Bwlch y Groes: 100 Things to do in Wales Number 12

At 545 metres, 1788 feet, Bwlch y Groes (Pass of the Cross) is one of the highest public road mountain pass in Wales. It lies on minor roads linking Dinas Mawddwy (via Llanymawddwy), Llanuwchllyn and Lake Vyrnwy. We weren’t very confident that we be able to see much as we drove up the road. It had been raining all morning, and the top or Aran Fawddwy seems to attract rain like a magnet. But as we approached the base of the climb the rain stopped giving us a good view of the road ahead as it snaked up the side of the mountain.

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At this time of year the colours start to really come out on the Welsh Mountains as the Bracken dies off to a rich brown, offset by the greens of the grass, and purples of late flowering Heather, all set off against the greys of the rocks. And as the sun shines down the valley the picture comes together.

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After the warmest September on record, October has changed. And we certainly felt that change standing at the top of the pass, with the wind howling around us, the temperature had plummeted to only 5C.

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At times the road looked at if it was about to fall off the end of a cliff. On either side of the Second World War the British car manufacturers Austin and Triumph used this road to test their cars on the hill climbs.

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OK so the sun didnt shine too much, the wind might have been trying to blow us over, and it could have been a little warmer……but the bleak beauty of the mountain tops made it all worthwhile.

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It’s alright driving over the pass in a modern car but it must have been tough walking over here driving a herd of cows. There are real advantages to modern life.

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