Post image for A circular walk in Snowdonia starting near Beddgelert

A circular walk in Snowdonia starting near Beddgelert

December 1, 2013 · 22 comments

Date walked: 6th November 2013

Distance: about 10 miles

Map required: OS Explorer OL17 – Snowdon

Weather conditions: Wet. Very wet. All day.

Bob and I met up at the Sygun Fawr Country House just outside the pretty village of Beddgelert the night before, where we had booked bed and breakfast for three nights. They also have an excellent restaurant. Both of us had driven for over three hours to get there so we had been glad to have a leisurely meal and to enjoy their perfectly acceptable wine and bottled ales. I liked my comfortable en-suite room but although the bed and pillows were just right I always overheat under a fully filled duvet, so had slept indifferently. Note to self: either ask for a lightweight duvet or bring my own when sleeping in serviced accommodation.


Charles Hawes photographed by Bob Pinder, outside the Sygun Faw Country House, Beddgelert, Snowdonia

Bit posed I know but I know you like the occasional picture of me!

It was raining. You might say that in Snowdonia in November the chances are it would be. Neither of us were put off the idea of a walk, though, by what was a light fall by Snowdonia’s standards. I had identified a low-level circular route which would start on the little road that runs from the bottom of the hotel’s drive to the Sygun copper mine. 

Ruined cottage near Beddgelert, Sowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

One of several ruined cottages we passed. I don’t know how that chimney is staying up.

Any frustration at not being up in the 2000 plus feet hills above us was soon displaced by the two of returning to quite a tense political conversation we had had earlier in the year when we had been walking the Dales Way. To his credit Bob raised it as he had been unhappy with how the conversation had gone and what he rightly felt to be something unresolved between us. 

Marsh near Llyn Dinas, outside Beddgelert, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

So, engrossed in conversation, the copper mine only received a casual glance, Llyn Dinas was passed without comment and we hardly paused as we waded through a penned up area of sheep of the farm at the far end of the lake. 

Sheep at Llyndy Isaf, near Beddgelert, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

I thought I’d get the sheep shot in early.

By the time we re-joined the minor road that climbs into the valley of the Nanmor River we had touched on some pretty big issues and as we gained some height so we seemed to come to a better place of mutual understanding and respect for each others’ views. I’m sorry if that sounds a bit bland but this is a walking blog, not Conservative First. I will offer that I resolved to re-join a union; I’ve not been a member of one for quite a few years.

View to property called Llwynyrhwch, Near Beddgelert, Snowdonia, photogrphed by Charles Hawes

Great location – for a sheep farm

The road passes a series of sheep folds beautifully constructed from slate and then a large mound of slate waste, both impressive reminders of the changing face of industry and farming in Wales.

Sheep folds and slate spoil, Nanmor, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

Look at the skill in this wall!

We could have carried on along this quiet road but a look at the map showed a path climbing into the hills past the Gelli lago mountain centre ( a rather drab quite modern looking house with a bunk house attached) and despite the rain we were of a like mind that we should be a bit more adventurous.

Stream above the Nantmor Mountain Centre, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

This steam only starts less than a mile up the hill

At first we climbed quite steeply by a rushing torrent of a stream that was tumbling off the hillside. The stony path was uneven and slippery – and this proved to be the case for much of what followed.

View over the Nantmor Mountain Centre, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

Bob, picking his way cautiously up the path

On the map a couple of abandoned settlements are marked but there was precious little to see on the ground and nothing to indicate what had brought them into being.

View to Castell, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

still climbing…

We passed beneath the looming mass of rock known as Castell. Around and ahead of us an extraordinarily lumpy bumpy terrain of bracken covered hills.

Path near Castell, Beddgelert, photographed by Charles Hawes

Misty and murky – and very wet underfoot.

It would have been stunningly beautiful countryside on a fine day but I thought it might be even more special through this filter of low cloud and rain.  We reached what was probably the cloud line and the highest point of the walk, ahead was just a murky outline of the steep hills on either side.

Walking above the Nantmor Mountain Centre, Snowdonia in November, photographed by Charles Hawes

I’m sure that there would be great views on a clear day.

One of these slopes was littered with an extraordinary covering of coarse angular boulders.

Rocky outcrop about Nantmor Mountain centre, Snowdonia, photgraphed by Charles Hawes

Does this look natural to you?

We reached a flattish area that was acting like a sponge for the run-off from the surrounding hills and splashed our way down to a little lake. 

Lake above the Nantmor Mountain Centre, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

I name this lake Footpath’s Folly

The map shows the path stopping on one side of this lake and starting on the other so you clealry have to make your own way round it.  

Lake above Nantmor Mountain Centre, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

We took the wet route

We took the rough path that followed the shore and  nearly went wrong once until we were confident that yes, we should be walking down what was now a stream bed towards the middle of this strange landscape. 

Somewhere ahead of us is the mountain called Cnicht

My Montane jacket was holding up well, though the camera was getting a bit of a soaking each time I pulled it out for a quick snap, which was a worry. Despite wicking, breathing gear, Bob tends to soak himself from the inside at the best of times. Thanks to the Gore-tex linings our boots (this was the first major outing for my new Merrell Chameleons) were doing a good job of keeping our feet dry which counts for a lot of such a day.  Until, that is, I went knee-deep as a patch of mossy ground proved to be a disguised pool and some water found a route through my gaiters to my ankles. Despite doing the same, Bobs arrangement of leg wear proved to be the more effective.

We dropped down to a very boggy but flattish moor, the path keeping quite close to the edge of the  surrounding rocky outcrops. Looking across this we could see more clearly the pass that we had walked though to get there.

Moor above the Nantmor Mountain Centre, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

We had walked through that pass directly opposite

From here the path was wider and clearer and slowly descending, thus improving  our visibility.

Boggy moor above the Nantmor Mountain Centre, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

Does anything eat this stuff? What’s it for?

The sheep in this part of the world seemed far less shy than is usual for the species, hardly bothering to get out of our way.

Two sheep pics in one day! God, I'm good to you. But then..... We, like sheep, .....

I bet she doesn’t eat those coarse reeds

This is really wild country – I was impressed that in the past they had built some wonderful walls to keep these sheep in their place.

Sheep wall above Nantmor, Snowdonia, photographed by Chgarles Hawes

These sheep walls had to be quite high as they make pretty good jumpers (heh heh)

A bridge crafted from the surrounding rock across a stream in spate…….

Stone bridge over stream above Nantmor, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

I nearly got my feet wet to get this pic

….was followed by a glimpse of a waterfall and despite the rain I picked my over the spongy bumpy terrain to get a better view of it.

Waterfall above Nantmor, Snowdonia, photograhed by Charles Hawes

I go to no end of effort for your entertainment

In the moor an occasional holly has taken root and had mircacoulsly thrived.

Holly in moor above Nantmor, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

Clearly a man holly

A little further on a youngish oak had made a life for itself and marked the edge of the track.

Oak tree by track lesading to Bwlchgwernog,near Nantmor Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

That might look like a stream but is our path

The edge of the moor is marked by a thick conifer plantation.

Conifer plantation at edge of moor above natmor, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

I have to admit I was quite glad to know we were about to get off the moor!

The track passes by the end of this and drops down to re-join the road that we had left at  the slightly tumble-down property called Bwlchgwernog. It was good to be on a firm and even surface again! The road leads to the village of Nantmor passing an imposing chapel.

Chapel in Nantmor, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

Welsh Presbyterian apparently

I found  around this time that I had nothing left to hand that was dry so hoping that my Canon G15 camera had good seals I thought I’d  to see what the effect would be if I left the water on the lens.  I rather liked this shot of the narrow gauge railway line at Nantmor

Welsh Highland railway at Nantmor, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

I hope Paul likes this pic

And the beech woods that we passed as we approached the River Glaslyn definitely benefitted from the camera’s wetting.

Beech woods by River Glaslyn, near Beddgelert, photographed by Charles Hawes

I have since purchsed a tube to go over the lens assembly and a Skylight filter so that I could do this a bit more safely in future.

But my anxiety about soaking the camera came back so I dried it off  on my shirt in a brief respite from the rain as we neared the bridge.

Woods by the A4085 near Pont Aberglaslyn, near Beddgelert, photographed by Charles Hawes

Even in the rain these woods were looking beautiful

We paused at the bridge for a snap; the torrent water below created an exciting soundscape.

The Bridge over River Glaslyn at nantmor, photographed by Chgarles Hawes

Bob (looking a bit grubby from falling over )

One possible route from here back to Beddgelert is to take a path that keeps to the river bank. We had walked this a couple of years ago and exciting though it is, it is also very uneven and slippery even in good weather. We had both fallen a couple of times today and agreed that we didn’t fancy any further tumbles so we took the path by the  A498 instead.

Afon Glaslyn near Beddgelert, Snodonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

Yes, its still raining so I am back to the special effects

There wasn’t much traffic and we still had a great view of the river.

River Glaslyn near Beddgelert, Snowdonia, photographed by Charles Hawes

Sorry, I didn’t read the notice

We left the road about half a mile before the village and took the path that follows the river bank.

Path near river Glaslyn Beddgelert, photographed by Charles Hawes

Glad of a concrete path and thinking about tea (well, I am)

As we approached the village we debated a pint (Bobs preference) or a cup of tea (mine). We had tea and (I had)  a scone at the excellent antique shop cum tea room by the bridge. I thought it was only fair that I paid.  By the end of the day I had deprived Bob of his supper and had him chasing an ambulance to Bangor, but that’s a long story.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Simon Pritchard December 1, 2013 at 8:26 am

Ahh, the Moelwyns. Anyone who has done a Mountain Leader award in Snowdonia will tell you how much they love or hate that area (mostly hate!). Have a story to tell you about that neck of the woods at some point!


Charles December 1, 2013 at 9:44 am

Hi Simon? Interesting what particular objection do Mountain Leaders (as opposed to punters like me) have to these hills?


Simon Pritchard December 1, 2013 at 9:56 am

It’s the spot of choice for micro navigation training / assessment. Very often little visibility, very often like wading through a small river. As candidates are going to a specific point (often in the middle of nowhere), use of bearings is required (hence straight lines and through the wettest bits), rather than use of paths. I personally quite like it!


Charles December 1, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Is micro navigation like when I manage to get from my bedroom to the loo in the middle of the night without falling over?


Simon Pritchard December 1, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Erm…not exactly! Maybe show you when we finally get to walk together?

Anne Wareham December 1, 2013 at 11:16 am

Fantastic pictures – I thought they needed good light? Can’t have been.

But the font at the beginning is very peculiar – wonder what WordPress is up to now?

Still have no idea what the pleasure in all this is. Except the political conversation: well done Bob, guilting him into an expensive charitable donation. Still, I expect hordes of union members are leaving in disgust right now, so they’ll be very grateful for a return to the fold…


Charles December 1, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Now now, behave yourself. You are not allowed to annoy Bob here. You can do so in person though. I just can’t help making the pics look good even on the greyest of days 🙂


Anne Wareham December 1, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Genius, that’s what you are. You need a union for geniuses. XX


Charles December 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Blimey, no one’s ever called me that before! Not even you. xx


Faisal Grant December 1, 2013 at 11:43 am

Charles, I’ll be honest and say that trekking, for me, is a bit of a grind. But the pictures you’ve taken along your course are incredibly beautiful. This is why the planet needs to be saved.


Charles December 1, 2013 at 7:49 pm

are you spam? If you don’t like trekking what do you like? Saving the planet for what?


Anne Wareham December 1, 2013 at 11:39 pm

No Charles, Faisal is definitely not spam! (But the planet will be ok Faisal. People may not be?)


Charles December 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Good. Yes, I agree about the planet.


Neil December 1, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Despite the rain, it looks a great walk. A wet misty atmospheric type I am well familiar with (remember sitting in the midst of a mist in a plantation in the lakes! ). Your ‘special effects’ actually do convey a sense of damp., and it was a fun read with the surprise of the decision to venture into higher ground. Almost an adventure story.

Intrigued by the political debate, union or not to union. Of course the main question you failed to elaborate on is,… what was Bobs legwear, that kept his feet so effectively toasty dry?

Looking forward to ‘the stunnings’ in blogs to come.

(Oh, and I don’t think you should be shooting sheep in early, or anywhere else for that matter).


Charles December 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Ah yes, now that was misty, as opposed to this which was wet. Though not wet enough for John, obviously. Next week is about as much adventure as I can take in one day.


John December 1, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Lucky you, having such an exceptionally fine day for your walk; I recall getting much wetter in my younger days. The scenery and atmosphere in that neck of the woods is something which, somehow, once visited always draws you back.

The contrast with Ceredigion is notable though you might have let us down more gently by slipping in a photograph of the Beddgelert Camping and Caravan Site. I too like the wet lens effects though will probably just experiment with a bit of clear acetate as your lens seal info relates to the G15. (I used to know a professional photographer who, in the days before software, achieved all sorts of effects with a combination of margerine tubs and various colours of cellophane or acetate.)

Will we get an account of your evening next week?


Charles December 1, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Haha. I like a little irony myself. Did you get wetter cos your waterproofs weren’t as good? Sorry about the lack of caravans. They’ll be none next week either but more ambulances.


Paul Steer December 1, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Ha yes I appreciated the arty effects, definitely convey a sense of damp. It is good to see Bob only if virtually. Had some good conversation with him on the Dales. Happy memories.


Charles December 1, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Good! I am always striving you impress you. Not sure I will manage that from today’s walk but will do my best!


rob grover December 2, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Lots of streams! and bracken!
Liked the early pic of healthy bergenia, rather tired ferns and is that mahonia behind? Also the cheap sheep shot – not easy to say. The low cloud made me ponder on taking pics of vague shapes, hard to make out, of ruins, trees etc, but I don’t think sheep would work; might try it.


Charles December 7, 2013 at 6:57 pm

My apologies, Rob, for this late reply! Yes lots and lots. Yes, Mahonia behind me, well spotted. Hmm I am sure that there will be further opportunites for taking vague shape pics though if they get that vague it will probably mean that I am lost. Sheep are a bit vague anyway, aren’t they.


Charles December 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Yes, sorry Simon. I was only teasing. We must sort out that date for the new year.


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