Archive for the ‘snowdonia’ Tag

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.

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 , , , ,

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 Backpacking Trip That Wasn’t   8 comments

Easter has always been backpacking time for me the past few years. Me and THO, and more recently TJS, have headed up to Scotland for a full weekend of wild camping fun and games. We’ve had some sensational weather and that had to end sooner or later.

This year for a variety of reasons of work commitments and stupid timings of Easter and School Holidays, Scotland wasn’t really an option. We had therefore hatched a plan to backpack our way through Snowdonia and pick up all the Welsh 3000’s.

After an overnight in the very fine Oakfield House B&B (and an equally fine meal in the Royal Oak Hotel) we were ready.

And then the weather intervened, well eventually. The forecast for Friday was good but for the rest of the weekend was awful, heavy rain and high winds for almost the whole time. It was due to hit overnight so we amended the plan to take full advantage of Friday with a day walk, booked into a cheap Travelodge (very lucky to find a room last minute) for Friday night and would re-assess the weather on Saturday morning.

Friday was indeed a cracker and the round of Tryfan and the Glyders seemed appropriate. THO hadn’t been up here for many years and was keen to rekindle some old memories. It was cold down by Llyn Ogwen but the conditions were clear, sunny with abundant blue skies and cloud hugging the summits ready to clear

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The North ridge of Tryfan is one of the classic scrambles in the UK and I’ve climbed it many times. I never tire of its wonderful climb although I do tire of the first thousand feet straight up from the road. Still, the views were magnificent

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As soon as we reached the warmth of sun it was time to bask on the rocks

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Once up on the ridge the scrambling is great fun without ever being too exposed or difficult with a choice of routes. If you going to build a mountain around which to practice that art of scrambling it would be Tryfan

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As you climb higher the ridge gets narrower allowing you to get a real feel of being on a a major rock peak but without any real objective dangers

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The early start meant that this very popular peak wasn’t too crowded for a Bank Holiday Friday. We left the leap from Adam to Eve to the younger generation, preferring the quiet solitude and warmth of a sheltered terrace on the south peak. I could have stayed there all day and very nearly did. The clouds billowing over the Glyders ridge gave a very atmospheric feel

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In my younger days, the classic North ridge was followed by the even more impressive Bristly Ridge up onto Glyder Fach. What Tryfan had taught me was that my ageing limbs are not quite as agile as they once were and I was feeling stiff and not really up to the job of another thousand feet of scrambling. We settled for the alternative of a wander to Llyn Caseg Fraith, to check it out for wild camping potential.

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Its a splendid route and the views across to the rock of Tryfan’s east as it unfolded were very fine

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There were indeed some fine spots to camp, albeit a little exposed, as long as you stay away from the shore of the lake which was astoundingly boggy. The view with the triple buttress of Tryfan above the foreground of the lake is a classic, made even better by the frozen snow in the water

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We took a very circuitous route to take in a host of small tors and rocky points on the slopes of Glyder Fach. As every lump and bump in the Lake District is now a “Birkett’ we felt there needed to be a Welsh equivalent. After much deliberation we decided on the “Oggies”. We bagged several.

After the obligatory photo pose on the Cantilever and a scramble to the summit of Glyder Fach (much harder than I remember) we headed off around to the highest point on Glyder Fawr

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Intermittent cloud and bright sunshine made it very fetching

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We took the very sensible decision to go around rather then over/through the Castle of the Winds (an scramble of equal challenge and tedium I seem to recall) and along the edge of the massive cliffs of Glyder Fawr

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The view down the classic glacial valley of Nant Ffrancon never fails to impress

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After a brief summit snack we opted for the Y Gribin ridge as a way down. Again, I’d forgotten how steep and how loose it was and didn’t really enjoy it all that much. My painful right foot didn’t help much. We should have gone down past the Devils Kitchen and Cwm Ideal, a much better route now they’ve improved the path

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Once down by the Llyn Bochlwyd (or Llyn Australia as I prefer to call it) I got my mojo back in the late evening sun. The look of the clouds told us bad weather was coming but we were glad we’d had a top notch day on one of Britain’s finest mountain circuits

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And I’m afraid that was it for the weekend. We celebrated a cracking day with a fine curry in Bangor and retired to the luxury of the Travelodge on the A55.

We awoke to the expected rain and stayed in bed as long as our check out time allowed. Over breakfast in the Little Chef next door we checked the forecast which seemed to have got worse. It didn’t seem to be raining too hard so we did consider hanging around to see if it improved. As we put away various versions of greasy fried meat the heavens opened and we watched as the trees bent and the rain bounced alarmingly off the picnic tables outside. Wild camping for 2-3 days in a wind blown deluge didn’t seem very appealing so we called it quits and went home.

Still, one fine day is better than none

Birthday Treats for The Junior Funster   4 comments

A bit of blog silence and now I’m behind all over again. A list of excuses, primarily I’ve been out and about on hols and suffered a major hardware failure with my Mac that needed a return to base to repair and a couple of weeks to rebuild the data as I’d been stupid enough not to take a full system backup 😦

At the end of our week in Towyn we bade Mark and his merry band a fond farewell and had a day to ourselves before we headed home. As it was TJFs birthday we’d arranged a treat. An adventure in the trees at Treetop Adventures in Snowdonia

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

The usual mix of dangles, straddles and in my case struggles but its a favourite of ours and we had a great time as always, although the course is shorter than the ones we’ve done in France.

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

The course finishes with a leap off a platform to the ground about 30 feet below which made my heart flutter a little when I stepped off the edge.

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

For the real adventurers they have an extra big leap of 100 feet called the PowerFan Plummet. I was tempted but didn’t fancy the climb up. Both the Funsters gave it a go though. TJF was calmness personified, she really has no fear of these things. TBF was more animated although her language was disappointingly clean (she has been known to shout expletives during such events!)

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach<

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

It started to rain while we finished up and proceeded to dump it down while we drove to and walked around Conway. We sought refuge in a fine chip shop for a hearty lunch and when we came out the rain had stopped. We took a walk down by the harbour to watch people crabbing while the seagulls stole their chips. We then walked back via the Town Walls.

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

If you’ve never been to Conway it has its very famous castle but the Town Walls are superb. You can walk around 3/4 of the town and they rise to an impressive height at the back of town giving some fine views even on this grey and wet day

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

We declined the castle this time instead opting to return to the beach for a last stroll before we went home the following morning. Apologies for more poor quality images due to camera incompetence

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

treetop adventures, powerfan plummet, conway, town walls, towyn, towyn beach

A fine week and top holiday, very mixed weather, nothing that you could call truly summery but some fun times with the old gang and the usual collection of fond memories. Next year may be a little tricky as we have to squeeze in a visit before our main summer holiday and when TJS gets his exam results in mid August. Seems amazing that when we first came here he was still in early Primary years and here we are entering his GCSE final year – they grow up fast!

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……

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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

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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

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TBF descending Cnicht, still cloudy!

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

Moelwyns, wild camp

Our home for the night

Moel Druman, Allt Fawr

Moel Druman and Allt Fawr

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

moelwyns, wild camp

Relaxing after a hard half day!

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

Moelwyns, Moelwyn Mawr, Moelwyn Bach

Moelwyn Mawr & Moelwyn Bach

Moelwyns, Wild Camp

Aerial view

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

Snowdon, Glyders

Snowdon & the Glyders from our private mountaintop

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

Llyn Terfyn

Llyn Terfyn

Llyn Coch, Moelwyn Mawr

Llyn Coch & Moelwyn Mawr

Moelwyns

Happy Hikers

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

Allt Fawr,

En Route to Allt Fawr

Llyn Conglog, Moelwyns

Llyn Conglog, Moelwyns behind

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

Llyn Conglog, Cnicht, Moel Hebog, Nantlle Ridge

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

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

Blaneau Ffestiniog

Blaneau Ffestiniog

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

Moelwyns

High Level Strolling

Llyn Cwmorthin, Moel yr Hydd

Llyn Cwmorthin & Moel yr Hydd

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

Llyn Cwmorthin

Wonder what these were for?

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

Llyn Coch, Cnicht

Llyn Coch, Cnicht behind

Llyn Coch, Moelwyns

TBF heads for home for tea

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

Moelwyns, Wild camp

Evening Meal

Moelwyns, Wild camp

“Table on the Terrace”

Cwm Croesor, Moelwyn Mawr, Cnicht

Evening light on Cwm Croesor, Moelwyn Mawr & Cnicht

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

Moelwyn Mawr, Wild Camp

Time to clear up

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

Snowdon, Glyders, Ysgafell Wen

Snowdon, Glyders & Ysgafell Wen

Cnicht, Llyn yr Adar

Cnicht & Llyn yr Adar

Ysgafell Wen, Moel Siabod

TBF & TJS on Ysgafell Wen, Moel Siabod behind

Ysgafell Wen

Me enjoying the evening sun

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

Moelwyns

Sunset show begins

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

Ysgafell Wen

The happy couple

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

Moelwyns, Moelwyn Mawr, Moelwyn Bach

The Moelwyns continue to impress

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

Moelwyns, Wild Camp

TJS enjoys his evening hot chocolate

Moelwyns, Wild camp

Our private mountaintop glows

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

Snowdon

Sunset over Snowdon

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

Moelwyns, Wild camp

Sunset on TBF

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

Moelwyns, Moelwyn Mawr, Moelwyn Bach

Last rays of light

P1190765

The final performance

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

Snowdon

Early morning Snowdon

Cnicht, Moelwyns

Early morning on Cnicht and the Moelwyns

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

Moelwyns, Wild Camp

It was THAT hot!

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

Moelwyns, Wild Camp

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

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

Llyn Cwm Corsiog

Heron at Llyn Cwm Corsiog

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

Llyn Cwm Corsiog

TBF experiences the REAL Moelwyns

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

Llyn Clogwyn Brith

Llyn Clogwyn Brith

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

Llyn Clogwyn Brith

Our own Mountain Swimming Pool

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

Moelwyn Mawr

Our campsite from last year

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

Bwlch y Rhosydd

Old mine track at Bwlch y Rhosydd

Cwm Croesor

Cwm Croesor

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

Bwlch y Rhosydd

Abrupt end of said mine track

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

Cwm Croesor

Lunch in Cwm Croesor

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

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

Cwm Croesor

Final descent of Cwm Croesor

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

Cwm Croesor

Last lingering look

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

Total Walking Distance 12.2 miles

Total Walking Distance 12.2 miles

The Local Suburbs

The Local Suburbs

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

Happy Days indeed 🙂

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