Machynlleth and Llyn Glanmerin – a short walk

A short (~ 4miles with 750ft climb) circular route from Machynlleth to visit beautiful Llyn Glanmerin. This is a relatively easy walk for any regular walker, including children. It does have a climb near to the start, so some fitness is advised. Tamsin and I walked this at the beginning of June whilst our car was in the garage for maintenance. There’s plenty of views & wildlife to take in on this pleasant stroll.

For convenience I have started the walk from the main Pay & Display Car Park in Machynlleth (Loos available at CP entrance). Exit the back of the car park and turn left on to a pleasant tarmac walkway which will lead you past the library and on to the high street. Turn right & follow the pavement until you reach the road turning right for Forge & Dylife, take this turning. Close to the end of the housing you will see a signposted footpath leading to the right. Follow this footpath away from Machynlleth, uphill on the right edge of the local common land. As you climb above the golf course on to bracken & heath, do look back at the view of Machynlleth nestled amongst the hills of Dyfi.

Machynlleth Panoramic
Machynlleth Panoramic

Continue uphill across this now heathy common land. The track now strays from the righthand edge a little, crossing open land from one block of woodland edge to another. Keep an eye open for Red Kites gliding across the skies above you.

Red Kite against blue skies
Red Kite against blue skies

When you meet Glyndwr’s Way crossing you from wooded left to open heath right, keep straight ahead into a narrow wooded path that takes you on a brief detour to Llyn Glanmerin. As you emerge from the forestry Llyn Glanmerin is immediately down to your left. Llyn Glanmerin is sometimes referred to as Lord Herbert’s lake. Lord Herbert Vane Tempest of Plas Machynlleth was a director of the Cambrian Railways. He sadly died, along with 16 others, in the Abermule train crash of 1921. The lake itself is of about 7 acres in area and is most picturesque with water lilies floating upon it and Rhododendrons on its banks.

Banks of Llyn Glanmerin
Banks of Llyn Glanmerin
Water Lily on Llyn Glanmerin
Water Lily on Llyn Glanmerin

On a warm summer day Dragonflies & Damselflies are to be seen patrolling the water’s margins in search of a mate or laying eggs beneath the surface.

Skimmer Dragonfly
I believe this to be a female Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) Dragonfly; with dark pterostigma yet golden costa.

Now briefly retrace your steps through the narrow section of woodland, back to Glyndwr’s way. Upon meeting the Glyndwr’s way path, turn west along it and over the open heath land. This well marked path will then lead you downhill towards the Cae-Gybi lane. As you descend, see if you can spot Plas Machynlleth (Lord Herbert’s old home) beneath you at the edge of Machynlleth.

Plas Machynlleth
Plas Machynlleth

Upon meeting the lane, turn right along it briefly, before again leaving it to follow Glyndwr’s way down to Plas Machynlleth. Turn right & walk along the path through Plas Machynlleth’s grounds. This will lead you to the back of the car park from whence you began the walk.

Route Map:

Gallery:

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:

A November stroll on Snowdon

A changeable day in November, with a beautiful clear start; just the sort of day to photograph some of the different moods of beautiful Snowdonia. And so it was last week when Tamsin & I had an early start to head for Rhyd Ddu before dawn. Here’s a photo heavy post, telling the tale of our walk and including the GPS track / route details, so that you might enjoy this fine piece of country for yourself; (please note that in wintery conditions this route becomes a much more significant challenge, requiring more knowledge & equipment):

The blue light of early morn

We parked up in the frosty & empty car park at Rhyd Ddu just as the tinges of blue light were lifting the dawn sky. A few quick checks plus one photo later and we were on our way, hiking up the track towards the old quarry on Yr Aran slopes. The aim was to be at the quarry as the sun rose above the mountain horizon. As always it was worth taking the time to stand & stare, the view looking back westwards was beautiful with a coloured dawn sky, mountain panorama and mist in the valley:

Looking west before sunrise – from the left, Nantle Ridge, Mynydd Mawr, Moel Eilio.

It is these views that help make early morning walks such a pleasure, along with crisp air, morning wildlife and the fact that you’ll probably have the mountainside to yourself! It’s definitely the time for catching decent photography light. I’m currently on a long-term mission to capture the many changing faces of North & Mid Wales landscapes, not just the perfect blue sky days. And so we carried on, heading uphill for the quarries.

Forward to Yr Aran and the sunrise

As we reached the quarry, the timing was great and we were rewarded with striking views all around. Looking back through the ruins, we could see Beddgelert Forest & Nantle Ridge beyond. Whilst ahead there were stunning sunrise colours, as the sun burst out from behind the flank of Yr Aran.

Back to Beddgelert Forest and Nantle Ridge from the quarry ruins
Sunrise across the quarries and slopes of Yr Aran

Now it was time to swing north and climb more steeply up the ridge, Allt Maenderyn, towards the arête of Bwlch Main (my favourite point on Snowdon). Looking uphill showed that the summit of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) was, as so often, shrouded in moody cloud. Pleasing, from my photography perspective, it would allow for some moody shots looking down from the cloud base, I just hoped that more general cloud would hold off for another hour or so. In the meantime it was great to enjoy the morning view across to Y Lliwedd.

Warm sunlight floods into the quarries of Cwm Llan and Y Lliwedd

Approaching the cloud base & with the temperature becoming notably fresher, I paused to put on my coat and to take advantage of a gloriously clear view across Bwlchysaethau to Crib Goch, which was bathed in warm sunshine.

Crib Goch looming beyond Bwlchysaethau, illuminated by morning sunshine.

As we crossed Bwlch Main the views down towards Cwm Llan & Nant Gwynant beyond, were just as dramatic as I had hoped. The morning sunshine was sandwiched with building cloud above, valley shadow & mist below. Leaving the Canon SLR in the rucksack, I decided this would be a good spot to utilise the significant reach of my little Nikon. When I bought the B700 last year, its main target use was for video projects with Tamsin. I hoped that it would also act as an inexpensive & lightweight backup / catchall on walks. Whilst it clearly can’t produce SLR standard shots, it does hold its own well & fulfils my chosen role for it. Here are 2 shots out of the cloud with it – the 2nd shot is framed within the first one, at the mist line on the valley floor:

Changeable November conditions; looking southerly from Bwlch Main arete (Snowdon) with Y Lliwedd to the left, mist over Llyn Gwynant and dramatic skies above.
Morning mist over from Llyn Gwynant shrouds the start of the Watkin path up Snowdon.

Now continuing across this exposed ridge to Snowdon’s summit, visibility dropped & hints of winter appeared; perhaps we’ll be back up here with the crampons in a few months 😉

In to the mists on the exposed ridge of Bwlch Main.
Signs of Winter

Finally we reached the summit and met a small handful of cheerful folk who were also enjoying the morning (the first folk we’d seen all morning). Here’s a picture of Tamsin by the summit trig point.

Tamsin & the Yr Wyddfa summit trig point

To descend, we retraced our tracks across Bwlch Main and then, keeping right where the path splits, we followed the Rhyd Ddu path back down to the car. With steadily increasing cloud & flatter light, the best of the photography was done but we did pause to enjoy our bacon butties & picnic 😀

Below, you will find the details of our route, a link to the GPS track and a gallery of all the pictures above, to make it easier to view them:

GPS Route details:

If you prefer track-logs, it’s available here.

Gallery of images:

A Moelwyn walk extended

How do these things happen? You decide to go for a medium length, early morning mountain walk, but then end up extending it and walking for most of the day. Our initial objective was Moelwyn Mawr; as seen from Cnicht in the feature image above.

The day started with a 5-20am alarm, grab a bit of breakfast, make some chilli pork sandwiches and drive up to the pretty village of Croesor. We’d already packed the camera gear & walking kit on the previous evening. The village of Croesor has a lovely riverside car park which is perfect as a starting point for various walks in the area. We were parked up by 7am & soon on our way, walking up the steep eastward bound lane out of the village & in to the glowing sunrise.

Swinging off the road and through some currently under felling forestry, we now had to steadily negotiate the wet, marshy land that leads to the Moelwyns. The plan was to watch for any low lying cloud that might settle with a morning temperature inversion, good to photograph, instead we were treated to a gloriously clear sunrise with long shadows cast by the mountains; a perfectly fair exchange in my books.

Early morning on the slopes of the Moelwyns

We took our time enjoying the cool morning air & fabulous scenery, very glad of our waterproof footwear because ground conditions were more than a little soggy. As we crested the summit, the bright morning sun was perfectly positioned for some photography of the Snowdonian landscape, but not before a brief rest whilst Tamsin had what she calls ‘a brief vampire moment’ by the trig point 🙂 (see the gallery at the end of this post)

[pano file=”_MG_7764-1p-Pano-19Sep2017.html”]

Select the panorama image above & then pan with either your mouse or arrow keys.

We reached the summit of Moelwyn Mawr at around 9am. Above is a 180° panorama of the wonderful views across Snowdonia. Below is a small version with some features tagged, click it to see it larger …

Moelwyn Mawr panorama key

Now we had planned to drop down past the old Croesor quarry and to then follow the valley back to the car, however filled with fresh energy & on such a glorious day, surely it was worth pushing on a bit further. We determined to drop down towards the ruins of Rhosydd quarry & Bwlch Cwmorthin. Relaxed in the knowledge that we had plenty of time, Tamsin found some opportunities to practice her parkour manoeuvres and we also explored some of the old quarry workings. (see gallery at end)

Geronimo – a leap of fun

We found where an old water wheel had originally powered machinery & drags, only to be supplanted by combustion engine power, the remnants of which stood rusting not 25 metres away. Quarry men’s’ housing stands forlornly in line, roofs long gone, moss now living where boots & overalls would have hung next to small fireplaces. Opposite, the working sheds stand similarly tired, slowly being reclaimed by mother nature’s battalions.

Quarry ruins & spoil heaps with Moelwyn Mawr as a backdrop

After this interesting window in to times long gone, it was time to push on further across the uplands. Past small pool with bogbean growing within, beyond Llyn Cwm-corsiog to the slopes of Moel Druman & Foel Boethwel, where we paused to watch the aerial mastery of a Kestrel hunting voles who were carelessly relaxing in the morning sun. Here we finally swung back in a south-westerly direction to follow the ridge up to Cnicht. From the summit of Cnicht we would be able to look across the valley back to gathering clouds on Moelwyn Mawr (see feature image, top). From here we would enjoy a little fun on the rocky descent from Cnicht before pausing for sandwiches & chocolate biscuits – always a highlight of mountain days out.

Cnicht from the path back to Croesor

An enjoyable walk through rough grazing land, from whence sheep gazed at these curious humans, led us back to the car park at Croesor. Time to rest our legs & top up on fluids before the short drive home.

Additional Images:

Approximate Map:

Moelwyn-Cnicht_Map ©Thunderforest / OpenStreet Map

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 🙂