The Carneddau

June 14, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Posted in Walking | Leave a comment
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After a six month break, I finally found time for a decent spell in the hills. I’d been thinking for a while it was time to tackle the Carneddau but I was a bit concerned that an easier target would make sense after a lay off from serious walking. But I had a few days booked at the lovely Bryn Tyrch Inn near Capel Curig and a long summer’s day and a good forecast, so it seemed the perfect opportunity.

The aim was to tackle Pen Yr Ole Wen, Carnedd Daffydd and Carnedd Llewellyn and possibly a few other peaks as well. Pen Yr Ole Wen looms over Llyn Ogwen and is constant presence when walking Y Garn and the Glyders. I took the more reasonable route up the east side of the hill starting from the eastern end of Llyn Ogwen. From the very start there were wonderful views of Tryfan. Last time I was here, thick mist had descended as my brother and I walked down off Tryfan via Y Foel Goch and Gallt yr Ogof to the east, now I could see our route plainly. As I climbed Pen Yr Ole Wen, the Glyders came into view along with Y Garn and Snowdon looming in the background. After a steep climb up to the east ridge there is an enjoyable bit of scrambling above Ffynnon Loer, and then a straightforward climb to the summit with fantastic views on a clear day across to Glyders with Snowdon behind. Ahead lay the ridge to Carnedd Dafydd. There had been a large party of kids starting off around same time as I did and the odd group of other walkers but I had the summit to myself for a while and time to enjoy the views. With the long hours of summer’s day ahead and a good forecast, I planned to take an easy pace on this walk.

After Pen Yr Ole Wen, a wonderful ridge walk starts taking you first to Carnedd Daffydd. The only thing bothering me was that I knew that there was another Nuttall summit below the peak, Foel Meirch, but it would be mean descending and re-climbing 800 feet.  I decided in the end that it would be too much. I wanted to make sure I did the major peaks and I didn’t trust that my knee would stand up to the extra punishment without more preparation. So from Carnedd Dafydd, I headed on toward Carnedd Llewellyn and Yr Helen. A few hundred metres along the ridge, I felt my knee twang and knew that I would be limping for much of the rest of the route , so I was glad I hadn’t wasted effort on Foel Meirch. I did decide to make a detour to Yr Helen by cutting along the slope beneath the summit of Carnedd Llewellyn.

The summit of Yr Helen stands at 3,156 feet and has fine views over the coast line and was well worth the additional pain. From there it was back along the rocky path to Carnedd Llewellyn, the third highest peak in Wales. The summit was empty late afternoon and I could sit looking across to Carnedd Dafydd, the Glyders, and Snowdon, with good views of the rest of the Carneddau as well.

Leaving the summit I had to make one final decision. Following the Nuttall route would mean climbing up to Pen yr Helgi Du (Head of the Black Hound). I was very tempted but the nagging pain in my right knee was insistent and in the end I decided to leave that for another day. So I took the long path through the valley back to the road and then a mile or so walk to the car. Even this final section had its interest as I watched a helicopter involved in a rescue on the Heather Terrace that runs up the eastern side of Tryfan. Watching it hover close to the rocky eastern ridge of Tryfan was an incredible sight – bringing home how much the rescue teams risk in such operations. Hoping all ended well, I finally made it back to the car. Torn trousers, sun burnt legs and injured knee aside it had been fantastic day and I had covered four of Wales 3,000 foot peaks. A few pints and a good meal seemed well deserved.

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