Snowdon via Moel Eilio

March 28, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Posted in Walking, Wildlife | 1 Comment
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I’d planned this route to fit with a bad forecast for the day. Starting from  Llanberis it would give us the chance to come off the hills after climbing Moel Eilio if it was too wet on top of the ridge. Alternatively if the weather was good we could do a 10 mile loop going over the ridge and back via the Llanberis path below Snowdon, with various options to cut the walk short if necessary. There was also the chance of going all the way to Snowdon, though that would make it a 12 mile walk and around 5000 feet of ascent.

In the end the weather was excellent but half way up the steep slope to Moel Eilio, T had problems with his leg and had to go back. I continued up to the summit, which has excellent views all round, taking in the coast, Moel Hebog and the Nantlle ridge, Y Garn, Glyder Fawr and Snowdon itself.

From Moel Eilio it was a straightforward walk along the ridge to Foel Gron. The original plan had been good as there were easy escape routes back to Llanberis, but I carried on to Moel Cynghorion, which was a steeper climb. In theory I could have cut across to join the Llanberis path, but the route through the valley wasn’t clear. I had already decided anyway that I would at least go round the ridge and head on to Snowdon, if I had time. The summit had been tantalisingly visible for much of the walk and you don’t get that many opportunities to be there on a clear day. First, there was a leg-sapping drop and climb from Moel Cynghorion to join the Snowdon Ranger path. It was a lovely day to take this quieter route, I passed only a couple of people before the summit, including two guys carrying mountain bikes to the top! It was a perfect spring day so far, with a plenty of sunshine offsetting a cool breeze but as the summit came within reach it felt like winter again. The temperature dropped quickly to just above freezing and a cold mist was drifting across the top. There was still a considerable amount of snow on the path to the summit and beside the railway line.

As I approached the trig point the only other person around walked off; incredibly I had the summit to myself at 5 o’clock in the afternoon on a clear day. Then as I adjusted the camera, the mist came across cutting visibility to a few hundred metres but a bit of patience and the sky cleared and I had fantastic views of Crib y Ddysgl and Crib Goch (no less daunting up close) and of the Y Lliwedd ridge on the other side of the horseshoe. There was also a great view of the route I’d taken from Llanberis along the Moel Eilio ridge.

From the summit I took the Llanberis path down – except with snow on the ground I missed the point were it splits off from the Snowdon Ranger. So I did what you are warned not to do in winter and followed the railway line off the top. I can see why this is dangerous, snow builds up against the cliff side of the line but can then obscure the drop to your left. Fortunately there was only a remnant of snow and I could see the drop at all times, else I’d have backtracked. Eventually I reached Llechog, a rocky outcrop just a short climb up from the railway track and the final peak off the day. From here I dropped back down to joining the Llanberis path. This is the most straightforward (or boring) of the routes to Snowdon but I was counting on that, and an amble back with very sore legs suited me fine. Topping off a great day with a curry and beer in Llanberis was just icing on the cake.

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The Glyders

March 27, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Posted in Walking | 4 Comments
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Walking with T, we took the classic route from Idwal Cottage near Llyn Ogwen, passing up the same path we had taken on the Y Garn walk in October but this time it was dry and we had good view of the walk ahead. We almost missed the turn off toward the Glyders but after that navigation was straightforward as we climbed the path up to the ridge with good views of the Glyders, Tryfan and back to the Carneddau. A steady pace took us to Bwlch Tryfan where we intersected the rugged path between Tryfan and the Glyders. Here we had the option to take the Bristly Ridge scramble to the summit of Glyder Fach – but this was never more than a theoretical option this time. Instead we took the easy path through the pass to the ridge running up to the summit of Glyder Fach.

There was a fair bit of patchy snow still lying on the top and a fair number of people, with a small queue waiting to be photographed on the famous Cantilever Stone. The views from the summit itself were excellent, with Snowdon and Glyder Fawr clearly visible behind the eerie rock formation of Castell y Gwynt.

From Glyder Fach we scrambled over the rocks of Castell y Gwynt and then had a lovely walk in late afternoon sun along the rock strewn ridge to Glyder Fawr. At 999m this the fifth highest peak in Wales (after the Carneddau and Snowdon), and there were more marvellous views from the rocky outcrops that form the summit. We then began the tricky walk down the scree path to Llyn y Cŵn, which lies in the bwlch between the Glyders and Y Garn. The light was just starting to fade as we reached the top of Devil’s Kitchen. We had enough light to negotiate the rocky path down but by the time we reached the lake we needed our headtorches but it was an easy path back and a nice finale to a wonderful day’s walking.

Waun-oer and Maesglase

March 7, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Posted in Walking | Leave a comment
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Sometimes getting out on the hills is just the best thing you can do. This walk covered the fine, if rarely visited, ridge lying between Cadair Idris and the Arans. These hills loom over the A470 as it goes through Bwlch Oerddrws on the way to or from Dolgellau. It’s possible to walk up from the road but I followed the Nuttall route, beginning at the small village Aberllefenni. I took slightly different start though, taking the woodland path that cuts up from the road just outside the village and following this above the track cutting through the end of Cwm Ratgoed. Eventually a signposted woodland path cuts off from the forest track and its then a long haul on an a rough path through the woods. Eventually I reached the open hillside and it was just a short climb up to the ridge. The reward was a lovely view of Cadair Idris to the west. I followed the ridge north from here to the summit of Waun-oer. As you walk to the summit the view expands to include the Rhinogs, the Arans, and the hills of Snowdonia to the north. The other peaks of the walk stretch out clearly to the east.

While I ate lunch at the summit I was passed by a young lad running the trail in the other direction. I was even more impressed with his efforts when I realised how sharply the path dips after Waun-oer before climbing steeply to Cribin Fawr. I saw no one else on the hills all day – typical for these mid-Wales ranges and one of their great attractions.

There is no clear summit for Cribin Fawr just a series of tussocks of varying height, but again the views are excellent with the Arans stretching out ahead.

From here I followed the ridge across to Craig Portas with its awesome drop to the left. On the way I disturbed a couple of red grouse. It was a stiff climb up from the cwm below Craig Portas and then I followed the out-and-back path to Maesglaes. The path drops down sharply at a few points and there was also the remnants of deep snow in a few places, making for quite stiff walking at times.

The summit of Maesglaes is now recognised as Craig Rhiw-erch, rather than the old top, Maen Du, a little further on. I visited both tops with excellent views across the Arans – including the eastern hills I walked in February.

I backtracked to Craig Portas – which wasn’t as arduous as I thought, taking about half and hour. Then it was a straightforward walk over Mynnydd Dolgoed, with the lowering sun giving a lovely view of Cadair Idris as it dipped into shadow. A steep ascent brought me down to track through Cwm Ratgoed, and then it was a simple walk as the light started to fade alongside the river and back into Aberllefenni just as it became dark.

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