Two days in the Glyderau
This last weekend I got in the car and drove the 120 miles or so to the Ogwen valley in Snowdonia. A place that I began my proper mountain walking journey almost twenty years ago.
The views never grow tired. Old friends like Tryfan and Pen Yr Ole Wen on opposite sides of the valley. I’ve been there several times over the years but only recently ventured into the Carneddau on a backpacking trip last year.
This time I was based at Gwern Gof Isaf camp site with a bigger tent and more gear. A comfy weekend of day walks.
The original plan for the Saturday was a walk up Y Garn’s right hand ridge. I’d never been up Y Garn before and the line of the ridge looked really attractive. As we walked (Dan and I) from the campsite along the track near to the valley road we began to think up an alternative. The lower part of the right hand ridge looked a bit, well, dull. The upper part still appealed, it was just the zig-zag trudge to get there. As we approached the mountain a ridge to the left of the stream looked enticing. We imagined a route scrambling up the rocky ridge to the high ground and then maybe cut across to the other side near to Llyn Clyd.
The scrambling was great fun. The rock solid and grippy. Little nobbles and bumps adding character and grip. Some of the sections were quite exposed and exciting -especially as we hadn’t brought the rope or scrambling guide with us. After an hour or more we approached the final section, the base of Castell y Geifr. Through the mist all we could see were rock walls with no way through. After a short discussion we headed left and found a gully. The gully wasn’t too loose and we thought it looked reversible if we found we couldn’t make progress through it.
At the head of the gully we reached a short wall which we could climb onto from the right hand side. From here guarding the summit was an airy rock walkway and an imposing steep section with a large crack in it. Both sides of the walkway had long, steep drops. One side the gully, the other a boulder and scree field.
I must admit that the thought of attempting to climb the last section with its inevitable consequences for failure didn’t appeal. Not without a rope (or even a guidebook to encourage us). After a look at the map and a short conversation we climbed down the opposite side of the wall and began to traverse below the walls of Castell y Geifr looking for an easier route onto the summit ridge.
After a few hundred metres the wall dipped and all that separated us from the summit ridge was a short scramble over large boulders.
After a quick lunch on the summit we turned to walk along the tops to Glyder Fawr. We encountered a large number of runners and walkers attempting the Welsh 3000 challenge. We passed and were passed by the same people several times over the next few kilometres. They were faster than us on the flat, then struggled on the ascents. Dan and I kept a fairly even pace over all the terrain.
A while later, as we bypassed Castell y Gwynt a voice behind us asked if we were heading to the Ogwen Valley. We turned to see a man in mountain running kit, sporting a competitor’s number. We told him we were, heading to the campsite. He said he had been in the race but was giving up and wanted to head down to the car park. We pointed him in the right direction; “Get to that lake (Llyn Caseg-fraith) then turn left”. “This way” he said, pointing in the opposite direction. “no” we replied. “that way”.
“Oh, Ok. Thanks” and off he jogged.
We got to the lake and there he was again looking confused. “This is the Ogwen valley, isn’t it?”. “Yes” I replied taking out the map. The man looked puzzled and wondered aloud if that was actually the valley he wanted, or if he wanted to be in Llanberis! We sent him on his way to the valley where we knew there were marshals for the race.
We carried on down a rocky outcrop straight to the campsite where we spent the evening wondering what became of the runner.
On Sunday we set off for Moel Siabod. Via the café of the same name to eat the eponymous breakfast (highly recommended).
From the café a short walk through the forest to the Plas Y Brenin mountain skills training centre took us to the start of the path to Moel Siabod. We eschewed the tourist path (dull) for a more interesting walk to the back of the mountain and an easy (striding edge-esqe) scramble to the summit. This route had none of the technicalities of the previous day but was just as much fun. Again the rock was dry and grippy and nobbly. I’m not sure what type it is but it makes good climbing rock!