Archive for the ‘pumlumon fach’ Tag

From the Mountains to the Sea – Part 1   10 comments

March brings about the first possible family trips to the coast as the weather warms up and my parents caravan is open for business.

 

With a dry day forecast we headed our for the day down to Mwnt Beach near Cardigan. It’s a stunning sandy bay and supposedly a great spot for dolphin spotting

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

It was dry but cloudy and cool but it was great to be back on the beach for the first time this year. There were actually a few brave kids in the water!! We declined the offer and settled for an hour of poking about in the rock pools, a family favourite. A sheltered spot on the rocks served us well for lunch

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

It was a liitle too early in the year for a full blown beach day so we took a walk to the top of the hill overlooking the bay and then down the coast. This small church sits quietly between beach and hill

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

The view from the top was grand and enlivened by a close up of a small raptor. Not sure if it’s a peregrine falcon or a kestrel. I’m sure some knowledgeable sort will correct me

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

Even though it was cloudy the views were nice with some interesting light effects from the low sun and the grey layered clouds. Despite constant diligence on the sea we never saw a dolphin!

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

mwnt beach, traeth y mwnt, foel y mwnt

We took a stroll along the prom at Aberystwyth as a fine end to the day

aberystwyth

The following looked more promising from a weather perspective so I fulfilled a promise to TJS and took him up Plynlimon (highest mountain in mid-Wales and worthy target for a teenage walker obsessed with facts and figures!) I’ve had a couple of cracking trips up here in the past few years which you can read about here and here

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

The day was exceedingly warm but very hazy, almost August-like. The views were a little washed out but fine nonetheless

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

It was clearly frog-breeding season and adults, tadpoles and spawn was everywhere. One small lake was swarming with frogs and you could here their combined voices from several metres away

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

TJS was pleased to finally reach the summit of this fine and very under-rated summit. As with the previous two visits we saw hardly a soul the entire day

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

TJS also has an interest in seeing the source of rivers especially our local river Wye. I’ve told him many times that river sources by and large are deeply uninteresting affairs at least visually if not esoterically. The photo below is the Source of the Wye which I think proves my point. Just some wet grass that turns into bog that turns into a snall stream and so on. However he seemed very excited to see it and that’s the main thing

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

We enjoyed a lunch on the slopes and varied the walk by taking in the dam at Llyn Llygad Rheidol

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

It actually felt warm enough (at least out of the water) for a swim but we declined!

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

cadair Idris, cardigan bay, maesnant, nant-y-moch, pen cerrig tewion, plynlimon, Y Garn, drosgol, hengwm, nant-y-moch, plynlimon, pumlumon fach

We ended the day by joining the Funsters in Aberystwyth where it was gorgeously warm and sunny if a little crowded. Most of the West Midlands and Merseyside had taken the chance for a day out by the sea judging by the accents. The first coastal weekend of the year but not the last…

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Plynlimon – after 30 years   12 comments

When I was a kid, spending loads of time down at my grandparents caravan, with my interest in walking starting to pique, I harboured ambitions to climb Plynlimon, the highest point in mid-Wales. We often took trips in the car out to the hills and narrow roads around Nant-y-Moch reservoir and we drove past the main route up from the A44 on our way to and from the caravan. Despite this I never attained the summit and as I grew up and my grandparents gave up the caravan, it drifted far from my thoughts as I discovered what I believed were bigger and better mountains in the Lake District, Snowdonia and Scotland. I was wrong.

Now my parents have their caravan down at Clarach, it’s back in my vision again. On our recent half-term week, the first Saturday was shaping up to be a great day so I asked Jane if I could go out to play for the day. I was just going to take the quick route up from the A44 but a recent blog post on the excellent Backpackingbongos by James Boulter had sparked my interest in approaching it from the north via the Hengwm valley. I strongly recommend taking a look at James’s post about his trip into this little known area here, it’s a cracking read.

I headed off to the Nant-y-Moch Reservoir and took the dead-end road along its eastern shore towards the Maesnant outdoor centre, parking up easily on the grass by the road.

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Banc Llechwedd Mawr

It was a stunning day with clear blue sky and glorious autumn colours. As I set off and throughout the day, the peak of Drosgol caught my eye, some hills just have that perfect form that make you want to climb them.

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Drosgol

It would be a real challenge to make a circular route to take it in, cut off as it were on 3 sides by the reservoir but I’m up for the challenge some time.

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Drosgol

As I strode off along the track and into the wilds, one thought kept coming back, why had I neglected these retiring valleys and peaks for so long. Sometimes, particularly when I was younger, mountains had to be “big” or “impressive” to warrant my attention, the lesser known areas were often dismissed as being “boring” even though I’d never been to some of them. Over the last few years I’ve started to appreciate the more subtle charms of the less popular areas. Now I’ve “discovered” this fabulous area, I’ve been poring over maps and planning more day trips and backpacking circuits. Shame on me for leaving them unattended.

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Carn Hyddgen and the Hengwm Valley

I was in buoyant mood as walked towards the Hengwm valley. The peaks of Banc Llechwedd Mawr and Carn Hyddgen were also beckoning and my eyes and brain were hard at work sorting out routes and lines to climb them. As I turned east into Hengwm I realised I’d been right to take James advice. It was stunning, wild and untamed with traces of long abandoned farms and mine workings giving a sense of history and perspective.

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Hengwm Valley

One thing to remember about wild and untamed mid-Wales is that the paths are sometimes a little vague and the one on the south bank of the river was extremely sketchy. Sorry two things to remember, it rains a lot in mid-Wales so anywhere flat, like valley bottoms can be a trifle boggy. In this case very boggy. The path when it did appear was astonishingly wet, and I had several moments when I lost my leg to the earth I was glad I’d put my gaiters on (I don’t normally wear them), my wet feet problem exacerbated by the fact that my crap North Face boots had a hole in them. I’m often staggered by just how much water a mountain slope or valley can hold in the UK!

In between hauling myself out of bogs and leaping from tussock to tussock I was loving this walk. It felt like barely a soul ever walks up and I hadn’t seen a soul so far. In amongst the quagmire I’d also found a decent wild camp-spot by the river. I’ve been searching for a nice spot not too far from the road to introduce the kids to a spot of wild camping and provided I can find a way through the swamp this would be a good bet.

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NIce place to spend the night, Hengwm valley

I reached the ruined farmhouse at the point where Hengwn turns north, an evocative spot. It’s surrounded by tall reeds but there are patches of grass amongst it that would make a pretty decent if slightly surreal campsite.

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Ruined farmhouse

I continued west past the waterfalls and on into Cwm Gwerin following the river to stay dry if that makes sense.

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Waterfalls and Craig yr Eglwys

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Hengwm Valley

My intention had been to follow the valley all the way up to the ridge but the river was meandering all over the place so I headed south for what looked like a grassy rake through the crags. What looked like grass from a distance turned out to be deep spongy moss like I’ve never seen before. It was like climbing an enormous duvet. It was the hardest couple off hundred feet of ascent I’d done in a while. Fortunately when I reached the upper slopes there was a long line of broken rocks leading all the way to the summit of the minor top of Pen Cerrig Tewion.

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Route to Pen Cerrig Tewion, Arans in the distance

The views to the north were awesome with Cadair Idris standing proud above the vast expanse of the hills around me and the Arans visible in the distance.

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Distant views to the Tarrens and Cadair Idris

Plynlimon, my target for the day looked impressive and craggy on its north side cradling the small Llyn Llygad Rheidol reservoir.

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Plynlimon from Pen Cerrig Tewion

I made short work of the rest of the climb to the ridge, passing a couple of gorgeous small tarns before turning west to head onto the summit.

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Tarn on the summit ridge

The panorama from the top was breathtaking. Because it’s the highest point in the area and the local hills are much lower it gives a sensation of space and height I’ve not experienced on a summit for a while, it would be a wonderful spot for a summit bivvy or camp in settled weather.

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Cadair Idris and the Arans from the summit

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Nant-y-Moch reservoir

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Looking south along the summit ridge

Today there was a biting wind so I had to settle for lunch in the shelter of the massive summit cairn, still shaking my head at how it had taken me over 30 years to make it to the top.

Sadly the view north will, if plans are allowed to progress, be ruined by being festooned with wind turbines. James on Backpackingbongos has written an excellent piece here about these plans so I won’t say anything more other than head over and take a read. I urge anyone who looks at my photos, is dazzled by the views laid out within them and is as saddened as I am that this area’s natural beauty will be lost for ever if the plans go ahead, to sign the petitions. I’ve added the links below:

http://www.gopetition.co.uk/petition/33775.html

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/no-to-the-industrialisation-of-mid-wales.html

It was one of those of days where struggled to tear myself away from the top but I headed off following a grassy path NW from the summit that seemed to be heading back to the car. It was such a lovely day that I took in the various lumps and bumps of Pumlumon Fach.

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Looking over Pumlumon Fach to Cadair Idris

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Pumlumon Fach

These would be great places for a wild camp on their grassy summits if there was a water source nearby (or carried in). I sprang my way down more mossy slopes to the track from Llyn Llygad Rheidol to where it passes a line of tarns that were catching the late afternoon light in a most becoming fashion.

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Tarns by the track, Banc Llechwedd Mawr behind

I found a thin path heading straight down along the Maesnant stream back to my car, in fact it appears that this was the end point on the path from the summit I’d followed earlier. This would be a great and swift route to the summit for a late evening walk on a warm summers evening.

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Nant-y-Moch reservoir in the fading light

I reached the car, as happy after a day in the hills as I can remember in a long time. After all how often do you get to fulfill a lifelong ambition!

Posted November 13, 2011 by surfnslide in Mid Wales, Wales, Walking

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