|OS Route Map →||GPX Route file →|
Date: 12 May 2012
Start / Finish: Llanuwchllyn car park.
Maps: Explorer OL23: Cadair Idris.
|Day 1||Aran ridge & Creiglyn Dyfi||8.2miles / 3197 feet (13.2km / 974m)|
|Day 2||Cwm Llwydd & Cwm Croes||5.6miles (9.0km)|
A short 2-day variation of a Northern Arans circuit, approaching up the familiar north ridge and circling round to the Llaethnant valley for a pitch by Creiglyn Dyfi and returning on a new line directly down Cwm Croes to Pont Talardd and Llanuwchllyn.
The forecast had predicted a quiet day for Saturday with quickly deteriorating conditions from the north over the course of Sunday, particularly with regard to the wind where mobility would be very difficult towards the end of the day.
I needed a short day for Sunday anyway and an Aran backpack fitted the bill at short notice, a pitch cradled in the arc of cliffs would provide enough shelter from the developing westerly blast. As it turned out Saturday was very breezy and the wind around Creiglyn Dyfi was blowing from just about every direction, but the pitch was a grand one and I had no problems as it strengthened overnight, unlike a couple of campers not far away apparently, as I discovered the next morning.
Unusually a group of walkers was gathering in the car park as I kitted up and assessed the conditions: a chilly breeze mandated a windshell from the start. The north ridge of Aran Benllyn doesn't get any shorter but the clear views soon opened out, the tops already clear of cloud and the clarity superb. Higher up the cold wind was too piercing even with a windshell, I reluctantly changed into my shell jacket and flipped up the hood for a while.
The views are excellent from the three summits spanning the ridge, from northern Snowdonia around to Cadair Idris and the Mawddach estuary and south to Pumlumon, while the heathery Berwyns and Hirnants fill the vista to the east. A rock seat adjacent to the trig point of Aran Fawddwy was a perfect sheltered spot to linger a while in the warm sun, perched on the brink of the cliffs overlooking Creiglyn Dyfi.
I continued along the ridge to the minor rise at the south end and down to the memorial cairn at Drws Bach, a fine viewpoint for the hills around Hengwm. Not far behind was the group I had seen at Llanywchllyn and I watched in amazement as they tried to descend directly down the visciously steep face of the cwm near the last of the crags. Not recommended unless you want to get down the really fast way.
They soon retreated and walked around to a more realistic line, meanwhile I continued over Drysgol to the bwlch before Gwaun Lydan for an easier slanting line into the Llaethnant valley, a beautiful secluded spot in the heart of these hills that has always been completely deserted on our past backpacks.
I crossed the Llaethnant at the point where the fence comes down very steeply from Drysgol (an alternative direct descent for those with little respect for their knees) and ascended around to the outflow of Creiglyn Dyfi. Despite being surrounded by hills and mountainous crags, the wind was brisk to say the least and I embarked on a walk around the western shore to scout for pitch spots.
I knew the predicted strengthening wind would be westerly overall, but the mountains funnel it in unpredictable directions, none more so than here - it was coming from all directions at different spots. I still felt that protection of the cliffs was the overriding factor, and I pitched close to our previous camp where the lake was calmest. This is a superb location for a mid-level pitch, looking out from the tent across the lake to the vertiginous crags. A raven cruised low several times overhead cronking loudly, probably nesting in the nearby crags.
As predicted the wind strengthened overnight and waves were breaking on the shore by dawn, a damp, grey misty scene as I surveyed the lake from the tent door. I'm always surprised how well the LaserComp handles a gusting wind, considering its minimalist construction, absorbing the howling forces effortlessly today with small flexures and a pleasing confidence.
The sun pierced the greyness intermittently to cast a warming glow over the lake as I packed up the kit, maintaining a semblance of order as I wrestled the damp tangled tent into its bag before it became airborne. I walked up towards the bwlch between Erw y Ddafad-ddu and Foel Hafod-fynydd, passing the isolated large boulder where two sorry-looking tents were pitched, one in particular looking really battered.
The sunshine and blue sky quickly dominated at this level but I emerged at the skyline in the teeth of a gale. It mattered little now as my route for today was directly into Cwm Llwydd by an obvious track just below the head of a small ravine at the bwlch: this heads down below the eastern flanks of Erw y Ddafad-ddu to a gate above an enclosed green pasture. A thin path continues around the left perimeter of the field and descends to an untidy confluence of tiny streams and the start of another obvious track.
This descent route gave a new vantage point for the upper slopes and crags of the central part of the ridge. The continuation track leads to the road head at Nant-y-barcut which I followed to Pont Talardd and the valley road back to the short footpath down into Llanuwchllyn.