by EmmaKTunskeen » Sat Nov 23, 2019 8:10 pm
Hewitts included on this walk: Aran Benllyn, Aran Fawddwy
Date walked: 14/09/2019
Time taken: 9
Distance: 21 km
Ascent: 1170m7 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I plumped for an approach from the north and parked at the NT car park in Llanuwchllyn near Y Bala just before 8am. The sun was low, shadows long and the farm track opposite covered in sheep poo. A chap was on his way back from walking his dog and we 'good morning'ed one another (man and I, not dog).
001 Morning sheep on the first rise by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
At the sign, I left the poo-ey path and headed up to the knoll. Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid) was hidden in morning mist.
002 Cloud over Llyn Tegid by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
The Arenigs, Moel Llyfrant and Moel Emoel were clear under a blue sky.
003 Cloud over Bala - Arenigs behind by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
004 NNW to Moel Llyfnant and Arenig Fawr by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
005 NNE to Moel Emoel by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
It was a beautiful, crisp morning and the clarity meant not only that navigation was easy, but also that Aran Benllyn would taunt for a good hour or so.
006 Up to Aran Benllyn with Cadair Idris to west by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
The morning dew was doing its thing on the spider webs. This one looked pretty old and broken by something. Not a bird presumably (animation here, showing how UV in orb spiders' webs has been put to use in windows: [url]bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07hx8qm[/url]).
008 Dew on cobweb by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Past Moel Ddu and approaching Moel Ffenigl, I spied a tent.
010 Little lad who enjoyed his camping by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
As I got closer, a little boy came clambering over the bumpy ground in a clumsy beeline towards me, while his dad watched from his camp-stool. The little boy and I said hello and he told me he'd slept there last night. Dad came over with his mug of coffee. The little boy said he'd enjoyed the night in the tent and they were going up 'the mountain' today. Then off they went for porridge, and I headed up the slope to forage for bilberries and crowberries. I'd last foraged for berries in Iceland, and my mind was drifting there, to geothermals and fumaroles. But very-Welsh-things soon brought me back, such as very-Welsh sheep and very-Welsh stiles.
011 Blue remembered sheep by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
012 Welsh stile with Arenig Fawr behind by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
The sheep also brought me back to current affairs - will Welsh sheep farmers lose their €1/2 billion a year subsidy? What difference will it make? What will they do? And... then I was happily distracted by caterpillars And Snowdon.
013 Fox moth caterpillar by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
019 Contemplating its navel by Emma Kendon, on Flickr (Broom moth)
021 N to Snowdon with Moel Llyfnant in front by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
022 Zoom to Snowdon by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Stopping at the cairn for some water before the pull up Craig Llyn, I turned and saw the cloud had lifted off the lake. And as I rose, finally Aran Fawddwy came into view behind Aran Benllyn. It was a stunning morning. The sun was shining, pipits were flitting about, the sky was blue and the wind very low, but the air was cool. Up towards the top of Aran Benllyn, I spotted a man heading up at a fair pace - it turned out he had to catch a bus but had enough time for an Aran and a summit breakfast first.
031 Cairn below the last climb up by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
026 Llanuwchllyn and Bala pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
032 Arans Benllyn and Fawddwy by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Over little Llyn Pen Aran, we enjoyed cracking views of Cadair Idris and its western satellite Craig-Las. Last July I'd crept up on Cadair Idris from the south to avoid the crowds, so it was good to get this clear view of the north face. Aran Benllyn isn't the most exciting of hills, but it's nicely positioned, especially for its view of Cadair Idris - it was hard to take your eyes off it, and the view round to Barmouth Bay.
032 Llyn Pen Aran and CI behind by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
035 Cadair Idris over Dolgellau by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
036 Cadair Idris - Dolgellau - Barmouth Bay by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
037 Cadair Idris zoom by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Zooming in (above), I could see the Cyfrwy Arête (lump to the right of Penygadair), where I'd watched climbers last July. I didn't realise it's a Hewitt in its own right, when I was hurrying off the Pony Path on my way to Craig-Las (below middle) and Craig-y-Llyn (below left). You live and learn.
038 Craig-Las zoom by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
At the top of Aran Benllyn, my fellow walker and I had a chat about hen harriers and Berwyn. He'd never seen one even though he lives quite close by, and wasn't sure what to look for. Then, like the camping family, he stayed and had his breakfast, while I took a couple of snaps and headed on to Aran Fawddwy.
043 Aran Benllyn summit with sack by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
045 Cadairs Bronwen and Berwyn by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
045 Aran Fawddwy pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
It was at this point I discovered my phone takes better pictures than my Iceland-knackered, waterlogged Fuji...
047 Phone pic of Aran Fawddwy by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
051 Phone pic SSE to Cambrian Mountains by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
049 Sheep and Cadair Idris behind by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
At the cairn above Cwm Du, the prominent trig on Aran Fawddwy was in full view, as were the impressive giant claw-mark-like clefts on its north east flank. I stopped to take it in and also enjoy the view in solitude. I had a feeling the AF summit might be busy with folk who'd come up from the south. The Rhinogs were looking good today, and it was a joy just to relish them as well as Idris, Snowdon and the ridge itself.
054 Cairn and Aran Fawddwy by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
055 Looking back to Aran Benllyn by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
056 Snowdon to Aran Benllyn pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
057 West - Rhinogs to Snowdon pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
058 Cadair Idris to Rhinogs pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
059 Aran Fawddwy to Cadair Idris pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
061 East pano to the Berwyn moors by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Before long I was at the weird cairn above Creiglyn Dyfi. I'd be coming back to this after my walk up to the AF trig.The clefts looked even better from here.
063 Weird cairn above Creiglyn Dyfi by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
062 Giant claw marks on Aran Fawddwy by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
At the foot of the final climb to AF's summit, I saw a fella carrying fencing stakes, and as I rose, I looked for his stake-mobile..
066 Fella tending to fencing by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
067 Fence-mobile under Rhinogs by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Nosiness sated, , up I went and after a little easy scrambling, at last the Aran Fawddwy top appeared above me.
068 Aran Fawddwy summit cairn by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
A middle-aged American couple were approaching from the south and, I swear, on seeing me the guy suddenly put on a competitive spurt so he could touch the trig before I got there. No worries, pal, I'm not religious about trigs, and don't need selfies, so he was welcome (if ridiculous). Just as well, because he clung on to it like some latter-day MacAlpin at Stirling. Ah, I was glad I'd lingered on my way up... summits and people
Once he'd gone, I soaked up the views some more, reminiscing about walks from long ago and from this year, took a couple of trig pics after all, for this , eyed up Glasgwm, and headed off to peek down one of the clefts.
071 AF summit to Berwyn by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
073 Glasgwm - south Aran - and Minllyn hills by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
074 Cadair Idris from AF summit by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
075 Aran ridge and cloud-free Bala Lake by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
076 Snowdon range from AF summit by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
077 View down a giant claw mark by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
I was going to drop down east, towards the solitary Creiglyn Dyfi below the weird cairn, and nestled below Aran Fawddwy's craggy NE face. There was no one down there, and it was lovely to be alone again.
078 Afon Groes on descent by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
079 Creiglyn Dyfi below Aran Fawddwy by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
080 Crags of Aran Fawddwy by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
082 View from Creiglyn Dyfi by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Ahead was a grassy rise to Foel Hafod-fynydd, where a cairn gave another view east to the superb Berwyn moors, and south into the corrie. Soon I could look back at this bit of the Aran ridge and the broad grassy nose I'd descended..
083 Grassy rise to Foel Hafod-fynydd by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
084 From F Hafod-fynydd to Berwyn moors by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
086 Broad ridge of Drysgol - S of AF by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
087 My descent by Emma Kendon, on Flickr (Aran Fawddwy left, my descent route on right.)
From here I could have cut straight down through the valley, but it was only 1.40pm, so there was plenty of time to wander up the other side and down Cwm Du rather than Cwm Llwydd. I wondered about going up to Foel Rhudd but couldn't quite muster the enthusiasm. I was pretty sated with height now and happy just to enjoy a scenic, extended valley walk. So now, I had to do the steep drop to Cwm Du. (Hm... knees... Sticks-time.)
089 My steep descent to Cwm Du by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
It started steep and got steeper, so I tacked a bit, through long grass and heather, taking about 13 minutes to get to the hanging valley below. The map showed a footpath slightly beyond the fence-line, to the right, but there wasn't much in it, so I just followed the fence down.
092 Steep drop by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
At the bottom, where I found an impressively mushroomy peathag, I did toy again with the thought of heading up the other side, but laziness (and out-of-fitness hill-legs) got the better of me.
093 Mushroomy peat hag by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
I had to rise a little bit, until I could get round the corner of the hill. It was bit disconcerting on that corner because I hadn't paid attention to what was on the other side, out of sight. I'd been looking up to my left at the Aran ridge (or at least the Benllyn bit of it), but... anticlimax... nothing evil was lurking round that corner, just a gentle ease into the lower valley.
097 What happens round this corner by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
098 Gentle Cwm Du valley by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
096 Aran Benllyn ridge by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Underfoot, long grass made it slow-going, but it was perfectly pleasant in the ideal conditions. An hour from the top, Nant-y-barcut Farm came into view.
102 Nant-y-barcut by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
Just before reaching the farm, I came across this caterpillar which I didn't recognise. It turns out to be a ruby tiger moth, which is both a great name and a superb (yes, ruby) furry moth.
101 Ruby tiger moth caterpillar by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
So then, one last look up to the Arans and then it was a 3.5 mile stroll back to Llanuwchllyn, past rowan and birch, a ruined hafod of white stone. head-butting rams and a bunch of p****d-off looking tethered dogs. And there was time for a long late lunch by a secluded stream with Arenig Fawr to contemplate. Maybe next time I'm up this way.
103 Phone pic back to Aran Fawddwy by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
105 Phone pic back to the Arans by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
110 Nant-y-barcut dogs by Emma Kendon, on Flickr (Actually, walking past them was a wrong turn, so I had to walk back past them too. )
111 Afternoon stop and Arenig Fawr by Emma Kendon, on Flickr
by HalfManHalfTitanium » Sun Nov 24, 2019 10:06 am
I always think the Arans deserve to be better known (but one of their charms is that they're not)
by EmmaKTunskeen » Mon Nov 25, 2019 10:40 am
I always think the Arans deserve to be better known (but one of their charms is that they're not)
Totally agree, Tim!
by mattcymru » Mon Dec 09, 2019 10:21 pm
by Alteknacker » Tue Dec 10, 2019 12:45 am
This is surely a great ridge, especially when one gets such fine weather (as I also did last time I was up there in spring 2017); and I must say, I like this approach from the North.
As HMHT remarks: good that the Arans are not so well known....
by EmmaKTunskeen » Mon Dec 16, 2019 6:27 pm
Alteknacker wrote:I was 2/3 through reading this, and marvelling at the pics - especially the panos - when I suddenly realised I'd read it before, but (atypically!) not passed any comment (though I had marked it as a great report)!
Know that feeling Thank you, glad it brought back good memories. I've got so many more hills around there to explore - it was good making mental notes as I walked.