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Murder on Maesglase

Murder on Maesglase


Postby clivegrif » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:36 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Cribin Fawr, Maesglase, Waun-oer

Date walked: 06/02/2012

Time taken: 5

Distance: 11 km

Ascent: 880m

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The country had ground to a halt in the ferocious Arctic weather – well the South East had anyway, the rest of us got on with a fairly ordinary winter. But what's this, a possible weather window over Wales? MWIS were saying there was no risk of rain, and the freezing point was going to be below summit level, this seemed to have the makings of a decent winter day in the hills.
Having negotiated the snowy wastes of Worcestershire in the dark, I made it to Dinas Mawddwy in the first light of dawn with the sky showing a few pink tinges against the blue. It was looking good, but as I drove up to Bwlch Oerddrws, my starting point, it was clear that all the mountains I wanted to climb were coated in clag. Oh well, boots on, head down....
Leaving the car park would normally mean diving into a bog but it was frozen solid, and the meandering path up the hillside was almost worthy of crampons. This side of the mountain is reasonably craggy and interesting, but not technical at all. At the top of the steep slope it becomes clear that the top of the mountain is going to be pretty flat, and therefore potentially boggy. It also becomes clear that the ground is trackless, tussocky and heathery, and that the snow lying on top of it is not consolidated. This is going to be hard work.
A warmer wind is starting to blow over the frozen ground generating an unwelcome mist, a shame as it is clear above, and there are fleeting views of the western end of Cadair Idris looming over the valley below.
Cadair Idris.jpg
The eastern end of Cadair Idris

A noticeable rocky outcrop has a deep slot cut through it, inviting closer inspection. Walking through you are confronted by a long deep drop into a small abandoned quarry, presumably it used to supply the stone for the village of Dinas Mawddwy.
P2051609.jpg
The quarry

The sheer rock faces are quite a contrast to the flat moor that surrounds it. Further on a slight ridge provides easy walking briefly, but as it runs out it is clear that the 'summit' of this big lump is across a large and fortunately frozen boggy patch.
P2051614.jpg
Looking back on Cribin Fawr

After some blundering about in the mist, Cribin Fawr gets ticked off, and then I follow the fence down to the quite picturesque bwlch that separates it from Waun Oer. From the bottom of the pass, the rise up to Waun Oer is steep, and in these conditions requires some care.
P2051625.jpg
Waun Oer

This hill is more noticeably a wide ridge, and has an unusual round stone and cement Trig point. On a clear day this would be a cracking viewpoint across the valley to Cadair Idris – but not today. Retrace steps back to the top of the steep slope, and - its been ages since I've able to do this - sit and slide down to the bottom.
P2051621.jpg
Steep down to Cribin Fawr

The way forward is to follow the fence upwards, back towards the top of Cribin Fawr. The fence will be your constant companion for most of the rest of the walk, navigation is not a problem here.
The sun is starting to work on the snow, it is becoming softer and more like treacle to walk through. This slope follows the edge of a plantation of fir trees until the slope flattens out into an expanse of heather, grass and peat hags. The fence leads you to the right, away from the top of Cribin Fawr, and begins the long undulating ridge that eventually leads to Maesglase.
Maesglase route.jpg
The route to Maesglase

The first section is fairly flat at first, and today has some deep soft drifts. A gentle slope down leads to a sharp pull up to Craig Portas with its almost sheer north west face.
P2051637.jpg
Best view of the day

A clear winding ridge leads down and then up over the next mile or so to Maesglase, but by now the snow is becoming a problem – soft and energy sapping, and the boggy ground beneath is no longer solid.
P2051641.jpg
The long and winding road

When the ridge runs out into the main body of the hill, the ground is heather covered, bad enough to wade through at the best of times but when covered in soft wet snow it becomes absolutely murder to get through. Every footfall sinks a foot into the snow, which then grips almost like mud.
There is a slight rise at both ends of this hill, which is the higher is anybodies guess. Nothing for it, do them both – but having covered the intervening 300 yards or so I was getting distinctly fed up with 'feeling the burn'.
P2051643.jpg
Are we there yet....

The cairn at the eastern end consists of 4 or 5 large stones lying flat on the floor – is that it?!
P2051645.jpg
I've come that far for this?!?!


My poor tired legs don't fancy a 4 mile walk along the A470, so there is nothing for it – a short cut is required. Hop over the fence and down the well defined north ridge. Its steep and direct but is fine with care. The north-west ridge on the other side of the cwm is also a good but steep descent route, and takes you to the same point.
P2051647.jpg
The way down


As you descend the north ridge, it becomes clear to get to the A470 you will have to cross one of two farms. One is unkempt and, probably unfairly, brings to mind shotguns, big dogs …....and banjos. The other is much neater – I went that way. Cross the stream before it enters it steep gorge, and follow the fence down to a bridge that crosses the larger stream at the bottom of the hill. Good ol' Mother Nature has one final kick in the proverbials – that final bridge is liberally coated with very slippery ice, and I end up on my a**e.
From there it is a short walk to the A470 and the steep trudge up hill, dodging the traffic, to your start point at the top of the pass.
As this was supposedly a short walk, I had intended to nip up the hill on the other side of the road as it wasn't far – but I think I will leave that one for another day. I've clearly been spending far too much time in the office getting unfit - I'm boswelloxed!
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clivegrif
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Re: Murder on Maesglase

Postby malky_c » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:59 pm

Didn't look like a bad day up north either, at least if you avoided the high hills :) .

I liked the look of that, and I'm actually looking forward to doing these hills properly (I've nipped up that path from Bwlch yr Oerddrws to Cribyn Fawr a couple of times). Going to try and avoid these conditions though - I have a cunning plan to skip the traffic dodging on the A470, but it involves a long day and doing the hills to the north of the road as well.
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Re: Murder on Maesglase

Postby clivegrif » Thu Feb 09, 2012 6:41 pm

Interesting, Malky. It is certainly very possible to drop down from Maesglase further east than I did, and then up to Glas Cwm and back round to the west for the last one on the north side.
But that would leave you with the ones normally done from Cwm Cywarch - so are you looking at a bigger one still where you drop down off Maesglase somewhere near Dinas Mawddwy and the go up Pen yr allt mawr, round to Drysgol etc?
Good luck, been up the Aran group many times, lovely hills on a good day.
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clivegrif
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Re: Murder on Maesglase

Postby ChrisW » Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:09 pm

Great stuff Clive, lovely hike with some real moody shots of the hills, though that cairn is a bit disappointing :think: any chance you could take a bag of rocks up there next time and do a little construction :lol:
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ChrisW
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Re: Murder on Maesglase

Postby KeithS » Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:10 pm

Wow, that looks like a bleak Arctic type walk, about as far away from the office as you can be, which is always good :D
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KeithS
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Re: Murder on Maesglase

Postby malky_c » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:01 pm

clivegrif wrote:So are you looking at a bigger one still where you drop down off Maesglase somewhere near Dinas Mawddwy and the go up Pen yr allt mawr, round to Drysgol etc?
Good luck, been up the Aran group many times, lovely hills on a good day.


Pretty much that, although I'm thinking of starting from Dinas Mawddwy instead. No point getting a high start if you're going to lose it all later! The waterfalls further round on Maesglasau take my fancy - see Poppiesrara's report.

Just a heads-up slightly in advance. I'm thinking of heading to do some of the NE Berwyns on the weekend of the 18th or 19th if you're interested. Got a couple of potential routes in mind.
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Re: Murder on Maesglase

Postby clivew » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:54 pm

Great pics Clive; looked like an interesting walk, love to get back down to Wales to do some Welsh hills for a change, must make the effort this year.
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