|OS Route Map →||Route file →|
Date: 24 Mar 2017
Start / Finish: Capel Curig.
Maps: Explorer OL17 Snowdon or Harvey Superscale Snowdonia.
|Day 1||Gallt yr Ogof, Y Foel Goch & Llyn Caseg-fraith||3.7miles / 2254 feet (5.9km / 687m)|
|Day 2||Bwlch Tryfan & Llyn Bochlwyd||7.1miles / 474 feet (11.4km / 145m)|
A 2-day circuit of the eastern arm of the Glyderau, approaching Bwlch Tryfan from Capel Curig via Gallt yr Ogof and Y Foel Goch and returning via Llyn Bochlwyd and the byway of Telford's old road along the valley.
I walked this approach on my Tryfan East solo backpack in 2014, the main objective of this trip was to make that excellent tent pitch at Llyn Caseg-fraith together on a joint trip. The conditions were even better this time, two days of superbly clear and sunny weather with the last remnants of snow to spice the scenery.
Studying the weather sites beforehand, the MWIS forecast was at odds with the Met Office regarding the easterly wind, the latter predicting considerably higher speeds. The Ogwen webcam suggested a significant amount of snow on the summits. We cautiously stowed some serious winter kit, but there was very little snow left and temperatures rose quickly after the freezing dawn to become really warm in the afternoons. The recent snowmelt had left some areas very wet and boggy.
We were last in Cwm Bochlwyd over twenty years ago and the memory has almost gone, but our intention was to descend on the OS-mapped path from Llyn Bochlwyd NNE via Bochlwyd Buttress. Surveying the landscape and being certain of our position, we could see no evidence of any trodden line thereabouts. I didn't like the prospect one bit and we decided to continue on the main path NW, which itself couldn't be seen beyond the boulder field from that spot, but was easy to find a little lower down relative to the Nant Bochlwyd stream. Back home and checking the mapping, the Harvey Superscale map shows no path heading NNE.
Turning left on the far side of Gelli farmhouse, we started the ascent to Cefn y Capel on the often indistinct line of this little used approach route and soon realised that the general conditions were not as wintry as expected. They were however, as we discovered after traversing the shallow hump to Bwlch Goleumi, considerably wetter, a mild foretaste of the flat areas to come. The clarity and views were excellent though.
Arriving at the breezy ridge, the character changes as Tryfan bursts onto the scene and the view opens out. A short ascent right gains Gallt yr Ogof, a much ignored summit on this little trodden spur.
The bwlch before Y Foel Goch was pretty well waterlogged and we spent some time finding the least wet line, though not enough to keep us dryshod, but with glorious views like these the spirit could not be dampened by such trifles.
We gained the top, passing the site of our summit pitch of years ago, and surveyed the broad expanse of the bwlch ahead. One advantage of these very wet conditions is water collection, you just know it will be much easier than usual. We veered right on the descent to pick up the main flow and slowly picked our way across the sodden landscape towards Llyn Caseg-fraith and ancillary pools. The site of my solo pitch was far too wet from the snowmelt but we made a superb pitch on slightly higher ground nearby with a view of Tryfan and the lake from the door.
Later an enterprising heron flew by and alighted at the water edge to try its luck. At the same time a small group of wild goats appeared and scanned us from a distance before moving on a little to continue grazing.
A freezing night with fantastic views of the stars prompted us to make an early hot brew. After dawn the rising sun warmed the landscape very quickly and we were soon outside for more pictures. This is the rare kind of splendid pitch that represents the pinnacle of wild backpacking, we were loathe to leave it.
We ascended a little westwards to locate the start of the path that drops into Cwm Tryfan and traverses around to a brief climb to Bwlch Tryfan. The glorious conditions had held and there were already quite a few walkers about with a few figures near the top of Tryfan on its eastern face.
Attention now turned to Cwm Bochlwyd and the grand view of the north-western arm of the Glyderau towards Y Garn. We descended to Llyn Bochlwyd amid the growing numbers of walkers in both directions and arrived at the point where our intended path branches off NNE. As mentioned in the introduction, the OS map shows this path but, as I discovered back home, the Harvey map does not. Harveys are very good on real paths in my experience and it appears they are right in this case. One would expect an OS-marked path so close to the extremely popular Ogwen to at least be visible, but we could see no trace. Not wishing to risk a steep arduous descent farther on, we took the main path which meant a longer walk on the road.
At road level the hordes were out in force in the summery warmth and the road hike to the start of the Telford byway held a perverse interest in the brazen nature and inventiveness of the car parking, I don't know if this is normal hereabouts. The long Tryfan layby was coned off for the roadworks but they parked anyway and replaced the cones. Nose-to-tail rows of cars all along the A5 were fully on the pavement and blocking it, making for a frustrating walk to the byway.
The byway itself provided an easy and pleasant valley walk directly to the Capel Curig car park.