Archive for September 2013

Two Sherpas and a Funster go mad in the Moelwyns   18 comments

So would TJS get his wish and backpack in the sunshine?

Two weeks after our game of two halves in the Black Mountain off we went again. The forecast was set fair for a hot and sunny weekend and after much deliberation of a suitably high spot for a camp we settled on another trip to the Moelwyns after our visit last summer. We spent the night with my parents in Clarach Bay to leave TJF in their tender care.

The promised weather was not in evidence as we woke to a damp and cloudy morning. It would be clear by the time we set off.

We drove up past Cadair Idris, still cloaked in cloud with tantalising glimpses of blue. It would be clear by the time we parked up.

We reached Croesor and packed the rucksaks under a cool grey sky. It would be clear by the time we reached the open hillside.

We set off, packs laden and heavy with food for our weekend in the sun, but with Cnicht still masked in cloud. It would be clear by the time we reached the summit.

The ridge up onto Cnicht is a splendid steep walk with some scrambling if you look for it. Hard work with a heavy pack but keeping the interest going. When we crested the summit, yes of course, we were in the cloud. It would be clear when……

Cnicht

Lunch on Cnicht

We wandered across to the NE summit and parked up for lunch. It was warm but I was starting to doubt the certainty of the forecast. Surely the curse of TJS could not strike again. We sat and ate amongst the clouds. Finally, just when I was starting to despair of the sun ever coming out, Llyn y Biswail emerged from the cloud beneath us with a few watery patches of sunshine

Llyn y Biswail

Llyn y Biswail from Cnicht

We set off for my planned campsite in higher spirits but the cloud was still lingering around. We passed Llyn yr Adar which always looks like a fine potential campsite but I’ve read many reports of the fact it’s environs are extremely soggy (as is most of this upland area to be fair) and I had my eye on what I hoped was a much better spot

Cnicht

TBF descending Cnicht, still cloudy!

Following the boundary line along a line of low cliffs that give great views over the Moelwyns (when you can see them!) the ridge from Ysgafell Wen meets at an indeterminate and unnamed rocky knoll with a 670m contour. Just below is a grassy terrace perched above the vast array of minor hollows that lead down to Llyn Cwm Corsiog. This was my planned spot. Other than a lack of a water supply and a bit lumpy it was perfect. It’s surrounded by small rocky outcrops, perfect for admiring the views with a brew, with lots of handily placed rocks for sitting. As is to emphasise this perfection the sun finally burst through and the grey clouds vanished swiftly and dramatically as we made the place our home.

Moelwyns, wild camp

Our home for the night

Moel Druman, Allt Fawr

Moel Druman and Allt Fawr

By the time we’d pitched and had a brew the skies were completely clear and the view simply sensational. It was as fine a spot to camp as I know and my two fellow campers were lapping it up while I smugly congratulated myself on this little find, discovered on previous visits and had been waiting for a chance to try it out

moelwyns, wild camp

Relaxing after a hard half day!

There is no finer feeling than pitching up, all the hard work done and exploring your little home from home. We had our own private rocky hills to sit and scramble about on and the views became clearer with every passing minute, simply magnificent

Moelwyns, Moelwyn Mawr, Moelwyn Bach

Moelwyn Mawr & Moelwyn Bach

Moelwyns, Wild Camp

Aerial view

The whole of Snowdonia was laid out before us and Snowdon itself looked majestic across the Nant Gwynant valley. I imagined just how crowded the summit would be on such a warm sunny, summer Saturday

Snowdon, Glyders

Snowdon & the Glyders from our private mountaintop

We pithered about for a good couple of hours but there were jobs to be done. Firstly we needed water and secondly and more importantly we needed to explore the area, unencumbered by heavy rucksacks. We headed off over Moel Druman to Allt Fawr an area of rocky knolls and jewelled tarns that were just superb under the azure blue sky.

Llyn Terfyn

Llyn Terfyn

Llyn Coch, Moelwyn Mawr

Llyn Coch & Moelwyn Mawr

Moelwyns

Happy Hikers

I have to keep checking the map while I put the post together to ensure I give the right tarns the right names such is their number! Small wonder the area is a little soggy

Allt Fawr,

En Route to Allt Fawr

Llyn Conglog, Moelwyns

Llyn Conglog, Moelwyns behind

The summit of Allt Fawr was surprisingly windy but we found a sheltered spot to sit awhile. I planned a route from Dolwyddellan that would be a grand circuit taking in Moel Siabod, all the hills we had walked today and finishing off with the hills to the north and west of the Crimea Pass

Llyn Conglog, Cnicht, Moel Hebog, Nantlle Ridge

Llyn Conglog with Cnicht behind, Moel Hebog, Nantlle Ridge in the distance

Even Blaneau Ffestioniog looked nice in the afternoon sun. A scar it may be, but it is an interesting reminder of the industry that used to cloak these hills. I find this aerial view of the town oddly beguiling

Blaneau Ffestiniog

Blaneau Ffestiniog

We headed back along the airy edge between Llyn Conglog and Cwmorthin.

Moelwyns

High Level Strolling

Llyn Cwmorthin, Moel yr Hydd

Llyn Cwmorthin & Moel yr Hydd

Llyn Cwmorthin has these strange finger like projections, clearly something to do with the industrial activity in the area but I’ve no idea what they are for in more specific terms. Very interesting viewed from high above though

Llyn Cwmorthin

Wonder what these were for?

We collected several litres of water from the outflow of Llyn Conglog and headed back to camp for tea via Llyn Coch

Llyn Coch, Cnicht

Llyn Coch, Cnicht behind

Llyn Coch, Moelwyns

TBF heads for home for tea

As the sun descended the light cast on the mountains under the clear sky was unreal. Is there a better setting to enjoy a hearty plate of pasta carbonara 🙂

Moelwyns, Wild camp

Evening Meal

Moelwyns, Wild camp

“Table on the Terrace”

Cwm Croesor, Moelwyn Mawr, Cnicht

Evening light on Cwm Croesor, Moelwyn Mawr & Cnicht

Magical, the meal topped off by a Mr Kipling Rhubarb and Custard pie, yes after a 15 year absence they are back on the shelves and about time too. Quite amazing how the presence of a factory produced small pie confection full of e numbers and chemicals can raise such elation but it was so. TJS is now a convert to their subtle charms. TBF turned her nose up at the pudding offered. What does she know 🙂

Moelwyn Mawr, Wild Camp

Time to clear up

Time for a post-prandial wander. One of the delights of a high camp in good weather (we were at around 600m) is that you can watch the evening draw in from a summit. We decided that Ysgafell Wen looked a good bet and we scrambled to its rocky top to watch the changing light and setting sun.

Snowdon, Glyders, Ysgafell Wen

Snowdon, Glyders & Ysgafell Wen

Cnicht, Llyn yr Adar

Cnicht & Llyn yr Adar

Ysgafell Wen, Moel Siabod

TBF & TJS on Ysgafell Wen, Moel Siabod behind

Ysgafell Wen

Me enjoying the evening sun

The views were just getting better as the dun dipped casting shadows and light effects across all of Snowdonia and highlighting to great effect, the haze that was filling the valleys to the north-west

Moelwyns

Sunset show begins

We relaxed and posed for photographs, supremely pleased with our good fortune to be up high in perfect summer weather, on hills and rocky tops that seemed designed to catch the glorious midsummer setting sun

Ysgafell Wen

The happy couple

This view of the Moelwyns is my favourite photo of the moment

Moelwyns, Moelwyn Mawr, Moelwyn Bach

The Moelwyns continue to impress

We wandered back to camp so we could brew up and sit on our private mountain and watch the sun set. TJS has become rather attached to the idea of an evening hot chocolate while backpacking and I have to say he’s looking pretty pleased with himself. I told him wild camping in the sunshine was as good as life gets and he seems to agree

Moelwyns, Wild Camp

TJS enjoys his evening hot chocolate

Moelwyns, Wild camp

Our private mountaintop glows

The sun went down over the slopes of Snowdon as we watched and realised that it was actually a little chilly

Snowdon

Sunset over Snowdon

TBF is hiding it well but she was rather keen to retire for the evening. (She’s not a cold weather person you see)

Moelwyns, Wild camp

Sunset on TBF

The light show continued to the last diamond of sun at which point TJS and TBF disappeared into the tent. I took another stroll along the low ridge as there was still enough light to walk by even at this late hour and just warm enough to sit which I did for many minutes. Lost in thought, the silence was almost total. There is no sense of peace like it. I could have stayed there all night but I was tired but not all that surprised to see it was past 11pm. After a slow start it had been a truly memorable day. It was almost a disappointment to scramble in to the tent and go to sleep.

Moelwyns, Moelwyn Mawr, Moelwyn Bach

Last rays of light

P1190765

The final performance

We were woken early and abruptly by two crows having a very noisy argument. I had to get up and chase them off such was the racket. I had no idea what time it was but it was already warm. I should have got up and gone for a stroll but went back to bed for a bit more kip. When we did arise it was a clear still morning and it was clearly going to be a scorcher. We had a pre breakfast scramble to the top of our little hill to take in the views

Snowdon

Early morning Snowdon

Cnicht, Moelwyns

Early morning on Cnicht and the Moelwyns

Attendees for breakfast were me, TJS, TBF and a few hundred uninvited midges who made a thorough nuisance of themselves before the strong sunlight sent them buzzing for cover. Once they’d gone we settled down for a lengthy and lazy feast before reluctantly packing up. Such were the ferocious temperatures, TBF even put shorts on, almost unheard of in the UK

Moelwyns, Wild Camp

It was THAT hot!

The plan had been to walk out over the Moelwyns. After a few minutes walking it was clear that it was going to be too hot haul a heavy pack over a big hill so we settled for a slow wander back down through the upper lakes, past the Rhosydd mines and down Cwm Croesor. With hindsight we should probably just reversed our route back over Cnicht but there you go

Moelwyns, Wild Camp

Descending from our little home from home (just over the skyline)

Before reaching Llyn Cwm Corsiog I introduced both my accomplices to the delights of cooling off by pouring a large mugful of water over your head. The water was wonderfully cool and refreshing and we cooled down and drank our fill while watching a heron hunting for fish in the lake

Llyn Cwm Corsiog

Heron at Llyn Cwm Corsiog

We had toyed with a swim in the lake but it looked shallow, muddy and uninviting

Llyn Cwm Corsiog

TBF experiences the REAL Moelwyns

I then remembered the small deep rock-surrounded lake of Llyn Clogwyn Brith just above where we had camped last year and though that might be a better bet.

Llyn Clogwyn Brith

Llyn Clogwyn Brith

It was an inspired idea and we made our way down to its shore for a sensationally cold swim in its dark brooding waters. There was a flattened patch of grass that indicated someone had camped here the night before. The location by the lake was a good one but in truth you would have lost the sun very early and the grass was exceedingly soggy and squelchy (I think our spot was better). If you watch the slideshow below you can see some video footage to prove that we did indeed take a dip

Llyn Clogwyn Brith

Our own Mountain Swimming Pool

I had a bright (well pretty poor as it turned out) idea that we could follow one of the old mine trails around the head of Cwm Croesor and then descend to its depths where they may be some more options for river swimming. We headed down past our camp site of last year on our way to the mine workings

Moelwyn Mawr

Our campsite from last year

We picked up the mine trail and it really is sensationally sculpted and built, dramatically hewn out of the cliffs at the head of Cwm Croesor.

Bwlch y Rhosydd

Old mine track at Bwlch y Rhosydd

Cwm Croesor

Cwm Croesor

Then suddenly it just stopped at an incline that was clearly way too steep to descend with a full pack. I checked the map (as I should have done in the first place) which confirmed that is exactly what it’s supposed to do. TBF enlivened our disappointment by leaving her sack perched on the edge and watching it slowly topple over towards the precipice before I grabbed it!

Bwlch y Rhosydd

Abrupt end of said mine track

We were left with no option but to return to the main path. I would however say that if you are in these hills it’s well worth a wander along this amazing old route so were not too bothered

Cwm Croesor

Lunch in Cwm Croesor

We had a final lunch stop by a tiny stream flowing into the head of Cwm Croesor so no river swimming 😦

More hindsight dictated we should have just stayed at Llyn Clogwyn Brith for the day. ‘Tis a wonderful thing the old hindsight

Cwm Croesor

Final descent of Cwm Croesor

All that was left was a slow amble down the easy graded path that slants down the side of the valley to the village. It got increasingly hot as we descended and the last mile along a sun-baked concrete and then tarmac road were brutal. The sight of the car in the car park with its air conditioning was very welcome

Cwm Croesor

Last lingering look

So a quite splendid weekend was over and we made our way back to the caravan to eat chips and collect TJF. A couple of maps below to show our aimless wanderings.

Total Walking Distance 12.2 miles

Total Walking Distance 12.2 miles

The Local Suburbs

The Local Suburbs

If there is a better area of mountains in which to spend a lazy summer day or two high up in your private rock, grass and lake sanctuary then – well, you get the idea

Happy Days indeed 🙂

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