NW Carneddau: Cwm Caseg circuit 2-day backpack

Ffynnon Caseg & mountain cirque at the cwm headA 2-day mountain circuit centred on Cwm Caseg in the NW Carneddau. The outward route follows the north side of the Afon Caseg valley and ascends into the heart of the cwm to Ffynnon Caseg, then climbs Yr Elen and Carnedd Llewelyn. The return route is via Foel Grach and the mountains along the Carnedd Gwenllian / Gyrn Wigau chain.

The first objective of this backpack was to explore the superb mountain scenery in the tightly enclosed twisting Cwm Caseg, including the often seen but seldom visited Ffynnon Caseg.

The second was to climb Yr Elen via its well defined and fairly sharp east ridge, an ascent line we have often pondered from afar but never seen described in any walk reports.

The dominant high pressure chart predicted an almost windless spell – accurate, but giving little hint of the conditions. The very humid air produced a sharp contrast between morning and afternoon: clear skies and dew drenched landscapes at first but giving way to dense haze and high cloud with very limited views by afternoon.

I also had some new kit to test: a 53l backpack, solo tent and sleeping mat.

Full report & photos

Southern Rhinogydd 2-day backpack

Llyn Dulyn, Crib-y-rhiw & Y LlethrA 2-day circuit of the southern Rhinogydd mountains around the Afon Ysgethin valley.

The outward route follows the Afon Ysgethin to Pont Fadog and a section of the Taith Ardudwy (The Ardudwy Way) along the southern flanks of the valley and ascends to the cirque of mountains at the west ridge of Diffwys.

The return from Y Llethr descends via the south-western slopes of Moelyblithcwm to the Llyn Bodlyn track on the northern flank of the valley.

On this trip we took enough food for three days to give a possibility of an exploration of the lakes around Rhinog Fach, the choice being made on the second day depending on the weather and the terrain of the proposed line of the route, but the dull dank conditions of that second morning decreed that the intense effort required would not be worthwhile and we descended directly from Y Llethr. The first day was excellent though with sunshine and good clarity.

Full report & photos

SE Carneddau: Llyn Cowlyd Round 2-day backpack

Pitch on Creigiau GleisionA 2-day circuit of the south-eastern Carneddau hills flanking Llyn Cowlyd, approaching the eastern side via the Nant y Geuallt valley to Crimpiau with a visit to Llyn Coryn and ascending alongside the rocky flanks of Craig Wen to Craiglwyn and Creigiau Gleision. The return on the western side traverses Pen Llithrig y Wrach and includes our first exploration of its north ridge.

This route is largely in little frequented stretches of the Carneddau, where most of the few walkers encountered in the northern half will be bagging the Nuttall summits from Cwm Eigiau and day walkers in the south will be ascending Crimpiau from Capel Curig or Llyn Crafnant. Between these focal points there is much wild landscape to explore around Llyn y Coryn and Craig Wen.

Again we found a fine tent pitch below the north top of Creigiau Gleision, much against the odds considering the very rough terrain that pervades this landscape.

Full report & photos

Upper Tanat #2 2-day backpack

Pitch on Trum y FawnogA 2-day backpack around the hills and cwms of the upper Tanat valley of north-east Wales, visiting a couple of new Dewey 500m summits.

Llangynog nestles at the head of the Tanat valley, more tightly squeezed by towering hills than any other village we can remember. Perhaps the most striking is Craig Rhiwarth, an iron age hillfort whose broken slopes were quarried leaving an aggressive south face overlooking the northern quarter, while the steep nose of Y Gribin presides over the west. The western side is steeply riven by two major cwms, Cwm Pennant and Cwm Llech, that we have walked on previous trips.

This route was designed to explore the summit of Craig Rhiwarth and return on the high-level route above Cwm Pennant and Cwm Dwygo, joining the two sections via Post Gwyn and the pass of Milltir Gerrig. I didn’t see another walker in the whole two days.

Full report & photos

Garsdale Hills 2-day backpack

Pitch at West Baugh Fell TarnA 2-day circuit of the hills flanking Garsdale, a choice inspired by an overlap with a bank holiday weekend to avoid the influx of walkers to the well known areas – it was a good one in that respect, we saw nobody at all and the whole area was completely deserted. The tent pitch was an excellent one with a grand sunrise.

On the north side of Garsdale is the huge sprawl of Baugh Fell, home to two Nuttall 2000′ summits and divided on the map into West and East Baugh Fell, and its vastness is readily appreciated on a traverse like this: usually with a total lack of people it is a study in serene emptiness. Dotted with small curricks, tarns and gritty outcrops with evidence of a few old workings, it would be more akin to its Pennine neighbours to the north but for the lack of heather: this is a landscape of moorland grasses and sphagnum presided over by skylarks, curlews and plovers rather than their ubiquitous grouse.

On the south side is the Marilyn/Dewey top of Aye Gill Pike (Rise Hill), a long shallow whaleback hill that could hardly be less like the popular notion of a ‘pike’. This was to be the day of views, but apart from the brief dawn period the sky was grey and murky all day and the vistas very muted.

Full report & photos

Tryfan East 2-day backpack

Pitch at Llyn Caseg-fraithA short 2-day out-and-back solo trip approaching Tryfan from the east via Gallt yr Ogof and Y Foel Goch.

Another two days of almost unbroken sunshine and superb mountain scenery, this was an excellent chance to revisit the phenomenally popular Tryfan before the Easter hordes invaded its boulder pile – we last climbed it over seventeen years ago. Despite the weekday strategy, there were so many people congregated around its famous apex monoliths that no acceptable photos of the summit area were possible in any direction – I really don’t like humans in shot.

I also have an innate dislike of out-and-back routes but I made an exception here, partly to keep the exertion under control but mainly to give myself plenty of time for a relaxed first pitch at Llyn Caseg-fraith, a superb location.

Full report & photos

Cwm Eigiau #3 2-day backpack

Ffynnon LlyffantAnother 2-day circuit of Cwm Eigiau, this time exploring the excellent upper reaches of the cwm below the eastern cliffs of Carnedd Llewelyn, a very seldom trodden pocket of the Carneddau cradling the hidden Ffynnon Llyffant, the highest lake in Wales. This exquisite wild rocky mountain landscape shows once again the rewards of leaving the paths and backpacking the little known corners: in favourable conditions there are real gems to be discovered.

After a long and extremely busy hiatus this was our return to the mountains in style: two days of unbroken sunshine and a landscape flecked with remaining snowfields on the high tops with unseasonally warm days for March.

Full report & photos

Resurrection

After a long hiatus involving moving home and refurbishment, the blog is resurrected.
The old blog was based on ancient insecure code, some of it deprecated and causing problems with our web server. We abandoned it and started afresh with an up-to-date WordPress core and a new hand-carved theme.

I preserved the old blog archives that proved to be useless but in a moment of ruthlessness I deleted the old SQL database, removing the only record of my old Blogroll. I’ve partially reconstructed it manually from my RSS aggregator but a few are bound to be missing – let me know if yours is absent. I’ve tested the new blog with Firefox 29.0.1 (customized – see below), Internet Explorer 10 and Palemoon 24.6.1 and all seems fine, let me know of any strange behaviour.

Note: recent versions of Firefox have really screwed up default settings for ‘zoom’ behaviour with the result that photos are inflated and look crap. I’ll make a separate post about this.