The Walker and the Lost

“It is a nice drive from Cannock to Dinas Mawddwy. A5, M54, A5, dual carriageway around Shrewsbury, then on to Welshpool onto the A458 an hour then-left onto the A470. I suppose for someone like him, office job, Friday afternoon, would be at the Buckley for eight latest.”

There is a lake which appears lifeless; a lake that levels out at the base of ARAN FAWDDWY (905m), name of the basin is CREIGLYN DYFI. This Lake, no wind ripples its surface. Rain fails to pock mark its skin. One could mistake its stillness as frozen; a black ragged edged mirror for the stars and the moon to comb hair in.

Advancing in the dusk in this desolate clumsy mountainous landscape is a man; a well equipped man, who is dwarfed by spaced out skies – touchable hills and valleys. It is dusk. He is tall and falsely demure – threatened with nature. He respects the hidden, worries about the sudden. He walks alone as he has often done, varies his pilgrimage by degree, but the route he takes to the lake is as near as he can recall, or as he remembers it should have been.

“Aran Fawddwy has claim to a couple of aviation victims. A Beaufighter, and a Lockheed Thunderbolt, wreckage has been pecked at for years, may find the odd rusty screw now. If you ever have the opportunity, be brave; take the “B” road from Dinas to Bala, you will need to take a deep breath before the ascent; don’t look down, and respect the fear of other drivers approaching from the opposite direction, death is a matter of inches. There is a “Y” junction at the top of the pass, just as your heart says stop in relief. Don’t take the pithy Lake Vyrnwy sign to the left, it is a retreat into the Midlands and its single track road -like the one you’re on is just as cowardly. Keep left, there is only one more rise of the bonnet, park up on the left shale breather, and step out and take one-you have deserved it. To the west you see the purple shoulders of Arran, to the north you will feel the cold razor breeze in the face, to the south you will feel respect for the journey accomplished, to the east, a vast distance from the comfort of chips and central heating.”

He stoops and submerges a cupped hand into a tiny tributary but the scoop is too thick black and pungent to quench any thirst. His boots are first class dubbined and orderly; the laces have equal tension and length, albeit damp and lethargic at their ends. He wears a long green trench coat waxed. On his head at a skew is a wide brimmed leather hat in pale brown. On his shoulders he bears a ruck sack and a roll, the roll is a weatherproof sleeping bag. He carries his burden-despite its years with uprightness. From under his hat a grey wisp of sophisticated hair-teases his barbed wire eyebrows. The face has seen many suns, weathered many a wind lash. The man walks with a mission without ever knowing he did so. He gives the impression that he would be the ideal grandparent-steady and explaining; out here, in the darkness, he is mysterious, a conundrum. Back in the Hotel where he seldom sleeps, he is “that man” a bread and butter customer who is a solitary walker, and returns cold for breakfast, his bed untouched.

In this environment-so desolate – darkness wears down the most ardent of traveller, and the well built chilly male succumbed to the will of the night and set out his wares in order. His wax jacket-he rolled up and inserted into the sleeping bag cover, the sleeping bag was pegged down, and a little canopy was strung secure to cover the head. His boots were wiped and pushed snugly into his rucksack. He rolled out a fabric tool holdall with the grace of a surgeon-knife and fork, spoon, can opener, multitool, and Swiss Army glinted under the starlight. He ate body warm corned beef, and fell asleep to the sound of a soft pagan drum-his heart.

Creiglyn Dyfi is not the place for solitary life. And so in the midnight air things lakeside began to stir; not loud enough to cause panic but out of character enough to cause concern. The muscular – in his prime man twitched and itched under the dark universe, until his sleep self gave way to his “aware and on guard” self.

The cold and creaking man slowly and painfully lifted his body through bruised and arthritic elbows to an upright position. He looked around, lifted his head skyward, listened and sniffed at static mountain air. He reached for his holdall, clawed at a cylinder and switched on a powerful beam of light. In the farness of darkness his torch light caught a spark of reflection. The spark lit and fired a hope in his heart. He scrambled cold and sweating from his cocoon with difficulty and angst, his torch picked up a spark once again. The human turned – gambolled and scurried to the place of the intermittent reflection. After all the years of walking-re-tracing, the man cleared the earth surrounding the glint, and raised the demon of his dreams to his lips and spit away the earth that hitherto had hidden the solid gold fountain pen from sight. He rubbed away vigorously at its stem; he lit the barrel from the golden gleam of his aid- an inscription he knew was there flashed back at him in a frightening reminder…THIEKO MIE.

The man’s quest was over; the journey back to the Hotel felt more inviting than previous returns, more welcoming than anything he had ever experienced, he pushed the pen into his trouser pocket, calmed himself, brushed down his attire and meticulously packed away and cleared the earth that had recently held him prisoner. The half darkness was a back drop to huge black statues – rock witness’s that whispered between them.

The usual Hotel bill, a few pints of real ale, evening meal, two nights at £… lay on his pillow.

Dawn and breakfast was some way off. From the corner of his eye, mid way between contour lines, a strange light seemed to hover a few feet above the ground. The walker hesitated. The light flickered-rather annoyingly, this was new; the dim light didn’t belong. He knew the terrain, and unless a camper…but as his eyes grew accustomed and focused, the need to investigate the yellow dot overpowered the urge for comfort. As he changed course, turned almost ninety degrees, long wet and sodden grass snapped, and whipped at his boots. This was strange, the track not beaten. His heart felt like an over blown balloon. Each stride buckled his knees. Back pack straps bit deep into green wax fabric – numbed one arm, headached the other.

“There have been quite a few sightings, but the elements can play funny tricks in that basin.”

The yellow ray grew larger, he was unsure of the distance; a fine mist drifted over the image and left him without direction for an instant. Suddenly, he stumbled, his body lost impetus and he lost motion against an immovable object. Stunned and fallen he surveyed a room. A room built of regular house bricks with red sand and pale grey mortar. The room was small- square, on it a slate pitched roof. The yellow luring light was a single bulb, suspended from a brown spiral woven electrical cable. The structure had one window. The sullen bruised and bloodied walker rubbed his eyes, and crawled back from the structure a few paces-all the while keeping his eyes upon the tiny edifice that was not there-was absurd. He struggled drenched to his feet, shy of looking through the window he circumnavigated around its footprint, and again, and in disbelief, again, and reversed the process-there was no door visible.

“Yes we have cranks in here telling of all sorts of tales-sightings, but I suppose, three with the same vision must…

He tapped his trouser pocket-the scribe was still there-slender. THIEKO MIE the great liberator, rolled gold safe and sound.

An earth cracking female scream emanating from within the room shocked and paralysed the stubborn watcher. Then a bone shattering agonising half choking male moan split the deathly cold climate like a sharp axe. The walker rushed to the window, and was hooked by a scene that was as bloody and as violent as the stench which once permeated his head. His ex wife and her lover were fighting in the room without a door. The husband spied her pale slender arms which emerged from her short sleeved dress like beams of light- refracted at her prism elbows-to forearms-dimming to the hands. Her lover pushed and fired his huge fists into the young girls face and lips split and became ugly. She scrambled-crawled and gripped her assailants balls with all her might and twisted. The young Adonis pulled and ripped away a chunk of auburn hair, and all the while the walker thumped on the window and cried through his screams to no avail.

“Yes, and not only did they say they saw, all three said there was some sort of room, and that a kind of horrible activity was underway therein…but, in that basin?”

Leaving his back pack, he took to his heels and vomited, urinated as he ran, dribbled, and cried, dribbled and cried, until he fell. He lay dying within earshot, within sight of the terrible haunting torture that he was powerless to stop.

Poor, poor, THIEKO MIE, and ARAN FAWDDWY witnessed and wept, looked over to ARAN BENLLYN (884m) DRYSGOL (731m) and CRAIG Y FFYNNON (709m) and all three agreed, bent their peaks and said a quiet prayer. Their tears fell in slow black thick trickles into tributaries.

“As soon as we emptied his pockets, and the pen…well, it was the inscription you see, not forgettable that.”

It’s going back a few years, but they couldn’t hang a thing on him, no bodies, he walked.