So today, after four days of no running and my legs feeling like they’ve been steam-rollered, I went out for a really fab trail run around the Gwydyr Forest, which kind of surrounds Betws y Coed around the east and north. As well as being a great place for mountain biking, it is also host to some fantastic, quiet trail running. Even today on a lovely sunny day, I didn’t see many people, and only did so when I ran along short sections of the Gwydyr Mawr MTB trail (previously known as the Marin) plus a couple of bikers. I plotted the route to deliberately follow trails where not many people tread.
It pays to do your research before hand though, as it is very easy to get lost up here, especially when in the trees with no visual references. As well as I know Northern Snowdonia’s trails and paths, I always plot a route anyway, out of habit.
Before I witter on any more in text form, here’s me intro’ing/wittering in video form:
The run starts at one of my favourite local hang outs, the Moel Siabod cafe, run by Dorina, Paul and her very lovely family. It’s really the ‘hub’ of Capel Curig, as far as outdoor activities go; most folk meet up here before heading into the hills. I was super-stoked to get going today, as the sun was shining and it was going to be a good run, I could feel it in me loins! A little way up the newly re-surfaced track (as it was awful and boggy previously) I turned around and shot this:
As much as I love this view, I couldn’t stand around all day and set off again. After crossing some fields and sheep (you really don’t want to cross sheep, they can be very nasty), the trail goes though a gate and joins the first fire road of the day, steadily climbing a little more, before dropping down quite a way. I mentally filed away the fact that I’d be running back up this bugger on the way back…
I hit the first junction and checked that my Suunto Shiny Ambit 3 Peak was accurately showing me where I was. Some of these trails I hadn’t run before, so as I said, I plotted the route in my online OS maps software and uploaded the .gpx to the watch. Pleased to say that the watch was excelling itself as usual, putting me in exactly the right place:
I can’t recommend this watch enough. It’s a lot of money sure, but shop around and you’ll find a good deal; I got mine on Amazon for £230 instead of the usual £270 that Suunto are currently offering it at. Although it was for my birthday, it is totally worth the outlay to have one of the best bits of gear in your trail running arsenal. So with smug look on my face, I ran down the hill 🙂
The route took me on a big loop south and then back north, to arrive at the pretty Llyn Bodgynydd. Unfortunately, I arrived to this:
How can people have such low moral standing that they think that it’s okay to do this!? I don’t understand it. Personally, I think these disposable BBQ’s should be banned. I could go on all day about how irresponsible some people are but I will be wasting my breath, so here’s a far nicer image of the same lake:
From plotting this route I was expecting the track around the lake to be a bit squishy. I was not wrong. Some of it could be avoided, but you know when you go out to run with the intention of keeping your feet dry? Hah! Foolishness. I ‘ran’ through the trees and promptly slipped sideways and landed on my side, shouting ‘damn you bog fiends’; no honestly, I really said this. I’m strange like that 😀
My freshly shaved legs had now been moisturised by some lovely bog mud:
Running in high-stack trail shoes (think Hoka Mafate Trail, but less sardine tin-toe squashing) did pose a few instability issues around that section, so I stopped here to tighten my laces a little. The Skechers Ultra Trail 3 are great shoes , if having a slightly sloppy fit, so I only use them on less technical routes, not in the mountains, as that’s just asking for an ankle-roll. Thankfully the only rolling that occurred today was me on my ass.
From here I climbed up a grassy trail away from the lake, to another fire road trail that would eventually take me down to a very minor ‘B’ road. I would follow this for maybe 1.5km; it’s certainly not an unpleasant road. One car-width wide through lovely scenery, usually only used by people visiting Llyn Gerionydd, the outdoor education centre up here or locals. There’s some very pretty houses up here 🙂
A bit further on I turned left back onto the trail. A chap passed me asking if I’d seen his black labrador. I said no but for some reason I said I’d keep and eye out for it. Not sure why I said that, as who would I tell? Stupid boy, Pike! Not much farther on, I passed about six people walking, and yes, with dogs. About five black labradors 😀
A couple of mountain bikers passed me going the way I’d come, as I was now on a section of the Gwydyr Mawr MTB trail, where there is often a fantastic view to the mountains:
This shot is looking west to Moel Siabod on the left, Snowdon far-distance, centre then Y Glyderau and Tryfan. Crimpiau at right. It’s er, not always this pretty…
I joined another very minor road and climbed past more pretty houses up a steep hill, through a gate and HORROR! COWS! These buggers always make me nervous, especially after a bad experience last year where I couldn’t follow a Public Right of Way as after they saw me they started stampeding up and down in whatever direction I was heading! So naturally, I now give them a wide berth as they can be unpredictable and there have been walkers injured by cattle. I was forced into the crappy ground on the left:
After I’d safely passed them I carried on with the odd look behind me, eventually arriving at a little house at the end of the track. I was just about to run into the owner’s garden as she came running out shouting “footpath’s over that way”. I felt a bit silly and apologised as I joined a fun little single-track descent. As it leveled out, it veered to the left on a kind of a ledge, contouring around the hill; it was lovely:
I knew now that I was heading west again, into and up the side of the Gerionydd gorge en route to Llyn Gerionydd:
It’s can be quite chilly at the outflow of the lake, as the prevailing westerlies often blast across the open water, even when there seems to be very little wind elsewhere, but it’s a cracking spot on a nice day:
I stopped here to swap out bottles and such, before carrying on around the North West side of the lake, on the right in the picture. It’s pretty technical as it is very rooty underfoot. Used to be that you ran under the trees right on the shore line all the way along, but forest operations and clear felling put paid to that over a year ago now. Shame really as it leaves an ugly scar rising up from the lake’s edge.
I give a little info about it in this short video:
I spoke too soon: within a minute of stopping filming, there was a power-boat towing somebody around the lake on a rubber tyre. Unfortunately, they are allowed in this tranquil, serene spot. Ugh 😦
I was in very familiar territory now and bounced along the lake shore, trying not to roll my ankles on the masses of exposed roots. Eventually I reached the end and hopped over the stile, not before looking back to take another shot:
Joining more fire road, I climbed up again, before it became ‘Welsh flat’ and passing another lovely little lake, Llyn Bychan.
Sadly, I was nearing the end of my run now but I knew that after I made the sharp right turn I would have a helluva climb. I’d seen two trail runners behind me as I’d rejoined another trail. I waved to them yet made the decision to not let them catch me. Because I’m not competitive at all. Nope. Never.
I hung the sharp right and started the climb in earnest, determined not to walk any of it. I got to the top without walking so was quite pleased with myself as it was a hard climb with almost 21km in my legs, and I appeared to have dropped the two runners. I got to the two new gates again, where I recorded the first video and decided I would witter on at you again for an outro:
I took one last shot of the lovely eastern profile of Moel Siabod before heading down the hill for coffee and cake at the cafe:
Here endeth the trail. And what a lovely run. I encourage you guys to come up here and visit for a few days and pick the best day to do a route such as this one. I think I’m the only other MWD Runner up here in North Wales so I will be covering ground, as it were, to give everybody the info that they need to visit and run on our beautiful trails. Here’s the link to my run today:
as well as my Strava profile link if you want to look at the areas I run in or hey, push the boat out and follow me. I’m also on Instagram so you can check out my collection of awful, shameless selfies. Which reminds me, I haven’t uploaded one from today’s run 😉
Thanks for popping by everybody, I’ll try and do a post at least once a week if time and energy allows and if I’m not getting distracted by shiny new trail shoes/porn. Not real porn, I mean, you know, running shoe porn. Erm…..okay I’m going now.
Happy running and stay injury free folks 🙂
Elton aka Eryri Runner