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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of these slopes was littered with an extraordinary covering of coarse angular boulders.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From here the path was wider and clearer and slowly descending, thus improving our visibility.
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.
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.
A bridge crafted from the surrounding rock across a stream in spate…….
….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.
In the moor an occasional holly has taken root and had mircacoulsly thrived.
A little further on a youngish oak had made a life for itself and marked the edge of the track.
The edge of the moor is marked by a thick conifer plantation.
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.
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
And the beech woods that we passed as we approached the River Glaslyn definitely benefitted from the camera’s wetting.
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.
We paused at the bridge for a snap; the torrent water below created an exciting soundscape.
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.
There wasn’t much traffic and we still had a great view of the river.
We left the road about half a mile before the village and took the path that follows the river bank.
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.