I decided yesterday that it’d be nice for my wife and I to do a little hill walk today, straight into our ‘back garden’ from the house. I call it the ‘back garden’ because, well, it kind of is. The entire Carneddau range of mountains in northern Snowdonia can be accessed on foot within twenty minutes from our back door. If you’re an avid mountain/hill walker like myself, it doesn’t get much better than this; I don’t even need to take the car.
The little mountain in question today, was a small but lovely conical shaped, boulder-strewn hill called Gyrn, at a modest 542 metres/1,778 feet. Pretty much half the height of Snowdon (1,085 metres). It’s a nice, easy walk with nothing technical and on grassy terrain, boggy in places. It affords wonderful views in all directions.
The weather forecast for today wasn’t all that bad, considering how bad it has been recently, although we expected it to be windy. More on that shortly. So we set off with the dog in tow, and immediately into a rain shower, which made me feel somewhat glum, as I wanted one day, just one day where we could get out without being rained on. Thankfully, shortly after leaving the road from the village, the rain did stop for us and never returned. It was however, replaced by wind. Cold wind.
On the way up past the incline, my wife spotted something unusual on the hill about 200 metres away; it was partially hidden so we could not figure out what it was at first. We back-tracked a little to get a different view point. It was only one of the bright yellow, Rescue 122 Sea King helicopters from RAF Valley on Anglesey! We’d seen one flying around behind the houses the previous evening when we took the dog out and were a little confused. We’re very used to seeing them flying over the village on a daily basis either training or on a callout from our mountain rescue team (both being members of said rescue team, we’re also very privileged to ride in these helicopters, during rescues and in training), but the fact it appeared to be circling very low was a concern. It transpired this evening when we tuned in to the local news, that the helicopter had had a technical problem and needed to land safely. You can read the brief report by clicking here. Unfortunately, it’s not the first time these machines have had to land due to technical problems, but generally, they are very safe. These birds are over 30 years old after all and are in fact being de-commissioned in 2015. I will miss them and that familiar sound of one, turbines whining up the valley (I won’t miss the experience of breathing in bugger knows how much aviation fuel fumes when a passenger though!). They may be old, but they are big, graceful things.
Anyway, that excitement over with, we carried on around the hill and encountered the strong winds that were gusting up from the south. Again. At least we were getting a bit of a push up the hill. Eventually, after contouring around this hill, we lose sight of all civilisation and I remarked to my wife how it just seems so bleak and away from everything here, yet we were within two miles of the village. I love it. Our little hill was now in sight.
We dropped down into the head of Bwlch ym Mwhll Le (I don’t expect you to be able to read or pronounce that) where it’s usually pretty boggy; no change today. There’s also a number of path junctions here that can take you straight across to Gyrn Wigiau (643 metres) and Drosgl (758 metres), back right towards Bethesda/Gerlan or left up to Gyrn. We headed up onto Llefn first and this is where we got a taste of that wind I mentioned. It was pretty wild and my rogue rucksack straps were slapping me about the face painfully (note to self: tape/tie up straps!). You can just skirt around this hill, but I wanted to gain a little height so it was easier going on the way to Gyrn. Our dog, Bailey seemed not to be bothered. He’s in a world of his own on the hill; all those smells, open space and nothing but toilets! Heaven for him!
We strolled over Llefn and made our way slowly but surely up onto Gyrn. And boy was it windy! The mountain’s name is pronounced the same way as girn ; if you’re not sure what that means, then look here. The reason I used this word, is because of the kinds of faces I was pulling when I was turned into the strong wind on the summit (I know, I’m so clever linking Gyrn with girn). We quickly sat down in the small, but only just sufficiently sheltered cairn for a little rest and a brew. Naturally, I wanted a number of shots from the top before we went down. The light today wasn’t very dramatic for photography, so I made the best of what I had.
We finished up after I took a few more pictures, including some of the dog (I’ll post the remainder in a gallery at the end of the post). We donned our hoods and balaclavas now as the wind was really blowing and it was very cold. The route back down to the village was easy going (apart from being blown back towards Gyrn by the wind) and gradually down hill all the way, so we just got our heads down and got on with it. Just before we arrived into the highest parts of our village, I snapped another panorama looking south towards the larger of the Carneddau mountains and the Glyderau range:
We arrived at the road and put Bailey back on his lead and made our way down to the field behind our house.
It was a really enjoyable walk and one I need to do more often, after all, it is in my back garden…
Thanks for reading and check out the remainder of the photos below.