|OS Route Map →||Route file →|
Date: 04 Mar 2008
Start / Finish: Llanrwst. Large free car park by the police station. Public toilets nearby.
Maps: Explorer OL17: Snowdon & Conwy Valley.
|Day 1||Llyn Geirionydd, Llyn Crafnant & Creigiau Gleision||9.0 miles / 3000 feet (14.5km / 914m)|
|Day 2||Craiglwyn, Crimpiau & Llyn Glangors||7.6 miles / 1330 feet (12.2km / 405m)|
A 2-day backpack to the rugged Creigiau Gleision region via the lakes and forests to the west of Llanrwst.
This was a brief slot of generally clear weather in a turbulent north-westerly stream that brought a late taste of wintry elements to the mountains, and the Snowdonia peaks had been dusted with a light snowfall only the night before. The predicted strong bitterly cold wind suggested a sheltered approach from the east and we decided to investigate the climb through the forest from the shore of Llyn Crafnant, which unfortunately meant that the best clear weather occurred when the views were cut off by the trees. However on the ridge there were fine mountain views of a different kind: dark, dramatic and full of atmosphere.
Crossing the Afon Conwy on the road bridge, a lane climbs into the trees and we branched R on a forest track that heads N and W to the start of the footpath at 776615. There are numerous notices in this area warning of old fenced mine workings, some of which have left gaping caves in the rocks and are now overgrown. The good woodland path leaves the forested area and the snow dusted Moel Siabod came dramatically into view. This approach from the east was certainly sheltered, in fact it was really warm in the open sunshine as we later descended to Llyn Geirionydd.
From the prominent monument near the northern shore we took the footpath northwards as far as a ladder stile, then left it to follow the path that contours around the shaded craggy face of Mynydd Deulyn to the ruined mine buildings and descends to the forestry car park. The falls adjacent to the lane were flowing quite well from Llyn Crafnant with the classic view of Crimpiau at the far end..
A forest road leaves the shore track and climbs gently along the southern flanks of Creigiau Gleision to arrive at a clearing where the waymarked public footpath winds aloft through the forest. This is a good path but is mainly enclosed by trees, rather unfortunate since the clouds were gathering fast and we were missing the best of the clear views, but after a couple of brief boggy bits we eventually emerged at the forest edge, leaving a short climb on a thin path through the heather to the ridge. Although expected, the strong biting wind under the greying skies was quite a shock to the system.
We are quite accustomed to squelching through boggy ground in some parts of Wales but we have never seen the terrain as sodden as this, and it was quite laborious dodging the almost constant mire of peat and sphagnum. Conditions improved approaching the rocky north top and all was forgiven when Llyn Cowlyd and the mountains came spectacularly into view over the western cliffs.
Traversing the main top, the views were moody and quite dramatic with the ever changing cloud patterns and shafts of sunlight piercing through over Tryfan and the Glyderau, while a helicopter was hovering just above the summit of Pen Llithrig y Wrach. We had some concern about finding a pitch when all the flat ground was so wet, and there wasn't much of it to start with, but we spied a small flat shelf of short heather and grass among rocky ribs near the summit of Craiglwyn that was also sheltered from the full blast of the wind.
There was a frost on the tent before dawn and a mainly clear sky, but shortly afterwards the sky greyed, the wind picked up and it started snowing. Several snow showers later the local cloud broke up leaving thick swirling pockets around the higher peaks and a thin covering of snow at our level.
From the ridge we descended towards Moel Ddefaid and Craig Wen, two very rugged and imposing tops of rock and heather. The path passes to the right of these with some very boggy ground to cross. The impressive face of Gallt yr Ogof across the valley was catching the early light but the Glyderau beyond remained engulfed.
A final steep descent brought us to the bwlch before Crimpiau, but rather than climb it directly we descended a short way from the wall gap and took the slanting path across to Llyn y Coryn, although the ground surrounding the lake was far too boggy today to get anywhere near the shore. A good path climbs back to Crimpiau, which affords grand retrospective views to the ridge and an aerial but rather distant view of Llyn Crafnant.
We descended to join the main path from Capel Curig and followed it down to the ladder stile near Blaen y nant (739601), where an obvious wide grassy path heads diagonally R direct to the road head avoiding the buildings. A short walk up the road by the old church is a good footpath signed 'Geirionydd' that ascends through the trees and contains one of the mossiest pockets of woodland we have ever seen. The moss seemed to be growing thickly on every available surface and it was quite dark, but one spot was blessed with a little brightness and we captured this photo.
The path crosses the ridge to the dam of Llyn Geirionydd where we joined the minor road that climbs SE passing the site of an old lead mine now accompanied by a notice warning of 'Contaminated Land'. Just beyond this a footpath leaves the road NE to Llyn Glangors and continues climbing to the trig point on Pen-y-gwaith before descending through the preserved ruins of the Hafna mine. There are information boards about this 4-storey lead mine which operated from 1879 to 1915 and originally used a waterwheel to work the ore that was brought in from an adit on the upper floor.
From here we followed the lane back NE to join the outward route.