No crowds, just mountains…


Hello readers

Yesterday my wife and I decided to do one of my favourite mountain walks in the area, along the Nantlle Ridge that runs from the village of Rhyd Ddu all the way down to Nebo. It comprises a number of mountains, never more than 734 metres, each one with its own unique character and appearance. From the east, we head west thus:

  1. Y Garn   –   633 metres
  2. Mynydd Drws y Coed   –   695 metres
  3. Trum yr Ddysgl   –   709 metres
  4. Mynydd Tal y Mignedd   –   653 metres
  5. Craig Cwm Silyn   –   734 metres
  6. Garnedd Goch   –   700 metres

Technically, we should have included Mynydd Graig Goch, which is at the very end of the ridge, but it provides a further detour and we never really had the time; a lot of people tend to miss it out anyway.

We chose this route, because on a busy, sunny day in Snowdonia all the honey pots would be thronging with people; we saw only 7 or 8 people along the entire walk, which was about 7.5 miles / 12.07 kilometres. Bliss. So, we parked my car at the western end and my wife’s car at the east end, and the three of us set off. Oh I’m sorry, the third family member being Bailey, the black labrador who has boundless energy, a bottomless pit for a stomach and a brain the size of a goldfish. Bless ‘im, say hello Bailey (click on all images to enlarge):

Black labrador
“Hello Bailey”

OK now we’ve the introductions out of the way, we can carry on.

The first hill, Y Garn is frankly a bit of a slog to get up. It starts off ok through farmers fields until it starts to increase in gradient:

Y Garn mountain
Y Garn. The path can just be made out centre left of shot

The beauty of this however is that we gained height quickly to get the views. Although, today they weren’t all that fantastic, due to the amount of haze present and I’d forgotten my UV filter for the camera, but I’ve fixed it as best I could in post-processing:

Snowdon in the distance
Looking across to Snowdon and Yr Aran from Y Garn’s slopes. The car is parked up and to the right of the farm on the road.

After a couple of breaks on the way up, whilst Bailey led the way (well, he’s got four legs) taking care not to trip over his lolling, pink tongue we finally reached the boulder field and the stile that would take us to the summit; this took us about an hour and five minutes. From here the view opens out into the stunning Nantlle Valley and Mynydd Mawr directly across north from us. Here’s a couple if pictures I took from the summit, including a panorama, but I can’t decide whether to post the monotone or the colour!?

Ok I’ve decided to use the colour panorama of the Nantlle Valley. I’m always quite satisfied knowing that I regularly cycle up the road you can see. It’s great being a mountain walker and a cyclist, as I get the views from the top and the bottom: 🙂

The beautiful Nantlle Valley with Llyn Nantlle left of shot.
The beautiful Nantlle Valley with Llyn Nantlle left of shot.

After a brief rest, we made our way towards the beautifully shaped Mynydd Drws y Coed. It starts off with quite a nice scramble that you can choose to make, shall we say, ‘airy’ or you can skirt around the less dangerous stuff. Me being me, I like to feel alive, so I scrambled along the edge. Bailey dog did fantastically well on a couple of points where his 38 kilogram bulk needed a bit of a push and a pull up; problem with having no thumbs, you can’t climb too well. But he did great and didn’t panic either. I love the profile of this mountain; from the south it looks like a big,  jagged whale-back and from the north, I liken it to a stegosaurus’ back and the rich colours of the foliage are so vibrant and vivid:

climbing up onto mynydd drws y coed
Approaching Drws y Coed. My wife leads with Bailey. It’s very clear from the image how precipitous the drops are to the right, the higher up we get. Love it.

After we teetered around along the top and got another silly selfie of all three of us (which is very difficult with a labrador that doesn’t like sitting still!), we made our way down to the bwlch between this mountain and the next, Trum y Ddysgl. A ‘bwlch‘ by the way is the Welsh word for ‘saddle‘; the dip that you so often get between two mountains:

My wife carries on as I risk life and limb on the rim of the mountain. Moel Hebod throught the haze on the left.
My wife carries on as I risk life and limb on the rim of the mountain. Moel Hebog throught the haze on the left.

I should mention at this point that we were taking silly selfies on each mountain that makes its way onto the Welsh 100’s list (if each mountain is above 654 metres, it qualifies); it’s kind of like ticking off the Munro’s in Scotland, except there are 282 to ascend and often considerably higher than what we have in Wales – big doesn’t always mean beautiful however.

As we dropped down to the bwlch, I did a quick panorama of our next mountain, Trum y Ddysgyl. I had to do a pan as my camera lens is not quite wide enough:

Trum y Ddysgyl
Trum y Ddysgyl

There is a lot of up and down on this route and on cloudy days, it can actually be quite hard to navigate; I almost lost myself as I made my way off the mountain above along to the next one a couple of years back, as there’s a featureless, flat grassy ridge that kind of encourages you to follow a path in the wrong direction instead of heading downhill and north-west to Mynydd Tal y Mignedd. So a compass and map, not to mention the ability to use it, always comes in handy. If ever in doubt in the mountains folks, turn around and go home; dented pride is better than a dented head at the bottom of a mountain gully….

After another quick selfie in the now strong wind with Bailey almost reversing off the edge into the void, I snapped a quick one of the wife and Mr Dog:

Next target: Mynydd Tal y Mignedd right and Craig Cwm Silyn beyond.
Next target: Mynydd Tal y Mignedd right and Craig Cwm Silyn beyond.

I also took a panorama looking back to Drws y Coed; I love the rich colours on its west-facing cliffs. Too much haze to get a good view of Snowdon today, still in cloud:

Always stunning, perched on the cliff edge of Trum y Ddysgl.
Always stunning, perched on the cliff edge of Trum y Ddysgl.

There is also quite a large obelisk atop Mynydd Tal y Mignedd, that was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. It’s also a good wind break:

The obelisk on Mynydd Tal y Mignedd, with Nebo TV mast on the left.
The obelisk on Mynydd Tal y Mignedd

On the way down from the previous mountain, there is an amazing bit of geology that always has me in awe. Two opposite cwms, one in the north and one in the south, almost join together, but there is a very narrow ‘land bridge’ that has managed to stay intact since it was created at the end of the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago. Check it out:

We decided to stop on Tal y Mignedd for some lunch and I found a very nice ‘seat’ that was perfect to rest my now slightly sore back against. We made sure Bailey dog had plenty of water to gulp down, and I wet my whistle with a couple of cups of tea, my wife’s delicious home-made flapjack and two wagon wheels. Oh, and a banana. It’s hungry work this mountain walking you know! This was the one mountain where I wanted to mount the camera on my so far superfluous tripod, and get a ‘proper’ picture of all three of us with the obelisk:

Bribing Bailey to keep still with a biscuit.
Bribing Bailey to keep still with a biscuit.

Well, we only had two more mountains to reach now, where we’d make the decision to carry on to Mynydd Graig Goch at the very end of the ridge or not. Next up was the highest of the day, Craig Cwm Silyn, but not before dropping down a considerable height into the very windy bwlch that spans the two mountains. A fall here would be serious, as the rock outcrops would cause a lot of damage, even from a light fall. We got down safely, but not before I shot across the bwlch to the mountain:

Craig Cwm Silyn, 734 metres.
Craig Cwm Silyn, 734 metres.

This image was extremely hazy, so I’m pretty pleased with how I’ve managed to fix it 🙂

Last time I did this mountain, I followed the ridge directly for some wonderful exposure (no, not getting naked – it simply means how at risk you are if you fall), but this time, we followed the path around to the right and then turned back on ourselves to make the ridge. We had to move a little quicker here, as the we were sheltered from the wind and the midges were already hankering after our blood!
It took as a while to get up here as it was pretty warm and we were getting tired now, whilst Bailey was still bounding off and trying to hide from us:

We really struggled to find him, as he'd hidden himself so very well.
We really struggled to find him, as he’d hidden himself so very well.

I quickly turned about and snapped a shot back down the ridge to the bwlch. It’s possible to make out the two walkers we passed bottom left centre, which provides this image some scale:

On Craig Cwm Silyn and the view back along the ridge; a long way!
On Craig Cwm Silyn and the view back along the ridge; a long way!

On reaching the summit and thankfully a bit of wind to blow away the midges, it was a nice stroll across to Garnedd Goch. We were having such a nice time and I just revelled in the experience of being out in the mountains, with my wonderful wife and our crazy dog.

We followed the dry stone wall that takes us directly to the summit of Garnedd Goch. After a quick phone call from my little brother, we decided to miss out the last mountain, as it was 4pm and we still had to get down with another 2 1/2 kilometres to walk. Just to be sure of our location, I did a little map reading, to ensure we didn’t drop too far down into the deep gouge of the bwlch between Garnedd Goch and Mynydd Graig Goch; turns out kind folk over the years had marked the start of the northern path off the mountain with two little pointed rocks about a foot high each 🙂
Following this brought us out into wonderful moorland with fantastic views back up to the north face of Mynydd Graig Goch. We sped up now, as gravity was just pushing us to go faster.

On reaching the end of the path, we climbed over a stile and joined a really nice little path that was enclosed on either side by dry stone walls, creating a man-made channel that was around 3 or 4 metres wide, with moorland plants and the bright yellow flowers of gorse; it was beautiful and peaceful and I could have just sat down.

After a little guess-work and double-cross checking the map and taking a compass bearing along a wall to ensure we were at the start of the correct path, we mosied on down a nice bridleway, past quaint little cottages in the most wonderful, remote locations with just your distant neighbours and sheep for company (and where I also got excited as I saw a car that had a ‘Layerthorpe – York’ dealer sticker in the window – I’m from York remember!). We let Bailey jump in a nice, cooling stream and to have a drink before we walked a little further to my waiting, sun-baked car.

What a superb day and for me, a very memorable one. A day that will always make me smile. I had the love of my life with me, our Mr Bailey Dog and beautiful landscapes, sunshine and sounds.

I love North Wales and Snowdonia. Dwi’n adra….(I’m home).

Thanks for visiting and reading the lengthy post; I always appreciate your visits.

See you soon.

Elton 🙂

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One thought on “No crowds, just mountains…

  1. You really have serious reasons to be over the moon with this mountain adventure 🙂
    The photos are magnificent! You and your wife look blissfully happy! Bailey is radiant in his own “dog glory” exploring nature!

    I was particularly impressed with The obelisk on Mynydd Tal y Mignedd and that “narrow land bridge”… you did well in including that sequence of photos so we can see and appreciate it better.
    The more I see your photography the more I want to visit Snowdonia one day. Lol!!

    Thank you for sharing all this. You’re doing a great work and it’s always a pleasure the way you convey your writings/descriptions.
    Oh by the way, thanks for “Liking” my post about Faro/Algarve.

    Natalia

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