walkhighlands

Aran Ridge

Hewitts: Aran Benllyn, Aran Fawddwy

Date walked: 14/09/2019

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 21km

Ascent: 1170m

A belated WH of the Aran Ridge in September. Apart from the Downs I hadn't got out on any hills since Iceland and work conspired against a Scotland trip, so south Snowdonia it was. The Arans had been on my radar a year or so ago, so I headed there. As ridges go, it's a stroll not an arête in any way, and this particular weekend, just what I fancied.

I plumped for an approach from the north and parked at the NT car park in Llanuwchllyn near Y Bala just before 8am. The sun was low, shadows long and the farm track opposite covered in sheep poo. A chap was on his way back from walking his dog and we 'good morning'ed one another (man and I, not dog).

Image001 Morning sheep on the first rise by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

At the sign, I left the poo-ey path and headed up to the knoll. Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid) was hidden in morning mist.

Image002 Cloud over Llyn Tegid by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

The Arenigs, Moel Llyfrant and Moel Emoel were clear under a blue sky.

Image003 Cloud over Bala - Arenigs behind by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image004 NNW to Moel Llyfnant and Arenig Fawr by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image005 NNE to Moel Emoel by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

It was a beautiful, crisp morning and the clarity meant not only that navigation was easy, but also that Aran Benllyn would taunt for a good hour or so.

Image006 Up to Aran Benllyn with Cadair Idris to west by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

The morning dew was doing its thing on the spider webs. This one looked pretty old and broken by something. Not a bird presumably (animation here, showing how UV in orb spiders' webs has been put to use in windows: [url]bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07hx8qm[/url]).

Image008 Dew on cobweb by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Past Moel Ddu and approaching Moel Ffenigl, I spied a tent.

Image010 Little lad who enjoyed his camping by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

As I got closer, a little boy came clambering over the bumpy ground in a clumsy beeline towards me, while his dad watched from his camp-stool. The little boy and I said hello and he told me he'd slept there last night. Dad came over with his mug of coffee. The little boy said he'd enjoyed the night in the tent and they were going up 'the mountain' today. Then off they went for porridge, and I headed up the slope to forage for bilberries and crowberries. I'd last foraged for berries in Iceland, and my mind was drifting there, to geothermals and fumaroles. But very-Welsh-things soon brought me back, such as very-Welsh sheep and very-Welsh stiles.

Image011 Blue remembered sheep by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image012 Welsh stile with Arenig Fawr behind by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

The sheep also brought me back to current affairs - will Welsh sheep farmers lose their €1/2 billion a year subsidy? What difference will it make? What will they do? And... then I was happily distracted by caterpillars :wink: And Snowdon.

Image013 Fox moth caterpillar by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image019 Contemplating its navel by Emma Kendon, on Flickr (Broom moth)

Image021 N to Snowdon with Moel Llyfnant in front by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image022 Zoom to Snowdon by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Stopping at the cairn for some water before the pull up Craig Llyn, I turned and saw the cloud had lifted off the lake. And as I rose, finally Aran Fawddwy came into view behind Aran Benllyn. It was a stunning morning. The sun was shining, pipits were flitting about, the sky was blue and the wind very low, but the air was cool. Up towards the top of Aran Benllyn, I spotted a man heading up at a fair pace - it turned out he had to catch a bus but had enough time for an Aran and a summit breakfast first.

Image031 Cairn below the last climb up by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image026 Llanuwchllyn and Bala pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image032 Arans Benllyn and Fawddwy by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Over little Llyn Pen Aran, we enjoyed cracking views of Cadair Idris and its western satellite Craig-Las. Last July I'd crept up on Cadair Idris from the south to avoid the crowds, so it was good to get this clear view of the north face. Aran Benllyn isn't the most exciting of hills, but it's nicely positioned, especially for its view of Cadair Idris - it was hard to take your eyes off it, and the view round to Barmouth Bay.

Image032 Llyn Pen Aran and CI behind by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image035 Cadair Idris over Dolgellau by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image036 Cadair Idris - Dolgellau - Barmouth Bay by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image037 Cadair Idris zoom by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Zooming in (above), I could see the Cyfrwy Arête (lump to the right of Penygadair), where I'd watched climbers last July. I didn't realise it's a Hewitt in its own right, when I was hurrying off the Pony Path on my way to Craig-Las (below middle) and Craig-y-Llyn (below left). You live and learn.

Image038 Craig-Las zoom by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

At the top of Aran Benllyn, my fellow walker and I had a chat about hen harriers and Berwyn. He'd never seen one even though he lives quite close by, and wasn't sure what to look for. Then, like the camping family, he stayed and had his breakfast, while I took a couple of snaps and headed on to Aran Fawddwy.

Image043 Aran Benllyn summit with sack by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image045 Cadairs Bronwen and Berwyn by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image045 Aran Fawddwy pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

It was at this point I discovered my phone takes better pictures than my Iceland-knackered, waterlogged Fuji...

Image047 Phone pic of Aran Fawddwy by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image051 Phone pic SSE to Cambrian Mountains by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image049 Sheep and Cadair Idris behind by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

At the cairn above Cwm Du, the prominent trig on Aran Fawddwy was in full view, as were the impressive giant claw-mark-like clefts on its north east flank. I stopped to take it in and also enjoy the view in solitude. I had a feeling the AF summit might be busy with folk who'd come up from the south. The Rhinogs were looking good today, and it was a joy just to relish them as well as Idris, Snowdon and the ridge itself.

Image054 Cairn and Aran Fawddwy by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image055 Looking back to Aran Benllyn by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image056 Snowdon to Aran Benllyn pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image057 West - Rhinogs to Snowdon pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image058 Cadair Idris to Rhinogs pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image059 Aran Fawddwy to Cadair Idris pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image061 East pano to the Berwyn moors by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Before long I was at the weird cairn above Creiglyn Dyfi. I'd be coming back to this after my walk up to the AF trig.The clefts looked even better from here.

Image063 Weird cairn above Creiglyn Dyfi by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image062 Giant claw marks on Aran Fawddwy by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

At the foot of the final climb to AF's summit, I saw a fella carrying fencing stakes, and as I rose, I looked for his stake-mobile..

Image066 Fella tending to fencing by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image067 Fence-mobile under Rhinogs by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Nosiness sated, :oops: , up I went and after a little easy scrambling, at last the Aran Fawddwy top appeared above me.

Image068 Aran Fawddwy summit cairn by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

A middle-aged American couple were approaching from the south and, I swear, on seeing me the guy suddenly put on a competitive spurt so he could touch the trig before I got there. No worries, pal, I'm not religious about trigs, and don't need selfies, so he was welcome (if ridiculous). Just as well, because he clung on to it like some latter-day MacAlpin at Stirling. Ah, I was glad I'd lingered on my way up... summits and people :roll:

Once he'd gone, I soaked up the views some more, reminiscing about walks from long ago and from this year, took a couple of trig pics after all, for this :lol: , eyed up Glasgwm, and headed off to peek down one of the clefts.

Image071 AF summit to Berwyn by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image073 Glasgwm - south Aran - and Minllyn hills by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image074 Cadair Idris from AF summit by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image075 Aran ridge and cloud-free Bala Lake by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image076 Snowdon range from AF summit by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image077 View down a giant claw mark by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

I was going to drop down east, towards the solitary Creiglyn Dyfi below the weird cairn, and nestled below Aran Fawddwy's craggy NE face. There was no one down there, and it was lovely to be alone again.

Image078 Afon Groes on descent by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image079 Creiglyn Dyfi below Aran Fawddwy by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image080 Crags of Aran Fawddwy by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image082 View from Creiglyn Dyfi by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Ahead was a grassy rise to Foel Hafod-fynydd, where a cairn gave another view east to the superb Berwyn moors, and south into the corrie. Soon I could look back at this bit of the Aran ridge and the broad grassy nose I'd descended..

Image083 Grassy rise to Foel Hafod-fynydd by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image084 From F Hafod-fynydd to Berwyn moors by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image086 Broad ridge of Drysgol - S of AF by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image087 My descent by Emma Kendon, on Flickr (Aran Fawddwy left, my descent route on right.)

From here I could have cut straight down through the valley, but it was only 1.40pm, so there was plenty of time to wander up the other side and down Cwm Du rather than Cwm Llwydd. I wondered about going up to Foel Rhudd but couldn't quite muster the enthusiasm. I was pretty sated with height now and happy just to enjoy a scenic, extended valley walk. So now, I had to do the steep drop to Cwm Du. (Hm... knees... Sticks-time.)

Image089 My steep descent to Cwm Du by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

It started steep and got steeper, so I tacked a bit, through long grass and heather, taking about 13 minutes to get to the hanging valley below. The map showed a footpath slightly beyond the fence-line, to the right, but there wasn't much in it, so I just followed the fence down.

Image092 Steep drop by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

At the bottom, where I found an impressively mushroomy peathag, I did toy again with the thought of heading up the other side, but laziness (and out-of-fitness hill-legs) got the better of me.

Image093 Mushroomy peat hag by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

I had to rise a little bit, until I could get round the corner of the hill. It was bit disconcerting on that corner because I hadn't paid attention to what was on the other side, out of sight. I'd been looking up to my left at the Aran ridge (or at least the Benllyn bit of it), but... anticlimax... nothing evil was lurking round that corner, just a gentle ease into the lower valley.

Image097 What happens round this corner by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image098 Gentle Cwm Du valley by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image096 Aran Benllyn ridge by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Underfoot, long grass made it slow-going, but it was perfectly pleasant in the ideal conditions. An hour from the top, Nant-y-barcut Farm came into view.

Image102 Nant-y-barcut by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Just before reaching the farm, I came across this caterpillar which I didn't recognise. It turns out to be a ruby tiger moth, which is both a great name and a superb (yes, ruby) furry moth.

Image101 Ruby tiger moth caterpillar by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

So then, one last look up to the Arans and then it was a 3.5 mile stroll back to Llanuwchllyn, past rowan and birch, a ruined hafod of white stone. head-butting rams and a bunch of p****d-off looking tethered dogs. And there was time for a long late lunch by a secluded stream with Arenig Fawr to contemplate. Maybe next time I'm up this way.

Image103 Phone pic back to Aran Fawddwy by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image105 Phone pic back to the Arans by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image110 Nant-y-barcut dogs by Emma Kendon, on Flickr (Actually, walking past them was a wrong turn, so I had to walk back past them too. :crazy: )

Image111 Afternoon stop and Arenig Fawr by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Click to mark this as a great report. Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Comments: 2



Iceland: Laugavegur Trail part 2 of 2

Date walked: 20/08/2019
Distance: 55km
Comments: 4
Views: 313


Iceland: Laugavegur Trail Part 1 of 2

Date walked: 19/08/2019
Distance: 55km
Comments: 1
Views: 263


Leisurely Beinn a'Chrulaiste before the crowds

Corbetts: Beinn a'Chrulaiste
Date walked: 07/07/2019
Distance: 7km
Ascent: 588m
Views: 154


Ben Lui & Beinn a Chleibh - 2nd attempt

Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn a'Chleibh, Ben Lui
Date walked: 06/07/2019
Distance: 25km
Ascent: 1108m
Comments: 12
Views: 583


Lochranza day

Attachment(s) Date walked: 16/06/2019
Distance: 13.5km
Ascent: 21m
Views: 109


Arran recce - don't recce a place like I did

Attachment(s) Corbetts: Goat Fell
Date walked: 15/06/2019
Distance: 16km
Ascent: 848m
Comments: 1
Views: 227


Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 2 of 2

Munros: Ben More Assynt
Date walked: 22/05/2019
Comments: 3
Views: 410


Sutherland, Assynt and May - part 1 of 2

Attachment(s) Corbetts: Cranstackie
Grahams: Beinn an Eoin
Date walked: 18/05/2019
Comments: 11
Views: 751


Hee-haw but the Corrag Buidhe (and a sea eagle)

Munros: Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill (An Teallach), Sgurr Fiona (An Teallach)
Date walked: 19/04/2019
Distance: 21km
Ascent: 1475m
Comments: 4
Views: 631

EmmaKTunskeen


User avatar
Location: West Sussex
Activity: Mountain Walker
Mountain: Ben Mor Coigach
Place: Assynt
Gear: Knee-strapping
Ideal day out: Epic ridge-walk with humbling history and a falcon, osprey or an eagle

Munros: 26
Corbetts: 17
Grahams: 9
Donalds: 4
Wainwrights: 41
Hewitts: 51
Sub 2000: 2
Islands: 12



Filter reports


Statistics

2019

Trips: 12
Distance: 236.5 km
Ascent: 6094m
Munros: 6
Corbetts: 3
Grahams: 1
Sub2000s: 1
Hewitts: 2

2018

Trips: 7
Distance: 90 km
Ascent: 4648m
Munros: 1
Corbetts: 5
Grahams: 1
Hewitts: 6
Wainwrights 5

2017

Trips: 8
Distance: 118.45 km
Ascent: 6818m
Munros: 9
Corbetts: 2
Grahams: 2
Donalds: 1


Joined: Aug 19, 2016
Last visited: Nov 25, 2019
Total posts: 186 | Search posts