Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Llanuwchllyn to Rhydymain via Aran Benllyn and Aran Fawddwy 23.2.12


A linear walk, 9.65 Miles - 5 Hours.

This was originally going to be posted as a sort of pictorial guide to climbing Aran Fawddwy from Llanuwchllyn at the southern end of Bala Lake. But due to the weather that had engulfed the area on that day, I've decided to edit this one down.
 At the highest point in the Aran mountain range, and just 9 metres short of making it into the Welsh 3000's, Aran Fawddwy is the highest British mountain south of Snowdon. I had noticed the peak on a climb of near by Cadair Idris which lies south west of the mountain, and just had to climb it despite its remote location.
 I was staying in Shrewsbury, so to get to Aran Fawddwy via public transport, I would have to take a train to Wrexham, then catch the X94 bus from Wrexham bus station to the village of Llanuwchllyn, a journey that would take some two and a half hours.
 The weather that morning in Shrewsbury was quite sunny, and on arrival into Wrexham looked beautiful with blue sky, just some cloud was hanging off nearby Ruabon Mountain, but other than that the day was looking promising.
 The X94 is a fantastic bus service, it snakes its way through some fantastic country all the way eventually to Barmouth, it really is a tourists bus. But after reaching Llangollen, the sky was becoming grey, on through Corwen, Llandrillo the sky just became ever darker. By the time the bus had got to Bala it was like a heavy fog had descended. The best way I can describe how I felt when arriving five minutes later into Llanuwchllyn was simply gutted!...
Section 1. Llanuwchllyn to Aran Benllyn...
This journey had cost me about £25, so I wasn't heading back now after paying that. As I said at the beginning of this entry, I was originally planning on bringing you a nice pictorial walking guide from the village to the summit, and down in another village called Rhydymain. But to spare you endless pictures of stiles with pathways disappearing into nothing, like I've got uploaded onto my PC, I have edited this one to bring you a sort of 'highlights of Aran Fawddwy' instead. Here heading across the fields from Llanuwchllyn...
 Heading through the mist across the lower slopes of Moel Ddu...
 Feeling a bit more like Snowdonia now rather than endless moorland, heading up the steep side of Craig y Geifr here...
 Avoiding this really slippy set of planks, I risked the bogs instead towards the side of Moel Ffenigl...
Despite the reasonably short distance undertaken so far, I found Moel Ffenigl a tough old slog. A breather here gave me time for a spot of lunch before taking to the slopes of up coming Aran Benllyn...
 I know I wasn't going to put any stile pictures in, but this one was quite significant as it allows you to cross a fence in order to climb the steep sides of Aran Benllyn...
 After the initial climb up the steep slippy slopes of Aran Benllyn, you are then met with a long ridge walk across mixed moor/rocky terrain that dips and raises cruelly in order to approach the summit...
 If in conditions like these this fence is more or less a good direction marker to follow across the Arans...
 This small seemingly unnamed lake lies near the summit of Aran Benllyn...
 It's quite a long walk across some rocky terrain towards Aran Fawddwy from its neighbour Aran Benllyn, and you descend a good 150 metres before you come to the rocky side of Aran Fawddwy .

Section 2. Aran Benllyn to Rhydymain
On your approach to Aran Fawddwy, watch out for this stile that allows you onto the steep rocky side of the mountain, which turns into a real scramble...
 Getting my money's worth from my Scarpa's here, this is a real tough old climb that requires a bit of concentration, especially in these conditions...
The mountain goes ever upwards into loftier climbs, this is a good test of stamina.
 It was such a shame about the weather, I was putting together a romantic notion in my mind that the summit might just be sticking out of the cloud with fantastic inversions around me...
 But unfortunately not...
 One of the U.Ks great mountain Trig Points is this one, a towering example at just under six feet.
 The wind and rain were lashing Aran Fawddwy's exposed summit that day, so getting down seemed only to welcome...
 I wanted to add this picture just to try and give you an idea of where the Trig Point is in relation to a 1000ft drop at its side that the wind was literally screaming up. Unfortunately that same drop provides some spectacular views across the lake Craiglyn Dyfi towards some fantastic welsh countryside, including the great Cadair Idris to the south west, apparently...
 Thanks to a passing fell runner for this picture. I wasn't the only mad soul on the mountain that day...
Nice to be off the harsh summit now, here heading across some awful bogs. I have to admit that with out my GPS I would have been lost instantly here. My boots were also beginning to fill with water, and my gaiters were doing the same. These bogs are reminiscent of the mid slopes of Cross Fell - almost like the tide has just gone out on a beach, as your wandering across patches of marsh that go up and down like waves when you tread on its surface, not a pleasant place to be...
 These marshes on the edge of Cefn-glas are the sources for many streams and the odd river so expect the worse. Here a way marker gives some hope...
 Finally after a good couple of miles of trekking across this grim area, some trees mark the end of the marshes...
 My camera by now was nearly destroyed. My jacket was soaked through, and my feet were a bit squelchy. Here heading along a forest track that eventually brings you out onto farm land...
 Please forgive the pictures, but the view screen on my camera had died, and so I was guess shooting now! Here an old farm building marks this muddy section of the path...
 At the end of the above track, you will come to a farm house. Now cruelly, a lane takes you steeply up hill, my knee at this point was very painful too, and has hurt pretty much since this walk, so this bit was particularly punishing to say the least...
 Gloomy, very gloomy like the front cover of an Opeth album...
 Here heading across a fast flowing Ceunant Coch...
 And eventually into the not so exiting village of Rhydymain, not even a pub to have a pint in! But even Rhydymain was a welcome sight after this slog believe me.
 I have said this a few times on my blog, that I will have to come back in the summer to scale the peak once more. But I'm not sure to be honest with this one, I think if I ended up in this neck of the woods again I would take to the Berwyn range, or another visit to Cadair Idris perhaps? Well, if you do take on this one I hope you have better weather than I did. Many thanks for reading, and happy hiking :)
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