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Gentle re-start: 3 of the Welsh 3000ers on the Carneddau

Gentle re-start: 3 of the Welsh 3000ers on the Carneddau


Postby Alteknacker » Sun Dec 18, 2016 11:30 am

Hewitts included on this walk: Drosgl, Foel Grach, Foel-fras, Garnedd Uchaf

Date walked: 16/12/2016

Time taken: 7.6

Distance: 24.7 km

Ascent: 1407m

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7 weeks since the last outing - a fairly relaxed walk with brother Andrew and nephew James around the Snowdon Horseshoe. And some 3 months since the last serious outing (fabulous day in the Cairngorms).

But, after a shoulder op at the end of October, on Thursday I got the OK from the surgeon to drive - quite important, because Dr Frank and I had a plan to walk in Snowdonia - not realistically manageable if one cannot drive!

Compared to the Highlands, North Wales is small scale; but every time I go back there since getting the Highlands bug, I'm very pleasantly surprised. If you get fixated on the Highlands, nothing else will do; but there are other places that run it a close second - and Snowdonia is one such place (Dr Frank is of the same view).

The choice of route was dictated (at least on my side) mainly by the need not to put any load on the operated shoulder (so no scrambling); but also by the forecast. And in this the Met Office seemed to be in psychological meltdown: MWIS suggested a pretty uninviting day - low cloud, drizzle for most of the day; whereas the main forecast indicated a much more sanguine outlook. In the end other constraints meant that Friday was the only option; and as we hadn't got together since the last family shindig, we decided to go for it anyway.

But given the weather uncertainties - especially around the likelihood of clag on summits - I put together a circular route with some high level stuff, but also a good part at lower level, where we could reasonably count on getting good views.


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So we agreed to meet at the "P" at the end of the single track road to the falls above Abergwyngregyn - the traditional end of the Welsh 15 3000ers.

We arrived just before 8, and it looked pretty good: although there was a light drizzle, none of the summits we could see were in cloud (although the highest of these is below 800m).

Image20161216_081833. 10 minutes into our walk, the signs were most auspicious: sunrise in Snowdonia.

But.

Dr Frank and I both have serious form when it comes to arriving at the start point with some vital piece of kit missing: the last time we went out together, with the plan to do some reasonably serious scrambling around Crib Goch, Dr Frank managed to forget his boots - so we did the whole thing with him wearing his Clark's something or others. I won't record for posterity my screw ups in this department. Noting that Mallory was famously disorganized didn't console - neither of us felt like ending our mountaineering days as he did.

So no surprise when we stop to strip off some layers, and I realise that I've left my grub back in the car. 15 minutes delay while I run back to recover it. And then back on our way.

Image20161216_093039. From the parking area it's an easy ascent up a broad track towards Drum. This is the view looking back towards the Menai Strait (NW) and Anglesey. Not half bad..

Image20161216_093045. And looking SW towards Llywtfor (RHS), Drum (LHS) and Llyn Anafon. There's still a light drizzle, as some of the forecasts predicted, but visibility is excellent.

Not at all strenuous - just what the doctor ordered after a longish lay-off.

Image20161216_094812. Looking East from the summit of Drum. The Irish Sea is just visible on the LHS. Still easy walking on a very clear track.

Image20161216_102223. Looking back West towards the Conwy Estuary from close to the summit of Foel-fras. Excellent views in all directions, so we hardly notice that the drizzle has turned to rain. Neither of us has bothered to don a waterproof since it's unseasonably warm. Result: sopping wet underlayers, and we later regret not keeping them dry. It's fine when one's moving, but as soon as one stops, the dampness makes itself felt as clammy cold.

Image20161216_102530. Dr Frank next to the exceptionally dull trig point that marks the summit of Foel-fras. In the background the main Carneddau summits are clag-bound; but that's not where we're bound, so OK. There's quite a strong wind now which, in combination with the rain, means that it's somewhat chilly. So we decide to head to the shelter just below Foel Grach to take an early lunch out of the elements.

Image20161216_103151. Panorama of the route to come, viewed from Foel Fras. From left to right: Carnedd Llewelyn in the cloud; Garnedd Uchaf; Yr Aryg; Bera Bach; and Bera Mawr (just right of centre). The rocks on each of the summits is reminiscent of tors....

But first to the shelter for lunch. But even out of the wind and rain, and having donned down jackets etc. we are pretty cold after 45 minutes.

Image20160708_140253. View looking out of the shelter door - but in more clement July weather (on a walk with Sister Cath from Aber to Llyn Ogwen). We were a bit too chilly on this current occasion to think of taking a similar pic!

So the stimulation to the blood circulation from the short swift ascent to Foel Grach immediately behind the shelter is very welcome.

Image20161216_114653. Foel Grach summit, with Foel-fras in the RHS background, Llywtmor left of centre, and Garnedd Uchaf (the little pimple of rocks) to the LHS.

Maintaining our warming momentum, we then head back to Garnedd Uchaf.

Image20161216_120603. Looking back at Garnedd Uchaf - again, not very inspiring!

Image20161216_120633. Looking along the route ahead from the same location, with the tor-like peaks all visible, and Anglesey in the background. It's still quite windy, but the rain has more or less stopped.

Image20161216_120644. The rest of the Carneddau are shrouded in mist - the hill on the RHS is Yr Elen.

Image20161216_121915. But we've been remarkably fortunate in our choice of route, because all our summits are clear. This panorama is taken from Yr Arig looking back along the route we've come: From left to right: Drum; Foel-fras, and Garnedd Uchaf. To the extreme right Foel Grach is already enveloped in cloud - that's happened in the half hour since we left it. But for us the sun is beginning to peep out from the clouds!

We're both grinning somewhat inanely now. It's quite remarkable what a lift you get from a turn for the better in the weather when you've been mentally prepared for the worst!

Image20161216_122456. The gentle downhill makes for quite speedy progress. This view is looking North from Bera Bach towards Bera Mawr with Angelsey in the background.

Image20161216_124259. Looking back from Bera Mawr towards Bera Bach.

Image20161216_124502. And looking West towards Drosgyl from Bera Mawr, to which we now head.

Image20161216_130616. For us the weather continues to improve though the main Carneddau summits remain clag-bound (beclug???). As we get to Drosgyl the sun comes out and lights up Bera Mawr brilliantly...

Image20161216_130647. Panorama from the same place, looking at the ridge from earlier in the day. Left to right: Drum; Foel-fras; Bera Bach; and in the far distance, Foel Grach just emerging from the cloud again.

Image20161216_130700. And looking South, Yr Elen also emerges from the cloud. Just...

Image20161216_133741. Now we start to descend more rapidly. This was the part of the walked I'd planned to allow for the possibility that everything prior to this might be in clag, and at least at lower levels we'd have views of Angelsey. But the weather now is just perfect.

Image20161216_140040. The conical hill on the left turns out to be a huge slate spoil heap! The scale of the slate workings in this part of the world is really astonishing, until one reflects that much of the North West was roofed with slate from here.

We continue to descend, and then contour around the North side of Moel Wnion, and up to the saddle - about 4km, half of it in the rough . If one didn't fancy the extra ascent at this point, one could drop down to the North Wales Path and walk around Moel Wnion without any further significant ascent - which is what I'd planned to do if the clag was down.

Image20161216_145335. Starting to descend from the saddle, this is the view that emerges. If one can ignore the blight on the landscape that is the forestry, the view of the Aber Falls is pretty dramatic. I've passed by the signpost to the falls many times when walking the 3000ers, but never actually made the time to take in the falls.

Image20161216_150526

Image20161216_151117. Two for the price of one! Rhaeadr-bach falls - the warm up act, just before the main falls.

Image20161216_152439. The main act - very spectacular - something like 40m drop over brooding black rocks.

Image20161216_151831

After this it's just a stroll back along the stream to the road, and a short ascent back to the car.

Followed by the obligatory educational stop at a place of cultural, architectural and historical interest - on this occasion in Llanfairfechan, since the pub in Abergwyngregyn has been turned into a cafe. :(

Summary: a perfect re-start to hill-walking.

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Last edited by Alteknacker on Sat Dec 24, 2016 3:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Alteknacker
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Re: Gentle re-start: 3 of the Welsh 3000ers on the Carnedda

Postby jacob » Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:12 pm

I couldn't agree more with you on Snowdonia. I really fell in love with it after visiting it in an attempt to escape from a serious depression, after a second visit in an attempt to do it all again, but better (altough I also did Crib Goch in worn off sneakers: took 1 boot of my own, 1 of my wives' :roll: ) and after the third and last visit to introduce this beautiful place to my brother. I love the spikyness of the Glyderau, but I love the quietness of Carneddau. Both great places.

I always get enthousiastic from reading Snowdonia reports, yours is no exception. Great stuff, good you're back on your hiking feet. Well done :clap:
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Re: Gentle re-start: 3 of the Welsh 3000ers on the Carnedda

Postby dav2930 » Sun Dec 18, 2016 9:11 pm

Good to see you back on the hill again AK; a pretty substantial re-start! That was a great read with some dramatic and atmospheric shots. Yep, Snowdonia's got a lot going for it. :clap:
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Re: Gentle re-start: 3 of the Welsh 3000ers on the Carnedda

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Thu Dec 22, 2016 7:49 pm

Great report and photos - and I see that all the snow that covered these hills a few weeks ago has completely disappeared!
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Re: Gentle re-start: 3 of the Welsh 3000ers on the Carnedda

Postby BobMcBob » Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:20 pm

Good to see you back on your feet again and yes, there's something special about Snowdonia. I think you've spurred me on with this, I need to get back up there.
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Re: Gentle re-start: 3 of the Welsh 3000ers on the Carnedda

Postby rockhopper » Sat Dec 24, 2016 2:07 pm

Nice way to get restarted - good to see you back - cheers :)
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Re: Gentle re-start: 3 of the Welsh 3000ers on the Carnedda

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Dec 24, 2016 4:00 pm

jacob wrote:I couldn't agree more with you on Snowdonia. I really fell in love with it after visiting it in an attempt to escape from a serious depression, after a second visit in an attempt to do it all again, but better (altough I also did Crib Goch in worn off sneakers: took 1 boot of my own, 1 of my wives' :roll: ) and after the third and last visit to introduce this beautiful place to my brother. I love the spikyness of the Glyderau, but I love the quietness of Carneddau. Both great places.

I always get enthousiastic from reading Snowdonia reports, yours is no exception. Great stuff, good you're back on your hiking feet. Well done :clap:


Absolutely - great places indeed!

dav2930 wrote:Good to see you back on the hill again AK; a pretty substantial re-start! That was a great read with some dramatic and atmospheric shots. Yep, Snowdonia's got a lot going for it. :clap:


HalfManHalfTitanium wrote:Great report and photos - and I see that all the snow that covered these hills a few weeks ago has completely disappeared!


BobMcBob wrote:Good to see you back on your feet again and yes, there's something special about Snowdonia. I think you've spurred me on with this, I need to get back up there.


rockhopper wrote:Nice way to get restarted - good to see you back - cheers :)


Thanks for the kind comments and good wishes - I just need to restrain myself now, and not overdo it: apparently these things take 1 - 2 years to heal fully... :(
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Re: Gentle re-start: 3 of the Welsh 3000ers on the Carnedda

Postby ChrisW » Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:09 pm

A fine return Alteknacker, you don't mind some graft after a long lay off I see :thumbup: ....I'm dreading my return after a very poor year last year :roll:
Anyway, good to see you out there and posting again mate :clap: :clap:
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Re: Gentle re-start: 3 of the Welsh 3000ers on the Carnedda

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:54 pm

ChrisW wrote:A fine return Alteknacker, you don't mind some graft after a long lay off I see :thumbup: ....I'm dreading my return after a very poor year last year :roll:
Anyway, good to see you out there and posting again mate :clap: :clap:


Thanks Chris. Hoping for a dose of the white stuff, couple with high pressure in the NW Highlands, for mid-Feb, when I've few days up there planned....
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