Category Archives: Walk Reports

Northern Carneddau – Pt 1

Carneddau, Snowdonia. 18/6/2013

I hatched a slightly last-minute plan for a night camping in the Carneddau, so after finishing the school run I was on my way towards Betws-Y-Coed and heading for the Roman Road into the hills by Bwlch y Ddeufaen. Anyone who expects Roman roads to be straight will be surprised by this single-track road, hemmed in between high dry-stone walls, between Tal Y Fan to the north, and the main Carneddau ‘massif’ to the south. Just always remember where the last passing space was, and pray you don’t meet anything coming the other way.

I’d parked up at the end in the small car park, and picked up a small trail over a rocky rib at the eastern end of Foel Lwyd, with a buzzard watching overhead. While the path gained height quickly, it soon deteriorated into deep and steep heather, and left me the wrong side of a wall near the summit. The walls here are all beautifully maintained, so I reluctantly and very carefully clambered over onto the ‘right’ side.

wpid-P1020075.jpgThe path onward to Tal Y Fan was short and easy, with a brief steep drop into a small col before the true summit and trig point is reached. A quick break, then back down directly to the road.

The signpost by the road looked had received some unwanted attention from a firearm, and was a reminder that Walkers aren’t always Welcome.

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Walking up the road back to the car park, the contrast between the sheep-devastated moorland of the ‘open hillside’ and the roadside verge was remarkable. On the hill, I’d really seen nothing flowering except Tormentil and some rather forlorn Milk-wort. But the verges were overflowing: Speedwell, Cuckoo Flower, Herb Robert, Foxgloves (not yet out) and many more… Possibly the walls and road give shelter and some extra warmth, but I’m sure the absence of woolly lawn-mowers is the main reason.

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Back at the car I picked up the tent and continued up to the bwlch. The whole area here is awash with prehistoric sites – a chamber tomb further down the valley, a stone circle (which I’d walked past without noticing – mostly hidden by the high walls) and the two standing stones after which the bwlch is named. The stones mark the highest point of the blwch and you can see the evidence where the power cables and gas pipeline have followed the same path of least resistance taken by the Roman Road, probably built on a much older highway.

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From here, the path up to Drum and Foel Fras is a long slog over grass, following the fenceline all the way. Two Carneddau ponies appeared, one rubbing its neck continually against the fence, the bizarre sound from the vibrations running along the fenceline almost 100m away.

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The sun had been beating down most of the day, and it was a relief to reach the top of Foel Grach.  The refuge looked pretty uninviting in these conditions, but has apparently been a lifesaver in winter in years gone by. Rather than following the path directly up to Carnedd Llewellyn, I sidetracked towards Yr Elen, with great views into the dark cwm and Fynnon Caseg.

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Yr Elen would have to wait for another day, as I wanted to find a pitch for the tent before my legs gave out. I’d been thinking of using the bothy at Dulyn, but camping out in the fine weather seemed far preferable, and would save several hundred metres of descent and re-ascent the next day. Heading down from Carnedd Llewellyn, I aimed for the ‘nose’ between the two reservoirs, and soon found flat, sheltered and only slightly boggy pitch close to a small stream. Tent up, meal cooked, and I was out like a light before the sun had even set.
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Lenticular Clouds?

While packing up early yesterday morning from an overnight camp in the Carneddau, I saw these distinctive strange-looking clouds. I *think* they’re some kind of Lenticular formation – but they didn’t hang around long. 10 minutes after taking this, they’d dispersed.

These were taken from above the Dulyn reservoir, in the lee of Foel Grach. There was just a light breeze.

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Carn Hyddgen

I’m sitting at home with at least six inches of snow outside, an almost-unheard of avalanche warning for Snowdonia, and a glass of wine. Unless you love wading through thigh deep powder, not a good day to be tackling the hills. Instead, I realised I’d yet to write up this walk from February : a good day in mid-Wales in the hills north of Pumlumon.

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If you’re walking from Maesnant into Cwm Rheidol, the twin bronze-age cairns on Carn Hyddgen stand proud on the skyline across the river, keeping a watching brief on proceedings. And there’s been plenty for them to watch over the years : Owain Glyndŵr’s famous victory over the English in 1401, The construction of the Nant-y-Moch reservoir, and the sea of encroaching windfarms. From a distance the cairns look reminiscent of Adam and Eve, the twin monoliths atop Tryfan – But that’s a trick of alignment and perspective : the cairns stand 6 metres tall, and 20m apart, so the ‘freedom’ of Carn Hyddgen can’t be easily gained.
Continue reading Carn Hyddgen

Icing on the Cake

Snowdonia : Elidir Fawr, Mynydd Perfedd and Carnedd y Filiast

13 March, 2013: A deserted cwm, grass as far as the eye can see. It climbs gently at first, then depressingly steeply to the bwlch at the head. A pair of Ravens cronk loudly, demanding an audience for their antics. It could be almost anywhere in Wales, or rather almost anywhere else: Welcome to Cwm Dudodyn, on the unfashionable western side of the Glyderau.

Cwm Dudodyn

Continue reading Icing on the Cake

Yr Aran and Snowdon

Cabin fever had set in over the last few weeks/months, and I was desperate to get out for a day, regardless of conditions. Apart from a few hours before Christmas walking in to Llyn Lygad Rheidol, below Pumlumon, It feels like I’ve not spent enough time out walking – let alone backpacking.

The met forecast was basically for hill fog and some drizzle everywhere – but had a few crumbs of comfort – “lifting in the afternoon” ‘higher summits may be clear”, interspersed with the usual may/might/could weasel words.

Continue reading Yr Aran and Snowdon