On This Shattered Mountain Top


[Now With Photo-ey Goodness – see my Flickr Feed – On This Shattered Mountain – for all the photos from the walk]

Up We GoI wanted to get around the ‘Elidir Round’ for ages, so I jumped in the car this afternoon and headed off up to the Marchlyn Mawr access road, a short drive away.
I parked up, secretly wishing that First Hydro would somehow allow cars further up the road, to save me the awful concrete slog to the start of the walk (and the end!). Funny really, I love walking, but always hate this start as it’s just one of those looong roads that goes on and on. I can also never be bothered to walk to the shop, despite it being close enough to throw a stone at!

Anyway, I yomped up the road to get to the start of the walk, which is the outflow of the Marchlyn Bach reservoir, which sits at 510 metres. The light at the moment was quite conducive for photography, not wildly so, but as I knew I’d be shooting mainly from west to east and it was mid-afternoon, I expected some decent shots. So, I arrived at Marchlyn Bach a little sweatier than when I left the car and snapped one or two looking across the lake towards the awesome Pillar of Elidir, a great rock cliff at the southern end of the lake. Marchlyn Bach ShoreI could have stayed here all day, but time was ticking on so I steeled myself for the steep ascent of the north east spur of Elidir Fach. Now I like to think of myself as a pretty fit chap, but it’s always tough work ascending this, not to mention being navigationally difficult in thick mist as you could easily stray left and fall to your death if you didn’t know what you were doing; so keep those map reading skills up to scratch folks.

Eventually I reached the slightly uphill plateau and made a bee-line for the small summit cairn, at 795 metres. When I’ve a target in sight I’ll make for it, especially after a very tiring ascent, but it also pays to have a look around when you’re in the mountains, as you never know what you will see. I came across some amazing, light brown toadstools and laid down on the (thankfully dry) ground and started snapping from various angles, and I think they came out pretty good. I was pleased with myself for finding these and having the opportunity for some good DoF (Depth of Field) shots. I really like these kind of pics, so I tried my best to get a sharp foreground without blurring the background too much; all good practice.

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I arrived at the cairn and had a quick drink and more snaps (no, I said snaps, not Schnappes) and made my way to the fence line corner. In bad visibility I’d normally take a compass bearing to this point or aim off and head left up towards the 90 degree turn, then take another bearing to the point of where I know the path up to Elidir Fawr’s ridge starts; knowing the mountain’s terrain helps a lot. But as visibility was good, I decided to head up the right hand path, which is steeper, but you gain height quicker and it joins the west end of the ridge, just before it starts to point downwards to Nant Peris. From here, one can enjoy the full length of the shattered, rocky ridge as you head east to the summit cairn; great in the dry, but lethal when it’s wet – this is ankle breaking territory now.

Elidir Fawr North FlankI think Elidir Fawr is an (unfairly) under-rated mountain, after all, it’s above that magic 3,000ft mark (924 metres), it has bucket loads of character, has a beautiful profile, incredible views in all directions and more often than not, you’ll have it to yourself (as I did today), whilst everyone else makes for Tryfan or Snowdon; North Wales has much more to offer than just the honeypots, folks. I’m a little sentimental about her anyway, as she was the first mountain I scaled when I moved to the area. So I arrived at the summit cairn and perched myself there, enjoying my three cups of tea, the wind blowing and the distant sound of a diesel locomotive heaving its way up Snowdon. Absolute bliss, albeit cold and windy, bliss. I took a self-shot (obligatory on my mountain walks)Selfy, and as the weather was rapidly changing, I made my way down the ridge towards Bwlch y Brecan, making sure I followed the ridge religiously to get as much exposure (not a pun, I know this is a photography blog!) as possible and to maintain height, as I never fancy the steep haul from the bwlch to the stile. I took a few more shots of the now beautiful pyramidal shape of Elidir from the north east; she’s stunning from this angle, and a couple down into Cwm Dudodyn and along the ridge line to Y Garn, not forgetting the afore-mentioned honeypot of Tryfan.

I climbed over the stile and quickly made the summit cairn of Mynydd Perfedd (812 metres), and enjoyed the leisurely stroll along the wide, ridge/plateau to Carnedd y Filiast (“Cairn of the Greyhound Bitch” – lovely name, I know), enjoying the views down into Nant Ffrancon and Atlantic Slabs, a popular climbing venue (and a recent callout of ours, made all the more famous by ‘Sooty’ the dog, who survived for 10 days up here!)

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Arriving at Carnedd y Filiast’s ridge line, I made a mental note to take care, as again one misplaced foot could result in a nasty injury; I was again glad it was dry. I didn’t stop here long, so made my way straight down the north west ‘path’ to the nameless bwlch at around 710 metres. At this point, a mountain rescue call out came through on my phone, cursing the fact that I said to my wife earlier in the day “I can guarantee you there’ll be a call out when I’m not available to help”; this is how it always happens, but as much as I love being on the mountain rescue team, I just can’t sit around waiting for emergencies to come through – life goes on. I felt better though, knowing it would be a helicopter pick-off, so not much I could have done; the casualty was in good hands.

I took a few more pics and decided to make my way down. I arrived back onto the Marchlyn access road and gave my wife a quick call to let her know where I was, and again cursed the long(er) walk back down to my car, as the road winds it’s sinuous way down the northern flanks of Elidir. I snapped a quick shot of the stream from the Marchlyn outflow, and hot-footed it down the road.

Rather typically, the light was improving as the wind tugged away the clouds to the north east and a few shafts of yellow sunlight lit up the west faces of the mountains behind me; too late now as I was in a poor location to compose a shot and wanted to get home to my wife. So I yanked off my boots, sorted my rucksacks out (I have one ready for mountain rescue call outs and one for personal hill walks), started the car, happy that I had yet another quality day in the beautiful mountains of Snowdonia.

Thanks for reading.

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