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Western Carneddau / 2½ days / 17 miles (28km)

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Yr Elen bwlch partial pan > Pan

Date: 03 Feb 2007
Start / Finish: Bethesda. Free car park on the main street by Spar (623667).
Maps: Explorer OL17: Snowdon.

Day 1Gyrn Wigau to Carnedd Gwenllian6.0 miles / 2940 feet (9.7km / 896m)
Day 2Foel Grach to Pen yr Ole Wen7.1 miles / 1770 feet (11.5km / 539m)
Day 3Braich Ty Du3.6 miles / - (5.8km)

An excellent circuit of the Western Carneddau in extraordinary conditions for early February: very mild with constant sunshine, no wind and great clarity. Almost all the snow had gone, just scattered small patches remained at the highest levels.

Day 1 - Gyrn Wigau to Carnedd Gwenllian

A minor road climbs out of the town to Gerlan, and just beyond at Gwernydd a narrow road branches L to the pumping station and access land. A ladder stile is just visible on the skyline to the NE, which gives an easy line of ascent to the first top of the day Gyrn Wigau with its twin rocky outcrops. There is an enticing prospect ahead to the higher tops and a fine view N to the sea. At the bwlch beyond we took the upper track that ascends easily over the shoulder of Drosgl, leaving a short climb to the stony top.

Moel Wnion from Gyrn Wigau
Moel Wnion from Gyrn Wigau (03 Feb 2007__11:25:11)
Bera Bach and Yr Aryg from Gyrn Wigau
Bera Bach and Yr Aryg from Gyrn Wigau (03 Feb 2007__11:28:48)

The path continues towards the prominent Bera Bach, a large boulder pile that contrasts sharply with the rather wet expanse of open moor to the E with its small pools. A short walk N is the slightly lower Bera Mawr, another superb rocky top that invites enjoyable easy scrambling and sports a pair of monoliths. This is a very fine area that for us is among the best in Wales, yet is usually spurned in favour of the higher but easier main ridge walking further on.

Summit of Bera Mawr
Summit of Bera Mawr (03 Feb 2007__13:54:25)
Bera Bach and Bera Mawr
Bera Bach and Bera Mawr (03 Feb 2007__14:50:52)
Bera Mawr
Bera Mawr (03 Feb 2007__14:51:51)

Contouring SE we collected water and climbed to the rocky tor of Yr Aryg and on to Carnedd Gwenllian. From the vantage of the highest tops on the main ridge, Bera Bach and Bera Mawr look very diminished and it is hard to believe that they reach around 800m. We made a good pitch just below the summit and watched the sun set behind the Carnedd y Filiast ridge, and a few people passed our tent well after dark.

Pitch on Carnedd Gwenllian
Pitch on Carnedd Gwenllian (03 Feb 2007__16:15:22)
Sunset from Carnedd Gwenllian pitch
Sunset from Carnedd Gwenllian pitch (03 Feb 2007__17:00:21)

Day 2 - Foel Grach to Pen yr Ole Wen

At dawn the air was crystal clear and dead calm yet not very cold, and there was a weak inversion over the sea to the N which persisted all day. Traversing Foel Grach, we saw a couple of people outside the bothy and there was another tent pitched at the next bwlch where we descended a short way to replenish our water. The flat stony plateau of Carnedd Llewelyn was deserted (although we were not the first ones there that morning) and we spent some time soaking up the splendid panorama of peaks.

Foel Fras from Foel Grach
Foel Fras from Foel Grach (04 Feb 2007__08:23:27)
Yr Elen from Foel Grach
Yr Elen from Foel Grach (04 Feb 2007__08:29:31)
View West from Carnedd Llewelyn
View West from Carnedd Llewelyn (04 Feb 2007__09:41:07)
Yr Elen from Carnedd Llewelyn
Yr Elen from Carnedd Llewelyn (04 Feb 2007__10:15:04)

The route off to Yr Elen was easy to locate in the clear conditions, and as the path asserted itself to the bwlch with Ffynnon Caseg below, we took a partial panorama of the peaks with Yr Elen at centre. The summit was reached surprisingly quickly and there is a superb view.

View East from Yr Elen
View East from Yr Elen (04 Feb 2007__10:50:50)
Yr Elen
Yr Elen (04 Feb 2007__11:17:38)
Ffynnon Llugwy and Pen yr Helgi Du
Ffynnon Llugwy and Pen yr Helgi Du (04 Feb 2007__12:17:41)

From the bwlch we climbed R to a rocky tor and picked up an intermittent path that traverses to Bwlch Cyfrwy-drum, crossing some tiny springs which yield excellent water. The walk along Ysgolion Duon in the gorgeous conditions made up for the December trip when we were misted out, and we met one of the famous Welsh ponies galloping along the ridge. It felt really warm sitting atop Carnedd Dafydd in base layers and absorbing the views. The final top Pen yr Ole Wen gave a good prospect over Ffynnon Lloer and a retrospective view of Carnedd Dafydd.

Ysgolion Duon
Ysgolion Duon (04 Feb 2007__13:15:51)
Carnedd Dafydd from Pen yr Ole Wen
Carnedd Dafydd from Pen yr Ole Wen (04 Feb 2007__14:23:59)

The forecast had predicted strengthening wind overnight and we descended the N ridge to collect water and make a pitch lower down. There was a nice sunset behind Elidir Fawr and the pinkish light caught the tops of the inversion over the sea.

Pitch on Braich Ty Du
Pitch on Braich Ty Du (04 Feb 2007__16:26:47)
Evening light on inversion from Braich Ty Du
Evening light on inversion from Braich Ty Du (04 Feb 2007__16:49:11)
Sunset behind Elidir Fawr
Sunset behind Elidir Fawr (04 Feb 2007__16:56:11)

Day 3 - Braich Ty Du

The wind was indeed blustery at dawn and there was a brief snow shower. The tops were misted out as expected but the early rays of the sun highlighted the slopes of the Carnedd y Filiast ridge. We descended northwards into the very little trodden cwm, following the lower edges of the steep slopes and crossing streams to emerge at the N end of the Mynydd Du ridge, where the familiar path along the Afon Llafar leads to the waterworks and the road into Bethesda.

Early light on the Carnedd y Filiast ridge
Early light on the Carnedd y Filiast ridge (05 Feb 2007__08:33:36)