Sometimes it’s just as much fun to return to a familiar area as it is is to explore a new one. I love the Carneddau. Despite generally lacking the craggy drama of their near neighbours the Glyderau, the Carneddau have the advantage of being less crowded, especially on the eastern side.
For a variety of reasons, there’s been little opportunity to get out recently, so when I spied a gap in my diary to go somewhere for a couple of days, I immediately thought of the Carneddau, especially my favourite place in the universe, Maeneira.
I arrived at the car park near Llyn Eigiau mid afternoon. The winding road from Tal-y-Bont had been widened with passing places to allow lorries to access the Coedty Reservoir to renew pipes for the Dolgarrog power station. Fortunately, I only met one lorry on the way up. After a brief gear faff, I was on my way to Maeneira.
From the car park, it’s a quick 20 minute walk to Arcadia. There’s an indefinable magic here. It’s the perfect place for a spot of wild camping. The rough pasture on either side of the Afon Dulyn provides ample choices for camping. Every time I come here it’s a bit different. Two years ago, it was festooned with Foxgloves. In the autumn, there’s usually thick bracken on the hillside. This time, it was comparatively bare, but there were lots of sheep grazing.
I decided on the northern side of the Afon Dulyn for a change. Up went the tent. On went the stove, for a reviving cup of tea.
The rest of the day and evening was spent idling around the tent. The next day, dawned bright with no sign of a cloud in the sky.
The plan for today was to walk to Cwm Eigiau, have a poke around the mine workings, which I hadn’t visited before, then up to Carnedd Llewllyn, with a view to going on to Carnedd Dafydd, then dropping down to camp somewhere above Bethesda.
I returned to the car, to swap my tent and my sleeping bag and walked up the track to Llyn Eigiau. It was still cloudless, but fortunately, there was a cooling breeze. As I approached the dam, the calm was interrupted by a S&R helicopter circling. It appeared to be doing a training exercise around the reservoir.
I passed Cedryn and crossed the bridge over the Afon Eigiau.
On the way to the quarry, I passed Eigiau Cottage. I wondered whether it was an open bothy, but the door was locked. When I passed it in 2011, it was being repaired. At least there was a seat outside that I could use for a brief rest stop. It wasn’t much further to the quarry.
The quarry is even more impressive close up with large spoil heaps and some substantial remains of buildings. Apparently, the quarry didn’t last long, because of the poor quality of the slate. You can read some background here. While I was exploring, I kept an eye out for possible places to camp at a future date. Time was getting on and there was a mountain to climb, so loins girded, I started up the steep slope to Gledrffordd.
As I climbed, the full majesty of Cwn Eigiau opened out behind me. Despite being dry in most places hitherto, the lower slopes were quite wet underfoot. It was a rather sweaty climb to the flat expanse of Gledrffordd. On the plateau, I was greeted by swarms of flies, so I kept moving. As I reached the slope of Foel Grach, the breeze freshened, blowing the flies away. About half way, there is a collection of boulders, one of which made a convenient seat for lunch.
After a sumptuous lunch of oatcakes, Primula cheese spread and a chunky KitKat, I shouldered my pack for the final climb to Carnedd Llewellyn. The final couple of hundred metres is quite rough, so I took some care. At the summit there were a number of other walkers, including a group having lunch at the wind shelter. I couldn’t be bothered to be sociable so I headed towards the arrete leading to Carnedd Dafydd.
I was now faced with a choice: should I head over to Carnedd Dafydd, then down to the Afon Llafar to camp or go south over Craig Llugwy to Ffynnon Lugwy, where I knew there were decent places to camp? Scanning the valley of Afon Llafar, I decided it didn’t look too promising, so I decided to head for Ffynnon Llugwy.
Descending Craig Llugwy, I made the error of straying too far to the north and was confronted with some crags that were impossible to negotiate. I backtracked up the slope and traversed to the grassy slope further south. It was quite tiring and I was glad to reach the bottom. I located the spot where I’d camped before and pitched my Duomid. Despite a bit of poor camp craft in selecting a less than flat piece of ground, I slept well.
The next day dawned with bright sunshine, but my tent was in the shadow cast by Pen yr Helgi Du. I was up reasonable early and had a little wander to take some photos.
It was going to be a hot day, so rather than climb the back wall of the cwm up to Pen yr Helgi Du (which I’ve done before), I decided to head down into the valley to follow the leat to Llyn Cowlyd. This is a lovely gentle walk giving some great views of the Gyderau and Tryfan, albeit in retrospect rather than prospect.
On the track leading to the leat, I was passed by a van from the water company going up to the reservoir. I was glad that I had vacated my pitch just in time! I didn’t want to get into an argument about the rights and wrongs of wild camping.
It was a very pleasant walk to Llyn Cowlyd with good views all around. Foolishly I took a short cut near the end, which meant a short yomp over some boggy ground. Although there was a reasonable breeze, it was hot work. At the head of of Llyn Cowlyd, I took a rest break to have a bite to eat and drink some water. It was idyllic.
I followed the track on the northern shore, which is well defined. Perhaps on a future occasion, I might try the less obvious track on the other shore. I was surprised how dry the path was. Fortunately, there’s a stream about halfway along and I was able to fill my water bottles.
Near the dam, I passed a group of five youngsters with large rucksacks. My greeting was met with a stony-faced silence. I don’t think they were enjoying themselves! I perched on a convenient boulder on a slope above the dam for a spot of lunch. It was getting quite hot by now and I was glad of a bit more sustenance.
After lunch, I followed the path over to the ruined farm of Eilio and on to Llyn Eigiau. Back at the dam, my circuit was complete, but I still had to get back to the car, so it was a hot and dusty step to the car park. At the car, I got rid of some rubbish and then made my way back to Maeneira to camp.
For a bit of variety, I decided to camp in a different spot. The weather was still glorious. In some ways, it was too good as the translucent cuben of the Duomid acted like a greenhouse. I measured a temperature of 35c in the tent. Every so often I had to get out of the tent and into the breeze to cool down. Even so, I spent a pleasant, lazy latter part of the afternoon doing nothing in particular. My reverie was disturbed by the stampede of some playful horses. Fortunately, they avoided my tent!
Despite the short hours of darkness, I had a good sleep. It was impossible to lie in for any length of time as the sun shone brightly through the flysheet of my shelter. After breakfast, I quickly packed and returned to the car. All in all, it had been a very pleasant couple of days in unexpectedly fine weather.