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What Kind of Fras Am I Climbing?!

What Kind of Fras Am I Climbing?!

Postby aaquater » Wed Nov 22, 2023 10:52 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Drum, Foel-fras, Llwytmor, Tal y Fan

Date walked: 23/09/2023

Time taken: 5.5

Distance: 22.7 km

Ascent: 1222m

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The meaning of this title is a little lost if you're unfamiliar with the word 'fras' as I've learnt it. But, let's just say that English has several 4-letter words that can work as translations (though the most accurate one has 5)...

Two challenges had to be faced before the hillwalk could start. First, getting there. On the way up from Abergwyngretyn, my satnav was saying I was slow, as it saw no speed limit. One is expected to go 60 in that situation... heartfelt apologies, but on that squiggly, steep, narrow road full of blind corners, I wasn't going more than 10. Second, parking. The Streetview imagery had had me concerned, and indeed, the little car park was completely full by the time I got there. Granted, it was noon, a bit late to start a walk. I was trying to eyeball whether I could fit my car in front of a gate without blocking it when a guy came down the hill to his car and emptied a space. Okay, so it was so late that people were already finishing their walks. But I was still quite confident I could be done with mine before sunset. And if I had to, I could easily just omit the last hill, an extension to the otherwise circular route anyway.

The map said there should've been a shortcut up the hill, dead ahead, but I didn't feel like searching through the gorse for it

So I went the longer way, through the 246 m col, and joined the track heading up the valley of Afon Anafon from there

The track was wet occasionally - no surprise after the past week - but mostly alright

Honestly, I'd expected to sink into the ground with every step. But the track held on quite admirably, so the going was quick, and I reached Llyn Anafon less than an hour after leaving the car.

Something about that reservoir just gave me the feeling of a place that used to be popular but had been abandoned for the last 30 years. It was lovely, though

On the other side of the dam, the path continued. It was faint and twisting through the vegetation, but I saw it - and felt proud of myself for checking a few metres ahead on every junction of sorts, instead of blindly going for the path that looked more obvious at the junction itself. I reached a shoulder, turned left in front of a marmalade* of ponies that didn't even look my way, and got ready for the real ascent.

*After learning the collective noun, I just had to use it!

Looking up Llwytmor, the first Hewitt of the day

The ascent was pathless which, after Post Gwyn, I was a bit apprehensive about. But this was a nice kind of ascent. Firm ground, low grass, and not too soaked - a slope really pleasant to walk. Further up, I reached an unavoidable patch of scree, above which the ground started to flatten gradually until the summit.

Towards Foel-fras, the path obvious on the ground

Llwytmor's summit was a flat disc that only offered views to one direction at a time, so I circled around it slowly, snapping more pictures as more places came into view.

Like NW towards Bangor and Anglesey

Or NE towards Conwy and Llandudno

After tracing a full loop, I was facing Foel-fras again, and went searching for the path I'd seen earlier. I found it, followed it for a while, then lost it as the gradient picked up, but no matter. The terrain was still very simple and agreeable to walk, and 25 minutes after leaving Llwytmor, I was standing by the trig of Foel-fras, a long SW-to-NE ridge with a stone dyke running across it.

The ridge continued S, while further E, an expanse of lower land laid

I was, however, heading N, to bag the third Hewitt: Drum

Until Drum's summit, the way was simple, quick, with a clear path, nothing worth digging into. Afterwards, the path - track, really - started veering left of the ridge. A path was meant to branch off to the right later on, but I opted to stick to the ridge, the dyke marking it, and the much fainter path running alongside. It got quite boggy on multiple occasions, but I hoped the conditions would improve once I rejoined the Cambrian Way again.

Track descending NW; had I not had my eye on one more Hewitt - or had it been too late to add it - I would've taken it to return to the car park

Back to Foel-fras, Llwytmor, and Llyn Anafon

Improve, however, they did not. Even on the descent, the path seemed unable to decide whether it wanted to disappear into the heather or into the marsh. For a named path, it was a little disappointing. But I was still moving ahead and wasn't obscenely slow, so the plan to extend the walk to Tal y Fan still held on.

Crossing the track in Bwlch y Ddeufaen, it was time to look up and find the way to go

The nature of the path didn't change much between the descent of Drum and the ascent of Foel Lwyd. Especially going over the summit of the latter, I was starting to get fed up with the mud and the tall grasses, and decided I wasn't going to return the same way. Under Tal y Fan, a path was meant to head SSE to the road, and I made up my mind to take it.

But first, Tal y Fan itself

And 20 minutes later, I was making a panorama from its summit

On the way up, I'd taken note of a stile in the col; returning back to it, I turned left onto the aforementioned path, starting the descent. The stile was a lot closer to the dyke junction than shown on the map (if that had changed since the map had been updated, I bet it was the stile that had moved, not the dyke), and the grassy path that followed was clear and easy to follow. At least until the moment it started to wind its way through gorse. But a couple minutes later, I was standing on the road, heading to the car park I'd considered using, but changed my mind in the end. Tal y Fan would've been easy to reach, but Llwytmor would've been awkward, and if I had to pick one of the hills to be the omittable one, it was definitely the former.

All that was now left was to return to the car on a track that was in times boggy

But most of all, rather long and not that memorable. Or at least I was tired enough not to pay attention that much anymore

By the time I reached the car park, all cars but one had left. (Not counting my own.) But I'd managed to complete the walk in full, comfortably before sunset. The resident Fras was now in the bag...
Posts: 114
Munros:74   Corbetts:38
Fionas:40   Donalds:23+12
Sub 2000:52   Hewitts:18
Joined: Jul 8, 2019

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