Copper Morning – a Cwm Bychan walk

It’s been a while since I’ve had chance to blog post, so let’s catch-up with an early morning mountain walk through Cwm Bychan to Beddgelert and then returning via the banks of the Afon Glaslyn.

Tamsin & I completed this walk yesterday morning (23rd May) and most of the route is currently lined with gorgeous bluebell flowers. Walking at a relatively leisurely pace, it took us a little over 3 hours including photography pauses (adjust for your walking pace). The GPS recorded 5.8 miles distance and 1500ft climb. Usual mountain walk advice is relevant but I would additionally stress that you will really want those sturdy boots, since much of the walk is upon rocky ground. The walk itself is absolutely gorgeous and I highly recommend it.

Bluebells in Spring Sunshine
Bluebells in Spring Sunshine

Park in the Nantmor National Trust car park at grid ref: SH597462 (£4/day at time of writing) and leave the car park via the gate next to the loos. Turn immediately right, under the railway and climbing up through bluebell woods.
Morning Sun
Morning Sun

Gradually the woodland will fade into open mountain, do look back towards the coastline, it’s a great view. Having started walking at 6.50am we had the pleasure of a cool morning breeze whilst watching the sun drawn up in to the sky by Helios’ steeds. We paused in the shade of a lonesome mountain tree.
Miner's Aerial Ropeway
Miner’s Aerial Ropeway

Soon you will come across evidence of the copper mining that used to be carried out here. Mining has been dated back to at least the 17th century in Cwm Bychan. The mines finally closed in the 19th century, only to be re-opened in the 1920s. It was at this time that an aerial ropeway was built to help remove the Chalcopyrite (CuFeS2) ore for processing. This attempt to restart production was short lived and the mine finally closed by the end of that decade. Various relics of that era can still be seen, including the aerial ropeway with its pylons and terminal wheel, higher up the mountain.
Wheel header of aerial ropeway
Wheel header of aerial ropeway

There’s more information about the mine site and its neighbours on the Coflein website.

Shortly after passing the header wheel the paths split in two, keep straight ahead uphill (as opposed to branching left), past a little more copper mining spoil, to eventually climb over a ladder style and reach the high point of this walk. The views from here are breath-taking and include the peaks of the Snowdon Horseshoe. We took a moment to stand and stare, basking in spring sunshine, sweet scent on the breeze and serenaded with birdsong – life doesn’t get much better 🙂

Views across central Snowdonia
Views across central Snowdonia

Now continue ahead to the nearby signpost & split in the track. Whilst it is possible to turn left towards Beddgelert, why miss out on the short extension down to the shores of beautiful Llyn Dinas. Before descending on the right to Llyn Dinas we took a very short detour, just 100m ahead, to investigate another copper mining shaft and for Tamsin to do some scrambling.
Tamsin on Rocks
Tamsin on Rocks

As one descends, the view of Llyn Dinas gradually opens up until the view of her full waters is eventually on show. We’ll now descend right to her shore line where we turn left to follow the river down towards Beddgelert. After a short distance the path joins the minor lane from Sygun Copper Mine to Beddgelert.
Morn over Llyn Dinas
Descending to Llyn Dinas from Cwm Bychan

Upon reaching Beddgelert one may cross the river & visit this much loved village. Have a pub lunch, enjoy the ice-cream parlour or just soak up the relaxed atmosphere. When ready, pick up the footpath going downstream again. Our GPS tracklog (see below) follows the left-hand bank but you’ll want to be on the other bank if you wish to visit Gelert’s grave. Either way as you walk along the paths downstream you’ll eventually find yourself on the left-hand riverbank with the Afon Glaslyn to your right & the Welsh Highland Railway to your left (keep a look out for the Steam Trains).
WHR narrow gauge tracks
WHR narrow gauge tracks

The pass of Aberglaslyn is a stunning section of river and worth a walk along at any time of year. Do take care on the path, it is quite rocky & narrow in places.
Path along Aberglaslyn
Path along Aberglaslyn

Eventually you will find yourself near the Aberglaslyn road crossing. Don’t exit the woodland on to the road, just turn left uphill on the path away from the river. It is now just a short walk back to the car park that you started from; I hope you enjoyed the walk. Our GPS tracklog is embedded below plus two links to alternative descriptions of this walk.

Tracklog:

Other descriptions of the route:
National Trust – starting at the same point but walking clockwise (the opposite way)
Snowdonia.gov – starting from Beddgelert, walking anti-clockwise. [PDF file]

Gallery:

Support

Support

We all come across obstacles in our life. Some are boundaries that perhaps should not be crossed, whilst others need bridging to allow the continuance of our journey.

Larger obstacles require good supports for the bridge to be strong. Our choice of support & method of bridging can not only change our final destination but also reflects heavily upon ourselves & the long-term likelihood of success.

So seek out support when you need it, but whence it shall come; choose this wisely.

The Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)

Grey Wagtails are a bright active bird, rather more colourful than their name suggests.

BP2R1703-07Jun2011

They prefer to live along fast flowing sections of rivers & streams and are native residents across much of Britain, particularly western areas like Wales.

An ideal location would be one with plenty of rocks & pebbles to perch upon and with rocky banks that present ideal nesting hollows & cracks. The further addition of some woodland shade would provide the perfect abode with plenty of insects just waiting to be made a meal of. The two pictures in this post illustrate just such a location and the wagtail in the first picture is holding a scrumptious beak-full of wiggly insects.

BP2R1711-07Jun2011

Grey Wagtail populations are susceptible to harsh winters, amongst other things, and they are currently considered to be of amber conservation status (RSPB).

Like all Wagtails, the Grey Wagtail bobs & wags its long tail almost constantly. If you are lucky enough to find an upland river where Dippers & Wagtails share the stage, you’d be forgiven for feeling that you were viewing the next energetic dance craze! If you’re visiting my neck of the woods, look out for the action along the Afon Dulas.

For more Wagtail pictures, pop across to my galleries at Natures Universe.