Afon Mawddach, Gwynedd: The route seems unreasonably steep, and in my memory the lane was much shorter
The rising sun is all but obscured by a raft of patchy high cloud, and the mist is slow to clear from the valley floor. North of the Afon Mawddach, almost at the coast, I take a lane that turns sharply uphill. Once past a scattering of houses, the route follows a narrow valley lined with beech and oak trees, whose canopies weave together to create dank shade. Despite the lack of rain, spring water runs in sheets down the shattered slab of the rock where the lane narrows; the route seems unreasonably steep, and in my memory the lane was much shorter.
The gated footpath I am looking for drops away into the valley between dry stone walls, then climbs again over the shoulder of the next ridge. In the increasing heat, the woodland is sullenly quiet – with only a lone robin providing a vociferous challenge to my approach.