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Sunday, 4 November 2018

3 days in the Southern Arenigs

Arriving in Rhydymain under cloudy skies I waited for the rain to ease. For 30 mins I sat in the van listening to the sound of heavy rain beating down on the van roof. The forecast was for blustery showers clearing through in the afternoon. They got the showers part right but the clearing through didn't really materialise. I don't mind walking in winds and rain, but finding the motivation to leave a warm dry van was proving hard. Finally a touch of brightness gave me the impetus to don water proofs and get on my way. It was to be a day of constant showers, merging into longer spells and turning wintery over the tops.

Heading up the lane towards a church I branched of right along a green lane through an attractive woodland- a route I had last walked around 5 years ago. Parts I remembered well, parts of it I didn't, it was nice to be reacquainted with these hills.

Soon I reached the wall at the foot of Craig y Benglog where I dropped my pack, grabbed my camera, and climbed the short way to the summit. I arrived at the same time as another heavy blustery shower so I didn't wait around to take any pics, especially as I had taken off my wet gear and stowed it in my pack. By the time I got back to my pack I was quite wet, but once waterproofs were Again donned, combined with warmth generated whilst walking, I dried off in no time.

One advantage of days like this, particularly in autumn, is that you get some very nice atmospheric light - although you need to be quick to take advantage.

Heading down the rain eased and I was treated to so wonderful contrasting light . Dduallt - know locally as the ' Black Height' lived up to its name appearing very dark in comparison to the surrounding hills.


Surveying the route ahead I  Scanned the ground ahead, trying to pick out the best line to head towards the southern ridge of Dduallt. The ground ahead is mostly pathless and quite rough going with numerous bogs to avoid. Eventually I started the ascent to Dduallt, stopping at a convenient spot for lunch which was enjoyed whilst enjoying the views back over to Craig y Benglog and over to Tomorrows destination - Rhobell Fawr.

Once at the summit of Dduallt strong winds and colder air turned the showers to sleet, the wind was changing direction to blow in from the North. I had planned to descend towards the Afon Mawddach  and ascend towards Cefn y Griafolen and find a spot to camp. The strong winds meant I would need to find a sheltered pitch so I kept an eye out for a good site. At around the 450 meter mark I found such a spot and although early I called it a day. Water for camp was sourced and soon I was under cover warming up with a hot Brew.

After an hour or so of lying there listening to the sound of rain on the fly there was a brief interlude and I was treated to some lovely late afternoon light- complete with a very vivid rainbow, I did contemplate looking for a pot of gold at the end but decided to be content with a few pics and footage.

Awaking the next morning to the sound of what I thought was rain, I peered out at world dominated by white.. the rain had turned to snow/sleet  overnight, Raindrops had frozen on the outside of the Khufu. Max stared at me waiting for permission to leave the tent, at the same time I got out for a comfort break and took the opportunity to get a few pics before returning to the Khufu for hot coffee.

It was around 10 am before I struck camp, by now the showers had stopped and it was a much better day. The surrounding higher tops all had their winter coat on looking magnificent under blue skies.

Desending to the Afon Mawddach I crossed near the stone wall which ascends towards Cefn y Griafolen. The ice covered rocks meant very careful foot placement was needed to avoid a cold bath. I reached the other side with much relief and continued on ascending alongside the stone wall. Moel Llyfnant and Arenig Fawr came into view and I continued Northwards before before branching off towards Ffridd yr Allt Lwyd.

The summit of Allt yr Allt Lwyd is a broad flat plateau, marked by a few stones on a small patch of slightly higher ground, not one of the most inspiring summits but its very steep slopes on the southern edge give excellent views towards the valley floor. To the North west the Rhinog summits of Rhinog Fawr, Rhinog Fach and Y Llethr dominated the skyline. To the South was the summit of Rhobell y Big which always reminds  me of a mimi version of Tryfan, further on was Rhobell Fawr where I planned on meeting up with  @Chrisw00dcock.

From valley level I took the path I had spied on the descent stopping for lunch at the point where the path leaves the forested area to head into the open hillside. The path peters out higher up and I took the best line I could, collecting water from a stream before ascending to Rhobell Fawr. Once at the summit I visited a spot where I had camped before but the strong northerly's were blowing straight in.
I continued to the summit cairn to see if I could see Chris, keeping an eye out for a good sheltered spot as I went. Once at the cairn I messaged Chris to see where he was before descending to a good sheltered spot that I spotted whilst at the cairn. I was so busy making camp that I didn't hear my phone ping  and minutes later Chris crossed the stile near my pitch. After a  meet and great Chris set about pitching his Trailstar whilst I continued to get sorted and a brew on. After a warming brew we went for a wander to take in the fantastic views from a near by rocky outcrop before returning to our individual shelters for warm food.

When I awoke the next morning The Khufu had a coating of frost on the inside and out. My boots had froze and there was ice in my platypus. Reaching down into the depths of my bag I retrieved the Nalgene which I had filled with hot water the night before, and my meths bottle. I put some water on for a hot coffee then refilled the Nalgene to thaw out my boots. Once boots were thawed I got out to take in the morning sun, I had set my alarm for sunrise as I usually do but forgot to take into account the clocks going back and its effect on the time of sunrise. After a good chat about what was going on in our lives since our last meet up we set about striking camp. After an enjoyable descent we were soon back at our individual vehicles, I was so busy chatting to Chris that I forgot to take any more pics or footage ! another enjoyable trip over. As I'm typing this withdrawal symptoms have already surfaced and I'm busy planning my next trip.. hopefully to the Lake District this time.

Thanks taking the time to read, and thanks Chris for the company.

Till next  time..
Happy wildcamping.


Tuesday, 9 October 2018

A quick overnighter in the berwyns.

When an unplanned slot arose to grab a quick overnighter in the hills, there was only 1 place that entered my mind - The Berwyns and Hills around Llangynog. These are my nearest 'proper' mountains, they're also a pretty safe bet for solitude- I hardly ever see many folk here, the masses passing them on their way to more popular summits in Snowdonia. I had a few jobs to do beforehand, then with backpacking gear grabbed I was on my way by 10.30 am- arriving in Llangynog around 11.45.
It was very warm on the climb out of the Tanat valley, I took my usual route through a disused quarry site passing through a woodland before entering Cwm Glan-hafon.

Usually I drop down to a stream crossing and head towards Y Clogydd, this time I continued on the path towards the head of the valley then onto Post Gwyn. Arcing around the lower slopes of Moel Crynddyn I ascended to Bedd Crynddyn where an access track ( not shown on map ) was reached which I followed to a gate where I turned west towards Post Gwyn.

From Post Gwyn I headed west, then north- west to descend via Cwm Llwyd- mawr. Initially there were some good sheep trods to follow, but lower down it gets very rough and boggy. A better bet would be to retrace the route back to the gate then head north and descend that way. On the way down I spotted a convenient looking path heading towards Clipau Rhos-beddau so a compass bearing was taken before I descended further and lost sight of the path- it was not shown on the map. Soon I reached the Disgynia which I crossed before ascending north on a compass bearing through chest high bracken to pick up the path further on.

I continued on following the course of the Nant Y Cerig-duon below me, plan was to follow it up and collect water as high as possible. At Blaen Nant y Cerig duon the path petered out and I dropped my pack before  descending a very steep rough slope to collect very good water. After a pathless climb I topped out near Ceulan Myheryn where I  scoured the ground for a pitch site, finding 1 soon after.

With the Khufu pitched my usual camp routine commenced- stove on, whisky poured then soak in the views whilst waiting for the water to boil.

There was a nice colourful sunrise and after taking a few pics and video footage I returned to the Khufu to to enjoy the evening gazing out through wide open doors.

Later that evening the skies cleared and the stars came out to play. An app. on my iPhone- Sky Guide showed the Milky way was almost horizontal above the Khufu, I grabbed my camera then got out.

Once my eyes adjusted I could clearly see it towering above, unfortunately there was a little too much light pollution to show it of in all its glory.

I set my alarm in case there was a good sunrise, the forecast suggested I would more than likely wake to clag/rain, but for now I concentrated on enjoying the rest of the evening, laying in my bag, whisky in hand, gazing through open tent doors pondering how small and insignificant we really are in comparison to the universe. Time spent outdoors, camped on a mountain side puts everything into perspective, and I've said many,many times, its the only time I can fully relax- at ease with myself.

I awoke just before the alarm went off- the sound of rain signalled the forecast was right, a brief look out at a world dominated by grey clag confirmed this and I headed back into the depths of my sleeping bag for around an hour.

I needed to be home early so the next time I awoke I made a coffee before opening the valve on my thermarest... time to go.

Once the gear was packed away I headed to the summit cairn on Moel Sych. From there I descended south heading towards Trum Felen, further down I branched off to pick up a path leading down to a bridge over the Afon Disgynfa. From there I ascended towards Craig y Mwm and continued towards a fenced off air shaft shown on the map. I've always wondered what was down there, and how deep it was, so I set up my camera on a full length trekking pole to get some footage. I viewed it once I got home, to my surprise there seemed to be several discarded paint tins part way down on a shelf... I will have to investigate further on my next visit !

The path ascends to a flat area beneath Y Clogydd before descending back to Llangynog, and Craig Rhiwarth comes back into view.

Soon I was back where I started another trip over. Despite being a short trip with no firm plans it was a very enjoyable relaxed one.

Thanks for taking the time to read, I've added a trip video below..

Till next time.. happy wildcamping.


Saturday, 6 October 2018

Shap Fells August 2018.

This trip coincided with a bank holiday which would mean most of the popular summits in the lakes would be heaving with walkers. I had a few Wainwrights left to climb in the Shap fells, and thought these would be a good bet for a backpack in relative solitude. Although a few folk where walking the area it was a lot quieter than its neighbouring popular Fells.

I Parked in Shap and  took the quiet country lane before leaving it to follow the concrete road into the Harper Hills. I love starting a backpack like this as it gives a real sense of walking away from civilisation and into the wilds.

Soon I was climbing into the fells and the 1st summit of the day Scalebarrow Knott which is 1 of the Wainwright outlying fells and also a Birkett. Although modest in height there were good spacious views from the summit cairn.

After a few pics I continued on towards Hare Shaw where I stopped for an early lunch whilst relaxing in the sun  taking in the views, I was so relaxed that I forgot to take a pic. :(.

From there I headed for the Old Corpse Road which I followed East down into Swindale which was new ground for me. After a very nice valley walk I ascended back into the fells heading for Nabs Moor which is another 1 of the Wainwright outlying fells.

A steep pull bought me to the summit from where I continued a little way West to bag Howes- also 1 of the Wainwright outlying fells. For some reason I forgot to take pics at these 2 summits, although you can see them in the video below.

Heading south I descended into Mosedale from there I headed West towards Mosedale Cottage where I met a couple setting up their tent outside and after a brief chat I  left then to continue on towards Tarn Crag - 1 of the 3 wainwright fells I had planned to climb on this trip. Another steep hot climb and I was on the summit from where I descended a little west to collect water from a stream before heading back to the summit from where I surveyed the ground to spot a likely sight.

A nice flat grassy area near the summit Cairn provided a very nice pitch for the night and I set to pitching the Khufu.

The  first thing I always do once my mobile home for the night is pitched is to put my stove on for a welcome brew, the 2nd is to pour a single malt whisky, toast my day in the mountains, then relax and admire the view whilst I wait for the water to boil.

The moon rose to the east just as the sun was setting. It was turned a lovely warm orange colour, the photos below don't do it any justice as I really needed a long lens, but it is a compromise I'm willing to accept for the ease of carrying a very light, compact camera.

The forecast for the next day wasn't too good - heavy rain and wind might see me changing my route, but for now I put it to the back of my mind and enjoyed the rest of the evening.  

The next morning I awoke to a world dominated by low grey cloud and rain it was obvious there any chance of a descent sunrise so I headed back to the warm depths of my bag for an hour or so.

when I next awoke it was still raining and I lit the stove for a brew whilst considering my options.
The original plan was to continue south before descending into Bannisdale then ascend to White Howe and follow the ridge line North where I planned to camp on Harrop Pike.

I spent a few hours waiting for the rain to ease and by 10 am it was still raining with a strong wind blowing so I let out the air from my sleeping pad which gave me the momentous to strike camp and move on.

I decided to amend my plans and to head straight to Harrop Pike from Grey Crag before descending east following the fence line before picking up the fence line heading North which I handrailed to arrive at a track which heads towards Scam Matthew and High wether Tove.

Descending west I picked up the track heading towards Seat Robert where another good sight just before the summit provided another good pitch for the night.

The next morning there were signs of brightness coming through and I continued over a few more minor summits heading back towards Shap.

Thanks for taking the time to read, I've added a trip video below.

Till next time
Happy Wildcamping.