Unknown Snowdonia – The Tarrens   8 comments

Behind with the blog again!

First weekend of the Easter holidays we went down to my parents caravan on the mid-Wales coast, me for the weekend but Jane and the kids for the week. I had planned to take D up Snowdon but the weather forecast didn’t look worth the long drive so we revised our plans.

In the event as you can see from the photos they got the forecast wrong (surprise!) and it turned into a pretty decent day. I’ve had my eyes on a little known cluster of hills on the southern edge of Snowdonia called the Tarrens.

The Tarrens, 11 .2 Miles, 3,400 feet of ascent

There are no really obvious circular routes without some road pounding but after a ponder over the options we decided on a route from the north to take advantage of a little jaunt on the little Tal-y-Llyn railway to avoid a 3-mile yomp.

D was particularly pleased to get a ride on a steam train and after a short look at the Dolgoch falls (we’ll return to these later) we sat in the sun on the platform at Dolgoch station waiting for the train.


Train approaching Dolgoch station

After it puffed into view we took  a seat and enjoyed a pleasant relaxed trip to the end of the line at Nant Gwernol to start the walk proper.


Nant Gwernol station


We crossed the bridge over the Nant Gwernol, a lovely little gorge and hit the track up into the upper reaches of the Gwernol valley with its array of old slate workings, a reminder of the railways original purpose. The first part of the walk is along a very long and dusty track that snakes its way up towards the open hillside through the forest. Or in this case through the felled forest with its vast piles of logs ready to be turned into whatever they turn it into (question – who lives in a log-pile house).


Logs, logs and more logs


View across Cadair Idris

Have to say that long walks through forestry plantations don’t get my pulse racing but just when I was thinking I’d had enough conifers for one day we suddenly emerged onto the open hillside of Tarren-y-Gesail. We’d been walking for quite a while so we stopped right there for lunch and a fresh brew overlooking the rest of the walk along the main ridge. Nice to be out with both Jane and D to enjoy the day. We don’t get out together for a proper walk very often (especially Jan) so I think she was really enjoying the day


Lunch on the slopes of Tarren-y-Gesail

From there it was a short steep climb to the summit of Tarren-y-Gesail with fine views across to Cadair Idris opening up as we climbed.


Tarrenhendre from Tarren-y-Gesail

At the top I took out the Jarrold guide I’d been using which said to ignore the obvious path along the top and drop down to the north to find an even more obvious one. After bouncing around on a trampoline of moss and heather with no hint of a path for 15 minutes we returned to the top and carried on the route I should have followed in the first place. Great, these Jarrold guides for low-level countryside walks, useless on the mountains.


Dovey Forest to the north

The route then follows the edge of very wide a deep corrie wich gave some fine views across the forest. The Tarrens aren’t quite as badly cloaked in conifer plantations as they look on the map and the views were expansive.


We passed the only people we saw all day, a couple of new age types walking barefoot across the fells. They didn’t return my greeting so I guess they were communing with the earth or some such. The route turns west along the grass and tree-lined ridge of Foel-y -Geifr, a splendid high level stroll where we really started to eat up the miles again. It culminates in a nameless peak where we stopped at the bottom for second lunch and another brew.


Second lunch, Foel-y-Geifr and Tarren-y-Gesail behind

It was turning into a long walk so I climbed the peak and Jane D walked around. D was seemingly having no problems with the distance or the climbing while Jane was struggling a little. She runs to stay fit but a couple of recent injuries has meant she hasn’t been able to keep her fitness levels high. D now leaves her trailing in his wake.


Across the Dovey estuary


Jane, Tarren-y-Gesail and nameless peak behind

It was long climb to the summit of Tarrenhendre and we reached the top at the cloudiest part of the day. My eye was taken by the long high ridge to the SW that looks superb. Looking at the map a full east to west traverse would be a storming outing with two cars or using a bike to overcome the road at the bottom.


Southwest ridge

As we headed back towards Dolgoch the sun burst through again and it turned into a glorious evening with barely a cloud in the sky. The valley down towards Dolgoch was top-notch with views across to the southern outliers of the Cadair Idris range.


Upper Dolgoch valley

We picked out a path to the top of Dolgoch falls and had a pleasant finish to the day looking at the waterfalls and river gorge.


Upper Dolgoch falls

We finished off in warm and glorious evening sunshine after a very long and rewarding day on some hills I’d never knew held such delights.


D in the dappled evening sunlight


Arty sun/tree shot

We headed back to the caravan for tea, Jane and the kids to spend Easter there, me to head home and prepare for a trip to the island of Rum. How exciting!

8 responses to “Unknown Snowdonia – The Tarrens

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  1. Ooh, ooh, I know this one…it’s snake! Classic literature.
    You’re reaching the parts that other blogs don’t reach: I don’t think that I’ve heard of the Tarrens before. Look’s like a cracking day. It must have been absolutely baking, Jane has her sleeves rolled-up (gasp!) and looks like she may be down to single-figures of layers.
    Enjoyed the music on the slideshow.


    • It was a great day, weather forecast was pretty ordinary but it was cloudless at the end, stunning walk in very quiet hills. It was quite warm hence Jane’s tropical attire. David over at Luachmor blog put me onto the music – he used it on one of his slideshows and it works really well for a nice gentle mood


  2. Grand pictures there, a very rewarding area.
    I wouldn’t call it unknown though, or even little known, being Nuttalls the two Tarrens can have their share of walkers, many of them doing the circular route from the book. That longer approach via the forest is an interesting line to Tarren y Gesail, one I’ve considered before for a change, but the direct line is shorter (but eventually steeper) straight up the valley, through the quarry to Pont Llaeron and up the SW slope. I’ll bear that one in mind though now I know it’s feasible.
    The broad SW ridge to Tarrenhendre is a very good approach, we started a backpack from Aberdyfi and crossed Happy Valley to join it.


    • Thanks Geoff, they were pretty empty this day, saw absolutely no-one (other than the barefoot couple) anywhere on the hills. I’d already looked at the whole traverse from Aberdyfi, must be an absolute cracker with some great coastal views. To be honest the forest track was a bit of a drag – I’d rather take your idea and walk uo the valley an up the steep grassy slopes to the top.


  3. Superb looking day out you had there. Makes me realise how little of Wales I’ve even heard of, never mind know!


    • That’s my goal at the moment, find the the quieter spots and the hills I’ve never walked before. Lots of Wales still to explore as well. Never been to the Rhinogs for example, was going to correct that on Sunday but the forecast doesn’t look great 😦


  4. Wow, stunning photos! Thanks for sharing.


    • Hi Linda, welcome to my humble little blog and thanks for the kind words. It was a really great day especially being able to share it with the family. I’ve just popped over to your blog and I’m looking forward to reading your latest ski-tour adventure and dropping a comment in. I’ll also add your site to my blogroll and RSS feeds


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