Archive for the ‘snowdon’ Tag

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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The Route Lazily Trodden   6 comments

Our last day in North Wales and the weather dawned even better than the previous one. More sun, more warmth, more abundant blue sky. The kids seemed tired and TJS was still suffering with his toe so we abandoned the plan for a big day in the Carneddau for a lazy day by the river. I’d read that the Afon Cwm Llan that drains the southern side of Snowdon was a fine place for a riverside picnic and a swim. Considering we were late and the car park is the start of the Watkin path up to the summit I was surprised to find a spot. Food packed we headed out. It was a truly glorious day

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I figured that the spot where all the swimming pools are would be busy so we based ourselves in a lovely spot lower down

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The water was crystal clear and icy cold but the weather just perfect. Warm enough to laze in the sun in comfort but not so hot as to be oppressive.

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We sat around for a while and then I went off for an explore

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The walk along by the falls was superb. I’m a real sucker for waterfalls and rivers

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The stretch above the main falls was just picture perfect. A wooded glade with warm flat rocks and the deepest of green pools. Perfect for swimming

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I want back down and dragged everyone up the hill for swim. Alas I was the only one brave enough to take a dip. Icy cold at first but wonderful clear and refreshing

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We watched a party of canyoners and followed them down. Me jumping in the deep pools behind them. No better way to spend a lazy Bank Holiday

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I used the think the Esk Gorge in the Lake District was the top of the list when it came to river swimming but this place runs it very close especially on day as good as this

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We returned to our base camp and scoffed a long and leisurely lunch and lazed about a bit more

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I even managed to sneak up on TJF and catch her unawares – she doesn’t like being photographed

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All too soon it was time to head back to the car and then the campsite to take the trailer down

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It was almost a pleasure to be taking it down on such a glorious afternoon on such a wonderful campsite.

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We finished off the weekend in style with a meal in the Royal Oak Hotel in Betws y Coed. Its much quieter than the well-known Stable Bar next door but the food is excellent and the staff very friendly. Highly recommended.

If Carlsberg did Bank Holiday camping weekends……

And with that I’m in the unusual position of being up to date having not been out much the past couple of weeks. TJS is mid exams so I don’t want to head out while he’s stuck at home. Weekends of domestic chores, garden BBQs and meals out have taken priority

The Route Less Trodden   14 comments

Bank Holiday Weekend and a family trip to Snowdonia. I arrived a day early so had the Saturday to myself. Weather forecast was for a sunny day with “occasional” showers in the afternoon so I was up early and parked up just after eight.

I had route planned around Snowdon but even at this early hour spaces were at a premium. If you are ever planning a Snowdon walk from near Pen-y-Pass I have a few tips. Don’t bother trying to park at Pen-y-Pass itself. Your chances of finding a space are pretty much zero and even if you did its a whopping £10 a day! Much better to park down at Pen-y-Gwryd especially now that there is a rather nice path back up to Pen-y-Pass rather than the scary walk back up the busy road. They charge you now to park in the lay-bys here (£4 a day) however if you walk towards Capel Curig a few hundred yards, and into the Local Authority next door, the lay-bys are completely free – all for the sake of an extra 5-10 minutes walk. Don’t ever say my blog isn’t informative 🙂

Anyway the gloomy conditions of earlier were replaced by extending patches of blue sky and sunshine

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The new path up to Pen-y-Pass is rather nice and a huge improvement over the road option. That is until you emerge into the rowdy chaos that is the car park and join the hundreds of other people looking to attempt the summit. The views were some compensation and it was exceedingly warm even at this early hour

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The path was a constant stream of people some of whom were already struggling within 30 minutes of leaving the car park. I don’t think they have any idea that even from the high start its a pretty long and tough trek to the summit. I had other ideas though and was planning a route taking in Crib Goch by its little used North Ridge. Its the one on the right in the photo below (the ridge on the left is the more common East Ridge)

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My guide book said there is a cairned path that leaves the PYG Track but I never found it. As soon as you branch off you are instantly in a different world of peace and quiet in amongst the wild hollows of Cwm Beudy Mawr. I was alone, save for the traffic in the Llanberis Pass far below me. It’s a very rough route that traverses this wild corrie, across the top of Dinas Mot and up towards Cwm Uchaf below Crib Goch. There were only a smattering of sheep tracks and no sign of the promised path. It was hot and humid and hard work but the rewards when reaching Cwm Uchaf were worthwhile

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Its a stunning spot. Crib Goch and Crib y Ddysgl tower above, Llanberis nestles beneath. This was one of the spots we’d hoped to camp on the aborted Easter trip a couple of months ago. I can now confirm that its perfect if you can find a dry pitch (it was pretty soggy). I found a large flat rock to sunbathe on and catch my breath

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I’d also wanted to look at the lake of Llyn Glas but I ended up far above it as its decidedly hard to find. It has a small island and someone was camped on it

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Getting onto the North Ridge involves a short tedious pull up a loose scree slope very reminiscent of Tenerife. The North Ridge is much narrower than the common East Ridge and actually pretty exposed in places. However having it all to myself made the extra effort to reach it all the more worthwhile

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On reaching the summit the views across Snowdonia were mighty fine although dark clouds were beginning to build

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Photos never quite do justice to just how narrow and exposed the main the ridge of Crib Goch actually is. I’ve done it many times and whilst technically its very easy with only a few places needing hands, you do need a head for heights. Several people turned back while I sat and took in the views, all bearing the look of people who hadn’t expected this sort of thing

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I enjoyed the scrambling and was quickly onto the less narrow but equally rocky and scrambly ridge of Crib y Ddysgl. However rain was now in the air and by the time I reached its summit it was heavy enough for waterproofs. Having said that, such was the humidity I was dripping wet with sweat anyway.

You are suddenly transported back into chaos as you reach the point where four of the main routes up Snowdon converge. There is little point walking the extra ten minutes to the summit to share a summit I’ve done many times, with no view and with five hundred strangers so I headed down. I passed through hundreds of people on the way up. Most were poorly equipped and most looked decidedly unhappy at the turn of weather. As I descended I came out of the cloud and the sun came out. Glaslyn looked like an ideal spot for a stop

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I found a quiet spot on the far side of the lake away from the crowds and lazed in the sunshine for an hour enjoying my lunch and a brew. Snowdon eventually peeped from its cap of cloud and suddenly all was very fine indeed

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Then I headed down and and everything went pear-shaped. It started to rain, light drizzle at first but within a few minutes it was a heavy downpour that lasted the best part of an hour until I squelched back into Pen-y-Pass car park. I was completely soaked through although I suppose one heavy shower, albeit an hour long classifies as “occasional”.

The sun came out on the way back to the car and I was pretty done in by the time I reached it. Not surprising as I’d done 11 miles and fair amount of ascent

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I was still soggy enough to need plastic bags on the seats to drive back to the campsite!

Then another “occasional” shower. Well cloud-burst would be more accurate. The A5 became a river as I drove past the Swallow Falls. For around ten minutes it all went dark and was like the end of world. Back at the campsite it wasn’t as bad but it rained pretty incessantly until around 8pm. In contrast to the heat and humidity of the morning, I was now cold enough to need the heater on in the camper.

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The rest of the family turned up later in the evening, their arrival seemingly forcing the rain to stop. The day finished with some fetching views across the campsite and we hoped for better weather the rest of the weekend

The Highest and the Busiest!   4 comments

TJS is now an obsessive Hiker. I’m pretty proud that he’s really keen to get out and has now reached that sad point (for me anyway) where he is fitter, faster and stronger than me – not too tricky these days. Whilst I’m trying to educate him to the charms of lesser known mountains like all new starters there is always that need to climb the higher and more famous peaks. He’s been hassling me for years to take him up Snowdon but it’s not exactly on our doorstep. Whilst in the Llyn Peninsula a few weeks back, less than an hour away, I finally made good on my promise.

We chose a route up the western side, mainly as it’s the closest to where we were staying but it’s also quieter and a side I’ve not seen much of.

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We set off from Rhydd Ddu under a grey sky with a promise of sunshine later and headed up through the mine workings to Bwlch Cwn Llan. The sun started to peep through the clouds but Snowdon was still capped by cloud. There was clearly sunshine out west and we hoped we’d see that later – we had a long day planned

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

The col is a fine place, a real atmosphere of industry long gone amongst great scenery. Rather than despoiling a mountain I find these old quarries fascinating. A glimpse into the past.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

As an appetiser we climbed Yr Aran to the south of the col. A summit as good as Snowdon itself but much quieter (we had it all to ourselves). After a steep climb we crested the summit in watery sunshine to a panorama around the Snowdon Massif, across Cardigan Bay and to the western Snowdonia Mountains of Moel Heog, the Nantlle Ridge and Mynydd Mawr.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

I often point out to TJS that smaller hills often give better views than the higher summits and this one is a great case in point

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

We still had our main summit to climb and we retraced our steps to the col and began the long ascent up the south ridge. I’ve read that this is a long and uninteresting route but I thought it was grand.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

For a start it was pretty much deserted, a real blessing considering what was to come. The views across to Y Lliwedd and into Cwm Tregalan were fabulous and we took an early lunch before we ascended to the summit.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

The Rhydd Ddu path came in and the numbers increased as we crossed the narrow ridge of Bwlch Main. Then the Watkin path joins and the crowds and noise increase further.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

Nothing prepares you for the summit of Snowdon in summer. It was awful. There must have been 300 people or more on the summit. You had to queue to reach the very top. We managed a quick photo and then found a relatively quiet spot for a sit.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

There was hundreds more people on the Pyg track and the train was disgorging hundreds more. The views from the summit are awesome. Snowdon is a truly magnificent mountain. Ridges radiating in all directions enclosing deep corries and lakes. Truly deserving of the highest summit in Wales.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

Trouble is it’s very accessible and massive draw for walkers. I’d expected it to be bad but it was much, much worse. I couldn’t wait to get away. We’d had some reasonable views but the summit was still slipping in and out of the clouds so no sense hanging around with the rest of the UK population or so it seemed

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

As we tried to get away there was an absolute stream of people on their way up still. It was like being in a shopping centre such was the commotion and noise. I took a little solace from the fact that large numbers of people looked very unhappy and ill-equipped, clearly not expecting the summit to be so cold and so far from the car. I know this probably makes me a very bad person. Staggers me how many people have no idea of how conditions can change between a car park and a summit 3500 feet up in the clouds and just how much effort it takes to get there. I felt a little sad about it all.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

When I could take no more we took off from the Llanberis path and went over to the edge that overlooks the pass. The change was instant and dramatic. Suddenly the noise had gone and all was silent, the views majestic

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

Now we’d got the mountain back we left the crowds behind for good and headed down to Llyn Du’r Arddu. What a magnificent spot. The massive and well renowned climbing crag of Clogwyn Du’r Arddu towers above. The lake deep and blue even under a grey sky. And the thing is it was completely deserted. A sensational spot just half a mile from the throngs above and it was all ours. Mountains can be an odd experience sometimes.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

I’d planned a swim in the lake but the skies were still grey and the air just too chilly. We pressed on for our return to  Rhydd Ddu, picking up an excellent climbers path that traversed easily back around to the Snowdon Ranger path over Bwlch Cwm Brwynog.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

Suddenly the skies cleared and the sun came out in force and we were treated to a wonderful sunny afternoon stroll back to the car. Again ignoring the main paths we found a way across the moors and picked up a fine path through the quarries back to Rhydd Ddu.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

A little boggy in places and much further than it looked but the views were now sensational. Moel Hebog really catches the eye, looking much higher than its modest 782m and very surprising that I’ve never climbed it. I’ll be correcting that soon.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

As earlier Mynydd Mawr and the Nantlle Ridge were also magnificent and the walk back under clear skies away from the crowds was a total pleasure. A staggering contrast to the crowds on the summit that darkened my heart so much.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

Tired and weary – it was 12 mile and 4000 feet of ascent sort of day – we exchanged happy grins at the car. The choice of route had been a good one, minimising our exposure to the crowds to just over a mile.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

We both agreed that any future visits to Snowdon should be out of season and preferably a weekday. The Snowdon Horsehoe still beckons for TJS, one of the UKs best mountaineering routes, just not in the summer holidays

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 🙂

Animals, beaches and walks – Clarach Bay October Half Term   4 comments

As I mentioned in my post about my stunning walk in the Preseli Hills, we’ve been staying in my parents caravan the last few October half-terms. It’s normally close to D’s birthday so this year as a special treat we invited his best friend J along. We managed to keep it a secret until his birthday and it was a really exciting surprise for him.

We gave D free range to choose what he wanted to do and for the first day he chose the local zoo or Animalarium to give it its proper name at Borth. It’s a very low-key place tucked away behind the sea-front and it specialises in finding a home for unwanted exotic pets. I’ll not enter into the zoo debate here as I know there are strong feelings about whether it’s right to keep wild animals in captivity and I share those conflicting feelings. For this day I’ll just try to share the enjoyment we had getting close to animals that in all likelihood would not have survived as their owners became tired of their exotic pets.

Borth Animalarium, Meerkat

Borth Animalarium, Meerkat

As most of the animals are ex pets they are very much habituated to human contact to they approach you with interest and you get very close encounters. A large majority of the animals are primates and small monkeys which you can feed by hand.

Borth Animalarium

Large Reptile

The kids loved this element and really enjoyed the much closer connection with the animals. They also have a regular program of closer encounters throughout the day and the kids especially enjoyed the meerkat feeding and the reptile encounters. Nothing beats holding a massive python to give you that close connection with a giant of the jungle and the whole thing was handled with a very relaxed and informal air.

Borth Animalarium, Albino Python

TBH holds an Albino Python

Borth Animalarium, python

D holds a normal python

It’s only a small place but we managed to spend the best part of a day there. I’m amazed it survives tucked away in such a quiet little known coastal backwater as Borth but it appears to be thriving and the owners are friendly and informative. Our favourite animal was Mango, the black-capped brown capuchin, all box-head hairstyle and attitude – he was a treat. I hope they can continue to thrive and remain a hope for these “pets” that have no home.

Before we went home we took a late afternoon stroll on the beach to look at the petrified tree stumps.

Borth Beach

Kids on Borth Beach

These are the remains of an ancient forest and there several spots along the Ceredigion coast where you can see them at low tide. The kids and adults alike were fascinated and I was amazed how they survive. They would surely get washed away in a major storm you would think but they survive. Despite the fact that I spent most of my childhood exploring this coastline, I had no idea about this feature until earlier this year.

Borth Beach, Petrified Forest

Borth Beach, Petrified Forest

As the sun started to set the low light behind the clouds reflecting off the wet sand gave some stunning images.

Borth Beach

Sunset at Borth Beach

Borth Beach

TBF and L on Borth Beach

Borth Beach

Sunset on Borth Beach

The next morning while the kids went swimming, I headed off early for a fantastic walk under clear autumn skies in the Preseli Hills. In the afternoon D wanted to show his friend the local eminence of Constitution Hill that separates Clarach Bay from the town of Aberystwyth. It was a stunning afternoon and the views were spectacular.

Clarach Bay, Constitution Hill

Clarach Bay from Constitution Hill

Aberystwyth, Constitution Hill

Aberystwyth from Constitution Hill

To the north beyond the coast was Snowdonia with Snowdon itself clearly visible, and the Lleyn Peninsula with Carn Fadryn and The Rivals there as always. To the south beyond Aberystwyth, the Ceredigion coast, Pembrokeshire and the Preseli Hills I’d climbed in the morning.

Snowdon, Cardigan Bay

Snowdon across Cardigan Bay

Clarach Bay, Constitution Hill

View north from Constitution Hill

There is a range of kids stuff at the top so the kids played ten-pin bowling and bounced on the bouncy castle while TBF and I enjoyed the expansive views. We took a further stroll on the beach in the afternoon sunshine on our way bacxk to the caravan.

Clarach Bay

Clarach Bay Beach

Clarach Bay

Clarach Bay Beach

I had to head home that evening but TBF and the kids stayed for the week. They got lucky with the weather and had some warm sunshine while most of the rest of the UK was blanketed under cloud and drizzle. They took some walks in the hills, along the coast from Borth and had a happy day on the beach in Abertystwyth.

Aberystwyth, Constitution Hill

L takes in the view of Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth Beach

Aberystwyth

L playing on Aberystwyth beach

Aberystwyth

The boat landing pier at Aberystwyth

Clarach Bay, Borth

Coastal walk between Borth and Clarach Bay

I returned the following weekend just in time for the little mild blast of winter we had and another very cold night and morning in the caravan. The sunday was a total wash out of torrential all day rain (handy for me to catch up on some blogging) but the Saturday – well that was an absolute cracker. Stay tuned…

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