Cwmdeuddwr Hills (Elan Valley)
by poppiesrara » Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:23 pm
Hewitts included on this walk: Drygarn Fawr, Gorllwyn
Date walked: 07/08/2011
Time taken: 3.75
Distance: 17 km
Ascent: 600m2 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).
The drive in between and over the Elan Valley reservoirs is quite lovely, and the initial ascent on a good mine track up the wooded Marchnant valley easy and beautiful. The following climb up south-east from the old quarry is rougher, an intermittently decent path hanging precariously above the stream interspersed with spells of thrashing through waist-high reeds above damp and bumpy ground, but it’s pretty brief - once on the higher slopes of Gorllwyn, the ground turns firmer and grassier and good views open up again across the valleys and reservoirs.
The real test – and the true justification of these hills’ reputation as boggy horrors – is the stretch across the moor from Gorllwyn to Drygarn Fawr. The second hill is clearly in view almost all the way (in mist, both the best way onward and the motivation to complete the slog might be difficult to find) but it takes a long, long while before it starts to seem closer, and it may not be the best idea to look too often at the map and see that it’s actually over four miles away… There’s little variation in scenery or terrain for most of that stretch, and a bit of a teeth-gritter. The first stretch down isn’t too bad, with old boundary stones marking the way and most of the worse ground avoidable, but up from the vague col to the lower slopes of Drygarn Fawr is really tough going: hags, marsh (at the moment just wet feet and ankles, rather than knees and thighs, but even that palls after a while), long grass, and little or nothing in the way of pathing. After that, the quite rocky summit ridge is quite a surprise and the two huge and well-preserved cairns (quite what happened to the other of the titular ‘Three Large Cairns’ is unclear – perhaps sunk beneath the marshes??) undeniably spectacular.
The hard work of the day is over then, with a clear and very well-routed off-map vehicle track setting off north-east, skirting the boggiest ground and – with enticing views throughout of the rocky gorges to the left – finding the best way down to the broad mine track bridging the Nant Paradwys and heading back down to the valley.
Perhaps these will never be anyone’s favourite hills (and the stretch in between them is strictly masochists-only stuff), but this is a surprisingly beautiful area and both the ascent and descent paths (especially from the valley up to Drygarn Fawr) are good and enjoyable ones. Climb the two separately, either as ‘there-and-backs’ or finding shorter circuits, and they’re well worth the detour off the beaten tracks.
by Red Peak » Mon Aug 08, 2011 11:20 pm
Excellent report as always, and congratulations on completing the Welsh Hewitts
by john923 » Tue Aug 09, 2011 12:52 pm
So what's next? Now that your welsh hewitt map is all blue are you going to set yourself a new challenge?
by ndhudson » Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:27 pm
john923 wrote:So what's next? Now that your welsh hewitt map is all blue are you going to set yourself a new challenge?
Yes, I would like to know too...
by poppiesrara » Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:19 pm
Well, I guess it's probably the rest of the (English) Hewitts next... or at least the Lakes ones first; some of those North Pennine ones can wait until (or if) I've worked up an appetite for that newly-invented 'endurance sport' again! There are a handful of Welsh peaks worth avoiding (I'd nominate Pen yr Allt Uchaf, Black Mixen, and especially Arenig Fach - the only one I've hated everything about...), but I suspect there might be a few more than that in England. The thing is that you have to climb them to really know...
But it's not going to be quite as quick or as single-minded as the Welsh effort, and there are other areas to sample too (some of the coast-paths, Scotland of course) - apart from walking near home, until today (Kinder Scout - definitely the only 'mountain' that's climbable from here after work!) I'd hardly been anywhere but Wales this year... Perhaps 'before I'm 40' as the new target then?
by ndhudson » Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:39 pm
by malky_c » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:19 pm
I have done Drygarn Fawr though, and I agree that the valleys around here are incredibly scenic.
by Rekrab » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:02 pm
by Paul Webster » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:39 am