Archive for December 21st, 2009

December 21, 2009

A day on the northern Glyders

by backpackingbongos

For a map of this route click here.

After what seemed like months of rain the second weekend of December promised a spell of calm, sunny and cold weather.  The perfect weekend for a short winter backpack with a wild camp on the hills.  However I was still feeling a little under the weather so decided to head to Snowdonia and ‘wild’ camp in the Bongo.  This would mean having a much lighter pack and more comfort in the van to while away those long winter nights.

The weekend started with the usual friday night motorway horror and it was late when I pulled up at the isolated spot of Llyn Geirionydd with its picnic site and public loos.  Almost as soon as I parked up frost started to form on the van, it was going to be a cold night.  A couple of vehicles did a circuit of the car park at around midnight and parked up, making me a little anxious for a while.  However they did not disturb me and they were gone when I woke up in the morning, surely a little bit cold for a ‘romantic’ meet?!

7.4 miles with 880 metres ascent

I parked the van at the end of the public road by the locked gates just before the track to Marchlyn Mawr reservoir.  The well signed cctv camera made me feel a little more comfortable leaving the van for the day at this scruffy litter strewn spot.  What exactly this isolated camera is meant to be looking out for is anyones guess, probably to do with the ‘electric mountain‘.

A metalled road leads all of the way to Marchlyn Mawr reservoir but I took a left just before Marchlyn Bach on another surfaced road.  As soon as I had left the van I was in a wind tunnel making it difficult to keep a good momentum going.  The cold air making it difficult to breath and paralysing my face into a grimace.  I left the track after a couple of hundred metres and ascended the northern ridge of Elidir Fach.  A combination of cold and low sun meant that I ended up wearing a hat with a baseball cap on top, with my Paramo hood tightly done up over that.  I was still cold and half blinded.

A scantily dressed runner made me feel unfit and overdressed as I reached the col beneath Elidir Fawr and started the steep climb up to the ridge.  A freshening blast greeted me as the ridge was crested and I had to take a great deal of care on the icy rocks as I made my way to the final summit cone.

The summit shelter of Elidir Fawr gives extensive views in all directions and I stopped to chat for a while with a couple of blokes whilst photos were taken.

An obvious ridge leads eastwards with small outcrops but no difficulties with the cliffs of Pen-yr Ole Wen dominating the view ahead.

To the left is Marchlyn Mawr reservoir with its dam and tide mark spoiling the wild scenery.

Suddenly out of the wind I found myself in an oasis of calm with the wind vanishing.  I took the opportunity for a nice long sit down to eat my lunch and drink a flask of coffee.  The warmth of the sun thawing out my frozen face, half an hour of bliss simply sitting and being in the mountains.

A path contours to the south of Mynydd Perfedd and leads to the col beneath the steep slopes of Foel- goch.

From here Pen-yr Ole Wen really dominates the scene.

With views back along the ridge leading up to Elidir Fawr.

Foel-goch summit is quickly reached with strong winds blowing over the lip of the huge drop into the valley below.  From here there is a great view down the length of the Ogwen valley, with mighty Tryfan being dwarfed by the surrounding peaks.

Wanting to save my knees I continued along the ridge towards Y Garn before contouring easy grassy slopes before ascending Mynydd Perfedd and then Carnedd y Filliast.  Again I sat for a while in the shelter and watched the clouds build first over Glyder Fawr and then over the Carneddau.

A quick look back at the Glyders was followed by a steep rocky descent to the final summit of the ridge, which is unnamed at 721m on the map but a hill that gets a tick on my Nuttall bagging!

A feint path leads down to the access road to the reservoir from where it is an easy stroll back to the locked gate at the end of the road.

I had identified a small pull in for the van high above the village of Dinorwig, next to the giant slate quarries.  The sun was setting as I arrived and I got a brew on whilst I watched darkness slowly slip over the surrounding hills.  From my 430 metre perch I sat and watched the street lights come on far below before the chill in the air sent me to seek shelter and a warm sleeping bag inside the van.