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Written by forum member: Egbertnobacon – Three Tarns Challenge in aid of Help for heroes
Sat Sept 3rd.
Myself and Paul (darnsarf) departed from Llandrindod Wells at around 9am on route for the first leg of the challenge , Melynllyn high above the Conwy Valley and bang in the middle of the Carneddau range.The forecast wasnt good but when we stopped at Newtown for a few pints of maggots the sun was shining and continued to do so until we reached Snowdonia , upon which the heavens opened!
We arrived at the upland car park near Llyn Eigiau shortly after lunchtime and quickly sorted out the gear and popped the kayaks (venus 10’s chosen for their lightness) on the C tugs. They were secured with an extra roof strap whilst another strap was looped through the front carry handle to form a loop and a shoulder strap! As we set off the constant heavy drizzle was being blown into our faces but we made good headway up the initial farmers track until we reached the bend locally named Clogwynyreryr which revealed the secret valley beyond.
The going was now more sedate , stopping occasionally to right the C tugs which were coping admirably with the worsening terrain and increasing wind.
Llyn Dulyn was the first to slide into view across the valley a dark water in a bowl of rocky cliffs 500ft high. An eerie water and the home of 20 plus aircraft which have perished on its cliffs , the parts still scattered around the lake in memory of their occupants.
Finaly after about 2 hours the old ruined quarry mill came into view where whetstones were mined to sharpen scythes in victorian days – just another 100yards climb to the dam wall of Melyn llyn
The rain had now got heavier and we quickly erected Pauls Basher and got a hot meal on the go
gradualy the weather eased and bits of blue sky appeared. The tents were hurriedly erected and it was time to go fishing!!
Surprisingly out of the cloud came a father and son who pitched up right next to us , had a quick bite to eat and retired to bed!!
We got an hour out on the water , Paul using maggot and swim feeder , myself trying to fly fish in the steady breeze. We both blanked before retiring for the night!!
Sunday Sept 4th
what a difference a day makes!! Unzipped the tent after a gusty wet night around 8am and it was a beautiful morning with just a light breeze The view from melynllyn down to the North Wales coast was stunning
Whilst breakfast was cooking I laid out all my wet clothes to dry on the dam wall and bid farewell to our neighbours who made a generous donation and continued on to capel curig
We were quickly changed and eager to hit the water when disaster struck!! The nights gale force winds had dislodged a large rock on the tarp which had freakishly landed on my fly rod! I decided the only thing to do was to ledger maggotts on a sinking line!!
We both sat it out biteless for around 90minutes watching the weather gradually deteriorate to such an extent that we surfed the yaks onto the shore for a hot brew, we would not get out again and as a result melynllyn kept all its underwater secrets.
That night was horrendous , torrential rain and gale force winds made sleeping hard. Occasional gusts would rock the tents and bend the poles down onto our faces. Just around dark I heard noises and assumed that Paul was struggling with his tent. I shuffled out of my bag and unzipped the tent to be greeted by a huge chap dressed all in black waterproofs – I nearly hit the roof!!! It turned out he was a little lost and was looking to camp and see out the storm!! We showed him the path down and retired again!
Morning broke and the weather had hardly improved. With the wind behind us we were down and back at the car in no time – soaked through but glad to be on our way to the Lake District via of course The little chef!! We were both glad to pass our mystery walker near dolgarrog , he’d made it down and camped near the car park
Theres no such thing as bad weather – only unsuitable clothing
Monday Sept5th/Tuesday Sept 6th
The journey to the lakes passed quickly , the roads were clear and the weather surprisingly good despite a poor forecast.
As we neared Lancaster the dark clouds over the high fells stood out and the big peaks were steaming with cloud. Down Kirkstone pass towards Glenridding the rain had started and as we approached the Helvellyn YH it had turned to a wild downpour. The Youth hostel Manager had given us permission to use the car park whilst on our ascent of helvellyn to red tarn but this trip was clearly out of the question so we booked in for the night , extending it to two when the staff showed us the following days forecast of 75mph gust on exposed ridges!! Monday was spent mooching around places like Patterdale and Ambleside but this was not what we were here for!! The rain continued to belt down , the wind howled and surprisingly the forecast for the East Highlands was good.
Wainwright had penned those immortal words for walkers not kayak fishermen – Wednesday morning we were on the road to Loch Callater!!
Through the gate we passed onto jocks road to Callater Loch
Now Jocks road is famous in the history of the scottish rights of way !!
”Duncan Macpherson, a rich Scot, returned from his stay in Australia in the late 19th century to buy the Glen Doll Estate and immediately put a ban on people traversing his land, upsetting many folks such as shepherds for example. A certain John Winter (thus the name Jock) defied his ban, resulting in the Scottish Right of Way Society setting up right of way signs on the estate and after many a court battle, going all the way to the House of Lords, MacPherson eventually lost his battle in 1888, leaving both him and the Right of Way people bankrupt”
We had 3 miles ahead of us on what is a good stretch of road , passable by the estates 4×4 vehicles. The path follows the burn all the way to the loch and about half a mile in we stumbled on two anglers fishing for trout with poles!! They were french and spoke little english so we bid farewell and continued on our way , stopping every now and again to chat to walkers coming down from Glen Callater
Over the burn we passed at around the half way mark , pausing to watch the rich on the hills stalking deer
Whilst the road was good it was an arduous climb , the path gradually ascending to the loch and seemingly going on and on. The Ctugs had their moments with a few drainage ditches but in the main continued to perform well
At last the loch came into sight , along with an old hunting lodge , a bothy (reputed to have a poltergeist!!) and a large wooden garage
A quick bite to eat , pop the tents up and it was finaly time to fishing!!!
There was a stiff breeze on the loch so we launched by the lodge and deployed the drogues. A fishfinder would have been a huge help but was not even considered due to weight!
Paul started with a rubber pike whilst I pinged out a small spoon. About 10 minutes in just as I was lifting out the spoon the water erupted and the first fish was on. It was the smallest Pike I have ever caught but the most welcome , beautifully marked with a presteign tail , all be it not much bigger than pauls lure!
30 minutes passed and with no more interest we popped on J9’s and set off to explore the loch. Two thirds down on the southern bank was an extensive weedbed and as we got there Paul was into his first fish , another little beauty
seconds later I joined in the fun with a fish slightly bigger than my first
by now it was starting to get dark and I noticed Paul was having difficulty with his reel , I paddled over to see an ever expanding birds nest of braid on his lap , the spool on the reel having dropped over board!! I did my best to suggest the line was retrievable but after a tirade of expletives retired to a safe distance . We paddled back and Paul resigned himself to a walk back to the car for a new reel next morning.
Thursday Sept 8th.
I woke at 5am to the sound of grouse echoing around the heather clad moorland. it had been a chilly night and the success of the brief session the previous night had prevented me getting much sleep. I nipped out of the tent for a quick wee to be greeted by four deer feeding above the bothy. They eyed me up for a few seconds and scarpered back up the hill. Today was the best day weatherwise we were to get , the forecast of dry with sunny spells , winds around 20mph gusting to 30mph was to prove spot on. I nipped back to bed for an hour and then retired to the bothy for a hearty breakfast and a hot mug of tomatoe soup!! Paul eventually surfaced around 9.30am and whilst he prepared for his trek back to the car I grabbed the shovel from the bothy and dissapeared up the hill for 20 minutes. Does anyones toilet have a finer view!! This was quality time , shame I didnt have a book!
Whilst Paul was away I flicked out a sebile weedless lure from the shore in the bay next to the tents. I got one follow in the hour but that was it. It was now nearing mid day and time to get geared up for the afternoon afloat . Paul returned from his hike with a new reel and a bit of tangled metal (emrod!) and whilst he refreshed himself and got something to eat I headed out.
I put on a savage 4play roach mounted on a lipskull and headed off down the loch trolling. In no time I’d caught 3 pike , all around the size of yesterdays fish
Paul joined me and we concentrated on the far end of the loch which surprisingly was very weeded. By now my rear was aching , the venus is a wet ride for a fat bloke and the lack of a seat was telling! I landed next to the large weed bed we’d had success near last night and flicked out the small sebile weedless onto the top of the weed and lilly pads splashing it between the gaps and onto the pads.
BANG!!! second cast I was in to a better fish , no monster but great when a plan works!
Paul was now on the edge of the bed casting out a popper and almost immediately had a double take neither of which hooked up. continuing with the sebile I induced a monster take from what was obviously a far better fish but all I got was half a lure back!!
We carried on for another couple of hours and decided to paddle back , trolling the ever reliable Rapallas. Paul hooked up on the opposite shore and landed another nice little pike. He then called it a day and headed back to the lodge , whilst I plugged away for another 15minutes. I’d seen a couple of good fish jump clean out and in hindsight perhaps they were salmon not pike?
Back at the landing Paul was chatting to a young french lady who had been on expedition in the cairngorms and was camping the night before finishing in Braemar. I had a sense of admiration for her and her English was better than the waitress at the ski resort
Loch Callater had been kind to us , decent weather , superb scenery and 8 pike in total along with a few missed takes. Tommorro it was back down and another hopeful trip to the lakes
And that was the end of the trip , another two days in the lakes followed but the weather just got worse……….. red tarn awaits next spring