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Welsh Hewitts raid and avoiding the bog!

Welsh Hewitts raid and avoiding the bog!

Postby yokehead » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:30 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Esgeiriau Gwynion (Foel Rhudd), Foel Cedig, Foel Goch (Hirnantau), Foel Hafod-fynydd, Foel y Geifr, Llechwedd Du, Moel y Cerrig Duon, Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw

Date walked: 13/06/2018

Time taken: 8.2

Distance: 25.2 km

Ascent: 1376m

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Do I want to climb the boggy, heathery, tufty, reedy, bushy lumps between the Arans and Berwyns, that are on the Hewitts list? The same goes for Munros and Corbetts - I prefer shapely hills of character and the rockier the better, shall I bother with the lumps when there's so many other hills to choose from? Does ticking a list matter to me? The walkhighlands personal hill map is a bad thing though, you look at it and think 'if I just did those I'd fill in a gap'. And these hills are only just over an hour from home.

Westerlies were set to return bringing rain after a long dry period, and likely topping up the boggy ground around much of these hills hence my plan for today to beat that, and hopefully find them dry. Or dry-ish. My target was for a raid on 8 Hewitts and so it turned out. The purist would perhaps walk these on one or two longer trips but I employed some cheating I'm afraid, making 5 separate trips from the car. The weather forecast was for low cloud to start, clearing for a while, then coming in again on the rising wind as the day progressed toward the arrival of storm Hector and rain.

1. Llechwedd Du, Esgeiriau Gwynion, Foel Hafod-fynydd
Distance 10.3km, ascent 748m, time 4.3 hrs

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First up were these 3 hills just north of Llanymawddwy. On the map, walking from Bwlch y Groes seems a good choice since that's already up at 545m. But I wanted to sample the track below Llechwedd Du, reduce the distance bog-trotting, and not have a road walk. Most of all, I liked the look of the Tap Nyth-yr-eryr (Eagle's Nest) ridge up Wenallt just north of Llanymawddwy, thinking there might be scrambling opportunities. I'd seen this on an exploratory drive soon after moving to Shropshire.

Fortunately there's room to park on the hairpin bend at SH904212, perfect. Just to the right of the woods there's a pallet used as a gate to the field and straight onto the steep pull up Wenallt - this is the name on the map but doesn't appear on any lists, in fact I could find little reference to the ridge, only a mention on UKC of a possible scramble. I moved away from the fence to follow sheep trods through bracken and it became very steep, as I knew it would from the map. I crossed the line of a fence that's about be erected, that will be a bit of a problem in the future. The closer I got the less attractive the rock terrain looked since they were covered in whinberry bushes. It is no doubt possible by keeping to the ridge top but I bottled it today - better if I'd been with someone maybe. Further up there was a line of rock across my path which I contoured around to the east, then followed a sheep trod slanting back up to the edge on a little plateau above the rocks. Sheep trods were to be the order of the day, again! It is 300m of ascent in 500m distance if you go straight up, my zigzag detour made it 900m distance and it took 40 mins. So, quickly on high, and much better and more interesting than it would have been up the road! The view back down the valley was grand, if a bit murky. As I write this, I feel I must go back and try the ridge proper, in retrospect it was even better than at the time!

starting up Wenallt

very steep,and rocks not looking as good as I'd hoped

quickly up to 500m, and view back down the valley

I could see my route to come, mist just above the tops. I kept to the edge of the ridge at first whilst gaining a bit more height then roughly followed the 550m contour to the north, turning west around the head of the streams making up Nant Llewelyn-goch, keeping below peat hags. It turned out well and the going was pretty good, and most importantly, dry. A compass check, then I aimed for a point on the Arans ridge as my target, the fence appeared on my right and I hit the summit of Llechwedd Du bang on, just a small pile of quartzite stones. Cloud had just lifted off the mighty Arans and there was a bit of sun, fantastic. There were a few mushroom peat hags here rising from the grassy ground, an intriguing and amusing sight. I liked them. All bone dry. I sheltered behind one for a second breakfast stop, out of the rising wind. The wind kept me cool though today, much more so than on recent trips where I got dehydrated. I enjoyed that stop immensely, ate slowly and had plenty of drink, hoping to avoid any thigh cramp today.

follow this height round, below the skyline right to left

Llechwedd Du summit, looking toward Foel Hafod-fynydd with the Arans range behind

second breakfast stop hags

From here it is a simple matter of following the fence north, then northwest to the summit of Esgeiriau Gwynion. I crossed the fence to a path, a small descent then easy ascent was good going, just 25 mins and a fine tramp. Hop across the fence to the even smaller pile of stones, a view of the onward ridge heading southwest and the Arans closer and clearer now.

Esgeiriau Gwynion summit and the route ahead

Alongside the fence again, I crossed it and enjoyed the grassy path, on the flat for a bit then a steep descent. As you near the lowest point of Bwlch Sirddyn at 500m there are boggy patches and reeds - but not for me today, all dry! The fence continues up the slope on the other side toward the next target ridge, however the summit is to the right of where the fence reaches the ridge. Instead of going up the fenceline, out to the summit and back, I spotted a sheep trod heading west just above the high crags north of and below the summit.

down to the bwlch

After a brief stop for a drink and route assessment, I aimed for this by ascending by 50m next to the fence then adopting a rising traverse line that I like to take, across a stream and above the crags, to sneak up directly to the summit of Foel Hafod-fynydd when it wasn't looking. Perfect! A pile of stones at the summit once more and a view of Creiglyn Dyfi tucked below Aran Fawddwy.

my route went above the lower crags on the far right

Foel Hafod-fynydd summit, Creiglyn Dyfi and Aran Fawddwy

A few minutes here admiring the views then off again, following the fence to the east. A second summit is marked by a larger pile of stones on a slightly rocky knoll. About halfway down the slope toward the ravine I turned northeast heading for a disused sheep pen made largely of quartzite stone. I went through this after crossing the stream, following a sheep trod up to the old track. I looked back and saw a walker ascending the hill - I hadn't noticed him on my way down so apologies if you read this, waved and weren't acknowledged!

the second summit marker and route to come

The wide track isn't used by vehicles and is overgrown with reeds in the first section, but there is a great path through made by sheep of both varieties. After a sharp zigzag the terrain becomes more interesting as rocky patches appear on the left and the track cuts through the rocks at one point. An RAF Tucano trainer rounded the hill to the right and flew up the valley, thanks boys! Just beyond this there is a fine series of waterfalls which I detoured to. They go down in curving steps and are a grand spot with attractive trees of all varieties just below, someone has had a camp fire and there was even a supply of wood for it. I passed an abandoned farm and just before reaching the car had a final perusal of the that rocky ridge of Wenallt, it sure does look enticing.......

on the track just before the waterfalls

one of the series of falls

last look at the Wenallt ridge, worth doing again

2. Moel y Cerrig Duon
Distance 2.9km, ascent 112m, time 47 mins

A short drive up the quiet road to park at Bwlch y Groes for an out and back to this summit. No need for the sack, a quick drink then just a couple of bits in the bumbag and a raincoat tied round the waist just in case - a nice change. A simple matter of following the fence and placing a rock on the little cairn whilst enjoying the wide views for a few minutes. A bit of a cheat?

Moel y Cerrig Duon

3. Foel y Geifr, Foel Goch
Distance 6.0km, ascent 318m, time 1.6 hrs

Keep the boots on still and a drive down to Lake Vyrnwy then north up to the high point next to Foel y Geifr, parking opposite the forestry track that heads northeast and will be used later. A bite to eat and a drink was enjoyed before setting out. Another lightweight out and back followed and was surprisingly pleasant. Head down into the boggy (not for me) dip, across a slightly squashed gate then along a faint path which leads to an old quad track that has become 2 paths side by side and provides good going. Best to follow this all the way, it becomes faint higher up but curves to the southwest all the way to the summit. Cutting the corner straight to the summit isn't worth it as I found out on the way back. The stone trig point of Foel y Geifr is soon reached, a stone had fallen out so I placed it on top. Then another follow the fence job on a good fast path, down a bit, up over a Nuttall bump then away from the fence down to a col. There is a feeling of height again on this walk on what is a more defined ridge. In the dip and up to the summit of Foel Goch the path continues but the ground is a little more lumpy, not difficult of the ankle-turning variety. A small pile of stones marks the summit just off the path.

Foel y Geifr and the forestry track

the ridge to Foel Goch

Foel Goch, looking back to Foel y Geifr

The map shows another 610m contour a bit further on so I visited that too, looking back the other bump appeared higher though. A brief stop and consideration of the next 2 Hewitts and I headed back, 40 mins to the car. Getting much windier now and clouds were forming to cover the Aran tops. My attempt to cut the corner from back near the cairn of Foel y Geifr led through deep heather, bush and clumps. Over I went as my leg dropped down a hole, no damage though and no wet! The only spill of the day. Back at the car I considered my method for the final 2 of the day whilst I had more food and drink. I'd brought my bike, planning to cycle the forestry track. But the track surface looked grim, and there was a fair amount of uphill as well at the start so I didn't fancy it on the bike, and with the weather turning. I wanted to get these 2 though. If only I had a 4x4 to go up the track. But, wait, wait a minute, I do have a 4x4, a Landrover! Shall I cheat? Yes go for it. So I drove up there, no gates to worry about, and although very rough in places no problem. I parked right next to the Hewitt. I couldn't actually see the summit though, it was over a little rise, so that's alright then I feel much better about it!

4. Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw
Distance 0.3km, ascent 7m, time 7 mins, 12 secs

This was real tough, a small peat hag, grass clumps, and a fence to cross. Twice. Sorry, but this isn't a hill, just a high point on a large plateau so I actually don't feel bad about cheating. Not too bad, anyway.

I thought about using the bike from here but looking ahead from the 'summit' I could see a Landrover further along the track so thought I'd drive along the track a bit too.....

Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw, call this a hill?

5. Cyrniau Nod
Distance 5.7km, ascent 191m, time 1.4 hrs

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I reached the other car at SH969281, where there were sheep pens and the forestry track turned grassy. I spied a Nuttalls book on the dashboard of the car. Ha! Another cheater, if you can't beat them etc. etc. Again I rejected the bike idea, deciding that with such a great name this Hewitt warranted a bit more of my effort. I opted to go north to reach the fenceline and follow it to the summit. A gentle ascent across tall thistle-covered grassy terrain led to the fence, where I found there was a path next to the fence. More sheep using this plus, having looked after the walk, Nuttalls sheep as well for part of the way since this turns out to be a recommended route. At the point where the nutters, sorry, Nuttall folk turn right I carried straight on. On the skyline I could see someone walking toward the summit, must be from the other car. There was still a path for most of the way and, yet again, not wet. Although it would be normally. Near to the point where I turned south there were deep reedy patches to negotiate, after which I cut the corner a bit along small depressions to the fence. Over the fence there was a good path to the summit of the Nod. Bog Cotton nodding in the strong breeze, a lovely feature of the day along with the constant, uplifting sound of Skylarks, and cuckoo spit everywhere. A final look around for the day, trying not to Nod off. But this place had a strange ambience to it, in the middle of nowhere as it is, despite the forestry track close by. Hmmmm.

the last leg to Cyrniau Nod, the tree shows which direction is west and the bog cotton nods

Cyrniau Nod

I headed back along the fence and turned right at the fence junction for the easiest way to the forestry track, having had enough of cross-country terrain by now. There is a path to follow to the track. I spotted the walker ahead and hurried to catch up with him. I didn't tell him he was a cheat. We walked the last stretch together, he told me he had 14 peaks to go to complete the Terry Marsh hill list, which I hadn't heard of. So if you happen to read this, Jonesy, I hope you finished your round on your raid.

the track back, walker Jonesy ahead

I've looked it up since, strange I haven't come across Terry Marsh given the number of hill books and guides he's written. His hill list was compiled in 1984 and includes hills of 600m+ with a prominence of 30m, in fact it seems he was the first to use this new metric version of the prominence measure. I have ordered a used copy of his book, just out of interest.

And so to a conclusion for the day given my thoughts at the start. The Terry Marsh discovery and subsequent research highlight the sheer number of hill lists that exist. Each to their own and all is valid in the individual pursuit of what spurs you on. I very much enjoyed the variety on the round of the first 3 today. On all the walks it was good to be surrounded by big sky and space, almost no-one about. I enjoyed the actual walking, as ever. The final 2 were just silly and I wouldn't visit them again. Boggy, heathery, tufty, reedy, bushy lumps - can I be bothered with them? There is something about some of them, and you won't know what's on offer unless you try them for yourself. The jury is still out! But my advice is, get out to these whilst it's dry!

look no mud or wet, in fact the boots have been given a good clean by the heathery, tufty, reedy, bushy lumps!
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Re: Welsh Hewitts raid and avoiding the bog!

Postby Phil the Hill » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:24 pm

You make these hills sound quite interesting - though it probably helps that it was so dry!

I started bagging English & Welsh 2000ers using Marsh's books, as well as the Nuttalls. I like that he gives multiple routes up individual hills, rather than stringing them all together into big rounds, so it gives more scope to plan your own routes. For some reason the name "Marshes" never caught on :lol:
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Re: Welsh Hewitts raid and avoiding the bog!

Postby malky_c » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:42 pm

Couple of great waterfall shots in there, and a nice looking ascent to Llechwedd Ddu even if the rock was rubbish :D . Foel Hafod Mynydd is in a good spot with views of Creiglyn Dyfi; some of the rest of that lot a bit less exciting though!

I didn't mind working my way around these hills so much as they are originally my home territory (sort of). However when I look at the remaining gaps in my Hewitts map (which are mostly in the Pennines) I get a similar feeling of apathy. Do I really want to spend days walking on all of that grouse moor and peat hag? I probably will get around to the rest eventually, but they don't seem anywhere near as appealing as the highlands and islands right now :lol:
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Re: Welsh Hewitts raid and avoiding the bog!

Postby yokehead » Wed Jun 20, 2018 5:29 pm

Phil the Hill wrote:You make these hills sound quite interesting - though it probably helps that it was so dry!

I started bagging English & Welsh 2000ers using Marsh's books, as well as the Nuttalls. I like that he gives multiple routes up individual hills, rather than stringing them all together into big rounds, so it gives more scope to plan your own routes. For some reason the name "Marshes" never caught on :lol:

Yes, dry sure is good for these, wouldn't want any unnecessary character-building challenges! The Marsh book has just arrived and I'm looking forward to comparing with the Hewitts. As for 'Marshes', perhaps not quite so bad as 'I'm just off out to the Nuttalls, dear'! :lol:

malky_c wrote:However when I look at the remaining gaps in my Hewitts map (which are mostly in the Pennines) I get a similar feeling of apathy.

Your having mentioned this, having looked more closely at these I can't see me bothering with most given the choice in Wales and the Lakes, and of course my first choice of dear Scotland when I can get there. So I can't see a Hewitts round ever being done. I may have to put together my own list, the yokeheads.......
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