Carneddau June 2011

Wednesday

Although the weather was rather unsettled on the way north, by the time I reached North Wales the clouds had broken and there were patches of sunshine. I parked at my normal car park near Llyn Eigiau. As I was sorting out my gear I had quick chat with a guy who had just finished a walk.

I strolled round to the ruined farmhouse at Maeniera. I was very surprised to see the hillside covered in purple foxgloves. The last time I was here, it was covered in dense bracken. There were quite a few sheep dotted around the pastures and hillsides. I decided that the flattest pitch was in the lee of a boulder. It took a bit of time to pitch the Duomid correctly, but I wanted to get it right.

After collecting some water from the stream, there were a few spots of rain. After bit of a laze around, I rehydrated some pasta Provencal. Later in the evening there was some heavier rain and moderately gusty wind.

Thursday

I had an excellent night’s sleep. My fleece sleeping mat cover made all the difference! There was no particular rush so I had a relatively slow breakfast. The ground was damp from the overnight rain but not soaked. I broke camp at around nine o’clock. I walked back to the car and dumped a couple of items of gear (tripod and video camera).

My original plan was to walk to Ffynnon Llugwy via Llyn Cowlyd. However when I arrived at the broken dam at Llyn Eigiau I changed my mind. I thought it would be more interesting to walk up the Eigiau valley and see whether there was somewhere nicer to camp. While the weather was still pleasant the clouds were starting to build. I followed the quarry track, past an abandoned farmhouse and then branched right to cross the river. The track headed up the valley, passing another house which appeared to be having a new roof put on.

All the time I was looking down into the valley to see whether there was anywhere suitable to camp. Before turning into the cwm, I thought I spotted a reasonable spot lower down. So I descended the slope, but the patch of green was decidedly boggy.

I decided that I would follow the river back down the valley to see whether there was a better spot in one of the river bends. I made the mistake of following the new river, rather than following the old river course. It was very boggy and the only two possible places were quite lumpy.

Frustrated, I sat down to have a spot of lunch. Over the ridge behind me, the clouds were thickening further, although I was still in sunshine. I didn’t hang around too long. On reaching what appeared to be the remains of a large bank, I made my way back to the track, past the ruins of some old buildings, possibly mine workings.

I decided the best course of action was to go back to Maeniera. As I neared the dam, it started to spot with rain, so I donned the waterproofs. As I put my pack on I discovered that one of the prongs of the hip belt buckle had broken. It was still usable but I would have to be careful.

Fortunately it didn’t rain too hard, although it became more persistent as I neared Maeniera. I decided to pitch in the same place as the previous night. One of the beauties of the Duomid is the fly is huge so it can be pitched and the rucksack can be put under cover while putting up the inner. Just as I got under cover it started to rain appreciably harder, so I was glad that I had decided to return when I did.

After about an hour the rain eased and the sun came out. As it was only mid afternoon so I decided to have a little wander over to the abandoned house a bit further down the valley, partly out of curiosity and partly to see whether it might be possible to pitch there. It only took about ten minutes to get there. Disappointingly there was no flat ground. I returned to base and lounged around for a bit.

After a while I heard voices from the track further up the hillside. There was a party of girls walking along the track. I drew a sigh of relief as the walked past as I didn’t fancy sharing my camping place. Then they started waving at me! I didn’t respond, hoping they would move on. They didn’t.

They started down the hillside towards me. The one in the lead was obviously a teacher. Initially she thought that I was one of her colleagues. Fortunately she realised that I wouldn’t be happy with a DoE group pitched right next to me, especially as she was expecting another thirty to turn up. She took the group to the far end of the field.

A couple more groups turned up. I wandered over and offered to move round the corner to the dam if there wasn’t enough room, but she said she thought they would be OK. Happily they were far enough away that it wasn’t too intrusive, although it did take the edge off a bit. The lads were getting a game of football under way when it started to rain again. Result! Again it rained on and off overnight, but there was very little wind.

Friday

The previous evening I had decided that it would be better to leave my pack in the car and take a day pack over the ridge between Pen Llithrig Y Wrach and Carnedd Llewelyn, returning to the car later in the day. I woke to bright sunshine and rose well before the DoE group. I had had breakfast and started packing before there were any signs of life. I was away by 8.30 and soon back at the car.

Fortunately, at the last moment, I had included a Sea to Summit silnylon day sack in my backup gear. It was plenty large enough for a fleece, overtrousers, some food and some water. I left my backpack in the boot, and headed towards Llyn Eigiau. The weather was beginning to get cloudier, but by no means unpleasant.

I headed up the quarry track on the south eastern side of the valley. The quarry itself was a good deal larger than it looked from below. A couple of bowls had been scooped out of the hillside. There were large spoil heaps, some ruined buildings and the most amazing chasm. I didn’t descend down to the lower shelf to see exactly how large it was, but it was very impressive.

From the quarry onwards the path became elusive, so I climbed up one of the spoil heaps and went cross country past some bewildered sheep. The going was steep, but not too bad with only a day pack. Near the ridge I found a path, which took me to the summit of Pen Llithrig Y Wrach.

The top is an excellent view point. The only irritation was the clear view of the Moel Maelogen wind farm to the east. By this time the wind had freshened and the Glyderau were being kissed by some very dark clouds. It was a bit cold so I didn’t hang around.

After texting home to say I was OK, I descended to Bwlch y Tri Marchog. On the northern side of the col, there is a rocky outcrop that gave some convenient shelter from the wind, so I stopped for an early lunch.

After a relatively short lunch break, I pressed on up the long slope of Pen y Helgi Du. While the climb is a bit boring, it is worth it for the spectacular view of the arête between Cwm Eigiau and Cwm Llugwy. The descent to the arête has a real feeling of exposure, although the reality is that it is quite safe and not too difficult.

On the arête itself I chased a couple of sheep along before they loped off on the Eigiau side. I now faced Craig yr Ysfa. From it distance it looked as though it might be quite a tricky scramble. However, it is quite straightforward, keeping to the right hand side, especially with only a day pack to carry.

Once over the crag I met a couple of walkers, heading down from Carnedd Llewelyn. I don’t know why, but the ascent reminded me of Caradhras in Lord of the Rings. Knowing that this was the last significant climb of the day, I took my time. At the summit I made for the shelter to get out of the wind. Sitting down, I had another bite to eat. Looking south west, the weather appeared to be deteriorating, so I decided to head down to Gledrffordd rather than continue along the ridge to Foel Grach.

In places the path was quite wet, but not too bad. The highlight of the descent was the view of the tremendous cliffs of Craig y Dulyn. Eventually the path meets the Melyllyn reservoir road. Rounding the corner, as the car park came into view it started to spot with rain. Looking up the Eigiau valley, there was clearly heavier rain on the way. I put on a spurt of speed and reached the car just it started to rain more heavily.

I hastily put on my waterproofs and retrieved my rucksack and headed back over to Maeniera, hoping that the DoE group had left. Rounding the bend, no-one appeared to be there. I had a quick scout on the other side of the stream to see whether there was a better pitch, but settled for the same place I had camped the two previous nights.

The rain was getting heavier. I put up the Duomid fly as quickly as I could. I lobbed the rucksack inside and went down to the stream to collect some water. Then I erected the inner in comparative comfort, safe in the knowledge that I didn’t need to venture out again. It was a wise move as within minutes it really started to bucket down.

It rained continuously from around four o’clock until nearly midnight. I had some concerns as to whether my pitch might flood, but it was OK. About two o’clock in the morning, the wind suddenly strengthened dramatically. While the Duomid wasn’t going to be blown away it was considerably more fidgety than the Scarp would have been. Still it was nice to know that it was comparatively storm proof.

Saturday

It continued to rain intermittently early in the morning and I was getting concerned that I would have to pack in the rain. However, around six o’clock the rain stopped and the sky brightened. After about half an hour the sun broke through for a very pleasant morning. However, I didn’t laze around too much. Before eating breakfast I wiped down the flysheet to give it a chance to dry off in the sun. After another hour I was packed and the clouds had begun to build. Just before reaching the car, it started to spot with rain. Fortunately, it held off until everything was safely stowed and I had changed clothes. Then it was down into the Conwy valley and home.

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8 thoughts on “Carneddau June 2011”

  1. I liked Maeiera – i had the feel of someone’s garden about it – sort of well kept and interesting.

    Sounds like you had a nice break Robin. Its good to get out.

  2. Thanks for the write-up.

    On the Thursday, if you had carried on past the cottage undergoing renovation to the end of the track you would have found good flat sites between some ruined mine buildings and the stream. I have camped there twice, and the only problem was a resident rodent that ate my breakfast overnight.

    I shall be in the Carneddau this weekend if the promised good weather turns up. One of my aims is to camp on Gleddrfordd, which, as seen from above, appears to be populated with an array of standing stones similar to Easter Island statues.

    1. Thanks John. When I was looking down on Cwm Eigiau on the next day, I realised that I should have carried on. I will explore next time I’m there.

  3. Familiar scenery there, Cwm Eigiau is superb, especially the Wrach to Llewelyn ridge. The valley route into the cwm is one we haven’t tried yet, a good one for an easy day or when the tops are in clag.
    So the DOEers make for Maeniera, I’ll remember that!.

    1. I guess it’s not just DOEers, I suspect Plas Y Brenin as well. If you stay on the track for five minutes you can camp by the flood defence dam. There’s not enough room for a crowd so it should be a safe bet. There are a couple of pitches on the other side of the stream as well.

  4. Great post, one of my favourite routes in the Carneddau is the Cwm Eigiau horseshoe. Bit of bugger to get to from my part of the world these days though!

  5. I know the west side of these hills so well, and the Conwy valley reasonably so, but I’m ashamed to say that the upper reaches of these cymoedd are still relatively unknown to me. Thanks for the heads up, i might even choose them over a Rhinogydd trip for the bank holiday weekend.

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