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Friday, 6 July 2018

4 days in the Aran & Dyfi hills Snowdonia.

With my wife in Spain with her sister, I had 4 days to backpack somewhere. The last time she went - around 2 yrs ago I backpacked a 4 day circuit around Haweswater. Rain was a constant feature on that occasion... this time I hoped conditions would be better, my previous two 3 day trips were walked in splendid weather... no rain, light winds & plenty of sunshine.

Keeping an eye on the weather a week beforehand, it became clear that a change in the weather would coincide with my trip. A low pressure system would bring Gale force winds with periods of rain.

 My first choice of route was one I had planned a while back- 4 days exploring around The Southern Uplands, an area I'm yet to visit.

It looked like Scotland would catch for the worst of the weather, so I came up with Plan a,b & c !
With 3 routes planned I would make a decision where to head at the last minute.
Plan a was a wainwrights bagging trip to add to my tally, which currently  stands  at 149.
Plan b- a trip to the Howgill Fells.
Plan c a 4 day trip round the Glyderau & Carneddau.

With the weather looking slightly better for Eastern Wales, so in the end I chose to revisit the Aran's in Snowdonia, planning the next few days on the hoof so as to speak.

Pulling into  Llanuwchllyn, I got Max out of the van and with 4 days of supplies plus camping gear we sett of on a familiar path towards the Aran ridge.

Views were very hazy, with the higher tops in cloud. This turned to rain with a strong wind further up windchill was around 1 - 2 degrees c, quite a shock after the warmer conditions on my previous 2 trips. Conditions for the next 4 days didn't lend themselves to photography.. or indeed video, so I only took pics as a record of the trip. There were 1 or 2 brief moments of moody, atmospheric light and I took advantage of these.

Climbing to Aran Benllyn, my baselayer/windshirt combo was only just about keeping me warm, so I added my Hard Shell and gloves which kept me very comfortable over the higher tops.

My intended Camp spot was reached around 3 pm and although early I would have happily pitched here but the winds were very strong and nowhere seemed to offer any shelter. A quick scan of the map and I decided to drop towards Craig Cywarch then pick up the path Heading towards Graig Wen.
The map showed the path going through a wooded area, but as is often the case it had been extensively felled and good pitches were hard to find - the weather conditions adding to the difficulty as it was hard to scan the ground ahead. A handy spring/stream provided very good water, one less thing to worry about, then I continued towards Pen y Brynfforchog.

The track ended at the point shown on the OS map, leaving a rough walk over an overgrown felled area, the kind where it is very easy to turn an ankle so I took my time.
Several tree lines were visited to see if there was any suitable spots, all were very sheltered but the ground was very rough. I continued on and was relieved to find a half descent spot just beyond the fence line- It turned out to be a  very comfortable site.

With my trusty Trailstar pitched, I could relax listening to the rain whilst I ate & drank.

Later that evening  whilst gazing out of the open door, listening to the sound of rain drops on the flysheet ,with a map and a single malt in hand I planned the next days walking.

Awaking the next morning to a world of swirling mist and slightly better views I made breakfast and a brew before striking camp and setting of towards the summit of Pen y Brynfforchog.

My destination for today was the Dyfi hills, so I dropped down to the valley car park before ascending to Cribin Fach.

Once on the high ground, once again I entered a world dominated by clag, very limited views and  rain.. it was to stay this way till around midday the next day. Winds were forecast to reach gale force over night so with this in mind I continued over Cribin Fawr, Craig portas then out to Maesglase.
Collecting water near Craig Maesglase I headed South towards a wooded area, the map sowing there was a good chance of finding flat sheltered ground here. This time I found a lovely spot right next to the tree line, Trailstar up, time for camp 2. No camp pics due to conditions, but there is footage in the video below.

The next morning I was greeted with heavy rain and after a brew I settled down for a few more hours whilst I waited for the rain to ease. Around 8.30 it was still raining but the forecast was for dryer weather early afternoon, with this in mind I struck camp and continued in the hope of better weather.

I decided to drop down to Maes- glase-bach and take the valley track down to the A470 follow it North to Mynogau Isaf , picking up the forestry track (or so I thought !)  to bring me back to the Bwlch North of Y cribin. The forestry track I intended following was almost non existent - it was a very long time since anyone had passed this and had become very overgrown, cursing my stupidity I climbed through very rough ground, heading towards waterfall crossing the track further on. I figured there was a better chance of picking up a good track further up. My heart sank when I reached the falls - a very idyllic spot but still no sign of a good path. By now it had started to rain heavily, which combined with the midges made me reluctant to stop and put on my rainshell ( I had got my newly acquired Patagonia Houdini wind shirt on)  and as it was so humid  I figured if I got wet It would be no hardship. A short climb later, and to much relief I picked up a good track and followed it east. Such was my relief at finding a good path that I didn't bother checking the map! a classical school boy error. When this abruptly ended, a little head scratching whilst looking at the map I realised this was a new track put in for forestry operations, and was not my intended path, in fact it was not shown on the map.

Once I relocated myself, I backtracked a few miles to pick up the correct path... lesson learned, always consult the map!

With the forecast predicting lighter winds I decided to return to Glasgwm for my last wildcamp. the rain continued on my ascent which combined with strong winds made for a chilly ascent. I put faith in the forecast and continued. Nearing the summit I put on my water proofs over my now wet baselayer, windshell and trousers to fend of the chill whilst pitching. With the Trailstar pitched, I got in and stripped of my waterproofs. To my amazement I was bone dry underneath, the heat generated on the ascent had allowed my baselayer/ windshirt and trousers to dry. I was pleased with the performance of my Patagonia Houdini but was most impressed with the breathability of my phd alpamaya smock allowing my underlayers to dry.

The next day dawned grey but calm, and after a leisurely breakfast I packed and moved on.
By the time I started on the ascent back to Aran Fawddwy to skies were beginning to clear, a change in the weather was coinciding with my return home. It had however been a very enjoyable trip, and I got to test my hill craft and new gear. I'll leave you with some pics from my return journey... thanks for taking the time to read.

Till next time..Happy wildcamping.

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