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Six ticks in the rain.

Six ticks in the rain.

Postby clivegrif » Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:15 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Foel Cedig, Foel Cwm Sian Llwyd, Foel Goch (Hirnantau), Foel y Geifr, Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw, Post Gwyn

Date walked: 11/09/2013

Time taken: 6.5

Distance: 28 km

Ascent: 1065m

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Ever since I started to seriously work on finishing off the Welsh Hewitts, I knew that some on the list would not exactly be like a mini Snowdon. With only 16 to go, a glaring group of 6 red balloons to the east of Bala could not be put off any more, and I wasn’t looking forward to it.
According to the weather forecast today was going to be the best day of the week, so it seemed to be the ideal day to get it over with.
The lower reaches of Cwn Hirnant is lovely, but it gets bleaker as the very narrow road gets higher. The top of the pass is at around 490 metres so not much climbing left to do, which is just as well as the cloud is hugging the tops and it has just started to rain….
First up was the pair on the east side of the road, Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw and Cyrniau Nod. Both are quite close to a track and Cyrniau Nod is a fair distance from the road, so it was worth bringing my bike. My mountain bike is a nasty mauve colour so no self-respecting bike thief would be seen dead on it, but it serves my needs. The track is well made and climbed steadily to the first top of the day Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw. The ‘summit’ cairn is only about 20 yards off the track, so it was visible in the mist. I have to agree with Malky_c’s observation ‘Whoever builds some of these cairns must have a sense of humour - a few stones on a peat hag never really feels like a proper mountain.’ Quite.

a mountain.jpg

The top of Cyrniau Nod is some distance from here, so the bike helped with both time and feet. I must have thought the terrain across the flat top of this hill would be quite reasonable , as my planned route left the track far too early. I soon find myself struggling through deep wet heather with a bed of moss, coupled with seriously undulating ground. I could not help thinking that this is a really bleak place in the mist and the rain. Fortunately there is a good clear path for the last few hundred yards where the way follows a fence. Take a couple of ‘I was there’ photos, and then leave, there is nothing to hang around for.
Cyrniau Nod.jpg

On the way back, I reassessed the route, and cut across some rough ground to meet the track much earlier, an extra half mile trudge along the track was infinitely preferable to wading through the heather. The bike really came into its own on the way back, scooting down the track was good fun!
Two down, four to go.
Having stowed the bike, it was now time to do the two on the west side of the pass. Foel y Geifr and Foel Goch are typical of the hills in this area, rounded, covered in heathery grass and wet. They are connected by a fairly short ridge with a bump in the middle. The first part of the climb up to Foel Geifr was wet and boggy, but there was a quad bike track that had flattened and consolidated the heathery ground to make it at least reasonable to walk on. The mist had lifted enough to give a view, and it was clear why there would be a Trig point here.
Best view & weather of the day.jpg

However you can only see as far as conifer plantations rather than right down to Bala Lake as I had hoped. Looking across the valley the sun was shining on Bala, but it was raining again over me….
Its sunny down there!.jpg

There is a reasonably clear but rough and wet path that follows a fence along the ridge towards Foel Goch. The intervening bump is just over 2000 feet, but it’s hardly a separate mountain. Three Hewitts on this short ridge would be going a little too far. Foel Goch is fairly underwhelming, and the cairn builders couldn’t be bothered either, there is just a small collection of stones on the ground to mark the highest point.
On Foel Goch.jpg

Back the way I came, but headed down after the middle bump – and met more rough heathery wet ground that took some negotiating. I felt I had earned my egg butties and hot black coffee when I got back the car.
Four down, two to go.
I drove back round to the Bala to Llangynog road, and parked up by the Pont Cwm Pydew below Foel Cwm-Sian Llywd. I had only heard grim things about this particular hill, and so wanted to get it out of the way by the quickest and shortest route. However, as I was to discover, those two statements don’t necessarily go together on this horrible lump. It’s roughly a mile from the road to the top, but it is absolute murder. The ground is covered in knee deep heather with spongy moss beneath, so it doesn’t seem to matter if you are going up a gentle or steep slope, it is all hard work. I found myself musing about ChrisWs wonderful Rocky Mountains, with their spikes and rock and snow, and how different this Godforsaken mound was to them. About halfway up I try walking on a grassy strip to get away from the heather, only to break through the thin turf cover of a stream and so fall down a thigh deep hole, great! Combine this with a biting north west wind and rain, this is just not the place to be….
The few hundred yards before the slope finally levels off are the hardest, really energy sapping. When the trig point finally does come into view, I swear the thing is moving away from me as I try to reach it. Again another quick ‘yes I actually made it’ photo, and then head back down.
The top of my favourite hill......jpg

It is slightly easier to descend, but not a lot. I’m chuntering to myself that this has got to be up there with the worst hills I have ever climbed, but it still had time to add one more insult to injury. I had reached the steep short slope that led to the road, literally only 3 or 4 yards from the tarmac, when my foot disappeared down a hidden drainage hole and I clacked my knee on the piece of stone covering it.
There must be other ways up this hill, so I would recommend using them if you must climb this nasty lump. You won’t catch me going up there again!
The final hill of the day was Post Gwyn, and I was going to climb it from the old quarry at the top of the pass above Cwm Rhiwarth. Straight away it is obvious the going is going to be easier, there is a good clear path up from the old quarry road that soon meets an even better path at a Berwyns Nature Reserve sign. From there the path is mostly a wooden walkway made of slats or railway sleepers covered in a plastic mesh to prevent them becoming slippery. You can really motor on this stuff!
Berwyn trackway.jpg

I’m making good time and have covered a lot of ground when I realise that this lovely path actually goes to Moel Sych and not Post Gwyn! I can’t really see any decent options, so I turn off towards Post Gwyn and try to keep to the highest ground. Unfortunately straightaway it feels like I’m back on Foel Cwm-Sian Llywd, wading through energy sapping deep spongy heather and trying to bypass man-made ponds - something to do with the Nature Reserve I presume. I try to use a quad bike track, but it’s not been consolidated and so is of little use. I have to confess I came close to saying ‘Expletive Deleted I’ve had enough of this and I’m going to bail out’, but I spot another quadbike track to the north that seems to go all the way to the top. I literally fought through the spongy heather to reach it, but having done so I found the track was firm and stable. The final half mile or so wasn’t too bad, until the very final slope was reached which was again heathery hard work.
Post Gwyn.jpg

Heading back I followed the quad-bike track down hill to see where it met the good path and fortunately it does, even forming a decent route across a bog. It cuts across the wood track just before an obvious outcrop of white rocks. The return route to the old quarry was therefore pretty good, which was just as well as it started to absolutely tip it down as I reached the car. Micro-climates can be work for you or against you, and it had seemed a good day in areas north and south of where I had been. However in the hills to the east of Bala, it had just been grim.
It had been a hard day, and I can safely say I won’t ever climb any of these hills again! I would recommend Malky_c’s report, http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=22245 , a fine example of grit and determination in the face of these grim hills.
Still, only 10 to go…..

Note, I couldn't get the route maps to load - perhaps I will be able to add them in a later edit.
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Re: Six ticks in the rain.

Postby john923 » Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:50 pm

Still - they've got to be done sometime. Full marks for perserverance on what looks like a pretty gloomy sort of day. And I've yet to hear of a good word for Foel Cwm-Sian Llywd!
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Re: Six ticks in the rain.

Postby poppiesrara » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:02 pm

'Short' (not that far from the road) is definitively the only possible good word for climbing FCSL, John...

A sterling effort in clearing the worst of the Berwyns in one day, Clive, bravo... It does look from the map like the last 10 are going to involve a few more slogs though - 8 separate walks to get there?? (maybe rather fewer days with some nifty car-work). And only Tal y Fan, and perhaps (although only I seem to think this) Manod Mawr, as highlights among them... good luck getting there!
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Re: Six ticks in the rain.

Postby malky_c » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:22 pm

Not been in this forum for ages, but the heathery mounds of the Berwyn couldn't pass without comment :lol: .

Quite an effort for one day - not massive amounts of height gain per hill, but I will personally attest to the agony of some of that heather. Particularly Foel y Geifr, Foel Goch and Post Gwyn! As it happens, Post Gwyn is much easier going from the Llangynog direction, but about twice as long.

An interesting selection you have left. The ones around Blaenau are good (if a little dug up) and Y Garn in the Rhinogs is a pleasant little summit. Rhobell Fawr is probably nice too, although I didn't see it at its best. And Tal y Fan obviously. I suppose none of them really measure up to Tryfan or Cadair Idris though.
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Re: Six ticks in the rain.

Postby clivegrif » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:16 am

Cheers guys - I must confess I was wondering if ANYONE would want to read about these lumps! :lol:

John - yes you are right, they had to be done - but it seemed better to get them out of the way in one go, if only to avoid prolonging the agony! But hey, if this idea of doing all the Welsh Hewitts was easy - would it be worth doing??

Poppiesrara and Malky_c - I agree there still a few lumps left, such as the 3 off to the south of the A5, but maybe the bike will come in handy for that skinny road to Moel Fferna for example. But on the bright side the rest seem quite interesting, There does seem to be a bit of rock and even some Industrial heritage involved. How these came to to be the last ones is more down to luck than judgement - I've climbed the more popular mountains dozens of times, and these just got left out.
One thing is for sure, I'll be relying on your trip reports once again!! Thanks very much for doing the path finding. :D
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Re: Six ticks in the rain.

Postby mattcymru » Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:43 am

i enjoy reading about these lumps. congrats for getting through them in the rain. one day i hope, i will visit them. on a reasonable day of course.
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