Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Walking in North Wales Part 2

The Great Orme Tramway, a vintage tram system (built 1902), conveys visitors to the summit of the Great Orme a prominent limestone headland on the north coast of Wales north of Llandudno.

From the summit 207m (679 ft) there are excellent views back to the mainland as here beyond Deganwy and across the Afon Conwy to Conwy itself.

Also across Bae Conwy to the mountains of north west Wales.

The Great Orme Mines are possibly the most important copper mines of the Bronze Age yet discovered and excavated. Apparently abandoned around 600 BC, but with some evidence of Roman patronage, the mines were reopened in 1692 and continued to be worked until the end of the 19th century. Then buried in waste rock from local quarries, they were re-discovered in 1987 when the waste tips were in the process of being landscaped.

The narrow and cramped underground workings on 2 of the 16 levels can be explored.

On Thursday we began our walk in the village of Abergwyngregyn and climbed rapidly to pick up the trail through the Afon Anafon valley.

Abandoned stone walled sheep folds are quite common in this part of Wales especially on level terraces close to water.

At the head of the valley there was a steep climb to the top of Foel Fras 942m (3,091 ft). Although the approaches to these mountains are quite grassy the summits were always boulder strewn with sizeable frost shattered blocks of rock.

The top of Garnedd Uchaf 926m (3,038 ft) was similar.

The view south from the top of Garnedd Uchaf . I can’t remember the names of the main peaks.

During the descent we witnessed a helicopter rescue from the sheepfold on Gyrn.

Crossing the Afon Rhaeadr bach high above the valley floor, we took the opportunity cool ourselves with a hat full of cold water.

Aber Falls from the slopes of Moel Wnion.

Before descending to sea level once again we could glance back over the latter part of our route for today. 12 miles, 3325 ft of ascent and about 7 hours with stops.
Final posting covering the last day - to come. Watch this space.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Walking in North Wales 30th May - 4th June 2010 PART 1

Our first walk started from Bryn Corach and proved to be an easy warm up, a taste for things to come. It was 8¾ miles and 1775 feet of ascent, lasting about 5 hours with stops. We travelled by field and lane and along hillside paths. From the top of Allt-wen 836 ft the whole of Conwy Bay was spread out below. The Great Orme is on the horizon to the left with Llandudno centre and the entrance to the River Conwy, right.
To reach Allt-wen we had to cross the top of the Sychnant Pass, once an old coaching road linking Conwy to the west before the coast road was built. Capelulo nestles at the foot of the pass while Tal y Fan keeps watch from the distance.
There are good views over Conwy from Conwy Mountain with its castle and three bridges over the river.
Conwy is an attractive but busy little town with a population of 14,200.
Moel Siabod sits isolated above the villages of Betws-y-Coed and Capel Curig. At 872m (2,861 ft) it is the highest peak in the Moelwynion mountain range. From the east looking, across the forested slopes of the Afon Conwy Valley, it looms majestically, in its isolation, over the Welsh countryside.
Our route took us from the Plas-y-Brenin National Mountaineering Centre in Capel Curig along the valley of the Afon Lugwy to the village and bridge of Pont Cyfyng. Our path rose gently uphill through birch wood, open moor and pine forest with good views of the mountain.

 We had our picnic close to a small stream within a sheltered cwm.

After following the wrong stream we back tracked to find Llyn y Foel. The main route from the lake rises gradually at first to the south but becomes steeper and rockier with some scrambling before turning sharply right to ascend the Daear Ddu Ridge to the summit.

From the summit the view of Snowdon and the Snowdon Horseshoe is magnificent.

The highest part of the mountain forms a relatively level, rocky ridge approximately 800 m long, running roughly south-west to north-east and the descent was rocky at first and then over steep grassy slopes before entering woodland and reaching Plas y Brenin again. 10 miles, 2525 ft of ascent, 6 hours.

View from Moel Siabod to the west.
View continued looking north.
My main reason for going to Conwy was to make my first ascent of Snowdon 1085m (3,560 ft). I was pleased to be able to do this although above about 400m the mountain was covered in a blanket of damp cloud which reduced visibility at the summit to only a few yards. We used the Snowdon Ranger Path which starts at the Youth Hostel on the edge of Llyn Cwellyn at the foot of Snowdon’s western flank. The path is the original ‘tourist’ route up the mountain and involves the greatest amount of ascent.

As we zig-zagged our way up the first few hundred metres we paused to watch a train of the The Welsh Highland Railway pass through the valley below pulled by one of the most powerful 2' gauge steam locomotives in the world.

Picnic was ‘enjoyed’ within the cloud along the top of the Clogwyn Du'r Arddu cliff face. Our best entertainment was watching Pete and four others of the group ‘demonstrate’ the emergency survival tent.

Near the summit we ‘heard’ the Snowdon Mountain Railway train pass by.

Reaching the summit for me was an exciting achievement but not everybody saw the day in the same light! We returned via the Rhyd Ddu Path. 7½m and 3075 ft of ascent, about 6 hrs including stops.