|OS Route Map →||Route file →|
Date: 10 Dec 2009
Start / Finish: Llanuwchllyn.
Maps: Explorer OL23 Cadair Idris.
|Day 1||Aran Benllyn, Erw y Ddafad-ddu & Creiglyn Dyfi||4.8 miles / 2590 feet (7.8km / 789m)|
|Day 2||Foel Hafod-fynydd, Cwm Ddu & Cwm Croes||6.1 miles / 600 feet (9.9km / 182m)|
A short backpack in the northern Arans with the objective of a pitch by Creiglyn Dyfi, designed for the brief daylight hours approaching the winter solstice and the delicate condition of my foot, still recovering from plantar fasciitis. We had promised ourselves a pitch in this excellent location for some time and this was a perfect opportunity: a weekday in December and a very high probablilty of solitude. The whole area below the main ridge is seldom trodden even at the best of times, but the lake could be a magnet for the very few who explore these parts.
The recent atrociously wet weather and its consequences further north in Cumbria had been headline news for the past month, and although Wales escaped those epic floods, it still received a fair old deluge and the ground rated an 8 or 9 on the squelchometer at times.
The Afon Twrch roared noticeably louder than usual at Pont y Pandy as we kitted up below largely grey skies and mist shrouded tops. The predicted high pressure area, the first for weeks, was evidently slow to establish itself as we set off up the very familar and very long north ridge towards Aran Benllyn, but blue sky eventually began to dominate leaving only mist caps on our Arans and the nearby Arenigs. As we climbed the final slope to the summit the mist was still coming and going, clearing intermittently for some photos en route to the second top of Erw y Ddafad-ddu. In the brief clearings the visibility was excellent, giving extensive views over the eastern Arans and Hirnants to the Berwyns and far beyond.
The SE ridge of Erw y Ddafad-ddu is the only weakness in the defences of the whole ridge, a steep grassy descent of the nose towards the bwlch before Foel Hafod-fynydd. We left it lower down to descend directly to the northern shore of Creiglyn Dyfi, splendidly situated below the towering rocks of Aran Fawddwy still hung with the last vestiges of its mist cap, and offering an exquisite pitch. The temperature dropped rapidly in the deep shadow of the late afternoon and frost formed on the tent and our packs as we settled in our bags for a hot drink and a late view across the waters.
In the shelter of the mountain under a magnificent starry sky, there was hardly a breath of wind in the night, one of those very rare occasions when a little condensation formed on the Voyager inner. The grass was white with frost and a crescent moon hung in the pre-dawn sky above the pink wisps of cloud, a superb morning. Later as we set off eastwards towards the prominent isolated boulders the early light of the sun bathed the cliffs in a warm orange glow.
A short climb to Foel Hafod-fynydd and the excellent distant views opened out, with a minor inversion to the east as a bonus. Descending to Bwlch Sirddyn, the spongey grass became increasingly waterlogged as we approached the peat hags at the lowest point but we crossed dryshod to better ground with little difficulty. We descended on the right of way northwards into Cwm Ddu, an indistinct path that cuts across the head of a small steep ravine and slants down to the buildings of Cwm-ffynnon.
Despite the presence of a distinct track on the map, the footpath from Cwm-ffynnon to the road head at Nant-y-barcut is largely nonexistent on the ground but the line is easily followed. From here we took the narrow open lane along Cwm Croes to Pont Talardd and the joining lane back to Llanuwchllyn, where the full length of the north ridge of Aran Benllyn can be appreciated from below.