Carnedd Llewelyn via Drum and Foel-fras

A substantial walk in the beautiful Carneddau mountains. Amounting to almost 13 miles in length with about 3,250 ft of ascent. Choose a clear day and allow 7+ hours to enjoy the scenic views and, if you’re lucky, a sighting of a wild pony or two.

To reach the car parking (free at time of writing), travel northwards from Llanrwst along the B5106. Pass through Trefriw & Dolgarrog, then turn left & uphill just after the river in Tal-y-bont. Now carefully follow the twisting single track lanes to the small car park at the lane’s end SH 72058 71556.

Start the walk by leaving the car park westward along the old Roman road (walking beneath the power lines). After approximately 1/2 a mile there is a gate across the track, go through the gateway and then turn immediately left uphill alongside the stone wall.

Looking back along the Roman Road before turn uphill away from it.
Looking back along the Roman Road before turning uphill away from it.

The small path now winds up the ridge to Carnedd y Ddelw. Having started our walk just after 7am on a gloriously clear autumn morning, we thoroughly enjoyed the fine westward views towards the coast and Anglesey.

The morning view NW towards Puffin Island from the slopes of Drosgl
The morning view NW towards Puffin Island from the slopes of Drosgl

Upon cresting this rise there is a panoramic view encompassing Drum, Foel-fras, Llwytmor and Llyn Anafon.

Looking southerly to Drum, Llyn Anafon and Foel-fras from Carnedd y Ddelw.
Looking southerly to Drum, Llyn Anafon and Foel-fras from Carnedd y Ddelw.

Turning slightly to our left we now approach the summit of Drum (Carnedd Penyborth-goch) and join the larger stoned track just prior to the summit. It was at this point that we had our first view of one of the Carneddau Ponies; silhouetted by the low sun through some morning haze.

A mountain pony grazes amongst the glare of morning sun and haze.
A mountain pony grazes amongst the glare of morning sun and haze.

She looked like a veteran mare who was perhaps the matriarch of the small group of 9 ponies that we now saw on Drum.

The Old Mare stands grazing on a mountain skyline.
The Old Mare stands grazing on a mountain skyline.

We now proceed SSW, initially downhill, then across some marshy ground before rising steadily up the long haul to the summit of Foel-fras. Definitely worth pausing occasionally to enjoy the changing westerly views.

Looking down to Llyn Anafon from Drum
Looking down to Llyn Anafon from Drum

As one approaches the summit, you come to the corner of a stout stone-wall; bearing left around the corner, the stony trig-pointed summit comes in to view.

The stony trig-point marked summit of Foel-fras
The stony trig-point marked summit of Foel-fras

We noted more wild ponies just beyond the summit and as we began to drop away towards Carnedd Gwenllian (Uchaf) a trio of young ponies came over to investigate who was wielding a camera.

A group of young mountain ponies come to a fence-line - investigating who's taking their photograph.
A group of young mountain ponies come to a fence-line – investigating who’s taking their photograph.

From here we rise again slightly to the peak of Carnedd Gwenllian, a flattish stony peak.

The view looking SW across the summit of Carnedd Gwenllian
The view looking SW across the summit of Carnedd Gwenllian

Bearing left from here, we fall & then rise again to the summit of Foel Grach. After the rocks of Foel Grach we drop again before making the final climb to the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn. It was on this last section that we spotted a third group of ponies. Stood enjoying the autumn sunshine with the peak of Yr Elen behind them, a beautiful view of these Carneddau Ponies in their natural environment.

Carneddau ponies enjoying autumn sunshine, high on Carnedd Llewelyn. With Yr Elen and Menai Strait in the background.
Carneddau ponies enjoying autumn sunshine, high on Carnedd Llewelyn. With Yr Elen and Menai Strait in the background.

Now for the push to the 1064 m summit of Carnedd Llewelyn – 2nd highest mountain in Wales, after the peaks of the Snowdon massif. It was becoming quite hot for mid-September and we appreciated our cold drinks with an early lunch stop, sat enjoying the huge views all around.

Tamsin on top of Carnedd Llewelyn
Tamsin on top of Carnedd Llewelyn

The view south from here is dominated by the cliffs of Carnedd Dafydd with many of the main Snowdonian peaks visible beyond.

Looking from Carnedd Llewelyn to Carnedd Dafydd - with Tryfan, Glyderau and Snowdon beyond.
Looking from Carnedd Llewelyn to Carnedd Dafydd – with Tryfan, Glyderau and Snowdon beyond.

After a brief lunch break we re-traced our steps back to the car, enjoying the peaceful wander back.

As an alternative: If one had two cars & drivers available, a 2nd car could be left at the Youth Hostel Car Park by Llyn Ogwen. Then instead of retracing ones steps, one could walk across to Carnedd Dafydd to then descend via Pen yr Ole Wen.

Either way this is a challenging but very enjoyable walk across big open country.

Map:

The Antidote

The other day I took the above photo of river, warm autumn woodland colours and stone cottage. Tamsin & I were discussing how the peaceful natural perspective gained from living in such a spot might help as an antidote to solve many of the human world’s problems. And so I was inspired to write this poem …

The Antidote

So, you were told there’d be pearls at the gates;
And ye believed in streets paved with gold.
All welcome, there’s no knowledge of hate;
Every body free, from hunger & cold.

Politicians & preachers, all principled & pious.
They’ll steer & they’ll serve;
No crooked corruption is ever observed.
All equal in eyes, without bias.

Your role, your requirement, your task?
Produce & consume, but questions don’t ask!
Your life has a value, in monetary terms.
Your tax & your servitude, this all reaffirms.

Look in the mirror, apparition pre- snooze
A tool of the ruling, perhaps just a fool.
A hollowness fulfilled with spending & booze.
A packhorse of lust, a jewel of a mule.

You vote for a party, to vain change make.
Each manifesto, of choices all fallow.
To ourselves responsibility to take.
Live lives neither fake nor shallow.

An antidote is needed;
No shopping bag therapy, no sexual heresy,
No gold card orgasm, to placate the bleeded.
Just a simple place by tree or sea.

A place in nature to sleep, not weep.
A place with hearth warm, away from storm.
A place to eat, not some backstreet.
A place from long lost tome;
To call, a home.

————————————–
Peace, peace to you all.

Autumn warmth & colours, swaying trees & babbling river – feel alive, live nature.

————————————–
Below is a video of the poem recited …
(Think I need a better mic setup – to avoid echo and the goblin who occasionally joins in lol)

Buff Tip Caterpillars

A fairly chunky moth that lives in our region is the Buff Tip (Phalera bucephala). It is often to be seen in flight on a summer’s eve and when resting on a branch, it’s markings can camouflage it as a broken twig.

Buff Tip Moth (adult)

By autumn time, one may notice groups of reasonably substantial yellow / green patterned caterpillars that are covered in a veritable shrubbery of white hairs. These are the Buff Tip’s caterpillars. Whilst they can be seen on various local trees, such as oak, birch & hazel – their favourites on the farm seem to be willow. The young caterpillars are gregarious, living together in groups & stripping twigs of their leaves.

Buff Tip Moth – caterpillars out in force, together.

The caterpillar’s identity may be confirmed by the inverted yellow ‘V’ face marking. As the caterpillars continue to grow they will gradually separate from the group to seek out a fresh part of the tree, leading a more solitary existence. Here they will continue to eat until ready to pupate.

Buff Tip Moth – caterpillar close-up

The immature moth will overwinter as a chrysalis in the ground before emerging to fly as an adult moth, early next summer.

In search of Mountain Goats

Mountain Goats have roamed Snowdonia for many years and I always enjoy seeing them from time to time, especially when it involves a walk up the Rhinogs (or more correctly Rhinogydd). The Rhinogs have always had that little extra feeling of wilderness for me, where better to view wild goats. I should really refer to them as feral, since they are descended from the domestic goats of pastoralists some 10,000 or so years ago. So having parked in Coed y Brenin, Tamsin & I headed for the rocky northern slopes of Rhinog Fawr.

Our route up in to the hills took us past the picturesque Pistyll Gwyn, which had a decent flow after a few nights of autumn rains.
This is a lovely walk with great views, so nothing would be lost if we didn’t sight the goats.

Cardigan bay & Lleyn peninsula from the Rhinogydd

It was here that I spotted the first small group of goats. Tamsin was busy sketching a view that she felt would inspire her fantasy writings, and so I was meandering amongst the rocks when I spotted 3 goats a little below Llyn Du. At a distance that was towards the limit of the optics that I was carrying, the normally very skittish creatures remained relaxed whilst I took a few pictures & then retreated.

We continued to enjoy our time on the mountain but it wasn’t until we were practicing our parkour balance descending the wet rocky track at a fair rate of knots, that our second goat sighting occurred. We heard an eerie bleating from several hundred feet above us. Tamsin the trusty spotter wheeled around to see…

Spotter Tamsin

.. two billy goats with generous horns calmly grazing amongst the crags & another goat high above them, bleating (see featured header image).

Billy Goat

I did take some rather shaky video of the goats but given that for part of it I was prone in a midge infested bog at the time the quality is limited, apologies.

Hope you enjoyed, take care of yourself & our precious planet 🙂

Excitement on a misty morning

Saturday morning dawned with mountain mist and a quiet rumbling in the hills.

We packed our flask full of warming chilli & tub of flapjacks, along with just a little photo kit 😉 and headed out on foot for Gartheiniog.
Here we found international sports stars like freshly reconfirmed world champion Sebastien Ogier and previous Wales Rally GB winner Jarri-Matti Latvala (pictured) guiding their rally cars through the forestry with the grace of an ice dancer and the pace of a cheetah. The precision & speed carried by the top drivers through even the most awkward of hairpins was a treat to watch. And all this whilst the cat & mouse battle for the lead continued between Ogier & Tanak.

JM Latvala

We enjoyed our lunch taking in the view of sublime autumn colours reflected in the calm waters of a small lake (pictured). Our snack was not only serenaded by the local birdlife but also by the whoops, laughter & air-horns of passionate & fun-loving rally fans.

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And what do you know, our afternoon was then filled with the pops, bangs and hisses of some classic older rally cars. The air filled with an evocative mix of autumn woodland & synthetic motor oil and we watched these valiant cars, from Imprezas, to Metros (pictured) and plenty of Escorts of course.

bp2r4329-29oct2016

A great day of entertainment in a setting that few could better.