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Monday, 11 August 2014

Northern Carneddau Snowdonia 9-8-2014

Back in Snowdonia after a few visits to the Lake District saw me around the quiet and wild side of the Carneddau. I have been round here a few times but this walk was to visit a few tops that I have bypassed for one reason or another so with the weather set fine it was a good excuse to get a good mountain day in. I started and finished at the ABER FALLS car park and was out for about 9 1/2 hours covering about 12 miles. I passed four other walkers and saw no more than a dozen more making their way from one summit to another with the weather being a mix of warm sun, wind, high cloud but no rain in this really quiet area of Snowdonia
The walk from the car park to the falls is very easy going on a well laid out path that takes about half an hour. Due to the dry summer we have had, the falls weren't as spectacular as they can be after a lot of rain like they were when I was last here about two years ago.
Route for the day
Weather station and visitor centre
Carneddau Ponies
Aber Falls
Aber Falls
From the falls I made my way up the bank of scree that brings you out at the top of the falls. It's an obvious track but in wet weather it needs a bit of care, today though was perfectly dry and easy underfoot. There is a couple of places that you need to be careful near the top but otherwise it's OK. Once you start on the track up the valley the views back begin to open up down towards the coast and Anglesey
Track leading from and up over the falls
View back down onto the path from the car park
Top of Aber Falls
Afon Goch
View back towards Anglesey

A short way along the track I crossed the Afon Goch to make my ascent up the grassy and heather covered slopes towards my first summit of the day, BERA MAWR, a rocky summit that wouldn't look out of place on the Glyderau range of Snowdonia. It's a bit of a playground here with a small bit of scrambling to be done and some fine views to be had. The ascent route was pathless and it was a question of following sheep and pony tracks and basically heading for the rocky outcrops. There was a rescue helicopter in the area and it looked to be going down in the direction of the falls from where I had just come from. Don't know if it was a training exercise or for real but it was in the area for about half an hour or so
My crossing point and heading up between the heather
Bera Mawr with Bera Bach to the right
Rescue helicopter
Carneddau Ponies
Rescue helicopter
Bera Mawr's rocky summit
Summit view towards Bera Bach
From here it was a straight forward walk across to BERA BACH, another rocky summit with equally fine views across to the summits of Carnedd Llewelyn, Yr Elen, Elidir Fawr and down to the coast and over to Anglesey
Towards Bera Bach
Summit view towards Drosgl with Anglesey as a backdrop
Summit view of the High Carneddau & the Glyderau range of Y Garn
It was on Bera Bach that my camera went up the spout! My fault, as I let it slip into the only drop of water in the rocks, a small puddle that wouldn't drown a fly but it killed my camera!!! Not sure if its the battery gone or the camera itself but at least I had my phone so the rest of the photo's are from that.
So it was off again on the wide grassy plateau across to the summit of DROSGLwhich again offers fine views over the coast and Anglesey bathed in sunshine. The wide plateau is great for walking in this fine dry weather but can be a nightmare when the cloud comes down and it's difficult to navigate, it can also be quite boggy in wet weather but today was just a good day to be out there.

Summit view over to Yr Elen & Carnedd Llewellyn
Drosgl summit
Summit view back to Bera Mawr & Bach with Foel Fras in the background
Next stop was to head back past Bera Bach to the rocky outcrop of Yr Aryg on the way to CARNEDD GWENLLIAN. One thing you notice about this area is that all the summits are rocky, a bit like the Glyderau summits of Glyder Fawr & Fach while the plateau area is mostly grass and boggy which is fairly flat and wide. It also catches any wind that is blowing and today was fairly windy, not gale force cold winds, just a cooling wind which bought out the fleece for a bit of protection. The sun was still warm enough though and I did get through plenty of water.
Bera Bach
View back from Yr Aryg
Towards Carnedd Gwenllian from Yr Aryg
Summit view back towards Bera Mawr, Bach Drosgl & Yr Aryg
Another rocky summit, Carnedd Gwenllian

Summit view of Yr Elen and her East Ridge
Another feature about the Carneddau is the free roaming ponies. The wild Carneddau mountain ponies have been grazing on the slopes of the Aber and Llanfairfechan Mountain for at least 500 years and because of their special characteristics, they have been listed as one of the Wonders of Snowdonia. A great sight to see and although they are wild they are rounded up once a year for a health check and are quite use to people so you can see them from quite close quarters. As long as you respect them they won't present any problems and just get on quietly grazing away.
Carneddau pony
Carneddau Pony Foal
Another pony with Foel Fras beyond
After a good rest while watching the ponies it was another straight forward walk to the highest summit of the day and what is traditionally the last summit of the Welsh 3000's mountain challenge, which is to reach all 15 3000ft mountain summits in 24 hours. Not something I'd do but I have completed all the 3000ft mountains and it only took me three years :-) While Foel Fras is 942 metres (3090ft) Carnedd Gwenllian is the other mountain over 3000ft @ 926metres (3038ft) while the others are between 430 metres (1410ft Foel Dduarth) and 807metres (2647ft Bera Bach)
So Foel Fras it is then and the only summit of the day with a trig point as all the others are marked with either a cairne, summit shelter or nothing. Another straight forward walk along the wide plateau that offered good views of my route so far and great views from the summit of Llandudno and the off shore wind farms that dominate this part of the North Wales coast. Love them or hate them they do in a strange way look impressive as they seem to stretch for miles. A great feat of engineering as well as a blot on the landscape.
Foel Fras Summit trig point
Summit view down to Llandudno and the off shore wind farms
As this was to be the highest point of the day it was all down hill from here, or so I thought. I still had another six summits to pass over and although they were all getting smaller in height, there was still a bit of descent and re-ascent to do on all of them but was well worth it in the end. So next was DRUM, straight down off FOEL FRAS following the distinct path alongside a fence line. There is some work being done on the path here as it can be quite boggy, even in dry weather so it is a help to keep the area from turning into more of a boggy area than needed. There was also good views over towards MOEL SIABOD, my favourite Welsh Mountain :-)
The road to Drum
View over to Llwytmor and Llyn Anafon
Drum summit shelter with Foel Fras as a backdrop
View over towards Colwyn Bay on the North Wales coast from the summit shelter
View to a distant Moel Siabod
From Drum I followed the fence line that took me to the summit of CARNEDD DDELW. A worth while diversion before heading off towards Pen Bryn-du before heading to a great little ridge walk above the valley and main track along the Afon Anafon.
Summit view of Foel Fras, Llwytmor and Llyn Afanon

View of my way forward following the fence line and on to the remaining summits
Carnedd Ddelw summit shelter view back to Drum & Foel Fras
From here I followed the fence line to a rocky outcrop before heading down on to the main path and then up on to Pen Bryn-du with a small stone cairn on the summit before a big pull up to Yr Orsedd and a great ridge walk along to Foel Ganol and the final summit of the day Foel Dduarth. This ridge walk would make a great walk in itself and by returning by the main track in the valley below would make a great half day out, especially in good clear weather. A great way to end a good long walk in this quiet part of the Carneddau
On towards Pen Bryn-du

More Carneddau Ponies

Small stone cairn on Pen Bryn-du

View down to the main path and the Afon Anafon

On the ridge to Yr Orsedd

Summit view from Yr Orsedd towards Anglesey

Summit view from Foel Ganol back along my route from a distant Drum

Anglesey from Foel Ganol

Towards my final summit of Foel Dduarth
Foel Dduarth Summit

Summit view of the valley below
I made my way down of Foel Dduarth. by heading straight down to the main path below. there looked to be a path of sorts but that soon disappeared amongst the heather and rocks but I made it down safe and sound. A final half hour walk back down the lane to the car park and that was the end of yet another brilliant day out in the mountains of this quiet side of Snowdonia. Wonderful :-)

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