The Great Escape   15 comments

I was a man with a plan!

On our regular trips to Porth Towyn you can always see the Snowdonia mountains yet we’ve never taken the chance to catch up on some walking there. Time to change that. I asked the better halves of ED and EWO whether they could “come out to play” and like the angelic creatures they are they said yes. The boys were mad for it and agreed with suggested plan to the Nantlle ridge especially ED as he’d never done it before and had heard good things about it. The weather had been great and looked settled so we were up and away by 7:30am before anyone was up and faithfully promised we’d be back lunchtime (yeah right!)

I first did the Nantlle ridge with Jane back in the distant past of the mid 1980’s – yes I’m that old. I hadn’t sussed that there was a circular route so ended up battling through the fields at the far end of the lake and walking back along the road on a seriously hot and sultry day. I was young and inexperienced in those days. And I had hair. And I was skinny and lean.

Sorry, where was I. Yes 2011, Nantlle ridge. Many years later Uncle Fester showed me a cunning circular route that only missed out the last peak so I thought I’d share this with the boys this time around.

As we set off there was still mist clinging to hills and filling some of the valleys. Not quite the cloudless skies we had hoped for but atmospheric nonetheless.


Cnicht and the Moelwyns


The hard work begins

As we approached the start of the steep climb to Y-Garn we noticed a large bird of prey. Fortunately we had our resident nature expert with us but he wasn’t able to identify between a buzzard or a marsh harrier. My guess was the latter as it was large bird that flew out of, well, a marsh. I have my own theory on flora and fauna nomenclature. Be much easier if we stopped wasting time trying to give names to every variation of plant and animal life and remember them. Keep it simple. Birds for example. Wouldn’t it be easier if you just said there were 4 birds of varying shapes and sizes and hues: Seabirds, Birds of Prey, LBJ’s and Other Birds. Now isn’t that easier. Works for trees too (Oaks, Poplars and Conifers). You know I’m right. “Time for a lie down Mr Jones”

Anyway, back to the walk. Y-Garn is not an ideal first hill of the day, especially for a me at 8:30am.


EWO takes a breather – a rare occurence

A steady plod with numerous stops to play name that hill helps with the effort.


Moel Eilio

ED in his post has accused me and EWO of just making it up – I’m outraged. I may not have a bloody clue but I never make things up. Well almost never. Actually I make alot of stuff up. My kids don’t believe a word I say any more. Never forgiven me for convincing them that Trig Pillars have salami inside them.

Lost the plot again. Y-Garn, yes, steep that was it. The summit looks quite sharp from the start and indeed it does have a precipitous face. The summit however has a plateau-like feel to it.


Moel Hebog

We’d earned a rest so a long stop for a late breakfast and some stories was in order while we contemplated the day ahead. I mentioned before that I’m not a fan of the route march approach. If you can’t stop long and often on a good day then I don’t see the point. Fortunately ED and EWO share my love of a good long rest so we chatted, identified peaks, stuffed faces and took the p**s out of each other as always. Does life get better than this.


ED and EWO enjoy breakfast

Time to move on to the next and best part of the ridge, Mynydd Drws y Coed. The northern cliffs are spectacular and the ridge narrow, rocky and interesting with some great situations.


Mynydd Drws y Coed


EWO and Mynydd Mawr

Alas it’s pretty short and over all too soon and despite the fact we’d only gone about a mile we felt it appropriate for another rest on the summit. The views around were awesome with the main Snowdonia mountains to the west, Anglesey to the north and the Lyn Peninsula to the west.


Mynydd Mawr

We watched the trains on the newly completed West Highland Railway now linked from Portmadoc to Caernarfon, EWO got very excited – he’s a train-spotter you know, he has the satchel to prove it.

On to Trum y Ddysgl, a much grassier peak.


ED enjoying the ridge

We toyed with the idea of and out and back to Mynydd Tal y Mignedd but we felt yet another long stop was a more profitable use of our time. The route then follows a broad grassy ridge above Cwm Dwyfor with excellent views across to Moel Hebog, a wild outlier and one marked as definite hill to do another time. The valley below, Cwm Pennant has some interesting mine workings which look worth an explore. Maz over at The Journeyman Traveller has a great post about this route and the mines area. I strongly recommend you check out this post and his blog,  he’s a great writer.

Down at the col of Bwlch y Ddwy Elor, the path turns NW and heads back towards the start point through the forest. The slopes here were thick with bilberries, more than I’ve ever seen. ED and EWO gorged on them but I declined. Fruit with seeds in are just wrong. Except strawberries. “Time for your medicine Mr Jones”

We watched a large Bird of Prey for a while from the col. ED reckoned it was a buzzard and tried some photos. I was more than happy with the “Bird of Prey” name. We were just left with a walk through the trees past a rather impressive stream before we got back to the car. We were surprised (well not all that surprised really) to see it was past 2pm and that we were not going to make it back for our promised lunchtime return. I did suggest we could celebrate a good day with a cheeky pint in the pub. I was persuaded otherwise on the basis that:

a) It would be a betrayal of the trust shown in us by better halves and therefore wholly inappropriate
b) Jane would cut off my b******s and put them in jar on the mantlepiece

Seeing as I was happy with my dangling appendages to remain in their current location we swiftly headed back for a brew and more time on the beach with the kids. ED has his own blog for the day here so you can get his more coherant version of the day. 4.5 miles and 2,400 feet of ascent

I already have a plan for next year……


15 responses to “The Great Escape

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  1. How could trig pillars have salami in them? – they’re a natural feature which grow on the coast near the A55. Heh heh.

    Looking forward to next year’s plan.

    The bird of prey was a buzzard – so my proper birdwatcher friend tells me.

    ‘Foggy mountain breakdown’ – takes me back does that: we had a handful of records when I was a kid, mostly comedy which we weren’t supposed to listen to – Bily Connolly, Blaster Bates, Mike Harding etc but there was a bit of music, an odd selection: Roy Orbinson, Pat Boone, Simon and Garfunkel, Johhny Cash and Messers Flatt and Scruggs. On Youtube you can find no end of films of Earl Scruggs playing this with a cast of thousands – he seems to have been a generous sole who would share the stage with any decent banjo player who was up for it.


    • Normally the hardest part about putting together the shows is the music, finding the track with the right feel, the right title and the right length. This one was easy.

      Danny has now perfected rolling his eyes when he aske me a question and gets my usual stupid answer


  2. Andy,a great trip report and photos. I have never walked the Nantile ridge, but I have walked nearby around Moel Hebog. I will put it on that ever increasing “walks I must do list”.


    • Thanks Mark, Can’t recommend the Nantlle ridge highly enough. Quality walking and very quiet and under-used. Moel Hebog looks great (that’s my “plan” for next year). Mind you the slopes leading up to it from “Bilberry Col” looked really rough. EWO confirmed as much but a traverse over the summit and subsidiary tops looks great. Mynydd Mawr to north also looked really good as did the hills to the north of Snowdon. Not done any of these so plenty of future “plans”


  3. nice one, I have a few days coming up In November where Im staying in Porthmadog, whilst photographing the WRC. This could well fit in with my one day free if the weather is good. Looks stunning.


    • It’s a top notch route. The other good day to consider from Porthmadog is Cnicht (although I haven’t actually done it!) – looks like a mini-Matterhorn and is a classic short day or a longer one if you combine it with the Moelwyns. I’ll keep an eye out for the report 🙂


      • Well, the Nantlle ridge had a fair amount of cloud on last week on my day off, however I could see Cnicht from my hotel room and it did indeed look splendid – a mini-Matterhorn for sure. A quick printout of a map route and away I was. Weather was fantastic and I was climbing in only shorts and a base-layer top. A great wee walk it was too.
        Cheers for the recommendation…


        • My pleasure Sir! Glad you enjoyed it – I should follow my own advice and do it myself now. Hoping to try and get up there in the next few weeks now that Nokia have given me some illicit time off


  4. The Nantlle ridge is superb eh? Its good to hear that there is someone else out there who also is not keen on the ‘route march’ approach to hiking the hills. I much prefer the sitting down and looking at the views bit to the walking bit. Maybe I am getting a bit lazy in my old age!?


    • Once you stop immersing yourself in the environment then you risk a walk becoming a chore. Even if I’m solo, I’ll normally stop for ages, looking the map, naming peaks, spotting alternative routes, eating (I like to eat!). When I’m out in a group it’s common for stops to go over an hour.


  5. Beautiful pictures! We took a trip to Wales and the Snowdonia area several years ago and loved it!


    • Thanks Bob, thanks for stopping by and the kind words – Snowdonia has some superb mountains and I’ve been rediscovering them the past couple of years. Just taken a quick a peek at your blog and some great stuff there. I’ll be catching up on your posts in the next couple of days 🙂


  6. You missed a treat with the ridge to Tal y Mignedd – it’s an astounding ridge – narrow, long and twisting with a huge bite taken out of the middle of it (which was a bit tricky to get around). I chickened out of the bit up Mynydd Drws y Coed – it just looked too craggy. Everyone behind me also chickened out when I did.


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