Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Glyders in the mist!

The weather forecasters got it right – the remains of Hurricane Bertha arrived and the weather took a turn for the worse.  Although there was some blue in the sky to be seen, it didn’t last for long !

Creigiau Gleision and Craig Wen

Gallt yr Ogof looks impenetrable from the A5 but I during my Carneddau walk I planned a route up its western flank through the bands of small crags.  The midges were out in force as it was still quite warm but as I reached the ridge, the rain arrived.  The view disappeared as quickly as the waterproofs appeared and I started to make my way towards the summit as the mist came and went.  At least I wasn’t going to add to yesterday’s sunburn !

I passed the fore-summit and was soon at the top.  Views of Y Foel Goch were tantalisingly brief and I walked to the col, passing the wrong side of the tarn and ending up knee deep in bog, although I got out of it very quickly, minimising the soaking my right leg got.

Y Foel Goch is the higher summit but is not well defined, being quite a large plateau.  I bagged the cairn and the other two possible contenders for the summit before making my way down towards Llyn y Caseg-fraith.  I was hoping for the classic view of the east face of Tryfan but Bertha put paid to that.  I contoured around Drws Nodded to the Braich y Ddeugwm ridge, trying to stay out of the now gusting winds, and followed this down towards the valley.

Conditions eased as I neared the valley, giving a reasonable view of Tryfan.


Despite the conditions and walking solo again, I enjoyed this walk despite the weather; it had been a long time since I had been out in conditions like this and despite the damp, any day in the hills is a good day.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

A Cwm Tal-y-braich Horseshoe

The view of Tryfan’s best side from Caseg Fraith’s dormitory window was exactly as advertised and no further encouragement to get on to the Ogwen hills was needed.  Everybody else wanted to scramble or climb so I set off to enjoy the Carneddau on my own.

Pont y Bedol

I soon reached the picturesque bridge of Pont y Bedol and continued up the trackless southern slopes of Pen Llithrig y Wrach, passing a small herd of Carneddau wild ponies on my way.  There was no semblance of a path until I reached the cliff edge near the summit, at which point the views opened out to the north, but it was still no match for the view looking south.

Llyn Cowlyd


With nothing to accompany me other than the superb panorama, I soon reached the summit.  The view into Colwyn Bay was dominated by the arrays of wind turbines rising out of the sea, definitely preferable to them being sited on our hills and mountains.  As I descended to Bwlch y Tri Marchog a yellow RAF Sea King appeared from over Capel Curig, effortlessly rising and then disappearing over the highest of the Carneddau.

A quick descent to the col with its minor summit of Clogwyn Llech Lefn – rising just 14 meters above the bwlch and so just missing Nuttall status – I took some time to bask in the rare welsh sun.  For the first time during the day I saw other walkers, plodding past me and on to Pen yr Helgi Du, my next target.

Llyn Eigiau

The walk up to the summit of Pen yr Helgi Du felt easier than the day’s first ascent, but the summit is worthy of a more substantial cairn rather than the small pile of stones currently marking the top.  The view to the classic climbing venue of Craig yr Ysfa caught the eye but it was the descent which was to prove the highlight of the day.

Craig yr Ysfa

With Bwlch Eryl Farchog in sight, the ridge leading down to it gave some worthy sport.  Steep and narrow but oddly without the exposure usually associated with similar terrain, it had good steps and had obviously seen much winter passage if the crampon scratches gave any clue.  Care would need to be taken in windy conditions as a fatal fall earlier in the year highlighted the consequences of a slip here.

Pen yr Helgi Du north-west ridge

I had considered continuing to the summit of Carnedd Llewellyn but with the true mindset of a fair-weather walker, a few drops of rain persuaded me to head back to the valley.  I’d been there before and I’d ticked my major objectives for the day, so bailing out and heading for the Ffynnon Llugwy access road came with no pangs of guilt.

Technically a horseshoe walk of Cwm Tal-y-braich would involve a descent of the south ridge of Pen yr Helgi Du, but the north-west ridge gives the better scrambling option.

As I walked down the access road, the unmistakeable roar of jet engines grew and I was quick to spot the Red Arrows flying along Ogwen, towards the coast.  A group of five were followed by a group of four which made me wonder where Red 10 was! They were transiting to an early evening display at Newcastle in County Down, before performing a 9pm flypast at the Edinburgh Tattoo.