Archive for the ‘Snowdonia’ Category

Snowdon Horseshoe with The Hardman   21 comments

I’m behind again – just when I’d caught up as well. Back to the last weekend in March for a rare trip out to Snowdonia with The Hardman. He’s planning on a run over the Welsh 3’s and some of his friends haven’t done the narrow ridge of Crib Goch so he wanted a reconnaissance mission. I agreed to join him as the forecast looked like it might be a decent day and worth the 5 hours return trip in the car.

Things didn’t start well. TH wasn’t at the appointed spot we’d agreed to meet (a very handy lay-by that’s free to park and only a few hundred yards from where you have to pay £4). After 45 minutes he still hadn’t arrived and I was worried he might have had some car problems (or maybe just forgotten that the clocks went forward!).

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With no phone signal there was nothing I could do but set off and see what transpired. As I reached the start of the new path up to Pen y Pass from Pen y Gwryd there he was! He’d decided to completely ignore my well written instructions and paid to park. Ah well, times to set off and the increasingly good views soon had us back in tune with the day.

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The weather improved markedly, much more than expected such that by the time we started up the PYG Track there was abundant blue sky. On decent days the path is normally a long train of people but the gloomy start seemed to have kept the crowds at bay.

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The views down the Llanberis Pass and across to the Glyders were amazing.

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And of course Crib Goch looms large and dramatic in the view from here. East Ridge (our route) on the left, North Ridge on the right.

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Fine views across Llyn Llydaw and to Y Lliwedd from Bwlch y Moch.

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Onwards with the steep climb up to Crib Goch. A tough undertaking at the best of times but at Hardman pace even more so! The rocky spur halfway up gives some great, easy scrambling.

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The final section of the ridge pulls you up towards the summit.

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The summit is one of the few in England or Wales with a real sense of narrow exposure. This is looking down the North Ridge. I did this one a couple of years back. Harder and narrower than the East Ridge but its a real pain to get to.

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And the the highlight of the day, the narrow crest of the ridge. In my youth I was able to hop along the crest, mostly only a foot wide but in these less nimble days I prefer the handrail approach.

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It really is quite narrow and exposed and you’d have to head to Lochaber or Skye to find anything quite as challenging in the UK.

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Looking back from the final pinnacle.

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The Hardman on the short steep (and exposed scramble) over the final pinnacle.

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A brief stop for first lunch and onwards to the ridge of Crib y Ddysgl, not as narrow but with plenty of interesting scrambling moves of its own.

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Over the summit of Garnedd Ugain and on to to join the masses on the main Snowdon routes to the summit.

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Not as crowded as it can be, but still the usual comical mixture of under-equipped and unhappy people clearly surprised by just what a long climb it is and how cold it was up there. We didn’t linger and just walked straight over the top heading away from the crowds and towards the other half of the horseshoe (the full route enclosing the dramatic east corries of Snowdon).

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The distant views were a bit hazy and for most of the day we were under a cap of dark cloud. However it was localised and as the sun dropped into the western sky where clouds were less we had some extensive sunny spells and dramatic light effects. The route down to Bwlch Ciliau is still under improvement and the final section is very loose and unpleasant.

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As we reached the bottom the sun came out and we stopped for lunch number two.

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Y Lliwedd is a wonderful peak but its always quiet whenever I’ve done it no matter how busy Snowdon is. Probably its just too much extra effort for the main mob and possibly as its not over 3000 feet. Whatever the climb up its west ridge is a delight with lots of scrambling if you have the energy to seek it out.

Looking back to Crib Goch.

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And Snowdon.

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Watching you, watching Crib Goch.

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The ridge is not narrow but the views from the edge are magnificent and precipitous.

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And our two heroes on the final summit.

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Moel Siabod cast in sunshine in the distance.

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Just the matter of a long descent back to the car.

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And see final sunshine on the Glyders to finish an awesome day on one of the UK’s finest (if not its quietest) mountaineering routes.

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I drew the route into my OS Map software. It told me there was over 6000 feet of ascent so I’m now rather unsure of any figures it comes up with. The the 10 miles distance seems about right though at least.

Thanks to TH for convincing me it was worth the drive.

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Back to the Mountains – Cadair Idris   20 comments

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Time to head back to the bigger mountains. Settled and sunny weather days at weekends are a rarity at this time of year. MWIS was showing a potential cracker so I set the alarm for 6am and headed west. I had a hankering for a proper rocky mountain and Cadair Idris fitted the bill as my nearest option. Always eager to avoid parking charges I’d planned a new route to the top meaning I could park in the free lay-by halfway up the deep valley that lies to the SE of main ridge. 

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I was walking by just after 8:30. The skies were clear and cold but I wasn’t ready for was just how windy it was even low down. This was not a day for hanging about in bitter conditions. My route was to traverse around to the bottom of the NE ridge and climb to the summit ridge from there. I’ve only ever done the mountain by the classic route around Cwm Cau and always looked longingly at this approach. As I wandered around to the base of the ridge the views expanded as I ascended. It was a cracker of a day if exceptionally windy and cold.

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The lower part of the ridge is steep but there is a faint path if you can find it. From there it is a wonderful climb around a succession of rocky outcrops.

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Looking along to Mynydd Moel.

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As I crested the top of the first peak of Gau Graig the wind was ferocious. Strong enough to blow me off my feet a couple of times.

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Compensation was provided by sensational views. North across the Mawddach estuary to the Rhinogs and Snowdon, south towards Plynlimon, still swimming in the morning mists.

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The next stage of my route.

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I managed to find a small degree of shelter from the wind for a snack. Finding places to stop and shelter today was going to be a challenge.

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Onwards to the next summit and the walking was delightful if tricky in the gusting wind. Aview west across the Dovey Hills to the Arans

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Mynydd Moel is a superb spot with spectacular views across the Cadair range to the sea beyond and a deep sculpted corrie to the north east

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More sensational walking across the broad ridge and along the exposed edges towards the summit. 

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As I approached the summit I saw my first people of the day. I must have walked over 3 hours and several miles with the mountain all to myself. I guess this route gets few footsteps.

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I arrived on the summit, surprised to find only a few people there. Cadair is a very well known and popular mountain and on such a good day I expected more people until I realised my early start had me on the top just after midday, still a little early for the masses to have made it

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I tried a selfie and some panorama shots but I could barely stand in the wind. A view back along the ridge I walked up.

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The summit pillar to prove I made it!

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Llyn Peninsula in the background, Care Fadryn, my favourite small hill just visible on the horizon. I’m always pleased to see it.

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Cadair has a number of small rocky outcrops just below the summit where I found a reasonably sheltered spot for lunch and fresh brew of tea. A view from my picnic spot.

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And back to the summit. I wandered across to take in the view from the summit of Cyfrwy as the weather was so clear, I wanted to stay high as long as possible.

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Looking down to Llyn y Gadair where we’d camped earlier in the summer.

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A steep descent and re-ascent to Craig Cau followed where I started to meet larger crowds of people heading up.

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Its a superb spot with grand views down into the deep heart of Cwm Cau. I would have lingered but there was a large group sitting on most of the summit so I paused briefly and headed down.

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I managed to find a marvellous sheltered spot behind a rocky outcrop. Soft grass, a backrest and mountainous views now under deep and clear late afternoon blue sky.

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I sat here for quite a while just soaking up the sun (it was quite warm out of the wind) and admiring the views. It really is a fabulous mountain on a day like this.

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Reluctantly I headed down. It was still relatively early but I had a long way to go and had an idea I may, if I was lucky retain the sun even down at valley level.

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There were still lots of people heading up although possibly just to Llyn Cau at this point in the day. I managed to catch sun most of the way down through the trees.

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And it was still shining when I reached the valley floor.

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I still had a couple of miles to walk back up the valley to the car. There is wonderful path that follows the base of the valley with the main road high above so you don’t really notice its there.

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My timing was perfect with the sun shining directly along its length just before it set behind the flanks of the mountain. 30 minutes later and I’d likely have walked most of its length in cold shade.

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The views were magnificent. The sky deepening its shade of blue and the low sun bringing out all the autumn gold and brown.

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Looking down the valley toward the Tal y Llyn Lake

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And a close up zoom view to finish as I reached the car, still the only car there.

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A fabulous day on a big rock mountain that overlooks the coast on a crisp clear winters day.

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A long day of 12 miles with an early start and a few hours driving. I think it was worth the effort.

Wild Camp on Cadair Idris   14 comments

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We had a pretty successful wild camp trip last summer with many of the kids and wanted to repeat this year. Unfortunately Mark and his gang couldn’t make it and the Hard Man’s youngest couldn’t be persuaded so it was a more exclusive group this year. I pored over maps and decided that a camp by the wild and rocky Llyn y Gadair under Cadair Idris would be a fine spot so we agreed to meet in Dolgellau for lunch prior to setting off. The forecast wasn’t great but it did say it might stop raining after lunch and Sunday might be ok so we decided to go for it.

We had to start further away than we planned as there is no overnight parking rate at the main car park (why don’t they offer this for backpackers!). We drove down the road to the free car park at Cregennen Lakes, in the end not a bad plan as it’s a fine spot in its own right and the walk back to the climb up to the mountain was rather nice.

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The lakes are dominated by pronounced nose of Pared y Cefn Hir.

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Blue skies seemed to be approaching from the west

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The walk around the lakes and over to the valley that marked our ascent was exceedingly fine

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We had some sunshine and smatterings of blue sky and for a while even the summit of Cadair Idris came out of the clouds. It was however a fleeting appearance and was soon enveloped again never to re-appear, at least for this weekend

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After a short road walk we started the climb

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Steep at first but then easing into a nice day easy angled approach to our target

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As we climbed pretty well all the nearby summits became smothered in dark clouds but there was bright light and sunshine on the lower slopes

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We reached our target, the dramatic corrie that holds Llyn y Gadair. I’ve climbed Cadair Idris many times but always from the south so while I’d seen this place from above I’ve never visited up close and personal

It’s a rocky place and flat spots are very hard to come by. After a little searching around we settled on a spot between the main lake and a smaller sibling. A bit rocky but it did the job and the setting was magnificent

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Unlike our last group camp it was chilly and windy so the midges didn’t bother us

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We made the place our home and cooked tea including a pudding of Guinness flavoured chocolate cake brought up from the cafe.

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Appetites sated we set off on one of the joys of a wild camp, a gentle stroll around the surroundings

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In this case a circuit of the lake and the small knolls and outcrops that surround it

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There wasn’t a sunset as such but there were some interesting light effects and we had a great evening poking about the area, chatting and looking for other potential spots to camp

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We kept hoping that the summit would make an appearance but it never did.

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Still, our wild site and the setting were hard to beat. A real big mountain feel

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We returned to camp for another round of brews before deciding it was too cold to sit outside and turned in for nights sleep, hoping for some clearer weather the next day

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Sadly, that was as good as it got. We were in the cloud when I woke up and while we eating breakfast the light drizzle increased in intensity and set in for the rest of the day. Despite the forecast stating “mainly dry” or words to that effect, the rain was relentless. We took a slightly longer route back and whilst we had the wind behind us and then walked through the trees it wasn’t too bad. When we emerged from the trees and walked into the wind and rain for the last hour back to the car it was utterly miserable and we were soaked through when we reached the car.

Didn’t make much of a dent in the enjoyment of a good trip though, slight disappointment that in the midst of what’s turning into a pretty sunny summer we picked the only wet weekend for a trip out

Only one way to finish off. A return to the superb cafe in Dolgellau, TH Roberts, that we’d started out from. An exceptional range of home-baked cakes and meals, exceptional value and all served with a smile. Well worth seeking out when you are in the area

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I’ve been trying to make more effort to get out and camp this year. This was the third outing for me with another one to come in the next post

A Cheeky Wild Camp in the Arans   12 comments

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I had a Sunday walk planned with a few friends in Shropshire and with a decent forecast thought I could make a proper weekend of things with a one night wild camp and walk in the Arans.  It was pretty gloomy when I parked up with little sign of the promised evening sunshine.

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It was also warm, humid and airless and a very, steep climb into Cwm Cywarch. I was dripping sweat all the way up and bothered by flies and midges whenever I stopped. I feared the lack of wind would continue and I’d be sharing my planned site with tiny unwanted friends. I was beginning to regret the decision to head out and I wasn’t in high spirits.

All that changed as I reached the broad col below Glasgwm. The sun was emerging from below the mask of heavy cloud and throwing some promising sunlight onto the surrounding hills. Even better there was a breeze to blow the flies away and cool me down

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Within minutes there was more abundant sunshine. My mood was lifted immeasurably

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I was heading for the summit of Glasgwm to camp. The climb up to the top is a steep one and on the way up I’d been dreading it. Amazing how sunshine improves your mood and your energy. I fair romped up the steep slopes

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The views just got better and better as I climbed, keeping ahead of the setting sun so it was still out as I reached the summit

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On the top it was just stunning. The summit was swept with swirling mists and low angle sunlight

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The light was fading fast so I had to concentrate as much on setting up  camp as admiring the views (forgetting that even once the sun has gone down, it doesn’t get really dark at this time of year)

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I’d targeted the summit as a good place to camp on a previous visit. Its broad and largely grassy with numerous spots to throw up a tent (although the grass and turf is only a couple of inches thick before hitting rock)

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The small Llyn y Fign provides a useful water source although has no outflow worthy of the name so needs to be boiled or filtered to be safe

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I pitched just below the summit cairn. There is no better feeling than a summit camp especially at sunset

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I made a brew and watched the sun sink and bathe the summit in glory

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It took me a while to set up camp while admiring the views

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I had a very refreshing wash in the lake before I turned in. The views across the lake were amazing with a deep pink sky and thin mist over the water. Alas I hadn’t taken either my phone or my camera so the views went unrecorded other than in my memory.

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It was pushing 11pm and quite chilly so just lay inside the tent watching the sky darken

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The sense of peace when wild camping is quite hard to explain and I drifted off to sleep in happy mood

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The fickleness of the weather brought me back to reality with overnight rain and unzipping the tent to realise I was in the cloud

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Still I had my feast of Bacon and Eggs to cheer me up and it was still a fine if rather blank spot in the cloud

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As morning progressed it kept threatening to clear and then mist up again but after an amble about the summit area looking for other possible pitches for future visits it did clear

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The photo below was taken from the summit cairn at 772m and shows the green and expansive summit plateau. Sadly being more focused on views than where I was putting the tent meant it wasn’t quite as flat as it appears!

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I packed up and headed off for a stroll around the Arans

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It was another warm and muggy day but there was a breeze to keep me cool and the day became sunnier as the morning ticked over into afternoon

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As always I rejected the main path for an off piste route to the top of Gwaun y LLwyni. It’s a very rough walk and a short steep grassy climb but worth the effort as the views across the deep Hengwm Valley and Cwm Cywarch are immense.

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A quiet grassy path leads along a broad ridge and then along the edge to Drws Bach

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On Drws Bach I stopped for lunch and the sun came out in force

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The views across to the main Arans ridge were superb and I felt I had to make the effort to make the summit. I hid the pack and went briskly two the summit unencumbered.

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I have a fondness for the Arans as they have a proper, rocky big mountain feel without being difficult or busy. I only saw a handful of people on this day. Looking north to Arenig Fawr

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West to Cadair Idris

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North along the ridge to Bala and its lake

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And east over Craiglyn Dyfi

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Selfie to prove I didn’t steal the shots from the Interweb

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I headed down in the best weather of the day as blue skies took centre stage

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Hengwm valley

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Gwaun y LLwyni & Drws Bach

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Looking back up Hengwm

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And full circle to my route of ascent the previous evening

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A cracking little over-nighter and reward for taking a chance on the weather. One of the best sunsets of I’ve seen in the mountains for a while. Time to head off to meet up with good friends for the second half of my weekend

Weekend with the Junior Sherpa – Moel Siabod (with special guest appearance)   10 comments

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After the efforts from the day before my knee was still very painful the next morning and I was struggling put any real weight on it. Sensible decision would have been to go home but the Hard Man had arranged to meet us for the day so I felt we couldn’t let him down. I thought I might manage a relatively short day and see how it went. The obvious choice is Moel Siabod. A cracking mountain in its own right and a relatively short day by Snowdonia standards. We managed to get the last parking spot in the lay by by Pont Cyfyng.

The weather had looked similar to the previous day with just a hint of blue. We hoped that it would clear and indeed by the time we set off and started the walk the blue patches were becoming more expansive and it turned into an absolute stormer of a day

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Moel Siabod sits out on its own away from the rest of the main Snowdonia massif. Its quite distinctive from the NE with the ridge end on giving kit a pyramidal aspect. Its a very pleasant steady climb to reach it and uphill at least my knee wasn’t giving me too much discomfort

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The route passes through old quarry workings and a very attractive lake

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The path levels out at the delectable tarn of Llyn y Foel. It always looks like a perfect spot for a wild camp but there is precious little grass up here. Its just at the wrong height, right in the middle of the heather/bog/rock/tussock combo.

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Its still a mighty fine spot fro rest though and in the case of the Hard Man, a snooze

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Our route from here was along the edge of the corrie holding Llyn y Foel, the ridge of Daear Ddu. Its not really a ridge in the true sense as the SW side is just an open slope with an easy path. If you stick right next to edge however its a very easy and entertaining scramble with a real sense of exposure, safe in the knowledge that retreat to the path is always easy. With skies clearing by the minute it was a superb ascent to the summit with views opening out to the south all the way and a wonderful aerial view of the lake below.

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On arrival at the summit the main Snowdonia ranges are suddenly and dramatically revealed. The Glyders with Tryfan showing its teeth above the moorland foreground

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The Snowdon range

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The Carneddau where we walked the day before

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We had a long stop for lunch, probably too long as it was colder than we thought!

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The weather was now glorious. To the north and west was an expansive clear patch of clear blue and the views were magnificent. It was a joy to walk down the long NE ridge

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Well it would have been had I not been significant pain from my knee. Going up had been ok but as soon as I started down it came back with a vengeance. Every step was excruciating. In truth I’ve no idea how I made it down. The views and some company kept me going

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I reached the bottom of the steep section with some relief. The walk back down the track was considerably less painful but the views made it worthwhile. I was glad when we reached the car though!

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A sensational day and the icing on the cake of a grand weekend away. Thanks to the Hard Man for making the effort to join us. First time he’d done the peak so he picked a perfect day

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No idea how long it will be before I can tackle a similar mountain day. 😦

Posted October 30, 2016 by surfnslide in Snowdonia, Wales, Walking

Tagged with , , , ,

Weekend with The Junior Sherpa – Carneddau   6 comments

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Whilst the Funster cats were away the Sherpa mice did play! Left to our own devices while TBF went along to a choral singing event we decided on a weekend of relative luxury (Premier Inn, Conwy) to get some walking in. Forecast was ok if a little bland so we hoped to pick off some longer routes. TJS has now paid a visit to the Snowdon and Glyders range so this time it was the third of the main Snowdonia ranges, the Carneddau. A round of Cwm Eigiau seemed appropriate from our northern base and we were up at the car park just after nine. Just in time as it turns out. A large group had pretty much filled the car park and were making a bit of nuisance about setting off (one bloke who loved his own voice and a woman putting on her boots in the middle of the road being the prime culprits). I paused to see where they were heading and went in the other direction

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The weather had looked grey when we set off and rather than clearing like we’d hoped seemed to be getting greyer as we headed into Cwm Eigiau

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We were taking in the two bonus Carneddau of Pen Llithrig y Wrach and Pen yr Helgi Du. They are well worth the extra effort with fine views and much quieter than the higher summits in the Carneddau on the Welsh 3’s list

The summit of PLYW was swarthed in cloud and things did not look promising. Rather than one of the UK’s classic rounds it seemed more likely we’d press on until we got bored walking in fog and head down. As we reached the col before the climb to PYHD we came out of the cloud and things looked a little more promising

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I fully expected to climb straight back into the cloud but it lifted as we climbed and we were almost out of the cloud on PYHD

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We stopped for a short break and things improved dramatically. Blue sky and some watery sunshine appeared and most of the tops cleared from cloud. It was all very impressive and moody

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The views across to Craig yr Ysfa were especially fine

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We descended the steep and narrow ridge from PYHD and climbed the short scramble over the rock of Craig yr Ysfa without incident and found an excellent grassy perch complete with a rock back-rest for lunch. Combined with some dramatic views that’s a measure of a good day in my book

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The climb to Carnedd Llewelyn is longer and further than it looks and by the time we reached the summit I was pretty knackered. There were loads of people on the summit, looked like some kind of organised challenge walk – you can always tell by the large numbers of seriously unhappy looking people with a face that says “this is much harder than you said it would be”

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The cloud had lifted off the summits but it was overcast with a few bright patches. It made for some dark and atmospheric views

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We were planning on bagging the outlier of Yr Elen but after looking down at the low col and realising we’d have climb back up again we thought better of it and headed off to bag Foel Grach

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We paused on the summit for more snacks and considered taking in the smaller Foel Fras but it was getting late, we were both pretty tired and my left knee was causing me some severe discomfort. After a cursory look at the dark and depressing emergency shelter on the summit we headed down. Very slowly in my case

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We caught some decent views on the way down and its a very enjoyable walk down over Craig Eigau. The little dragons back of rock is an entertaining scramble but I had no will or energy for it today

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I was hobbling badly by the last stretch down the track and TJS reached the car several minutes before me. Still it had been a grand day out. I was just worried about the price I’d have to pay for it as I could barely walk when we finished

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12 miles and 3300 feet of ascent is pretty big day for both of us. A classic of North Wales

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More Snowdonia adventures to follow

Touring through the Tarn – Mont Lozere   6 comments

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The Last Post. As it were. Bringing our French trip to a conclusion. After our only day of rain in three weeks (other than the drive from the ferry) we headed out late in the day for quick explore of the Mont Lozere area where the Tarn river has its source. The photo below at Mas Camargue is of the infant Tarn a few miles from that source

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We’d driven up through some wonderful and peaceful rural landscapes and small hamlets of Villeneuve and L’Hopital along some narrow and rough tracks. The feel is very reminiscent of Dartmoor or Bodmin Moor. Lots of grassland, heather and granite tors and boulders

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As the storm was passing and evening rolling in the cloud effects were dramatic. I’m especially proud of this image with dark skies and sunlit buildings

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The views from every corner were awesome and we stopped many times to admire, a welcome relief after being stuck in the camper in the rain for most of the day

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We took a short stroll down to the pool at Gasbiel. It was dark and gloomy but it did look worth a visit on a sunnier day. Watch this space

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The next day was our kayak trip along the gorge but for our last day we decided to pay the area another visit. It was a stunning day of deep blue sky and unbroken sunshine. We first took a walk to see the Cascade des Ruisses. The views from the walk across the upper reaches of the Tarn valley were stunning

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The waterfall itself was equally impressive but hard to capture as its sits in deep tree filled ravine

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Onward and upward we took a stroll and lunch in the peaceful village Le Pont Montvert, also on the banks of the Tarn

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Like most of the valley the village has its own rather splendid collection of natural swimming holes

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We opted to revisit the highest part of Mont Lozere again and this time under the deep blue sky it was majestic

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We walked down to Gasbiel again to laze away the afternoon. It was transformed under a sunny day into an idyllic spot. A deep green pool backed by huge slabs of warm granite just perfect for sunbathing

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It was also quiet with just a handful of families and no-one in the water. I soon worked out why. The water was absolutely freezing! I’d swum comfortably in the river no more than 15 miles downstream the day before. Despite the cold the water was wonderfully clear and refreshing (just not the place for an extended swim). Even at this altitude (around 1300m) the sun was hot and the rocks pleasantly warm.

Surprisingly TBF went in for a swim. She’s smiling in the last photo so she must have enjoyed it

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TJS was feeling a little under the weather so was content to simply enjoy some quiet time

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I took another swim and explored the other pools. It was another of my favourite spots of the holiday

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Me and TBF took a short stroll along the river and across the meadows

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This little abandoned dwelling caught my eye and was very photogenic

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The smell and colour of heather was everywhere, again reminding me of home, fitting as this was our last day before returning

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A wonderful last day finished off with another evening picnic by the river at the campsite.

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Happy memories of a fantastic holiday but still tinged with a little sadness that TJS wasn’t with us. Back to the real world now and time to catch up on my activities since we got home. Some pretty good one’s too

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