A long time since I last posted so here’s the first of a few updates to cover what’s happened the past few months. After this I’ll do write ups of
- Summer ML training at Plas y Brenin
- A quick look at new kit – Rab Momentum waterproof and Meindl Air Revolution 3.1 walking boots
- Cwm Eigiau wild camp from Dolgarrog
and I’m planning a tidy up of the background pages to the website. Thanks to all the people who’ve left comments on here and Twitter about the blog. Hope everyone had a cracking Summer!
The weekend before (early July 2010) the start of Summer ML training it felt right to do some walking up high, get some more miles in my new boots and add another day to the logbook. I’d be going out on my own and trying to ignore the increasingly poor conditions predicted for the day, I decided to take a look at different route up Snowdon. Waking up early, I arrived in the pouring rain at an empty car park by Rhyd-Ddu (it’s pay and display) just before 6am.
A deposit of slate to the side of the trail towards the South ridge
Leaving the car park at the North end and across the train track the path ahead is clear, well maintained and ascends gradually. There’s no problem spotting the fork in the trail either that takes you East away from the main Rhyd-Ddu path towards the proper start of the South ridge. The first section along this trail was pretty boggy and often submerged in the conditions but otherwise would make for a quick and steady walk up as suggested by the route I was following (see end of article for a link). At numerous points before reaching the saddle between Snowdon and Yr Aran are reminders of the considerable mining history of the area, with several buildings and huge deposits of slate to the side of the trail.
Making the saddle (Bwlch-Cwm Llan) I took advantage of the wall that runs along it to shelter from the driving rain, to check my non-laminated map (it was retired after this route…) and decide what next. I’d been tempted to go up Yr Aran as part of the route, but given the poor conditions and being on my own on unfamiliar ground, I decided that getting up and down Snowdon as quick as possible and back to somewhere warm/dry made the most sense.
Approaching the ridge from the saddle there’s a sharp gain in height before things settle into a more gradual ascent over a clear trail. Things carried on for a while before I found myself a little off the crest of the ridge (on the Western side) and needed to scramble back up a short section, I’m guessing I lost the main path at some point to end up needing to do this though. After meeting the Rhyd-Ddu path the ridge narrows over Bwlch Main to give some exposure (hard to tell how much as the cloud was so thick), although the strength of the wind (gusting 50mph) certainly added to things.
On this narrower section I met the first and only person I’d seen during the ascent, a quick “Morning, you alright?” between us and I was beyond the ridge proper on onto the final section of ascent, some short ascents on wide rocky tracks. Making the summit I was amazed that despite the weather/time (~ 9am) I was the only person in sight (visibility was about 30m).
Heading back down quickly as there was nothing of a view and the weather was cold/depressing at best, I quickly found the fork after the narrow section of the ridge that goes right and down onto the Rhyd-Ddu path itself. Around halfway down I began to meet others on their way up, looking forlorn and not enjoying the path which now resembled a stream. It’s really hard to tell giving how dense the cloud was but I’d be tempted to suggest taking the alternative route up over the standard Rhyd-Ddu path up would make for a better ascent, anyone done both?
In conclusion it’s hard to make any real conclusion about a walk done in such poor conditions, however, having seen the ridge line in clear weather I can imagine it makes for a spectacular route. I’ll definitely be back, when the sun is out and in with others to enjoy the route another time. Having the summit to myself was a bonus and not something I guess will happen again soon. Getting up and down for just before half 11 meant my pace felt comfortable at around 4km/hour, which was handy to know prior to a week of training. The heavy rain battered my waterproofs and left me pretty wet from the day, so it was out with the waterproofing treatment as soon as I got back.
Fancy doing the route?
- Check out the full route detail on Walking Britain.