Carneddau wander part 1

Friday 9th April

Apart from the heavy traffic and the occasional brief stoppage, the journey up to North Wales was uneventful. My Satnav tried to take me an odd route, but I ignored it as I basically knew where I was going. My first attempt at lunch at Norton Canes services was thwarted by a queue at the roundabout and a full car park, so I decided to carry on a bit further. I had a late lunch at Keele services. I arrived at the parking place near Llyn Eigiau at around 4.00 pm to find it nearly full. Fortunately there was one place left.

Maeneira

After a faff around changing clothes and rearranging gear I was off. I headed for Maeneira, passing some other walker on route. I passed Maeneira and followed the track for another five minutes to the flood defences by the Dulyn hydro-electric power station where I camped last August. With only a slight breeze the noise from the power station was more noticeable than I remembered so I decided to go back to Maeneira.

It was a beautiful late afternoon with hazy sunshine. Descending the slope to the abandoned pasture was easier than last summer as the bracken had died off. I was a bit concerned there might be some midges as the breeze had dropped, but there was only the occasional fly.

Me and my Scarp

Now it was time for the big moment: the first wild pitch for the Scarp. I’ll do a more in-depth review later, but it was much easier to pitch than the Laser Competition and I achieved a nice taut flysheet with little trouble. Unpacking my gear, emphasised how incredibly spacious it is. I was able to put most of my gear in the tent, hardly using the porches.

In the Scarp

Not surprisingly, dinner was another Real Turmat delicacy: Wolffish Casserole, or more accurately Wolffish Pasta. After boiling the water to rehydrate my meal, I started to boil some more water for my post-dinner cup of tea. Disaster! I had left the tea bags at home. I drink a lot of tea, so I was concerned that I might have tea withdrawal symptoms on the next day. The Wolffish Casserole was very tasty and satisfying, but my body wasn’t fooled by the hot water without a tea infusion and I started to crave tea. After a bit of a poke around, I decided to go to turn in.

Saturday 10th April

Sunrise

 I woke up at first light with a migraine, probably down to the lack of tea! I took some paracetamol in hope rather than expectation. Although it was not that cold over night (min. 6c), I felt a bit chilly. This was strange as I’ve used the Pipedream 400 down to freezing before. Perhaps I’m getting old. I had to answer a call of nature and took a picture of the dawn. I kept on the LIM Barrier to keep warm  in an effort to have a further doze as I thought it might help with the migraine.

I didn’t finally rise until 9.00 am, which seemed a bit decadent. I had to wait another hour until I could take some more paracetamol, so I did some chores and then had breakfast so I could take some ibuprofen as well.

Morning at Maeneira

I was pleased to discover no condensation at all in the Scarp. While a light breeze helped, I suspect the high vents also helped. I took mine time packing so I didn’t leave until around 11.00 am, absurdly late, but, hey, I’m retired now! There is something magical but sad about Maeneira. The ruined cottage with hearth still intact adds to the air of abandonment and desolation. The pastures are gradually returning to coarse grass and bracken. Yet, this must have been home for someone. It’s difficult to conceive of a more beautiful setting. It is a wonderful place for a wild camp.

My original intention had been to head to Drum and then along the ridge to Carnedd Llewelyn and down to Llyn Llugwy to camp. Because of my migraine I decided to reverse the route and go to Llyn Llugwy via Llyn Cowlyd.

The famous tree on a rock

On the way back to the car park, I tried to send a blog post. The first failed but the second succeeded. As I was blogging a guy passed by and asked whether my pack was a Golite. No, Gossamer Gear, was my reply. He seemed interested, but I refrained from boring the pants off him with my encyclopaedic knowledge of lightweight gear. The next passers-by were a family with the husband striding out, leaving his wife and two young sons trailing in his wake. Looked like they wer going to have a fun day, not.

At the car park I had a quick clothes swap (Montane Terra Pants for my Berghaus Equilibrium Pants, which were too warm). I headed for Llyn Eigiau, pausing at the dam to consider whether to head up Cwm Eigiau. However, my migraine was still bad, so I headed to Eilio, with the intention of taking the easy route along the shore of Llyn Cowlyd and the leat to Llyn Llugwy.

The crow (or possibly a Raven)

Just before Eilio, I stopped for lunch. Just after I sat down, a crow, wings iridescent in the sunshine, swooped from behind my right should to land on a ridge about 50 metres away. I’ve never considered crows to be particularly attractive, but this one had a rather regal look to it. After a few minutes it flew off again.

After lunch I passed Eilio. Although it’s in better condition than Maeneira, it looks worse with rubbish strewn around and broken down doors. I had considered camping here last summer but was put off by the detritus. On the uphill pull from Eilio I met a large group of walkers. The numerous “hellos” added to the strain of the climb! It was OK for them, they were going downhill, I was huffing and puffing uphill.

Track down to Llyn Cowlyd

On the way down to Llyn Cowlyd, I encountered the sad sight of a recently deceased lamb with its entrails pecked out. That set in train a slightly morbid line of thought, which was reinforced when I saw a dead sheep half way along the reservoir. Thoughts of the fragility and preciousness of life kept coming into my mind.

Me looking back down Llyn Cowlyd

Near the end of Llyn Cowlyd, I started to find some litter on the path. In best Womble fashion I picked it up to pack out. When I reached the leat that runs on the northern side of the Ogwen valley, the wind freshened and the sun became hazier. I stopped for a quick break and then continued along the leat. This is great “long” short-cut as it contours around the mountain making for rapid progress. The hillside below was full of sheep and lambs. I tried not to dwell on the imminent fate of most of the lambs in a few week’s or month’s time.

“Wild life”

I reached the Llyn Llugwy road at around 5.00pm. Although not steep, it was a bit of a pull up the road. Nearing the top I could see a group had occupied the flat area at the top of the dam. I investigated a pitch near a large boulder where I had seen someone camping last year, but it was not very appealing. Finally I settled on a pitch near a wall which was a bit more sheltered than some other areas. Although not strong, the breeze was quite fresh.

Pitch at Llyn Llugwy

Pitching the Scarp was straightforward despite the stony ground. I was glad that I had taken the thin titanium pegs as they penetrated the stones to give a secure hold. I slightly regretted not taking the crossing poles (left in the car) but even without them the Scarp seemed solid.

I still had a migraine, which was a bit worrying. After Game Casserole, I got in my sleeping and hoped that a good night’s sleep would get rid of my migraine.

Another Scarp picture

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18 thoughts on “Carneddau wander part 1”

  1. We narrowly missed you. We were at the bottom of the Llugwy access road at 6pm on Saturday, planning to walk the leat in the other direction and camp by Llyn Cowlyd. Nightfall made us stop halfway.

    Perfect weather for once. There was ice on our tent on Monday morning but we never felt cold because of the sunshine and lack of wind.

    I managed to run out of teabags once, by forgetting to buy them in Braemar. The mistake came to light near the Corrour bothy. No migraine, but I just bolted for Aviemore and home the following day. The perils of addiction!

      1. Absolutely no joke, I had a similar incident a year ago, forgetting tea on a 3 day kayak trip, and had to suffer through a constant, throbbing headache the entire time.

        And since then I carry with me a handful of Lyons teabags in my first aid kit. Tea should be right up there with ‘compass and map’ as a piece of indispensable gear.

  2. Narrowly missed you too – I dropped down from the Carneddau to Llyn LLugwy via Bwylch Eryl Fachod around 5pm. Rather than trudge down the access road I followed a feint path to the west. My headache was due to too much exposure to the sun on such a beautiful day! I was a bit chilly in my PHD Minum 300 bag on Fri night – though my Sunnto measured the temperature down to 3c.

  3. That was a great read of your adventures at wild camping! What a great shame you forgot the tea bags! This would have ruined my trip altogether!
    You have my sympathy! (Mountain Rescue could’ve heli’d them in for you!)

    What size pack are you using to carry all of your gear and what sort of weight is it?

    Gear wise did you take a packable hard shell or a paramo? The orange top that you’re wearing outside of your scarp – is this a light piled soft shell? I just recently purchased myself a Marmot Driclime Catalyst and it feels superb!

    What was the main clothing worn whilst moving?
    Did you have to bung on any down/synthetics in the evenings or at stops?

    Phillip.

    1. I’ll do some gear posts when I’ve done part 2.

      The pack is a Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus, which weighs 750g (with foam back pad). I reckon the capacity with the mesh pockets is 50-60 litres.

      I didn’t take Paramo this time. The orange jacket is a Macpac Matrix jacket (383g) which is no longer made. The outer is Epic (water-resistant polyester) and the inner is a thin velour/fleece . I carried a Montane Quickfire eVent jacket for a waterproof (also discontinued). I wore these with a Montane Sportwool long sleeve top. For warm wear I carried a Haglofs LIM Barrier smock and a Haglofs Dual fleece gilet. I didn’t use the gilet, but it would have been useful if it had been colder and it only weighs 195g.

  4. Re: Tea Bags – I always leave some in the side pockets of the rucksack. I always take fresh but just in case the others are always there!

  5. Hello, did you use the full 50/60litres volume of the pack?

    I note that you said that you would use Paramo next time and under the same weather conditions. How good was the clothing system that you did use? Did temperatures allow for a merino/synthetic base, light fleece and windshirt over? Would just a base and Paramo have sufficed whilst on the move?

    1. I didn’t use the extension sleeve or crush my gear down as much as I could have so there was some extra room available. I’ll do a review of clothing later. I find Paramo the most adaptable clothing in terms of ventilation and warmth. Normally I wear just a base layer (short or long sleeve) and jacket. Over the last few years I worn Merino as a base layer but I might experiment with some synthetics again.

  6. I seem to be alright on the move with my Paramo Vasco and a synthetic base underneath. Any more than 10c and it’d be too much for me unless there were strong winds!

    I’m really looking forward to putting my Catalyst Driclime to the test. (Bought Precip Cap too) It seems that your Macpac Matrix is similar. I think merino would work well under it and by the sounds of things you used Montanes Bionic sportwool.

    Great posts and I’m inspired to go and visit the Carneddau!

    1. The beauty of the Third Element jacket is that it can turned into a gilet so it can cope with a wider variety of temperatures. I also have a Vasco jacket which I like a lot.

  7. Maybe I should have bought the 3rd Element over the Vasco. Possibly more adaptable to conditions!
    Looks like the same cut as the Vasco too!

    1. It’s very similar to the Vasco, perhaps slightly trimmer, but the arms are slightly longer. The Vasco is a fine jacket, so I wouldn’t worry too much 😉

  8. Vasco does fit me perfectly. Unfortunately I’ve never managed to use it on a good hike in pooring rain! I like the rear vent and arm zips too!

    I like the concept though only if the temp is right – eliminating seperate wind and rain protection.

    I’m not sure if I’ll be using my lite-speed, fleece combo any more….

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