Sunday was forecast to be a glorious day and it didn’t disappoint. It was shirtsleeve walking.
I elected to approach from the North West, perhaps not the usual route but with easy parking available at SH 596 630 it would avoid the crowds on what was likely to be a busy day out in the hills. Passing the car park at Pen Y Pass just after 8:30am it was already closed with the ‘full’ signs out.
The track from the parking up to the Marchlyn Mawr dam is exceptional being surfaced all the way. Once you reach the dam there is a path off to the left of the tunnel access leading up onto the hill. The path soon fades out though and from here it is just a case of picking the best route up over a large boulder field.
Once you reach the top there is shelter if it’s windy but for once I didn’t need it. I soon set the station up and had nine contacts in the log.
The return back down is more of the same. Once back onto the track below the dam it may be worth cutting straight down avoiding the long sweeping curves of the track.
A few miles South of Great Rhos is Gwaunceste Hill.
It was not clear if there would be room to park on the farm track down to Rhewey so I parked in the lay-by on the main road at SO 150 575. Walking along the track I could see it should be possible to park on the verge at SO 149 573 without causing an obstruction. The farm at Rhewey is not terribly welcoming with dogs chained up in the yard and signs on every fence stating the private nature of the land. Hold your nerve though and walk straight through as is your right. Once beyong the gate at the end of the farm yard it is a pleasant stroll up a good track. South of the gate at SO 155 565 the land is signed as a SSI. Stay on the good track here rather than taking a bearing for the summit as the going is very tough once off the track. Make your own decision how far to follow the track before turning cross county for the final push up to the trig point.
This year I decided to try the approach to Great Rhos from the North. There have been reports that the danger area to the South and West of the summit has ben expanded and although access should be still possible from that direction the route may be extended to avoid the expanded area.
There is room for a couple of cars to park at the end of the track at SO 156 655. It’s fairly obvious with an old railway truck dumped beside the road.
From the parking spot it’s a pleasant walk gently climbing to an obvious left turn that leads up towards the summit. When the track meets the fence line continue North and then North East following the fence until you find the gate at SO 178 641. From here you will need to take a bearing and head South East out over the heather until you spot the trig point marking the summit.
Sunday started out wet and continued so right up until we got back to the car. The plan was for a shorter day activating Tryfan then leaving to get home at a reasonable time.
We managed to park right next to the gate, probably the bad weather put off the crowds.
The route up is well known and documented on many youtube videos so I won’t go into detail here. Just try and follow the ridge line as much as possible and don’t forget to stop at the cannon stone for the photo opportunity.
There were a few others around on the top, a number seemed to have come up via the South Ridge and one or two seemed to be there by accident, we were asked a couple of times if this was Tryfan and one person asked if it was the Glyders.
We found a little shelter between a few big rocks and soon set up the station. Conditions were good and I logged 23 contacts all over Northern England. The temperature was well below zero so we were soon getting very cold and had to pack up to leave. We dropped down the South Ridge and then SW down towards Cwm Tryfan and some welcome shelter from the winds. By this time we were very cold and very wet so were pleased to see the sun put in a showing as we arrived back at the car! Not a long day but a great adventure.
The weather looked promising for this activation of two new summits for me. This is a route that is overshadowed by it’s more illustrious neighbours to the South but it is well worth doing, offering a mix of just about everything Snowdonia has to offer terrain wise and 22 SOTA points as well.Parking is easy at the Gwern Gof Isaf campsite atSH 685 601. Pop in and pay the farmer his £2 and for your money you will receive a days parking and some great local advice on conditions and the route.
GW/NW-002, Carnedd Llewelyn – 1064m, 10 Points
Cross the road to the obvious track heading NE. Follow this to the bend where you will see the remains of a building on the right. Turn here. Initially there is not much sign of the path but you should soon pick it up, it becomes more obvious as you approach the reservoir. The final push up to Bwalch Ery Farchog is a bit steep in places but nothing too difficult. Once on the ridge, follow it to the left, NW along a fairly clear path. There is a short section at SH 692 635 that will require scrambling skills. It’s not too difficult, approach it to the right then traverse along a small ledge to the left and up. Just after this section there is a fork in the path, take the right fork, although it looks steeper it’s an easier path. From the crags of Craig yr Ysfa it’s an easy stroll across Penywaun-wen and up onto the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn.
We set up the station in the shelter of the summit cairn. By this time the wind was up around 30 – 40 mph and the temperature was well below freezing. I soon had seven contacts in the log.
Once we had packed up we headed back down to the ridge and on towards Pen Llithrig y Wrach. The down scramble at the crags was no more difficult than coming up but care does need to be taken.
GW/NW-013, Pen Llithrig y Wrach – 799m, 6 Points
From the bwlch continue SE to gain the height of Pen yr Helgi Du. This is a quite imposing ascent that looks far more dramatic than it is. Keep your nerve and stick to the path up and you will soon reach the top where it opens out onto the flatter summit plateau. Stick with the path and drop back down into Bwalch y Tri Marchog and then climb the final ascent up onto Pen Llithrig y Wrach.
Once we arrived at the summit we quickly set up the station and soon had four contacts in the log including a summit to summit contact with GW7HEM/P on Mynd Langorse which I was very pleased to get as SW-015 is well known as a difficult summit to activate on VHF.
By this time the weather was coming in and the wind was still ferocious so we didn’t hang around on the summit but headed back down to calmer conditions. There is the option to just take a bearing down the side of the hill but the fence marked on the map was fairly substantial where we crossed it at the bwalch so I was not sure we wouldn’t end up following it back North to the stile in the bwalch, rather we opted to follow the path back down and take a bearing from there. There is no obvious path ondown from here but the dyke running West to East is very obvious and impossible to miss. There is a good path along the South side of the dyke leading back to the access road and down to the A5.
Sunday and another early start, this time planning to ascend the Devils Kitchen and up onto Y Garn.
GW/NW-004, Y Garn – 947m, 8 Points
Normally this is a long but quite easy paved route, today though the path was barely discernible under deep snow and ice. Eventually reaching Llyn Cwn we turned North in conditions approaching white out at times. We eventually summit-ed and found room in the small shelter on the top. It was fairly busy on top even given the poor conditions.
After making twenty QSOs from Y Garn we were all pretty cold and pleased to head back down to the col. Conditions were deteriorating for the afternoon with rain forecast lower down but blowing blizzard conditions on the tops.
GW/NW-003, Glyder Fawr – 1001m, 10 Points
We reached Glyder Fawr a couple of hours later where we found shelter beside a few large rocks marking the summit. By this time the other two were fairly cold and wet so they weren’t over pleased when I put another seventeen contacts into the log, including couple of summit to summit contacts
It was still a long walk out but as we started to lose height the wind dropped and the weather improved. We finally got back to the car just as we lost the daylight.
In total over the weekend we activated four SOTA summits worth 48 points and made 53 QSOs over much of the North West and Midlands regions. We climbed nearly 3000 metres of mountain and spent 17½ hours out walking.
Saturday morning we were up for an early start, planning to complete the Snowdon horseshoe, a classic Welsh route including a traverse of the infamous Crib Goch, a knife edge ridge. Unfortunately the crowds beat us to it and the main Snowdon car park was already full when we arrived at 8:30am. A quick re-plan and we headed down to do the Watkins path instead.
GW/NW-008, Y Lliwedd – 898m, 8 Points
A few hours later we arrived at the summit of Y Lliwedd at 898 metres. With temperatures well below freezing and an additional ten degrees of windchill, we didn’t want to stay there for too long. We set up the radios and worked stations from the Wirral through to Eire, a few in Anglesey and over to Manchester and Bolton. There is no shelter at the top of Y Lliwedd so after nine QSOs we were all ready to leave.
GW/NW-001, Snowdon – Yr Wyddfa – 1085m, 10 Points
From Y Lliwedd, it’s just over 150 metres of decent back to the Bwlch Ciliau and then the long climb up to Snowdon summit. The snow was fairly deep in places; on some of the steeper sections we were cutting steps to make the ascent.
Once we reached the ridge at the top of the Watkins path though we were greeted by the masses that had come up via the Pyg track from the main car park.
The wind on Snowdon summit was stronger and the temperatures even lower but we found a little shelter beside the summit cairn and soon logged contacts into Dublin, Telford, Anglesey and around the North West of England.
By the time we left the summit we had all lost contact with our PTT fingers which were now frozen solid. Our return route was back down Bwlch Main, over Alt Maenderyn and down to the lake at Bwlch Cwm Llan where we turned East to regain the Watkins path and back home.