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Arans: Creiglyn Dyfi / 2 days / 11 miles (18km)

OS Route Map → Map Route file →

Date: 10 Dec 2009
Start / Finish: Llanuwchllyn.
Maps: Explorer OL23 Cadair Idris.

Day 1Aran Benllyn, Erw y Ddafad-ddu & Creiglyn Dyfi4.8 miles / 2590 feet (7.8km / 789m)
Day 2Foel Hafod-fynydd, Cwm Ddu & Cwm Croes6.1 miles / 600 feet (9.9km / 182m)
Creiglyn Dyfi

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.

Day 1 - Aran Benllyn, Erw y Ddafad-ddu & Creiglyn Dyfi

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.

View to the mist-capped Arenigs
View to the mist-capped Arenigs (10 Dec 2009__10:42:34)
View east from Aran Benllyn
View east from Aran Benllyn (10 Dec 2009__12:13:39)
View east from Erw y Ddafad-ddu
View east from Erw y Ddafad-ddu (10 Dec 2009__13:50:35)

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.

Approaching Creiglyn Dyfi
Approaching Creiglyn Dyfi (10 Dec 2009__13:51:00)
Creiglyn Dyfi
Creiglyn Dyfi (10 Dec 2009__14:38:36)
Tent pitch by Creiglyn Dyfi and Aran Fawddwy
Tent pitch by Creiglyn Dyfi and Aran Fawddwy (10 Dec 2009__14:58:48)

Day 2 - Foel Hafod-fynydd, Cwm Ddu & Cwm Croes

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.

Creiglyn Dyfi : dawn sky and tent pitch
Creiglyn Dyfi : dawn sky and tent pitch (11 Dec 2009__08:00:04)
Creiglyn Dyfi : dawn sky and tent pitch
Creiglyn Dyfi : dawn sky and tent pitch (11 Dec 2009__08:00:39)
Early light on Aran Fawddwy
Early light on Aran Fawddwy (11 Dec 2009__08:41:20)
View back to Aran Fawddwy
View back to Aran Fawddwy (11 Dec 2009__08:53:30)
View back to Aran Fawddwy
View back to Aran Fawddwy (11 Dec 2009__09:08:50)

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.

View north from Foel Hafod-fynydd
View north from Foel Hafod-fynydd (11 Dec 2009__09:12:32)
Inverted cloud from Foel Hafod-fynydd
Inverted cloud from Foel Hafod-fynydd (11 Dec 2009__09:20:49)
Erw y Ddafad-ddu & Aran Benllyn
Erw y Ddafad-ddu & Aran Benllyn (11 Dec 2009__09:21:22)
Foel Hafod-fynydd from Bwlch Sirddyn
Foel Hafod-fynydd from Bwlch Sirddyn (11 Dec 2009__10:32:59)

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.