Tag Archives: Carneddau

2013: trip review

As 2013 draws to a close, I thought I’d do a quick review of my backpacking year. While it’s not been a mega year, I’ve managed to get out for five trips, two to the Lake District, two to Dartmoor and one to North Wales, totalling sixteen nights wild camping (plus five at camp sites).

Disappointingly, I missed out on the TGO Challenge. However, family health problems meant it might have been difficult to do anyway. I had intended to do a short trip to Scotland, but various obstacles meant it didn’t happen.

Lake District, March

In March, I had a lovely trip around the less frequented fells of Caldbeck and Uldale. The Northern Fells have a unique character and are well worth a visit. The weather was good for the first day, but not so good for the next couple of days. Stupidly, I left my compass behind, but survived to tell the tale. You can read a full account here.

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Dartmoor, April

My next trip was around the north moor on Dartmoor. I love pottering around Dartmoor. It may not have the grandeur of the Lakes, Snowdonia or, indeed, the Scottish Highlands, but the terrain means it’s relatively easy to wander wherever the fancy takes you.

Although the tors are relatively low in height, the moors have a feeling of space and freedom. I’ve been surprised at how few people seem to go much further than a few hundred yards beyond the car park. Once you get on to the moors proper, there’s a real feeling of loneliness and isolation, which I love.

I’ve found a number of superb places to wild camp. On this trip I discovered the Arcadia of South Teign Head, which is one of the best places I’ve camped. The walk up the East Dart onto the moor below Cut Hill is one of the finest walks I’ve done anywhere. I split the trip report into two parts: one and two.

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Carneddau, June

Another under-appreciated area that I love is the Carneddau. The crowds head to Snowdon and the Glyderau, but those seeking solitude head for the Carneddau. I had unusually fine weather for this trip and loved every minute of it.

Maeneira is another favourite camping spot and I camped there two nights but in different places. I was able to take a look at the quarry in Cwm Eigiau for the first time. Despite going over familiar ground like Llyn Cowlyd, it was still a lovely walk. Read the trip report here.

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Dartmoor, August

In August, I returned to Dartmoor, but this time I was not alone. Veteran ( ;-) ) TGO Challenger, Andy Walker accompanied me. We had a fine walk from Ivybridge to Okehampton and were blessed with generally good weather.

I had wanted to camp at Piles Copse for some time and wasn’t disappointed. The walk up Erme Head to Princetown and then Great Mis Tor was new territory for me. The walk east to Bellever Tor was notable for Andy’s encounter with “The Bog of Doom”.

From Bellever, most of the territory was familiar, but no less enjoyable for that. We were very fortunate that the only rain we had was overnight and that the walk from the East Dart to Taw Marsh was in mainly fine weather. Rounding off the trip with a visit to the cafe at Okehampton station was a fine way to end the trip.

Here’s the links to the reports: part 1, part 2, part 3.

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Lake District, September

My last trip of the year was a return to the Lake District, but with the objective of exploring some ground that I’d not been over before. Mosedale near Buttemere is a place I’ve wanted to visit for some time. I did a relatively low level walk from Braithwaite to Buttemere and then to Mosedale.

My original plan had been to walk the High Stile ridge with a possible camp at Blackbeck Tarn. However, the weather was poor, so I decided to stay low and walk back the way I’d come. I diverted to a lovely camping spot at Rigg Beck for my final wild camp of the year. You can read about it here: part 1 and part 2.

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So that was my backpacking year. It’s a shame I didn’t make it to Scotland. However, in 2014, I have the TGO Challenge to look forward to. The prospect of doing two whole weeks of backpacking in one go is exciting. Before then, I hope to do two or three trips, depending on the weather and circumstances. Hopefully, you will have a good backpacking 2014 as well.

Carneddau disappointment

I’m used to weather changing my plans, but this is the first time I’ve had to cut short a trip because of a common cold! On Tuesday I had one of the best journeys ever up to North Wales with no hold ups whatsoever. I was feeling good. I wandered over to Maeneira to pitch my tent, contemplating an excellent few days. However, I woke up with a scratchy throat. It’ll pass, I thought.

Camp at Maeneira

My plan was an easy walk round to Ffynnon Llugwy via Llyn Cowlyd. By the time I reached the end of Llyn Cowlyd, it was obvious that I was indeed going down with a cold. The climb up to Llugwy was a bit more tiring than it should have been. After pitching the tent, I was serenaded for nearly an hour by a helicopter buzzing around doing some kind of training exercise.

Ffynnon Llugwy

A disturbed night’s sleep confirmed that I would have to reconsider my plans. Despite having a Pipedream 600 sleeping bag and the air temperature not dropping below 6c, I felt a bit cool just before dawn, a clear sign that things were not right. My original plan had been to climb Carnedd Llewelyn and then head down Cwm Eigiau, but instead I just reversed the previous day’s route, on the basis that there was very little ascent.

Lunch spot above Llyn Cowlyd

I had a lovely lunch above Llyn Cowlyd. All the while I was think about the next couple of days. I had arranged to meet Dave (Backpackbrewer) and Sean of OookWorks fame together with his partner Jo for some walking. The route that I had planned seemed unfeasible given my worsening cold. I exchanged a number of texts with them to explain what had happened.

Duomid and OookWorks hybrid inner

We met as arranged at the car park and headed to Maeneira to camp. I swapped the Scarp for the Duomid as Sean had brought the new inner that he had made for me. I was excited to see Sean’s handiwork, more of that in another post. We had a very convivial evening, apart from my increasing snuffling. It became clear to me overnight that my best course of action was to head home the next day. Even doing  a couple of day walks would be too much and I didn’t want to spoil the enjoyment for the others.

Packing up to leave

The warmth of the sun in the morning led to a relatively leisurely breakfast. It seemed a shame to leave, especially as the promised good weather seemed to have arrived. At the car park we said our farewells. I drove home leaving the others to a fine day’s walk. On the positive side, I’d had three night camping and a couple of reasonable walks in one of my favourite areas. It was a real shame not to be able to do the walks I’d planned with Dave, Sean and Jo, but there’s not much I could do about it. It was a real pleasure to meet them and hopefully we’ll meet up again.

The famous tree and not a cloud in the sky

Hibernation over

Tomorrow I will be off for a few days in the Carneddau. On Wednesday and Thursday I will be walking on my own. Friday and Saturday, I will be accompanied by Dave, the Backpackbrewer and Sean of OookWorks. Sean will be delivering my new hybrid Duomid nest, which looks superb. Unfortunately it won’t be used with my cuben Duomid as a manufacturing defect means it will have to be returned to MLD. More on that at a later date. However, all is not lost as I will take my silnylon Duomid. I will also be taking my Scarp for camping high. Effectively I will have two 2-day hikes, so there will be a bit of mix ‘n’ match on gear. The weather forecast looks very promising with high pressure building over the week and into the weekend. So, toodle pip, and you will get a week off from my blethering.

Happy places

In the last few years of backpacking I’ve discovered there are places where I’ve camped that for some inexplicable reason have made me happy and have drawn me back. Next week I shall be returning to my favourite “happy place”, Maeneira in the Carneddau. I first camped here in 2004. It was my first experimental wild camp after a long lay-off from wild camping. I returned in March 2009 in the company of Alan Sloman, when we had a wonderful evening pitch in glorious sunshine after a marvellous walk from the Ogwen valley over Carnedd Llewelyn.

I was back again in August 2009, although my plans were somewhat altered by the arrival of a school group and the weather. The following year, I returned in April. Despite suffering from the worst migraine I’ve ever had, it was a joyous time as I had resigned from work and was starting a new life as a retiree. Last year I went to the Carneddau in June, accompanied by the usual mixed bag of weather.

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Maeneira slide show

What makes Maeneira a “happy place”? It doesn’t have spectacular views, but it does have a magical feel. There’s a ruined cottage and dry stone walls. Was it a happy place for the family at must have lived there at one time? On a summers evening it is idyllic, but the life must have been harsh in the winter. In the morning it gets the first light and on a couple of occasions I’ve been up to see glorious dawn with a blood red sun.

It changes with the seasons. I’ve been there when it’s been almost overrun with bracken and times when it’s looked barren. Last year in June, it was festooned with wonderful tall purple foxgloves. Sometimes the grass has been nibbled low by sheep. On other occasions the pasture has been rank and scrubby.

A highly unusual feature is the trees that grow on top of huge boulders. Whether they are natural or planted by man, I don’t know but I’ve not seen anything like it anywhere else. The mixture of wild and the hand of man is somehow harmonious here.

From the perspective of wild camping it is almost perfect. A small stream provides fresh water. There’s enough flat grass for several tents. It is sheltered from winds, but not enclosed.

There are many more spectacular places to camp, but for me, Maeneira has a special magic. A blend of homeliness and welcome, tinged with the wild. I love it and I’m glad to be going back soon. If you visit Maeneira, enjoy it, respect it, ensure it doesn’t get spoilt. Happy places should be treasured.