Aug 19 - Jul 20
Thursday September 12th 2019. Felin Uchaf, Rhoshirwaun. Miriam Heald organised an interesting outing near Rhoshirwaun, involving a short walk followed by a visit to the remarkable Felin Uchaf Centre nearby. This attracted 33 club members, despite the misty weather which limited the views. Starting from the car park at Felin Uchaf, the walk followed a footpath south through the grounds of Bodrydd, a farm that has been developed mainly into a holiday business. The route circumnavigated a number of newly created scenic fishing lakes and heather gardens. Two spinning wind turbines whirred overhead, rather spoiling the setting of this otherwise pleasant landscape beneath Mynydd Rhiw. A well maintained gravelled path brought the party to the local road and a short step back to Felin Uchaf. The site was created 12 years ago as a cultural and ecological centre, promoting traditional rural crafts and Welsh folklore in a sensitive environmental setting. The party enjoyed a stroll on network grassy paths through the 20 acres of planted trees. These were dotted with a number of lovingly constructed buildings made from carved oak, traditional cob walls and green roofs, including two Celtic roundhouses, a herb drying store, an observatory, a green toilet, a lofty oak trussed barn used for making furniture and boatbuilding, and a café and study centre under construction. After lunch in the observatory, the group were treated to tea in the larger round house, an atmospheric setting for a classic Mabinogion story engagingly told by Dafydd Davies Hughes, the charismatic owner and creator of this unique enterprise. This proved a stimulating day out with a difference. Noel Davey
Sunday September 8th 2019. Rhinog Fawr. Seven members found their way to the remote and enchanting valley of Cwm Bychan in Ardudwy for a strenuous ascent of Rhinog Fawr. Last time the club attempted this peak the climbers were driven back halfway up by 70 mph gusts. Today’s light winds and long dry sunny periods were a welcome contrast. The party set out from the idyllic Llyn Cwm Bychan, climbing 1000ft up the Bwlch Tyddiad by the so-called ‘Roman Steps’, though this ancient pass through the Rhinogydd probably dates back at least to the bronze age. A coffee stop was made at the top overlooking the path east down towards Trawsfynydd. The route turned off on a footpath through heather winding up to the aptly grim looking Llyn Du. From here the party took one of the many indistinct rocky routes up the steep north slope, requiring some scrambling to reach the summit at 2367ft. In spite of some ominous murky clouds floating over the summit at first, the visibility soon improved to give magnificent sunlit views in every direction: nearby to the south, the peaks of Rhinog Fach, Y Llethr and Moelfre, to the east the more distant Arenigs and Llyn Trawsfynydd, and to the west the arc of Llŷn stretching far out to sea to Cilan and Ynys Enlli. Revived by lunch, the party descended by a relatively easy path down the south-west slope, eventually turning north along ill-defined paths through heather on a wide and lonely plateau at about 1500ft. Further down the route crossed waterlogged ground to reach the still waters of Gloyw Lyn, the shining lake, a good spot for tea. There was then a short leg over the ridge behind, rejoining the outward route near an ancient stone footbridge. This was a splendid day on this wonderful quiet mountain, taking 6.5 hours to cover as many miles and 2500ft of ascent. Noel Davey
Thursday August 29th 2019. Y Bala/Llyn Tegid. There were two walks today around Y Bala. Dafydd Williams led 12 members on the harder walk, taking over from Gwynfor Jones who devised the route, but was indisposed. The day was mainly cloudy and quite windy, but there were occasional bright periods and conditions were good for walking. The route started near the Leisure Centre skirting the northern shore of the Llyn Tegid which was busy with sailing boats coping with quite choppy waters. After crossing Pont Mwynwgyl y llyn the walk turned off into pleasant woods, climbing quite steeply through Coed Pen y Bont from about 500ft to over 1000ft elevation. Beyond Fridd Fach ddeiliog the path emerged into broken upland. There was a stop for lunch at a junction of paths near Cefn ddwygraig. The route then re-entered forested country and eventually came out into elevated fields, opening up fine views of the lake with the town of Bala nestling to the north and the ramparts of Arenig Fawr to the west. The path descended by an easy bridle way passing the former golf course and clubhouse, now a comfortable looking hotel. Beyond the remnant of a 13C motte and bailey castle and the terminus of the Bala Lake narrow gauge railway to Llanuwchllyn, the party crossed the outward route, turning off for an interesting loop alongside the complex waterways and weirs linked to the lake, including the River Dee and Afon Tryweryn. The final section passed unexpectedly under an arch of Pont y Bala, bridging the main road, and entered the back streets of the town leading back to the Leisure Centre. This proved a very pleasant walk of 6 miles involving about 1000ft of ascent. It was followed by refreshments at the lakeside Loch Café.
Nick White led 4 members on a shorter circuit of 3-4 miles circling to the west and north of Bala. Going down the hillside an amazing quarry was encountered, more of a cavern than an open quarry. Noel Davey.
Sunday August 25th 2019. There were two walks today:
The A walk: Aran Fawddwy & Aran Benllyn. A perfect summer’s day – apparently the warmest August bank holiday ever – was the setting for a memorable day on the Aran mountains. A party of seven made their way to the remote hidden gem of Cwm Cywarch, running north from Dinas Mawddwy. This valley has an industrial past based on lead mining and an earlier reputation for banditry (the Cochion Cywarch), but is now very quiet and deeply rural, and just what the connection was to the hemp or cannabis in the name is a mystery. The walk started at about 500ft elevation at the farm of Blaencywarch, ascending fairly steeply 1000ft up a narrow valley with an alpine feel, skirting the rocky buttress of Glasgwm. Near the top some of the party were struck down by the unaccustomed heat and decided to retrace their steps. Four walkers continued north-east across the exposed grassy plateau aided across the boggy peat by numerous sections of board walks, many now sadly rotting away. The rocky summit of Aran Fawddwy, just 31ft short of 3000ft and the highest Welsh mountain south of Snowdon, now came into full view. The party eventually reached the top, hot and exhausted and more than ready for a late lunch. While conditions were hazy, there were spectacular views from this magnificent eyrie across the rolling green ridges of mid-Wales and down immediately below to Creiglyn Dyfi, the source of the Afon Dyfi. Since the 3-4 miles of ascent had taken as many hours, it was decided not to extend the walk further north along the ridge to Aran Benllyn, but looking back on the way down there were impressive views of the precipitous northern edge of the long Arans ridge and glimpses of Llyn Tegid beyond. The route down was relatively straightforward, curving south-east along grassy ridge of Drysgol and passing a solitary cairn marking the spot where an RAF mountain rescuer was killed by lightning. The party then turned south-west, picking up a gently graded path that contoured the slopes of Pen yr Allt Uchaf down into the deep U-shaped valley of Hengwm back to Cwm Cywarch. It was good to see a number of walkers about, but these little frequented mountains were an ideal place to avoid the bank holiday crowds. This excellent though strenuous climb was led by Hugh Evans, with Noel Davey deputising part of the way, and covered some 7.6 miles and 2850ft of ascent. Noel Davey.
The B walk: Mallwyd. Hugh Evans who was leading an A walk up Aran Fawddwy decided he wanted an alternative B in case the weather conditions were against ascending the mountain. In the event the weather was the complete opposite and it was left for Dafydd Williams to lead the B walk accompanied by five other members on a sweltering hot day. The walk of some 8 miles started from the Brigand Inn, Mallwyd and immediately went east and climbed up a minor road and continued to climb steadily but after Ysgubor Wen the tarmac became a farm track and then a footpath running parallel with the B458 in the direction of Welshpool. Towards the end of the outward 3.5 miles the path was difficult to follow and then became totally blocked by a six feet high fence to keep the young pheasants being bred in their hatchery surroundings. There were literally hundreds of these birds around, being bred to be shot, it makes you despair of the mentality of people who enjoy this kind of sport. We turned north before reaching another minor road on which we walked for a short distance and enjoyed our lunch by a farm gateway before taking a path through the farmyard. We then emerged on to the same minor road before climbing steeply up hill and crossing the B458 and continuing up hill on the tarmac. Then we passed several extremely dilapidated farms and dwellings over a distance of some 1.5 miles before taking a path down hill through a field and emerging on yet another minor road where we paused for a short period before crossing a ford on a wooden bridge. Once more we went uphill and experienced some difficulty in detecting in the bushes a rickety stile crossing a brook followed by having to force our way up hill through bushes and ferns for some 30 yards to regain the path. We were now in sight of the petrol station adjoining the Brigand Inn which we reached on an easy track. Whilst the heat at times was stifling, a comfortable pace was maintained and it was enjoyable but on this occasion, due to the steep sided valley, views were at a premium but the tea and cakes at The Inn were extremely well received. Dafydd Williams.
Thursday August 15th 2019. Bwlch y Ddwy Elor. On a pleasant fine sunny day 25 members and guests met at Pant Cae’r Gors near Rhyd Ddu for a walk through the Beddgelert Forest led by Dafydd Williams. A local resident fancying a walk joined the group for part of the way. The group headed west across the Welsh Highland Railway along forest tracks past Moelfryn and Parc Cae cra. After a couple of miles the route turned south climbing to about 1400ft through the lonely Bwlch y Ddwy Elor, supposedly recalling the historic use of this mountain pass to carry the dead on biers between Cwm Pennant and Beddgelert. The path then descended through the impressive relics of the Prince of Wales Quarry. Like many local quarries this was a heroic failure, being abandoned in 1886 after just 13 years of unprofitable operation. There was a stop for lunch on slabs beside a deep quarry pit with spectacular views down the inclines and tramway running through Cwm Pennant to the sea in the distance near Porthmadog, the rocks of Moel Lefn soaring above on one side of the valley and the great arc of the Nantlle Ridge hedging the other side. The walkers then struggled back up by a rocky path through the Bwlch Cwm Trwsgl, entering wastelands of a recently felled part of the forest. The rest of the walk followed good forest tracks pausing at the wooded shore of the charming Llyn Llywelyn. The final section of the route joined the Lôn Gwyrfai, passing Hafod Ryffydd Ganol and Isaf. This was a most enjoyable 6.5 mile walk over about 4 hours. Some of the party made another stop at Beddgelert for further refreshments. Noel Davey
Sunday August 11th 2019. Llanfairfechan. Kath Spencer led a party of 9 ramblers on an excellent 12 mile circuit from Llanfairfechan. The route mostly followed the ancient green trackways which cross the plateau above at 1000-1400ft elevation, circling Tal y Fan in an anti-clockwise direction. It was a damp cloudy day with persistent outbreaks of short showers, but initial mist gave way to clearer conditions and even the odd shaft of sunlight, opening up good views across the surrounding landscape. The walk started at the small car park above the Nant y Coed Nature Reserve, first descending towards the village and then climbing steeply up a shoulder to the top of Garreg Fawr. The path then joined the east-west route of the Roman Road passing through Bwlch y Ddeufain. This is packed with ancient monuments including standing stones, circles and cairns, but is also sadly blighted by high voltage transmission lines. A number of overflowing streams across the track were a challenge after the rain, but eventually the party reached the small car park at the head of the road up from Rowen. The route turned off northwards near Cae Coch where an old barn in a sheepfold provided a dry sheltered spot for lunch. There were splendid misty views down the Conwy Valley, including a distant glimpse of the tents of the Eisteddfod site at Llanrwst, and later Conwy Castle, the sprawl of Llandudno hedged in between the twin Ormes and, out to sea, the maze of white sentinels of Gwynt y Mor. The walk then turned westwards along the broad prehistoric trackway, now part of the North Wales Path, running above the quarries of Penmaenmawr. This brought the party to the remarkable ring of 30 stones known as the Druid’s Circle (Meini Hirion) which dates to Neolithic times, as well as another smaller circle on the slopes of Cefn Coch and Moelfre. At last the route began to climb back down towards Llanfairfechan, giving more views of the coast backed by the Carneddau Mountains. This brought the party back to the tumbling waters and delightful woodland of Nant y Coed and a short climb back to the car park. Despite the weather, this was a grand day of walking in the lovely open grassy uplands above the coast. Noel Davey
Thursday August 1st 2019. Beddgelert-Cwm Bychan. A warm sunny day brought 25 club members to Beddgelert for one of the classic walks of central Snowdonia. Maureen Evans led this triangular walk of some 6.3 miles walk with assistance from Dafydd. The walk first headed south down the wonderful Pass of Aberglaslyn, taking the narrow and rocky fishermen’s path that clings precariously to the edge of the wooded gorge just above the thundering white waters of the river, in full spate after recent rain. At Pont Aberglaslyn the path turned east then north, climbing over tree roots to an open glade where convenient picnic tables prompted a stop for a morning panad. There then followed a steady ascent through of the wilder heather country of Cwm Bychan from less than 100ft to almost 1000ft at the col near Bwlch y Sygun and Grib Ddu. Since some were struggling in the heat there was a stop for lunch about halfway up in a spot with fine views south down to the Glaslyn Estuary and eastwards to some of the Snowdonia peaks. Higher up the valley the route passed the striking line of iron pylons which once supported an aerial ropeway to transport ore from the copper mines higher up the valley down to a processing mill. Relief at reaching the col was soon dashed by the steep knee wrenching descent by a gravel path and steps to the shores of Llyn Dinas lying placidly far below. The final leg of the triangle south-westwards back to Beddglert followed an easy, level path through thickets of bracken where the even more thuggish rhododendron had been cleared. The party then dispersed for refreshments, some at a local café and some courtesy of a resident walker. This was a delightful walk as ever, enhanced by the splendid weather and taken at a leisurely pace suited to both the heat and the terrain. Noel Davey.