Archive for February 6th, 2010

February 6, 2010

Beaten by the Berwyns – Godor & Moel yr Ewig

by backpackingbongos

The moral of this story is going to run along the lines of, “Don’t park your campervan at the furthest end of a hilly campsite if there is a risk of snow”.  It got a bit messy trying to get home.

Anyway after my equine visit the previous night I had one of those sleeps which only seem possible when out and about in good old fashioned fresh air.  Maybe it was the luxury of Fat Airic or was it two nice big pillows or even those two cosy sleeping bags?  Comfy and toasty is the way to go in midwinter.

I awoke to leaden skies and the odd flake of snow and spent a good while faffing about drinking coffee and getting ready.  All of a sudden the world outside became monochrome as a mini blizzard swept down off of the mountains, big fat snow flakes covering everything.  Within an hour there was a good dumping of fresh white stuff and I was ready to explore.

8.8 miles with 640 metres of ascent

The blanket of snow seemed to have silenced the world and there was not a breath of wind as I headed down the valley.  The snow had a perfect squeak to it and was not deep enough to slow progress.

As I walked through the farm-yard of Tan-y-graig I turned around to keep a careful eye on the barking dogs and stepped on a section of snow covered clear ice.  I was on my back in a split second, the wind knocked out of me.  It’s amazing how quickly you can fall over.  A bridleway leads north from the lane and climbs steadily towards the abandoned farm of Gwern-feilod.  The world again quickly vanished as a wall of white washed over me, the snow coming down thick and fast.  The farmhouse was a sad shell so shelter was sought in the pine forest above for an early lunch and to make a decision what to do next.  Visibility would be down to nothing up in the snow filled clouds.  However luck was on my side as just soon after coffee and food were finished the clouds parted and the sun made an appearance.

I slowly made my way up towards the summit of Godor, threading my way between gates as I was outside of the access area.  At one point I could simply walk over a fence as a huge drift had covered it.

The clearing air gave great views to the lower hills and the Midland plains to the east.

As the unmarked summit of Godor was reached the wind was blowing ,with the ground being a moving mass of spindrift.  Broken clouds were racing past giving the impression of being on a much higher hill.

Ahead of me now the clouds were beginning to build and cover the large empty uplands, miles of snow covered grassy tussocks.  What would have been a friendly landscape yesterday in the sunshine and crystal clear air began to take on a more threatening air.

As I passed Godors north west top the snow started again and visibility did not extend further than a hundred metres.  My field of view was mostly of the inside of my hood and of the ground as wind blasted icy crystals stung my eyes.  Luckily I had a wire fence to follow and for some reason there was a corridor of old rock hard snow following it.  What would normally be slimy peaty dips along the fence were filled in by old snow and often just the top of the fence posts would be sticking out.  I was soon on the 695m summit of Moel yr Ewig where I decided against continuing up to the summit of Cadair Berwyn.  I descended and soon Llyn Lluncaws came into view.

Deep snow covered heather made the short walk to the lake difficult with ankle twisting holes being well hidden, it was more of a lurch than a walk!  The lake itself was mostly frozen and the outflow stream quickly disappeared under a huge snow bridge.

I located another line of rock hard old snow and followed it downstream to where I could pick up a track.  As the snow cleared views came back and in front of me were the impressive cliffs of Craig y Mwn.

As I got closer to the valley bottom I stood and watched figures descending from the top of the waterfall.  It looked to be slow and difficult going over the snow covered icy track I had walked up yesterday.  The clearing air and setting sun gave a great pinkish glow to the cold frozen valley.

I got back to the snow bound Bongo and started to worry about how I was going to get it out the next morning.  I paced the route out to the worryingly snowy road a couple of times trying to find the best line.  Nothing much that I could do about it tonight!

I had another relaxed evening inside the van enjoying the peace and quiet of my location.  Just after dark the owner of the campsite came knocking to see if I was ok and to share some of his flapjacks he had baked that day.  I wish that I had got the recipe as they were amazing.  I raised my concerns about getting out, but he reassured me he would tow me out by mini tractor if I got stuck.

I slept for 13 hours that night, waking to find that the route I had marked to get the van out covered by fresh snow.  All packed up and I did manage to get the van further than I thought before gravity and an icy patch brought me to a halt.  There then followed a good hour involving a mini tractor, a rope and a Bongo.  The tractor struggled at one point which worried me.  But after a bit of distance arm waving between tractor and Bongo I was soon driving down a very narrow lane on virgin snow, never done that before and it was great.

The strange thing is that once out of the valley 3 miles away at Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant there was hardly any snow.  It had not been forecast anyway…………………