Meirionnydd reccies update

Last weekend an excellent time was had: 2 good-weather days on the route.  Read more below ....
Next recce is planned for Feb 20/21, vague plan being Sat: Rhinog (full length, 8-9h), Sun shorter!
March recce is 14/15th, same date as Auntie Pauline's North Wales weekend - hopefully can do both.
Sat 24th, left 2 cars at Pont Fronwydd (end of Sec 4), then with Yiannis, DavidW, TimW, MatthewC, Alan Duncan and Geoff Briggs, ran the first part of Sec 3 from Trawsfynydd NPS over Foel Fawr and Craig Wen. Rather vague undulating line, captured on GPS (the new toy) for future reference. Bit late starting so we missed out Iago and Arenig Fach (and the "duck pool" - shame!) ran along the B road to Pont Rhyd-y-fen then tackled Arenig Fawr. Quite snowy at the top. Moel Llyfnant looked unusually fine with a snowy cap.  Matthew was struggling with a lurgy (blamed the missus !?) and escaped at the road crossing, meeting us later back at the cars. Next top Dduallt took the usual 1h45 - neat line by Yiannis duly captured on the gizmo.
Dduallt to Rhobell Fawr had to be replanned as the one vaguely useful ride has been ploughed and replanted. New route looks OK - waiting to see if quicker or slower than the old. Then a straightish line to the finish, Yiannis finding all the sheep trods for decent running. That's your only hope on the Meiri (unless you're Colin Donnelly!)
Matthew headed home; Tim would travel back with David and I next day. Most of us headad back to the newish YH at Fynnon Wen near Cerrigydrudion. Warden Carol & hubby very friendly and obliging despite being rushed off her feet with the cook away and a few dozen UK MTB Cycling Team trainees (out in the freezing cold being taught how to wash their bikes - quite entertaining but mind the hosepipe). Nice meal, a bit of time map-fondling, studying the South Wales Traverse route then David chauffers us to CyD for a pint.
 
Sun 25th, stormy overnight, showery morning but improving forecast. David, Tim and I are meeting Iain Ridgway at Graigddu-isaf car park. Yiannis drops us off at the E end of Sec 1 (A487, E end of Cadair Idris). Steep climb; after Gau Graig we're on firm snow, searching briefly for the path.  Beyond Mynydd Moel we're on crusty snow, in cloud and running against a volley of snow; frigid headwind. Icy descent off Penygadair then back to grass and rock for Cyfrwy and easy run out over the western tops, wind having abated a little, and ther usual view-to-die-for out across the Mawddach Estuary to Barmouth and its bridge, far below, on what's become a nice sunny late-morning.  Yiannis is at the last top, Braich Ddu, as planned, and leads us off down the near-vertical moss-bilberry NW face. Crossing the pasture below we see the farmer position himself at the gate, wanting to know where we're going. We're (just about to get back) on the public footpath and he seems OKish. Good thing that section's in the dark :-)
Morfa Mawddach, Yiannis produces some black tea from his car then sees us off across the railway/footbridge.  Tim decides to break the habit of a lifetime and go for a second successive 8-hour day - nae bother!  At the far end, the toll booth is unmanned so David's fiver remains intact. No problem finding the little footpath up to the foot of Carn Gorllwyn, but then the gorse is denser than it used to be, we are pushed off line and lose a few minutes. Will return with secateurs, methinks ;-)  Good progress for the rest of the route, although the youngsters Tim and Iain, swapping racing stories seem to forget their aging companions and set a blistering pace. Beyond Diffwys, the twisting ridge narrows and looks superb, all aglow in that wonderfully rich winter light.
Rhinog Fach, we meet Yiannis who knows The Way Down.  We've waited a few minutes and are freezing, nearing sunset. The complex descent line is perfect, except we can't keep up with the Greek Goat on the awkward slippery bouldery descent to Bwlch Drws Ardudwy. David has nipped round the side - we spot his Gladiator prints on the path, and see him shortly at the car.  Then a quick (!) drive back: David drops Tim, Martin and I at Bayford services where we celebrate with a Little Chef meal, collect our cars and head home.
 
After a couple of days decoding the GPS, playing with Anquet and refining the route, I conclude as follows: 1. Looking at our times, and allowing for stoppages, we were going slightly faster than YDT did on the Day, but only by 5mins or so on each section - even on the Arenig section which was his 4th. I reckon this thing is 3 hours longer than the BG - could even be a bit more. 2. Stats for the whole route based on a fairly precise mostly-reccied track currently stand at 73mi, 7964m (26,000 ft) using Anquet. NB this includes Maen Du in the Dyfi Forest section, although having time for extras (or even the "standard route") is still a bit of a distant dream.
 
3 months hard work ahead ...