05 March 2021

Finally: yr Elen!

When you approach Bethesda from the coast, your view is dominated by one mountain. This is yr Elen. It looms majestically over the village, and seeing it rise up from my bike on my daily commute often made me very happy.

And I had never been on top.

The Carneddau form a bit of a W-shaped ridge, and each of the three ends have a clear path to them. I have done all three quite regularly. But the W has extra end, and that is yr Elen. And that has no clear path to it. In order to get to it, you have to walk from the road out of Gerlan over a farmyard with an aggressive dog and no indication that there is a footpath there. (I had checked this path out during my sick leave.) And at the end of that very unclear path you are on your own; you end up in a rather swampy stretch of land with no obvious paths in it. Even if it is a dry period you will probably get your feet wet. And only then are you on your way! It really is a lot less inviting than access to all the other mountains.

It was time I did it anyway. I had decided a beautiful Sunday was going to be the day. And I had decided to walk around the south-west; in other words, first take one of the legs of the W on the way up, and then come down over yr Elen. That way I could do the swamp when I was almost home!

I biked to the junction the road to the farmyard meets to road out of Gerlan. And then I walked up! It was a gorgeous day. I started out walking straight against the sun. And after about two hours I was on top of Carnedd Dafydd. That was a good place to have some coffee and banana bread! I also met a couple there. We had a nice chat in the sun. I suppose everybody cherishes these random encounters as you are not allowed to have organised ones!

I then walked on to Carnedd Llewelyn. There I had some lunch, and another chat. There was a bloke with two small dogs who had come from the opposite direction. And there were some ravens keeping an eye on us.

Now the new part of the walk started. I was savouring it! It started with a weird landscape on top of the ridge. And then the path dropped down a stony slope to the neck of yr Elen. And on the other side it went up, with a cliff on the right. From the approach to Bethesda, the mountain looks really smooth, but that is only the front. It hides its ragged edge from people approaching from that direction. But if you come from the other side you see it rivals the black ladders.

Somewhere near the top there is a ridge coming down. I had already seen that from the other side, when I had been camping the previous spring. I had a look at it. It looked good! I should do that one some other day.

After the ridge there was another blocky slope down. And after that it became a fairly gentle grassy slope. It was all very pleasant. And then in the end the slope ended and the only thing between me and my bike were said swamp, vague public footpath, and farmyard.

I managed not to get overly wet in the swamp. And I walked down the vague path, onto the farmyard. There I was bitten by the aggressive dog. He didn't break the skin though, so it was not a problem. It wasn't very inviting, though! And then I was back at my bike, and I could just roll downhill back home.

I am glad I have done this hill now! It was about time. And I will be back for the ridge!

Walking up with the sun in my face

Beautiful hazy view from the top

Summit selfie

The black ladders

Cwm Llafar from above

Raven on Carnedd Llewelyn

The jagged edge of yr Elen

Walking along the edge

Funny pointy rock on the slope

The more conventional view on yr Elen

The swamp

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