Thursday, 22 December 2016

An Outlying Carnedd

I arrived at the Cwm Eigiau roadhead carpark, albeit a little later than planned, and was surprised that there were no spaces left.  I had expected this tucked away corner of the Carneddau to be less popular than this but perhaps quiet areas in the mountains are becoming increasingly difficult to find.

With more daylight I would probably have added Pen y Castell to the walk but the afternoon really only offered the option of a quick up-and-down of Craig Eigiau if I wanted a relaxing walk.  I started up the track leading to Melynllyn and as I turned the corner the highest tops showed off their snowy summits.  My objective was over 200 metres lower and held a lot less snow cover.

the northern Carneddau

At the fence which rises meridian-straight up towards Foel-fras, a faint path leads away leftwards from the track towards the ridgeline of Craig Eigiau.  It led up amongst the snowfields which, if steeper, would have needed crampons to safely cross.

My leisurely pace gave another walker the chance to catch me up and he said that he was heading for Carnedd Llewellyn, admitting that he may have left it a bit late in the day to reach the summit as it was almost mid-afternoon with only a couple of hours of good daylight remaining.  Although in his fifties, he said that his mother had coerced him into attending chapel earlier in the day, hence his late start.  Pleasantries completed, we wished each other well and he continued ahead of me.

Carnedd Llewellyn

Craig Eigiau’s summit ridge has some interesting terrain with rocky outcrops to explore.  The summit itself was a smooth sloping shelf of rock which, from a certain angle, replicated the outline of the main Carneddau ridge in front of it.  The clear skies allowed good views from the sea to the tops and after the obligatory summit shots I turned to retrace my steps.

Craig Eigiau summit rocks

The Welsh Matterhorn

There are many areas that claim a mountain or hill is their “Matterhorn” and Wales is no exception.  My one and only previous visit to Cnicht was 12 years ago and before I was actively ticking the Nuttalls.  I’d reached the summit on a misty day and there was a chance that I had also bagged the north top but as I hadn’t logged it, I may not have done.  But it gave me a good excuse to revisit this fine mountain.

Moel Hebog and the Nantlle Ridge

From Croesor it looks steep and intimidating, not unlike the Matterhorn, but in reality the ridge affords an fairly easy walk as the view is a classic example of foreshortening.  Easy to navigate and easy underfoot, only the top section of the route offers a change in character with some scrambling to reach the summit.  There were quite a few family parties enjoying a taste of adventure but the shoulders of mums and dads were being used to carry the toddlers !

At the small plateau below the scramble we saw a family with three small boys descending the face to the left of the normal route.  It looked a bit hairy so I kept myself ready to help just in case they needed it – luckily they didn’t.  At the same time a fellrunner took a direct line up the face and made it look easy !

From the summit we headed over to the north top.  As we got nearer it became clear that the path skirts the top and it was obvious that I hadn’t been to it on my previous visit.  A short detour bagged the summit and we walked to the top of Cwm-y-foel, dropping down beyond the few snow patches into the hanging valley to find a suitable spot for lunch.

Tremadoc Bay from Cwm-y-foel

The walk along the edge of the dammed tarn led to the descent into Cwm Croesor and an easy walk back to the car, ending an enjoyable day out in one of Snowdonia’s less popular corners.

Cnicht from Cwm Croesor