|OS Route Map →||Route file →|
Date: 18 Feb 2008
Start / Finish: Beddgelert.
Maps: Explorer OL17 Snowdon & Conwy Valley.
|Day 1||Mynydd Sygun & Gallt y Wenallt||7.3 miles / 3320 feet (11.8km / 1010m)|
|Day 2||Y Lliwedd, Yr Wyddfa & Moel Lefn||10.0 miles / 3930 feet (16.1km / 1200m)|
|Day 3||Moel yr Ogof, Moel Hebog & Bryn Banog||5.3 miles / 1300 feet (8.5km / 396m)|
A superb 3-day solo circuit comprising the Sygun area, the western side of the Yr Wyddfa mountains and the Hebog ridge.
The abnormally warm and crystal clear weather we had on the Langdale Fells trip continued for the first two days of this circuit before breaking on the third, giving two days of magnificent views and landscapes. The temperature inversion persisted too, with the tops being a lot warmer than the valleys.
It was very cold in Beddgelert but the steep climb up the frosty path to Mynydd Sygun was just the thing to warm me up. At the top it was a lot warmer and a white frosty field in the valley below emphasised the inversion, and there were excellent views. This is a lovely area and the path to Llyn Dinas is a very enjoyable walk with added interest in the old mine workings just past Bwlch Sygun. There was a good aerial view of Llyn Dinas before the descent to the lower level path.
I took the good path alongside the lake that emerges on the A498 at Bethania and reached the signed start of the Watkin path, a pleasant woodland track that avoids the tarmac road and climbs to the open hillside with a view of the waterfall in the cwm ahead. For the benefit of the uninitiated there was a prominent notice attached to the main gate on the far side of the cwm saying: 'Warning: no shelter, no toilets, no trains... on Snowdon'. Here I left the Watkin path and crossed the bridge over the Afon Cwm Llan, a single stone slab spanning the cascades and jade pools below.
Carefully avoiding the obvious riverside path and climbing to the higher ladder stile at the edge of the trees, I joined a seldom used but very attractive path that slants up the flanks of Cwm Merch, an old mine track which gives easy going with fine views of the cwm and across to the ridge of Carnedd y Cribau and Moel Meirch. The track ends at the ruined mine buildings where parts of the old machinery can still be seen.
From the mine buildings the short remaining climb is pathless rough grass, and I followed a stream NE towards the prominent little cone that marks the final outcrop on the Gallt y Wenallt ridge. Here a small herd of wild goats watched warily as I climbed a short way to the true summit at 619m, marked by a cairn, and the stunning sight of the Snowdon horseshoe came into view.
Gallt y Wenallt is the last top in the full horseshoe but people rarely complete it, as evidenced by the thin grassy path along the hummocky ridge that remains uneroded and a joy to walk. I made a good pitch further along the ridge and higher up, where I could spend some time soaking up the superb views, particularly of the mighty Crib Goch.
I made an early start in the clear morning air and commenced the climb to the triple-topped Y Lliwedd, rewarded by a rich orange light on the towering slopes and a frozen pool near the main path down to the valley. Traversing Lliwedd Bach and reaching the main pair of pointed peaks, there was a great prospect of Llyn Llydaw and breathtaking views southwards and westwards.
The descent from Y Lliwedd to Bwlch Ciliau was a slow business, a chaotic jumble of rock that was much rougher than I remember it with many route choices all the way, with the added distraction of the Watkin 'path' coming in from the SW. Eventually I reached the bwlch and joined the pitched path that traverses the rough bouldery ridge to Bwlch y Saethau.
On some occasions an impending very steep ascent seems really daunting but turns out to be a lot more pleasant than it appears. This isn't one of them: the slanting braided line that climbs Yr Wyddfa is every bit as steep, long and eroded as it looks, and then some. It was hot and tiring work up there, and whichever line you take another looks a bit better (but isn't), and I eventually reached the upright marker stone near the top of the S ridge. In compensation the frequent rests did give many opportunities to admire the fantastic scenery and views. The sudden change to a stiff cold wind on the ridge made me put on my windshell and hat rather sharpish, and I made my way past the fence surrounding the blasted new cafe building site to the trig point and topograph.
A few people were arriving at the same time from other routes, including one on a bicycle, and all were spellbound by the clarity of the views. An enterprising seagull made short work of some of my cake, there has always been one hovering around for scraps on our visits to this group of summits.
The S ridge descends via the excellent narrow neck of Bwlch Main to a ladder stile over a fence at Bwlch Cwm Llan, where my plan was to take the old mine track westwards. Although clear on the map, getting onto this track was a puzzle at first amid the quarry spoil heaps, and after some exploration I followed a line hemmed in between the fence and the spoil heaps and joined the good track on the far side of the workings. The track leads all the way to the Rhyd-Ddu car park (toilets).
A signed footpath leads across the valley to the main path to Y Garn, which I followed up the slope and forked L to join the bridleway to Cwm Trwsgl (the map shows the bridleway cutting diagonally SW across the fields at SH563524: ignore that and take the pecked Y Garn path directly uphill for a few contours and turn off L on a thin path). It was strange climbing through the forest in a base layer when the frost was so thick it resembled snow, and it felt really warm as I emerged into sunlit territory again and descended through the extensive old quarry workings. There are large gaping chasms and tunnel entrances here for interest.
There is a good path rounding the corner into Bwlch Cwm-trwsgl beneath the huge shattered boulders of Y Gyrn and later curving around the man eating bog at its head. Where the footpath enters the forest, I took the steep path outside the trees up to the old Princess quarry chasm. From here there was a formidable sight ahead at this late stage in the day: the towering cliffs of Craig Cwm-trwsgl and the uppermost tier of Moel Lefn looking a lot higher still. I kept a watchful eye for pitch spots on the way up in case my energy gave out, but I managed to find a second wind and made quite rapid progress to the deserted grassy plateau and onto the rocky summit. I backtracked a short way to a softer grassy area and made a good pitch with the evening light on the Nantlle ridge.
I unzipped the tent door next morning to see that the weather party was over a day earlier than predicted: grey and misty down to valley level in parts but this top was clear. There was in fact a poor quality inversion with very thick cloud at valley level and a thinner layer above, and as I traversed Moel yr Ogof and climbed to Moel Hebog, the tops peeped out long enough to capture one photo that showed the conditions well.
From the trig point on Moel Hebog I headed southwards to locate the one breach in the mountain defences where a very steep but quite easy descent SE on grass can be made to Cwm Cyd. A thin path weaves across the wild attractive cwm and fizzles out in a boggy area leaving a trackless but easy climb to Bryn Banog. I descended steeply S on the W side of the ridge wall to join the footpath northwards to the A498 just S of Beddgelert: the landscape can be rather confusing at times in this area and careful mapwork is in order.