Finally a period of sunny weather. I had wanted to get out for an
overnight trip, but the weather had put paid to any trips so far this
year. After dropping the children off at the school bus I set off for
North Wales. I still hadn't decided exactly where I was going, but on
my way over the A5104 made up my mind to have a go at the Arans
traverse and camp on Glasgwm. This was a trip that I had been thinking
about for some time, as I had never climbed Glasgwm. After several
trips over the Arans in indifferent weather, I had wanted to save the
circuit for a settled period of fine weather.
The plan was to park in Cwm Cowarch, then walk up Hengwm and over the
summit of Aran Fawddwy followed by a crossing of the boggy along the
boardwalks and then a final pull up Glasgwm, where I would camp next
to Llyn y Fign. The next morning I would follow my route of ascent
back to the path leading down into Cwm Cwyarch and so back to the car park.
Aran Fawddwy and Craiglyn Dyfi
I packed my rucksack and emptied a bottle of flavoured water into one
of my Platypus bottles. I set off from the car park shortly after
11:00am heading for Hengwm. Just after I had crossed the stream a few
hundred yards from the car park, I realized that I had left the
Platypus with the flavoured water in the car. Rather than go back for
it, I filled another Platypus up from the river. This wasn't really
enough water for the whole day, but I thought I would be
able to get more water higher up.
Memorial with Cadair Idris in the background
Walking up Hengwm I was in the shade, which made for pleasant walking
as it was very hot in the sun. On the far side of the valley I had a
perfect view of Craig Cwyarch, with its great rock climbs like "Will
o' the Wisp" and Acheron. Cresting the slope up to the col, I decided
against plodding through the peat hags to visit the top of Waun Goch
and struck out up the slope towards Drysgol. When I reached the
memorial at Drws Bach I stopped for a drink and ate the slice of
Victoria sponge I had brought with me. The summit ridge of Aran
Fawddwy was completely clear and there were great views over the
steep East face and down to Craiglyn Dyfi, where I had pitched the
Voyager Superlite last year for the first time in pouring rain.
Rhinogs in the distance
After a short rest, I continued up towards the summit of Aran
Fawddwy. On the way I crossed a ladder style and noticed a small
plaque with the OS grid reference on it. On the rest of the walk I saw
that every style now had one of these plaques. I can't help thinking
that putting these everywhere is destroying the remoteness that many
people seek in the mountains. There was someone resting near to the
cairn who said that he was reccing a walk he was planning to lead at
the wearing the weekend. After he left I got out my lunch and ate it
with my feet dangling over the drop above Craiglyn Dyfi. I thought
that there would be pools of water around the summit, but I could find
any. I new that there were several big pools near to the summit of
Aran Benllyn. However, I was too lazy to walk the extra distance to
Aran Benllyn and thought I would be certain to find more water before
my ascent of Glasgwm. This turned out to be a bad decision!
OS grid reference on a ladder style
When I had finished lunch I started to make my way back down the
summit pyramid to join the fence that would take me to the bottom of
Glasgwm. I could see the cairn on the summit clearly, but knew that
it was a fair distance to walk before I reached the final slopes up
to its summit. Just after I crossed the ladder style at the start of
the fence, I met another man who was sitting admiring the view. In the
whole day I only saw three people.
Aran Benllyn from Aran Fawddwy
Luckily the ground was fairly dry, with only a couple of the boarded
sections over the bogs covering significantly wet sections. It seemed
a long way to where the path met the one coming up from Cwm Cywarch
and I didn't find any sources of water to replenish my supply. By the
time I reached the slope that leads up to Glasgwm, I was feeling a bit
dehydrated. Foolishly, I didn't walk the extra couple of hundred yards
to find the start of the stream that flows down to Cwm Cywarch, but
started off in the opposite direction to find the path that climbs up
The ascent of Glasgwm was a steep pull. The path follows the fence
almost all the way, with a steep scree section just below the
summit. Finally I saw Llyn Bach and the summit cairn. Sitting on the
cairn I could see Llyn Figyn just below the summit.
The first job was to go straight down to the lake and drink lots of
water. Once I had rehydrated, I looked around for a camp site. There
was a perfect flat grassy patch that was near to the ladder style. I
soon had the tent pitched and lay down inside to escape from the sun
for a few minutes and rest.
Tent near Llyn Figyn
There was plenty of daylight left, so once I had eaten tea I set off
around the summit to explore. Although it had been a warm day, there
was very little haze. There was just enough breeze to keep the
insects away. I was quite tired, but wanted to get some pictures of
the sunset, which was around 9:30pm. Shortly after nine I got out of
the tent and wandered around taking photos. Finally I sat next to the
summit cairn and watched the sun drop below the horizon.
Crawling back into the tent, I fell asleep almost immediately. When I
woke up it was light. Glancing at my watch it was shortly after
5:00am. I had wanted to get some pictures of the sunrise, which was
just before 5:00am. Scrambling out of the tent I was just in time to
get some photos of the sun rising over Aran Fawddwy.
I made some breakfast with Mountain Trails excellent porridge and
began to pack up the tent. I didn't want to be late back and it was
obviously going to be another hot day, so I was packed up and ready to
descend shortly after 6:00am. Taking my time, so I could enjoy the
views I retraced my line of ascent along the fence. I enjoyed the
steep descent into Cwm Cywarch. The sun was beginning to illuminate
the valley and the shadows formed as it rose were making all sorts of
interesting shapes over the valley. Lost in my own thoughts I walked
straight past the car park, not realizing my mistake for about a
quarter of a mile.
Sunrise over Aran Fawddwy
It had been a memorable trip. Perfect weather, a perfect wild camping
spot and almost deserted mountains.
I made some porridge for breakfast and began to pack up the
tent. I didn't want to be late back and it was obviously going to be
another hot day, so I was packed up and ready to descend shortly after
6:00am. Taking my time, so I could enjoy the views I retraced my line
of ascent along the fence.