10 December 2021

Abergwyngregyn horseshoe

 When there was another Sunday with a good weather forecast coming up, I decided I needed to go out again. I had felt a bit cooped up. With the frantic marking in the past week I really wanted some fresh air. And I had something I don't get very often; I was gripped by a desire to not be at home. On the Saturday I was going to have tea with Martin and I volunteered his place. As much as I love my house, I just didn't want to be in it too much over the weekend! But the Sunday was for the hills. Initially I was going to go with Kate, but something that in the way and I ended up going alone. And I decided to do a walk I had thought about for a while; just East of the furthest reaches I can easily do from home, there is one valley I don't visit very often. In summer I'd been there with Caro, but we had walked through the bottom of the valley, there and back. And I thought it would be nice to walk around it. I had a bit of a look at the map; I decided the best thing to do would be to park by the start of the path to Aber Falls, then walk to where I had started with Caro, but instead of taking the path into the valley, just find my way up to the crest. They didn't seem to be any paths to it, but I knew there was one on the ridge. And from there it would just be a case of following the horseshoe! That would bring me to Llwytmor, where I had been at the end of the previous summer, and then I would find my way down to intersect the path that brings you past the waterfall, and then eventually back on the main path, back to the car park. I had walked that path in the other direction with my sister, and I know it was beautiful. And so that was how I executed the plan.

The beautiful weather didn't actually materialise, but I had enough clothes with me. Walking to where I had started with Caro was a bit dull, but that was why I wanted to do it in the beginning and not at the end, when I would be tired. And it was a bit of a slog to bushwhack my way up to Foel Ganol, but I got there in the end. And from there it was a bit windy and cold, as on the ridge was completely exposed, but it was okay. I just put on gloves and a hat and went onwards. The skies were amazing! And some occasional sun was seen in the distance. I was making good progress. In this cold winter you are not going to dawdle.

Cwm Anafon

Carneddau ponies

My first stop was for coffee and cake. I had some gooy chocolate cake (recipe from Rutger bakt) with me; excellent food from the cold hike. And then I walked on. On Drum I came across the first other person; when I was only about 2 m away I suddenly realised there was someone sitting at the Tor. I walked on, and it got busy; I overtook two people who were going in the same direction as me, and there were two people coming in the other direction. Some waving took place. And we were coming to the summit of Foel Fras; it was very icy there! It was the highest point of the route, and it stood out like a sore thumb; it was white with rime, and pretty icy. I was glad conditions wouldn't stay like that; I didn't have things like crampons with me. It was totally fine on Foel Fras, but if the snowline (I suppose I should say ice line as there was no actual snow; only hail, black ice and rime) would have been lower I would have had to either have such things with me, or reconsider my route.

Dramatic skies

Stepping stones over the boggy saddle

Cold on Foel Fras!

I quickly descended out of the iciness. And I was getting a bit cold! I moved fast. And I enjoyed the barren plain between Foel Fras and Llwytmor. 

View into the valley of Afon Rhaiadr Fawr

Typical high-latitude swampy terrain

When I approached the peak of Llwytmor I saw the silhouette of a man was waving a flag. I wasn't sure what that was about. I didn't think much about it; I got to the block field that forms the peak, and was just scrambling around. I didn't actually intend to stop. A more sheltered space would have been nicer! But then suddenly a head appeared above the wall of the winter shelter at the top. A young man told me had put the kettle on, and asked if I wanted a cup of tea. And I still had two flasks with me, but I thought it was really nice he asked so I clambered in and joined him.

We had a bit of a chat about where we had come from, were going to, and how we loved these hills. And he explained to me what he had me doing with this flag, for it was him. He said that his grandma could see this hilltop from her house, so he had phoned her and asked her to look up! He knew she would be able to see the flag. I thought that was very cute. We also talked about what we did; he was a roofer, and when I told him I worked in Ocean Sciences, it turned out he knew one of my colleagues and asked me to pass on his regards. And I will!

Even though we were sitting in the winter shelter, we were not particularly sheltered, so we didn't linger. After a while we said goodbye and went our separate ways. I had stupidly not put on my down jacket in there, so now I was cold. I soon stopped to put on the jacket now. I don't normally walk in down, but today was a good day for it. I immediately felt better. And I was just bushwhacking my way down the hill.

Approaching the end of the hanging valley

Winter selfie with lots of clothes

The path on the steep slope past the waterfall

Near the river I had lunch. And then I found my way to the path that had come up from the bottom of the valley. It had a weird crossing of a stream in it; I didn't remember that! I was probably on a slightly different iteration of the path. But soon I found a part I recognised, and from there it was a very gentle stroll down. Along the way, the gloves, hat, and down jacket came off again. And then I was back at the car! I was feeling a bit sweaty, but then had probably been my brisk walking in the cold wind. It had been beautiful!

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