30 August 2017

Big Saturday trip

August is coming to an end, and with it perhaps my last Welsh summer! Time to discover more of this magical landscape before I can't anymore. When we had been on the Thursdaynight Wild Goose Chase and had been looking over Llyn Padarn while having a tea break at the old quarry hospital I had looked at Moel Eilio ("second hill"??) and Foel Goch (red hill) and all these mountains on the other side, and realised I had not been on top of them yet. An omission!

I had a look at how to go about it. I figured the place to start was a parking lot I had seen before, when I had gone for a run near Llanberis. From there a path went to the top. And then along the ridge. Where to get off again? I saw two options: the short one,where I would walk until I would cross the path coming from the valley on my right (Nant y Betws) back to Llanberis on my left. Otherwise I could press on, hit the Snowdon Ranger Path, get to just underneath the top, probably not be bothered to do the last 50m, and then descend the Llanberis Path with a potential detour to Llyn Du'r Arddu. I would have to cross the valley at some point to come back to the path that would get me back to my car. That would get me past the start of my recent Tuesday Evening walk, and near where a race had brought me a fair while ago which had brought the idea home to me there were some valleys around here that were worth further exploring. I'd have to see how I felt on the day!

By 9AM I had parked. It was a beautiful day! Slate grey skies combined with sun. Very atmospheric. I started up the path. The view was a bit intermittent; sometimes I was just walking in a cloud, but from time to time the valley below me would open up. Nice! When I got to the top I couldn't see a thing. I did see my first passer-by of the day: a fell runner.

 How it all started

 Top of Moel Eilio

I went on. The fog slowly lifted. I could largely enjoy the view from the rest of the ridge! And I made rapid progress. Soon I was having coffee with a view over the pass with the path back to Llanberis; Bwlch Maesgwm. No way I would take that path! I would go on. And so I did. Soon I had Bwlch Cwm Brwynog in view; I had a cup of tea before hitting it, as it was there I would join the much busier Snowdon Ranger Path. I had met noone since the runner. From a distance I could see the throngs on SRP...

The view returns! And offers Llyn Dwythwch

When I got to the pass I saw a stile, bringing me into the valley. I didn't know there was a path there! The map said nothing about it. But I saw it even split; left, going back to Llanberis along the convenient side of the valley, and onwards, towards Llyn Du'r Arddu. Worth a try! I could do without all these other people. I followed the path to the lake until it vanished (the path, that is); then I cross-countried to where I knew the lake had to be. The landscape was amazing! I felt really good. My choice had been the right one. I thought I was all alone until I saw a few climbers on the vertical cliff face. And then some more. There were about ten there! But very spread out, both horizontally and vertically. I decided to have lunch at the lake; I found a good spot, took off my shoes and socks, and bathed my feet.

View down the valley

The impressive cliffs of Clogwyn Du'r Arddu at the end of the valley. Notice the climbers...


Someone else appeared; this hiker was soon also sitting at the lake edge taking off shoes. And more. Soon she was in a bikini, wading into the water, encouraging me to do the same! Where I was the water got deep abruptly though, and I didn't have a bikini, or a towel. I stuck to my sandwiches. Maybe for the better; I would have had to go naked, which can make me feel a bit vulnerable, and soon yet another hiker appeared. This time a male. And hikers tend to behave well towards random naked females, but still.

When I was done I went on. I knew there was an incline here; it was on the map! Worth having a look. I got to it and couldn't resist walking up it. But where to? I saw no entrances. Maybe all had been backfilled. When I got high up I still saw no entrances. Oh well, too bad! I went on.

From the mine there was a path; an old tramway, undoubtedly, and now still there to cater for climbers. It would join the very busy Llanberis Path. I wasn't feeling that! Tens of meters before the paths joined I saw a faint trail in the grass, going back into the centre of the valley. I took it! It vanished but the river was easy to find. I crossed it, thought of going on, then reconsidered, took my clothes off and had a bath in the river. It was quieter here!

The river leading into the lake. Zoom in and see the horror of the throngs on the Llanberis Path! 

The incline

View on the lake from the cliff

Heading back towards Bwlch Cwm Brwynog

The river, where I had a bath

After that refreshing bath I went on. The path vanished but I followed the landscape until I came to a place where there should be a public footpath. I found a stile! But no path to speak of. Oh dear. I was a bit fed up with bushwhacking by now; I cut short to the big path I had seen at Bwlch Maesgwm and followed that back. I had another break finishing my supplies some mile from the car. Then I walked on, along the path I had ran on before. I took a tiny detour past a small slate quarry on the side of the path, but then I was back at the car. It was getting late-ish but I wasn't ready to leave this beautiful landscape. Even this parking lot was beautiful! It was a flat piece of land next to slate spoil heaps; the site of the old slate mill? I got the newspaper out of my car and sat down on the grass to read some. Very peaceful!

After a while I figured it was time to go anyway. I drove past the shop, did my grocery shopping, and was home at a quarter to eight. A day well spent! And now I have finally seen that valley! Such an evident one, but it took me more than three years to get to it... And I got to see it pretty much on my own!

Scenic farm in the middle of nowhere

Back to where it started!

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