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Carneddau conquered, Cymru concluded

Carneddau conquered, Cymru concluded

Postby simon-b » Sun Jul 02, 2017 9:57 am

Hewitts included on this walk: Carnedd Dafydd, Carnedd Gwenllian (Garnedd Uchaf), Carnedd Llewelyn, Drosgl, Foel Grach, Foel-fras, Llwytmor, Pen yr Helgi Du, Pen yr Ole Wen, Yr Elen

Date walked: 21/06/2017

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Pam, Emily and I had just had a memorable time on the Glyderau and Snowdon ranges in glorious weather. It had been a tiring two days for them, and three for me, in the hot Welsh sunshine. A successful three days, though, and I had climbed all the eight Furths of those two ranges. By the afternoon of Tuesday 20 June, Pam and Emily had left for home, and I had the cottage near Mynydd Llandegai to myself. The weather was still pleasant and warm, but humid and hazy, with a thunder risk. So it was a good day for a rest, before getting ready to take on the seven Furths of the Carneddau.

Wednesday 21/06/2017: Foel-fras, Carnedd Gwenllian (Garnedd Uchaf) and Foel Grach

Track_2017-06-21 143659.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Distance: 19.4 km
Ascent: 1152 m
Time: 7 h

The longest day of the year, and I drove to the Aber Falls car park near Abergwyngregyn. £2 seemed a reasonable charge for the whole day. The heatwave of the previous few days had subsided, and the sky was a little more grey. But the hills were clear of cloud by the time I was walking. I'd decided to climb the Hewitt, Llwytmor, first, and took the path towards the falls. Looking up towards Llwytmor Bach, I could see what looked like a feasible route climbing alongside the forestry fence and reaching the NW ridge. My original plans had been to carry on further south before turning left and uphill, but I was starting to wonder if that way could be impeded by bracken. The alternative possibility I'd just spotted was steep initially, but on grass, with just a few stony sections.

Aber Falls

After getting a view of the falls, I doubled back to the upper path, where I had intended then to turn south again. But I chose to follow my newly noticed option, and struck uphill by the fence. This was quite steep, but not difficult. On reaching the ridge near a fence corner, I found an intermittent zigzagging path which led me towards Llwytmor Bach.

Ascending Llwytmor, looking across Afon Anafon

Moving on towards Llwytmor the path petered out, but the going was easy, if a little tussocky. Views of the higher Carneddau had appeared to the south, but were too hazy for decent photos. The summit of the first Hewitt was reached, with Foel-fras dominating the SE skyline. A path led down to the depression, en route to the first 3000 footer of the day. In the depression I met another solo walker who'd already been on Carnedd Llewelyn earlier that morning. He was the only other person up there at that time. This northern part of the Carneddau, and its upland plateaux, give the nearest you'll get to a feeling of remoteness among the Welsh 3000 footers. It was a mainly grassy ascent onto Foel-fras, with a short stony section.

The summit is flat and crossed by a wall, but interesting and stony.

Great Orme's Head and Drum from Foel-fras

Another Furth in the bag, I set off SW towards the next one, still often called Garnedd Uchaf, but renamed Carnedd Gwenllian in 2009. This was an easy walk with very little height drop and re-ascent, but still enough to make this next top a Hewitt. So it isn't the most prominent of the Welsh Furths, and is overall pretty flat, but does have a rugged, bouldery summit. There are impressive views from around here over to Yr Elen.

Carnedd Llewelyn, Carnedd Dafydd, Yr Elen and Elidir Fawr from Carnedd Gwenllian

I then set off towards the day's highest mountain, Foel Grach.

Heading for Foel Grach (Carnedd Llewelyn behind)

A bit more ascent this time, but not at a difficult gradient. Again, this isn't a particularly pointy peak, and mainly a grassy hill, but with a rocky summit - that does seem to be the pattern around here.

This trio of 3000 footers now in the bag, I doubled back and then skirted the SW flank of Carnedd Gwenllian, with a little light rain falling, before passing by Yr Aryg. It was nice to see a few hill ponies around here. The rain stopped and the weather brightened up as I headed on down towards the dip between Bera Bach and Bera Mawr.

Approaching Bera Mawr

Ponies near Yr Aryg

Bara Mawr has a rocky summit and looked as if quite a scramble might be needed to get on top. But by moving round to the right, an easy enough way up was found. This is a nice little Hewitt in a good airy position, and well worth visiting.

Next I headed towards the depression between Bera Bach and the day's final Hewitt, Drosgl. The ponies had moved over here now and were getting quite lively, cantering across the hills. After ascending onto Drosgl, I began to make my way down, with nice views of the North Welsh coast in front.

Coming down from Drosgl

After moving down north a short distance, I traversed NE over some tussocky ground from one broad ridge to another. Making my way down this latter, benign seeming ridge, I was aware that it ended suddenly in a sheer drop above the valley near Aber Falls, in contrast to the rounded, grassy landscape higher up. I reached the escarpment and had a look over, before turning right to drop off the ridge over rough, heathery ground. This involved the traverse of quite a steep flank, with only intermittent traces of a path.

Descending above Aber Falls

An easy crossing of a stream put me on the footpath heading north, back to the Aber Falls car park. There was one section which traversed steep ground above the stream, where the rocks were slippery. I met another two walkers on the path at this point, heading the same way as me. We all made it across the slippery rocks with care, and were soon on our way onto easier ground again. The path became busier as it merged into the main track where people were doing the Aber Falls walk, the weather now sunny and pleasant. During the last few hundred metres back to the car park, I met a walker also returning there. He told me that on previous occasions, this was where he'd arrived after finishing all the Welsh 3000 footers in a day. But he'd been out for an easier walk this time. This left me feeling that my own day's achievements had been very easy!

Thursday morning, and the weather was misty and wet. The forecast did not look good for the rest of the day either, so I had an easy day at the cottage. The weekend's forecast was looking more hopeful, but not Friday's, and I was due to go home then. By late Thursday afternoon, Friday's forecast was looking no better, but it turned out nobody had booked the cottage for the following week. I was due back at work on Monday, so I asked Fay, the owner, if I could stay at the cottage for two more days. She agreed, and when I asked for a price, all she wanted was £10 a day to cover the bills. When I passed her a £20 note, she said, with a smile, "That's my sponsor money for Snowdon." She and her partner were due to climb Wales' highest for charity on Saturday. So I gave her an extra tenner.

Friday morning's weather was pretty miserable as expected, and things didn't improve too much over the hills later. But the prospect further west seemed to brighten up a bit, and the afternoon's forecast for Anglesey wasn't bad. So I had a drive around the island.

Saturday 24/06/2017: Pen yr Ole Wen, Carnedd Dafydd, Yr Elen and Carnedd Llewelyn

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Distance: 20.7 km
Ascent: 1398 m
Time: 7.5 h

Saturday started grey and unpromising, but the forecast was for an improvement in the afternoon. June's late sunset times meant a delayed start presented no problem. When I parked at Llyn Ogwen, the clouds were still down on the hills, including Pen yr Ole Wen. Reading various WH walk reports had given me the impression that this mountain's east ridge would give a more enjoyable ascent than a slog up the south one. So I chose to climb via the former. As I headed up the path by Afon Lloer, the way was marked by red flags. It turned out that a Welsh 3000 footers race was taking place this day. A few people passed me, lightly equipped and wearing numbers. Most seemed to be speed hiking rather than running. That's fast enough with those fifteen mountains to manage in a day, I suppose.

I made the left turn onto Pen yr Ole Wen's east ridge and headed up. Back across the llyn, clouds looked as if they might lift off Tryfan. Soon I reached the gully scramble I'd read about, itself indicated by a red flag. The scramble presented no difficulties. On up the ridge, the path I was on moved out to the right a little, with good views into Cwm Lloer.

Ffynnon Lloer from Pen yr Ole Wen's east ridge

Back on the crest, I moved into the clag. The summit of the day's first Furth was reached with not a lot to see. Had there been a view, it would have been a humbling one for an Englishman. At 978 metres, Pen yr Ole Wen is the same height as Scafell Pike, but dominated by 1000 metre Welsh biggies. Another couple of contestants speed hiked past, but with enough time for a quick chat. Apparently the rules of their race didn't involve jumping Adam and Eve.

After just a small descent (enough to satisfy Hewitt criteria) I was swinging right and over Carnedd Fach, and on towards Carnedd Dafydd, still overtaken now and again by racers. David's Cairn, the day's second Furth and first 1000 metre top, was reached, still in the cloud. I carried on to the Cefn Ysgolion Duon ridge, and the clouds began to break. Yr Elen materialised over to the left.

Yr Elen appearing from the mist

As I moved further along the ridge, the clouds lifted off it. Carnedd Llwelyn, in front, was in and out of the mist. Navigating the travesrse from Bwlch Cyfrywr-drum to the depression between Carnedd Llwelyn and Yr Elen was easier than I might have expected. Those red flags marked the way, and the mist continued to lift. The clouds were on and off Yr Elen as I moved towards it, an impressive looking mountain.

Traversing towards Yr Elen

I got onto Yr Elen's SE ridge and climbed it on an easy path. The route's third Furth was reached, and the mist had cleared. There were some fine views from here. I think this was my favourite 3000 footer of the Carneddau.

Ffynnon Caseg from Yr Elen

Yr Elen's SE ridge

Moving back down the SE ridge, rather than stay on the main path, I followed the escarpment, with impressive views down into Cwm Caseg.

Moving along the ridge from Yr Elen to Carnedd Llewelyn

Ffynnon Caseg from between Yr Elen and Carnedd Llewelyn

Then it was time to make my assault on the highest of the Carneddau, and the hill with which I would complete the Welsh Furths. It was a bit of a climb, but nothing too taxing.

Yr Elen from Carnedd Llewelyn's NW ridge

The gradient finally eased, and I made my way along the flattish but rocky top to the summit. The sky was quite cloudy, but Carnedd Llewelyn was clear. So I completed the Welsh 3000 footers with a view - it had taken me five walks over eight days - not one walk in one day like some people I'd met - but I was perfectly content. I shared the summit shelter with another walker who was on a wild camping trip. For me, it was nice to have a last night in that cottage to look forward to!

The trail of red flags no doubt led NNE from here to Foel Grach, so I finally left them and began to move down SE. The hills from which I'd missed views were clear now - that was no disappointment when the day was going to end up so well.

Leaving Carnedd Llewelyn, looking over to Carnedd Dafydd

Moving down the SE ridge, I saw Pen yr Helgi Du ahead, and the way to it looked inviting. I definitely had time for one last Hewitt.

Pen Llithrig y Wrach, Pen yr Helgi Du and Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir from Carnedd Llewelyn's SE ridge

There was one section of slabby rock on the way down to Bwlch Eryl Farchog which required a bit of mild scrambling. Then the Bwlch was crossed and the climb up Pen yr Helgi Du began. And what a climb! It's a real beauty, up a steep, narrow ridge, but with only easy bits of scrambling. There are good, airy situations, but without any particularly scary exposure.

Climbing Pen yr Helgi Du

Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir and the Glyderau from Pen yr Helgi Du's NW ridge

That ascent was fairly short and not too energy sapping. It was quite a contrast, after such an airy climb, to emerge onto the summit, which is on a rather featureless, grassy plateau. It has some nice views though, and the final descent off it along Y Braich was pleasant.

Descending from Y Braich, looking over to Tryfan, the Glyderau and Llyn Ogwen

At last I came down into the valley and crossed the A5. I made my way back towards Llyn Ogwen along the Nant y Benglog path, with impressive views of Tryfan in front to the left. Adam and Eve could be made out on the skyline, right on the edge of the sheer east face. From here, the thought that anyone would jump from one to the other really did seem like madness. But Pam and I had both lived to tell the tale.

And so the last walk of the trip came to an end.

Back at Llyn Ogwen

It had been a wonderful holiday in Wales, a country I hadn't visited for a long time, but was now so glad to have returned to. Completing these Welsh 3000 footers also means I have now wrapped up all the Munros and British Furths. So I went back to the cottage near Mynydd Llandegai for one last night feeling very happy - even more so when Fay told me that she and her partner had successfully climbed Snowdon.

Next morning the rain came to Wales with a vengeance, so a good time to go home with great memories. The Furths may have been climbed, but I've no doubt I'll be coming back to read that sign, "Croeso i Gymru" :D
Last edited by simon-b on Sat Aug 21, 2021 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Posts: 2333
Munros:282   Corbetts:30
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Re: Carneddau conquered, Cymru concluded

Postby Riverman » Sun Jul 02, 2017 1:23 pm

Great report and photos. I've still to do the northern end of the Carneddau and this report provides inspiration. Your Saturday route was familiar to me. I followed a similar route in Feb 2014 in amazing winter conditions. Yr Elen is such a shapely peak and Helgi Du is a cracker :clap:
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Re: Carneddau conquered, Cymru concluded

Postby dav2930 » Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:38 pm

A triumphant conclusion to an altogether great trip to Wales, Simon. Two really good walks by the look of them; the ridge up Pen yr Helgi Du looks amazing! The only one of the Carneddau I've been up is Pen yr Ole Wen which I did as a teenager with a climbing club group, going straight up from Pont Pen-y Benglog on an overcast day of gales and horizontal snow showers in January. It's high time I did the rest of them and I may well refer to your report if and when I do.

Congrats on completing the British Furths :clap:
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Re: Carneddau conquered, Cymru concluded

Postby simon-b » Thu Jul 06, 2017 10:42 pm

Thanks, Riverman and dav. If either or both of you find this report useful for your own future trips to the Carneddau, that alone makes the effort of having written it worthwhile. Reports from Wales on WH by other forum members came in very useful when planning my own routes here.
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Munros:282   Corbetts:30
Fionas:7   Donalds:12
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:155
Wainwrights:214   Islands:4
Joined: Jan 2, 2012
Location: Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Re: Carneddau conquered, Cymru concluded

Postby trailmasher » Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:24 pm

Well done on a great couple of days and congrats on completing the Furths :clap: :clap: Despite the weather you got some great shots there simon-b :clap: and some great reminders of what you achieved during your short stay there. 8)

I lived in Llanfairfechan for 12 years and have walked those hills quite a lot but as mentioned in another of your reports I wasn't bagging tops in those days :? It's a pity that the pub closed down as it was a good place to end the day after a long walk :) Again, well done you :clap: :clap:
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