Archive for the ‘trum felen’ Tag

A Proper Walk in the Berwyns   10 comments

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The Berwyns have been a bit hit and miss for me. I walked them on a really gloomy day back in the 80’s by a wholly unsatisfactory route. We planned and then abandoned an outing a few years ago on the basis of a forecast of ceaseless rain that proved true. And shortly after I had another enjoyable yet somewhat unsuccessful and poorly judged outing you can read about here. This time a few weeks back everything seemed set fair with a decent forecast and after a Little Chef breakfast with Uncle Fester in Oswestry we headed for the hills.

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One of the nice things about approaching the Berwyns from their most dramatic side, the east, is you get to start the walk at the marvellous waterfall of Pistyll Rhaeadr

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Being a place of abundant rainfall the UK has many decent waterfalls. If there is a better one than Pistyll Rhaeadr I’d very much like to see it

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After taking our fill of its delights it was time for some harder work. The views back along the Rhaeadr vally were superb

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As were the views across to the lonely and tough Hirnants

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There was a deeply soggy section between Trum Felen and Moel Sych but soon were on the first of the major Berwyn summits

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The forecast was for an ever improving day and we were treated to some glorious views across to the main Snowdonia mountains and back towards Shropshire, Cheshire and as far as the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons in South Wales

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Llyn Luncaws also held the gaze (and as it turns out holds a lot of boggy ground!)

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The highest and most dramatic point on the escarpment doesn’t seem to have its own name, a distinction that the slightly lower trig point on Cadair Berwyn owns

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The walk along the edge from here is excellent with the weather and views improving with every step

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The eastern views are quite unusual, merging high moorland with pastoral fields

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We left UF to wnader back to the high point on his own while we and TJS headed out to bag the last major high point of Cadair Bronwen

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In time honoured fashion we claimed that the views were substantially better from here (seeing as UF hadn’t bothered to climb it). We had thought about trying a circular route but its hard to craft one in the Berwyns without some re-ascent and path finding across farmland. On a day as good as this its no chore to retrace steps and enjoy the ridge all over again

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After a lengthy stop on the high point for lunch we headed down. The direct descent towards Llyn Luncaws is very steep but we’d spotted a traversing path that looked, and in fact was, very interesting

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Once down at the lake we realised its one of those lakes where the surrounding area is merely an extension of the lake with vegetation in it. Its incredibly boggy and hard going until you pick up the splendid path that traverses down the Nant y Llyn valley.

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We followed the path all the way to the road a km past the car as it was such pleasant walking, delivering one final view of Pistyll Rhaeadr

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The Berwyns finally conquered end to end in good weather and good company. A grand day out

Berwyns

In the deep (very deep) Midwinter in the Berwyns   16 comments

Due to unforeseen circumstances with my client I’m currently without a contract and am a man at leisure and luckily it’s coincided with some real winter weather. So, rather than focus my efforts on finding another job and providing for my needy family I’ve instead decided to take in some walks in the snow. Seems only fair.

Last week before the “big” snows I took myself off to the Berwyns for the day having been meaning to pay them a visit for a couple of years. In hindsight it probably wasn’t all that clever an idea. I’d been up most of the night with what I hope isn’t, but fear is, a recurrence of kidney stones (very painful) so driving 2 hours on no sleep and dosed with painkillers was perhaps a little foolish. Still it was a cracking day not to be wasted.

4 miles, 2,100 feet of ascent

4 miles, 2,100 feet of ascent

It was a long cross-country drive to my planned start point with a route planned from the east near the stunning waterfall of Pistyll Rhaeadr. The road up the valley was like a roller coaster and covered in compacted snow making for an interesting drive. As I barreled down the final hill to the car park I wondered if I’d be able to make it back up the hill again, a concern heightened by the fact I could barely turn the car round in the ice rink masquerading as a car park. Still, too late to worry about it now. The waterfall itself is mighty impressive even in the low flow with its water supply higher up largely frozen.

Pistyll Rhaeadr

Pistyll Rhaeadr

I believe it’s the highest in Wales and will deserve another visit when I have more time to do it justice. I set off around 11 after a brief look at the falls. My route was to take in Moel Sych and Cadair Berwyn and complete a circuit of Llyn Lluncaws. The snow covering in the valley was pretty thin but as soon as Igained a bit of height it deepened markedly.

Cwm Blowty

Cwm Blowty

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Ascending Trum Felen

The summits were covered in clouds but the views to the east and over the nearby Hirnants were awesome. The bright sunshine gave me a chance to try out my new shades (a pair of Julbo Explorers and mighty fine they were). I was lucky to be following a fresh set of footsteps to make the deep snow a little easier and I could see my saviour in the distance.

Hirnants

Hirnants

Trum Felen

Looking East from Trum Felen

Alas, as I progressed upwards onto Trum Felen the cloud came in all became white. Luckily for me, and VERY unluckily for my distant trail-maker, he found a couple of very nasty looking bogs that saved me from falling into their traps. I traversed past them with a rather nifty move along the fence and continued up. The snow got deeper and deeper and some of the drifts were thigh deep making for laborious progress. Unsurprisingly I reeled in the distant one who’d stopped for a breather. His name was Dave and a thoroughly nice chap he was too. We shared our surprise at the depth of snow, the lack of sun and the uselessness of crampons in such conditions (he’d had the good sense to bring a pair for full winter conditions, I hadn’t). I said I’d press on to the top and try to return the favour by breaking trail.

Moel Sych

Ascending the deep deep snow of Moel Sych

The snow from there became unfeasibly deep, waist deep in places, some of the deepest snow I’ve walked in for perhaps 15-20 years. Dave soon caught me up as by now I was really feeling the combined effects of the tough conditions and a lack of sleep. We both managed to make it to Moel Sych and reached the cairn without using the stile over the fence what with it being buried under 2-3 feet of snow. I’d planned to walk around the head of the cwm to Cadair Berwyn but the cloud and my state of exhaustion meant I really couldn’t be bothered. Dave pressed on so I wished him well for a good day and sort plunged and rolled down the slopes towards Llyn Lluncaws. Just above the Lake I needed a rest and stopped for a brew and lunch.

Llyn Lluncaws

Llyn Lluncaws

Time to try out another new piece of gear, a Rab Infinity Down Vest that was mightily warm. Same can’t be said of my feet which were soaking wet and cold on a account of the quite stupid oversight of not bringing gaiters. I had snow trapped inside my trousers halfway up my leg but at least I had my thermals on – well I would have if I’d had the foresight to wear them.

I was feeling a little out of sorts as I headed down but then right on cue the clouds parted, the sky turned a deep blue and the Berwyns were revealed in dramatic snowy splendour.

Trum Felen

Trum Felen

Llyn Lluncaws

Llyn Lluncaws

The edge looked magnificent coated in ice and snow and backed by azure canvas. I thought of my friend from earlier, pleased that his effort to get to the top had been rewarded with a clear view. The walk from the Lake down the Nant y Llyn valley was an absolute pleasure in the warm sunshine and lifted my sagging spirits infinitely.

Cadair Berwyn

Cadair Berwyn

Nant y Llyn

Nant y Llyn

The spring in my step was back. By way of celebration I tried out my third piece of new gear, my Kahtoola Microspikes. The long easy path was mostly snow so they weren’t really needed but what I can say is that they are really easy to put on (much easier than crampons) but they ball-up even worse than crampons do so it was an interesting experience. They needed a more realistic test on ice which they got a couple of days later.

Nant y Llyn

Nant y Llyn

Nant y Llyn

Nant y Llyn

It was still pretty early and I was tempted to stay out in the clear air. However I was still a little washed out and a bit paranoid about the drive home so I just plodded down this glorious valley in the sunshine.

Nant y Llyn

Nant y Llyn

As I turned and looked back to the high tops I noticed that they were covered in cloud again so the weather window on the summit had been a brief one. I was back at the car for around 2:30. A short day and not what I’d planned but a good one nonetheless. Better than being at work at least. The drive home was uneventful apart from a 20 minute stop for cramp causing several passers-by in the village to show concern for my welfare as my legs buckled into unfamiliar shapes.

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