|Outline Map →||Route file →|
Date: 13 Oct 2005
Start / Finish: Bethesda. Free car park on the main street by Spar (SH 623667).
Maps: Outdoor Leisure 17: Snowdon.
|Day 1||Carnedd y Filiast & Foel-goch||5.1 miles / 3060 feet (8.2km / 932m)|
|Day 2||Y Garn & Twll Du (Devils's Kitchen)||9.2 miles / 1130 feet (14.8km / 344m)|
A short circuit of the mountains to the West of the Nant Ffrancon valley, culminating in Y Garn and descending via Twll Du and the Llyn Idwal path below the cliffs of Glyder Fawr.
The forecast had predicted sun and good visibility, a promise we clung to as we set off in mist almost down to valley level. Walking S out of Bethesda and turning R on the B4409, a quarry access road branches off L on the W side of the river. At 624656 a walking and cycling path goes L alongside the river at the edge of the huge slate spoil heaps. An information board briefly describes the route of the path and the efforts being made to regenerate the landscape: 'swell-gel' is added to the base material to assist the plants, which retains many times its own weight of water. Trees and other plants are slowly becoming established on the lower slopes and we found the route very pleasant and easy walking, with the added attraction of the waterfalls of the Afon Ogwen which were flowing quite well after the recent heavy rain.
The route ends at the bend in the lane at 630637. Stepping over the slate-constructed fence, only the lower slopes were visible below the mist and ahead lay a long steep climb of 2000 feet. Veering R initially around the bracken then further L, we gained the rough ridge at the first rocky outcrops. At first there seemed to be no natural line up the chaotic slopes, at least as far as we could see ahead, but there are faint signs of an intermittent path. No more than a sheeptrod, this asserts itself further up and becomes easy to follow. Eventually the steep angle levelled out quite abruptly and the summit rocks of Carnedd y Filiast loomed out of the mist a short walk to the R. The very cold wind added to the bleakness of the misty top today, which could have commanded great views from this northerly outpost of the ridge.
Walking along the edge of the windswept summit plateau, traces of blue appeared overhead and a clearing of the mist was imminent. It was still coming and going on the next top Mynydd Perfedd, but finally cleared at Bwlch y Brecan revealing Elidir Fawr, still with a mist cap, and the next top of the ridge Foel-goch. A path zigzags steeply up to the summit, marked by a low pile of stones on the edge of the cliffs above Cwm-coch, and at last we saw the promised clear views. Descending to the grassy Bwlch y Cywion, we pitched the tent below the lee slope for some shelter from the wind and walked out over the yellowish narrow ridge to the spur of Y Llymllwyd, which gave a good view back to the cliffs of Foel-goch and Yr Esgair and over Cwm Cywion to Llyn Ogwen and Tryfan. The inflow stream to Llyn Cywion was flowing just a matter of yards down the slope from the bwlch and yielded very good water.
We awoke to a dark clear sky and the prominent sight of Orion in the S. As dawn came there were already mist caps forming over Pen yr Ole Wen and the Snowdon range as we set off up the zigzag scree path to Y Garn, the highest mountain of the walk and distinguished member of the 3000' elite. From the stony top we could see Llyn Clyd and companion lake below in the cwm, a delightful spot that we must visit on a future walk. By now the turbulent mist was swirling around the tops and cwms, alternately hiding and revealing the surrounding mountains in a dramatic display.
Following the edge of the cwm and descending to Llyn y Cwn, our next objective was the head of the falls of Twll Du - the Devil's Kitchen. Walking above the outflow on the R through rocky outcrops and passing a smaller pool, the vertical sided chasm appears, totally out of proportion to the small amount of water flowing through it. This was a very attractive area to savour, away from the predicted stream of people on the main highway. Returning to Llyn y Cwn, we started the steep descent that curves round beneath the Twll Du Chasm and the splendid towering cliffs of Glyder Fawr. The path is pitched like a rocky staircase and, as expected, there were many figures snaking up from Ogwen Cottage far below, including school parties.
Where the path fords a stream, we left it and descended towards the W shore of Llyn Idwal to pick up the other path around the N shore and down to the car park (toilets, litter bins, refreshment kiosk). From here we took the deserted open narrow lane along the valley back to the quarry walk to join the inward route. The lane might appear an unattractive option, but it is a quick and very scenic way back, and gives good views of yesterday's mountains from below and across the valley to Pen yr Ole Wen.