09 June 2017

Nantlle Ridge

There are some iconic walks around here. One is the Snowdon Horseshoe, which I have not done yet (I have done half several times). A much, much smaller one, but much more quiet, and still quite spectacular, is Nantlle Ridge. Tradition is to do it with two vehicles; doing the ridge both ways is a bit much, you don't want to go back through the valley (you can't avoid the road, and people drive fast there), and you can't really go back around the other side of the valley either. So one puts one car on one side of the valley, and another one on the other, and then you can do it one way on foot and the other by car. But I didn't want to wait until someone else with a car would want to team up, so I decided to go for it with my bike in the back of my car.

I decided on a Saturday, and made sure the bike was already loaded up. On Sunday I got up reasonably early, had breakfast, packed my bag, and set off. I parked near Rhyd Ddu, like I had done when I went for a walk with Monique. I got my bike out and set off. This way I would do more downhill than uphill. Good!

My colour-matched vehicles ready for the adventures

It still took a while to get to the other side of Nantlle,where I wanted to start. I had seen on the map that there is a public footpath that starts at the main road, and it doesn't quite lead to the ridge, but it goes in some semblance of the right direction. There is no official path over the ridge at all, but I knew there would be a non-official one. Good enough for me!

I found the start of the path but there was no sign. It wasn't indicated further on, either. That was not such a problem; I needed to just make sure I would walk uphill to go in the right direction. I stomped through some rough and swampy fields, climbed carefully over some walls and fences, and finally found a track. That was on the map! Now it would get easier. (The starting point of that track was too difficult to get to by bike.) I saw the track would have a junction, and another limb would go in the right direction for a few hundreds of meters. Well, I assumed it would go further. And it did! I needed to skirt an impressive cliff (Clogwyn-y-Cysgod, or Shadow Cliff) and that was easy to find. When I was almost up I stopped for coffee. Sipping the stuff I saw two tiny specs in the bottom of the valley below me make their way up to the head of the valley. And fearlessly climb up! That looked tricky.

I came through a (part old part active) slate quarry along the way

Coffee time!

View from the coffee spot: notice the path snaking steeply up

I went on. When I got to where the specs would come out onto Craig Cwm Silyn (No idea what 'Silyn' means) I saw it wasn't as steep as it had looked from where I had been sitting. It looked inviting! Trip for another day.

 Where the steep path reached the top

Now I was at the top of the ridge it became easy. The top was broad and flat for a while, until I had to do a fairly steep descent to Bwlch Dros-Bern (Pass over whatever "Pern" means) in order to climb back up onto Mynydd Tal-y-Mignedd  (Mountain at the end of the swamps). From here the mountains looked beautifully velvety. At the obelisk at the top I stopped for lunch. Three Londoners passed me; they had started in Pen-y-Pass the day before! They probably came over the top of Snowdon. Quite a hike, and very busy, I guess! I suppose they may have a sad homecoming...

Selfie with the flat landscape of Craig Cwm Silyn

 View into Cwm Pennant

Pretty bog cottom in from of a grim-looking Craig yr Ogof

I went on. Trum y Ddysgl (Ridge of the Dish) was waiting! It was very pretty. I also liked the completely empty valleys I saw on my left. Generally you couldn't even see a path in them. On the right had been Cwm Pennant (for completeness: Corrie at the top of the valley, where I had tried to run), but now my view had passed over the pass and I was seeing the main valley leading to Beddgelert again.

 Looking back on velvety Mynydd-Tal-yMignedd

Mynydd Drws y Coed, with Snowdon in the background

Trum y Ddysgl lead to Mynydd Drws y Coed (The Mountain of the Door of the Woods), from which it was actually a scramble to get down. I didn't expect that anymore! It was fun though. And I got down to y Garn (The Cairn) and I knew I would have to find a path down. I did but lost it again; oh well, I could just walk down the grassy slope. It wasn't so bad! When I was almost down I sat down to enjoy the view and an apple before I would rejoin the path I had taken with Monique. From there it was only minutes back to the car. I got there by 15:30! Not bad.

One of the empty valleys (it doesn't even have a name on the map) with Mynydd Mawr on the other side

I drove down the valley, retrieved my bike, and drove on. Slowly, as you do when passing through Caernarfon in a sunny weekend. I still was home by 16:30. What a day! I can see why that ridge has such a name. It is stunning! And I only came across three clumps of people (the Londoners, some people with a dog who whimpered at me, and a couple) while it was a sunny Sunday in June. Brilliant! I might do that trick with the car and the bike more often.

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