The third month of my 12 wild camping trips in 12 months took me and my Dad to Snowdonia. The weather forecast was good for this time of year, so we chose a high level route for our Snowdonia weekend walk. We were also hoping to put in some decent mileage for our upcoming Cape Wrath trail, which we are starting in April.
We got to the car park near the Llyn Eigiau Reservoir towards the north of Snowdonia around 6 in the evening on Friday. The road up to this car park was fairly steep and tight, and I spent the entire time hoping to avoid meeting any oncoming traffic! Setting off at 6 wasn’t too late, with the slightly longer days this time of year we had time to get out and find somewhere to camp. There was an hour or so before it would get too dark, so we set off over a low point in the ridge towards Llyn Cowlyd Reservoir, where we stopped for the evening.
The walk around the reservoir to begin Saturday was pleasant, with the hills around looking inviting. We dropped down towards the A5 and briefly walked along the road into Capel Curig. Here we found a handy water tap just outside the Joe Brown shop, which was useful considering that, despite the relatively early time, the temperature was already quite warm.
The village and car park were busy with walkers. However, climbing up onto the Glyderau, we were pleasantly surprised to find the walk along Cefn y Capel to be quiet, despite the clear skies and sunshine. People seemed to be taking advantage of the good weather to go straight for Tryfan, although seeing the steepness and with the full pack weighing me down, I was feeling content with not having to tackle that this weekend. Besides, it had cleared the way for us to climb up towards Y Foel Goch, barely seeing another person all morning.
As we finished climbing along Cefn y Capel, just before the final climb towards the summit of Y Foel Goch, views of Tryfan, as well as the remainder of the ridge we planned to do today, opened up. The few sunny days in north Wales are well worth making the most of, with the weekend reminding us just how stunning Snowdonia can be.
Walking through short grass and relatively soft ground so far had lulled me into a false sense of security. As soon as we began to climb Glyder Fach, the true rocky nature of much of Snowdonia revealed itself. We were both testing out new light weight footwear for this walk – me a pair of Inov-8 TerraUltra G 270 shoes and Dad a pair of Inov-8 RocFly G 390 boots (reviews coming soon) – and this would be a tough test for them.
Climbing over the two Glyders was an excellent walk, with interesting terrain and great views all around. The descent from Glyder Fawr towards Llyn Cwn was steep, with a bit of scree although both of our shoes appeared to be handling it well. Down through the Devil’s Kitchen was also a particularly steep climb, and this took a surprisingly long time considering how short of a distance it appeared on the map. We reached Llyn Idwal and stopped for the evening.
Saturday night we thought we’d found an excellent place to camp, near the lake with views over the water and the mountains beyond. However, we discovered in the morning that there were clear no camping signs at the other end of the lake. Although we’d camped as it got dark and left no trace, as is vital when wild camping, we’d accidentally camped somewhere inappropriate. It was a reminder to us to try to always stick to the wild camping rules.
Sunday began well with excellent blue skies and little wind. We set off around the lake, and almost missed a path down into a gully, coming out at the National Trust’s Ogwen car park we were heading for. The path we took was interesting, through a gully that looked to be an old riverbed. Strangely, signposts were clearly indicating for people take a different route, missing out on this cool feature.
Since Saturday afternoon Dad had been mentioning Sunday morning’s climb was to be challenging. As I’d woken up this morning, I’d peered at the intimidating slopes of Pen yr Ole Wen with a mix of trepidation and excitement. Once we’d walked through the car park and over the A5 we reached the base of the hill. The footpath started off well, clear in the ground, however as we climbed the path became less obvious, splitting off to take different routes and re-joining again. It was a fairly technical climb, and I was grateful the weather was good, with full packs, any wind, rain or snow would have been a tad treacherous.
After reaching the summit, we continued to Carnedd Dafydd. Wind had picked up on top, and we were grateful to find a shelter to stop for a much-needed rest and lunch.
We continued along the ridge and climbed Carnedd Llewelyn. Reaching higher than Scafell Pike, but with significantly less people (we saw no one until we reached the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen), and with a brilliant climb, I would highly recommend the route we took along the ridge. The Carneddau will certainly be somewhere I return to.
We skirted around a contour below Foel Grach, aiming to reach a path on the map to drop into the valley. This path was on and off, not always particularly visible, but we followed the river down to the valley floor, where we picked up a track. This track headed almost directly back towards the Llyn Eigiau Reservoir, and then continued to the parked car, where we completed our Snowdonia weekend walk.
The weekend, with the clear weather and low wind, was excellent. The route we chose allowed us to stay high for as long as possible, making the most of the weather. Also, without intending to, we climbed a few of the Welsh 3000s. I would highly recommend this route for a Snowdonia weekend walk, as it included some quieter paths as well as the popular Glyderau, and was fairly technical at some points. It could also be easily extended, to include more of the Glyderau ridge such as Tryfan or beyond Carnedd Llewelyn to explore more of the Carneddau.
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