RAWW

So how did it go, I hear you ask !
Well let me tell you …

I left home around half eleven and then again ten minutes later after having to go back and get my knee support that I had forgotten.

Luckily the roads were fairly quiet and and I arrived in Newtown before half one. After driving around the town for a bit before discovering the car park, I parked up and tried, unsuccessfully to grab a bit of shut eye.

After two o’clock a few more cars started to arrive and by half two a small throng had accumulated.

At 02:30 the first coach arrived and I and about fifty others climbed on board.

By the time the coach departed, the roads were even quieter and the driver took no time whisking us through the welsh countryside to the start just outside of Machynleth at aplaced named Gelli-Goch.

After a final adjustment of kit, I gave my number to a steward and I was off. It was just past 03:30 and still dark enough that the head-torch was required.

We climbed steadily for the first couple of miles as the sun rose.

As the sun rose, the landscape illuminated and we were rewarded with the first of many amazing vistas.

A big plus of this walk is the landscape with views for many miles.

The route was undulating for a few more miles until at the end of a lane we encountered checkpoint 1 at Cefnwyrygrug Farm (I’m glad I haven’t got to say that!). The checkpoint was housed in a barn. Leaving said barn, it took a while to re-orientate as this was one of very few places that didn’t have adequate signage.

On the whole, the route was very well signed except coming out of the checkpoints.

From the farm that I can’t pronounce, the route climbed steadily until finally hitting a steep path of crushed stone. This ascent of the flanks of Moel Fadian is part of the 135 mile long Glyndwr Way which loops around from Welshpool, via Machynlleth to Knighton. We were to encounter Glyndwr a few times today.

At the top of Moel Fadian, we descended to Checkpoint 2 at Glaslyn. This almost circular lake is the source of the Afon Dulas and looked very blue.

The walk mainly descended from here all the way down to our breakfast stop at Staylittle and Checkpoints 3 and 4. How come Staylittle gets two checkpoints? As you enter the village, there is CP3 where one’s routecard is stamped and you are given a voucher for breakfast in a nearby hall. After breakfast, on leaving town, the card is clipped at Checkpoint 4.

Oddly, as I arrived at CP3, I called out my number, “Twenty Three”. “From Birmingham”, one of the stewards declared. “I only said twenty Three!” “That’s enough!”

Just a note on the punches. Each Checkpoint had it’s own distinctive punch so you end up with a fair collection of diverse holes. Someone must have had great fun in the local craft shop !

From Staylittle the route rose again for a mile or so before slowly dropping around a thousand feet to lunch in Llandinam.

On the way down, a distant windfarm was pointed out to me. It was on top of a hill and we were currently dropping into a deep valley!

We crossed an old iron bridge to pass a bronze statue of some dude. Checking the statue revealed the name David Davis. It seemed like quite an impressive statue for such a small town. Checking on t’internet later revealed that David Davis was a 19th century industrialist who founded Barry Docks. His first construction was the bridge over the Severn that I’d just crossed.

Lunch was served at Llandinam and on leaving I was accosted by one of the organisers. He asked where I’d heard about the event then went on to explain that after embracing the internet the number of starters had risen from 135 last year to 250 this. He asked if I had any suggestions so I mentioned the lack of signage around checkpoints.

The major climb of the day started from Llandinam gaining 1,200 feet during the next two and a half miles. It was relentless. It was knackering!

Finally, at the top, the path levelled out (well it probably would at the top!) and the view was dominated by the sight of over one hundred wind turbines.

This wind farm is quite old having been constructed around 1992. There are plans afoot to remove the existing 103 turbines and replace them with 39 spanking new ones.

The route continued across the plateau before descending to the scarily named Devils Elbow. It sounds a lot worse than it is, basically it’s just a sharp bend in on the A483. The route card was punched for Checkpoints 11 and 12. I grabbed a few snacks here including a couple of Jaffa Cakes.

Another up and down before Checkpoint 13 at Cider House. The OS map shows that both the River Ithon and Mule start from near this point.

We were greeted by a red dragon at the checkpoint. I refreshed my water bottle and pressed on, uphill, along the ridge of Kerry Hill.

It was around this point that I took a turn for the worse feeling rather nauseous (the Jaffa Cakes didn’t sit well). I just had no energy.

I pushed on, slowly, to Checkpoint 14 near Block Wood. Leaving CP14, I passed a group of people dressed as victorians. Not sure what they’d been up to.

I was really feeling bad but continued as I knew I only had a couple of miles to go. Luckily it was flat or even slightly downhill.

At the bottom of the hill, I passed a sign saying “Welcome to Shropshire”. I was hoping for a “Welcome to England” sign to convince me that I had, indeed, walked across Wales. It was not to be.

Around another bend and there was a sign for Anchor. Not so nice was the start of a hill UP to Anchor proper. One final push and it would all be over.

I entered the marque housing the finish, said, for the last time, “Twenty Three” and handed over my card.

I was offered a drink and light refreshments but I just needed to sit down. I was handed my certificate which I took to a nearby chair where I slumped.

After about a half hour wait, a bus turned up to take a few of us back to Newtown.

Once there, I got into the car, started the engine, put the A/C on Freeze, lay back the seat and fell asleep.

Half an hour later, I awoke feeling a lot better. Why I felt so bad, I’m not too sure but could be a combination of …

  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Those Jaffa Cakes
  • Dehydration and
  • Too much sun

Feeling better, I sorted myself out and drove to the nearby Lidl where I treated myself to some junk including an energy drink, fizzy water, crisps and fig rolls. After munching my way through this lot (or at least some of it) I was feeling much better as I drove home.

Reaching home, I treated myself to a soak in the bath before grabbing some grub washed down with copious amounts of water.

Eventually, I considered myself rehydrated enough for a celebratory beer.

Apart from feeling shite during the last few miles, it was a very enjoyable walk. The hills were punishing but the scenery was fantastic.

Should I decide to do the RAWW next year, I’ll need to get some, or even a lot, of hill-work in!

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