Yr Aran Round

Hewitts: Snowdon - Yr Wyddfa, Y Lliwedd, Yr Aran

Date walked: 12/12/2018

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 14.5km

Ascent: 1665m

Whilst walking the Moel Eilio / Moel Cynghorion ridge in October 2017 I'd noted an attractive looking conical hill to the East, which the map identified as Yr Aran...
...and I made a mental note to walk it in the not-too-distant future, ideally combining it with a meander along the 2 Clogwyn Du's (Clogwyn Du'r Arddu, which runs up East from Moel Cynghorion; and Clogwyn Du proper, which runs North-South between Allt Meanderyn and Yr Wyddfa). The former looked spectacular viewed from Moel Cynghorion; the latter I've never seen - for although I've walked the Snowdon Horseshoe dozens of times, it's always been in clag!!).

After discovering I have developed AF, November and early December were rather tied up with medical stuff, so I was now, as usual, going stir crazy. But fortunately Dr Frank and I managed to find a date that worked for both of us, and we'd more or less agreed in advance to do a loop around Yr Wyddfa that included Yr Aran. The forecast was fine with cloud starting around 700m, so with a bit of luck we might summit Yr Aran when it was clear.

Travelling to Snowdonia from different directions, we agreed to meet up at Pen-y-pass, and then drive down to the car park at Clogwyn Melyn/Plas Gwynant, where we would start. The plan was for a short route that started with Yr Aran, and encompassed Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon summit) and Y Lliwedd, the latter giving the best views of Clogwyn Du, we hoped.

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The late planned start due to winter daylight hours meant that I misjudged what the traffic would be like, and I arrived rather late; but after the usual extended faffing about, we did eventually get moving around 09.30.

The initial part of our route followed the Watkin Path - which, living to the East of Snowdonia, I'd never walked - up Cwm Llan. A most attractive route.
Image 094452 (2). Unnamed waterfalls on the Afon Cwm Llan.

Looking back East, we started to get this superb view of the wonderfully lumpy and bumpy ridge that runs from Bwlch y Rhediad up to Moel Meirch, and made another mental note that this was definitely another one that deserved a walk.
Image 094922 (3).

As we approached the point at which we had to bear off left from the Watkin Path, we got our first view of Yr Aran - clear of cloud - just!
Image 101946 (2).

After 5 minutes or so on the new path, we left it, bearing further South towards the low point in the ridge that leads up to Yr Aran. It's rough, but fairly straightforward going. Unfortunately AF leaves one horribly short of breath, so I was depressingly slow :( .
Image 104644 (2) En route to Yr Aran (left). Clogwyn Du (right) shrouded in cloud from about 750m, as forecast.

As we approach the summit, the moody sky created some very atmospheric views out South West towards Tremadoc Bay...

The slope over the final 150m or so of ascent is easier than before, and we got to the top about one and three quarter hours after we started.
Image20181212-111724-2. This view is looking back the way we just came, towards Llyn Gwynant;

Image20181212-112107-2. ...and this is looking North West towards Llyn Cwellyn, bounded on the LHS by Mynydd Mawr, and on the RHS by Moel Eilio (this is kind of the reverse of the view I had of Yr Aran from Moel Cynghorion in October 2017).

Image20181212-112350-2. Not sure what Dr Frank is up to here - perhaps praying...??? :D

From the summit of Yr Aran, it's a steep descent down into Bwlch Cwm Llan.

Image20181212-113705-2. Again looking out NW towards Llyn Cwellyn, on the descent.

As we started the ascent up to Clogwyn Du on the other side, we met a walker coming down towards us. It was a young German guy who'd camped the preceding night up on the summit of Snowdon! Apparently it was extremely cold, and very windy, so he'd had a somewhat disturbed night - as he said himself, it wasn't a very clever idea to overnight up there, even in a sleeping bag supposedly comfortable down to -10 degrees!
Image20181212-115522-2. This is looking back at the descent route from Yr Aran.

But soon we were into the cloud, and from here on up we sadly could see very little of the Clogwyn Du cliffs, one of the principal reasons for choosing the route :( .

The summit cafe was, of course, closed at this time of year. We stopped briefly for lunch in the shelter of the main doorway; but even here out of the strong breeze, it was pretty cold, so we didn't linger, heading off for Y Lliwedd as soon as we'd finished munching.

It's a steep descent around here, with multiple rough eroded tracks, and in clag it would be very easy to end up going back down the path to Clogwyn Du. We took careful compass bearings, but were still very glad to have the confirmatory back-up of GPS (OS maps on the phone).

Image20181212-140808-2. We eventually broke out of the cloud as we descended into Bwlch Ciliau, and from time to time had glimpses of the superb Y Lliwedd cliffs...

Image20181212-141113-2. ... This looking down to Llyn Llydaw. Apparently Y Lliwedd has the highest cliffs in the UK outside Scotland - some 300m at their highest.

Image20181212-141856-2. Clogwyn Du cliffs at last, though sadly mainly shrouded in clag ... Yr Aran is the conical hill about 1/3 of the way in from the left.

With my slow progress up the steeper slopes, it was getting on a bit by the time we arrived at Y Lliwedd West Peak, so we decided to drop straight back down into Cwm Llan as being the most direct way back to the car. It looked OK on the map, but in fact there was some quite interesting scrambling on the way down...
Image This view is looking back up the route of our descent. It was quite a bit more challenging than it appears on this pic.

We got back to the cars at about 16.30, and Dr Frank headed straight back home, against all the best medical advice relating to the early replacement of insensibly lost fluids.

I, however, did take medical advice, and replenished minerals and liquids at a nearby establishment of cultural, historical and architectural distinction...


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Comments: 2

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User avatar
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)
Activity: Scrambler
Pub: The Bell, Trysull
Mountain: Cuillin Ridge
Place: Glen Brittle
Gear: Compass
Member: None
Ideal day out: Heavy ridge walk with plenty of scrambling and height gain - eg Welsh 3000ers, Wastwater Circuit, Cuillin Ridge

Munros: 162
Corbetts: 28
Wainwrights: 71
Hewitts: 190

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