G drove us back , slowly, so as to avoid all the aforementioned sheep, which seem to like to sleep tucked up on the road. And then in town, we just caught the fish and chip shop before it closed. There were no fish left, but there were chips and the lad behind the counter cooked us sausages.

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