Llyn Brenig

Llyn Brenig is a man made reservoir situated in a large area of moorland between Denbigh and the A5. There a many possible rides in this area. The one described is a circuit of the lake and is approximately 10 miles long. There is a short section along a B road, but this isn't normally busy. The ride is described going round the lake in an anticlockwise direction, as route finding is easier this way.

From the Visitor Centre find the track that runs in a southerly direction along the side the reservoir. It starts opposite the cycle hire place. Cycle over the dam and follow the stone track along the reservoir. This leads through a short section of forest and finally onto a small lane. Follow the lane to the junction with the B4510 ad turn left onto the road.

This is where the uphill section starts! It isn't too steep but is fairly continuous. Eventually you reach the summit, where the map shows a parking place with picnic table. In April 2010 the table wasn't there, but the parking place is a good place to admire the view and recover from the climb.

There is now a nice downhill section, which leads to a T junction. Turn left and take the second forestry track on the left (the first one leads to a dead end). This descends down to the reservoir, where you can follow the shore back to the Visitor Centre. Be careful not to take any turns leading off to the right as these will lead you back to the B4501.

You can download a PDF showing the route taken by this ride from here . There are details of other cycle rides on the ridehiraethog web site.

The Visitor Centre is open seven days a week between March and the end of October. There is a good cafe and an and outside play area for the children. They can be contacted on 01490 420463 or you can view their web site by clicking here .

Meindl Softline Ultra Boots

Normally I go walking either in my trainers, or in a cheap and comfortable pair of hi-Tec boots. However, this summer we had decided to visit the Dolomites and I wanted something that I could use on the Via Ferrata's. Whilst my Hi-Tec boots have been really comfortable for walking, the soles are very bendy and not suitable for climbing.

I wandered into Cotswold's Chester store with the intention of buying a pair of Asolo Flame GTX boots. However, after trying a few pairs on I found that they were a bit narrow for my broad feet. Previous experience has taught me that if a boot feels a bit uncomfortable to start with, it will probably feel uncomfortable for ever.

The assistant suggested that I try on a pair of Meindl boots as they were a broader fit. He disappeared into the stock room and re-appeared with several boxes. I tried on a pair of Meindl Softline Ultras, which immediately felt comfortable. I tried on a few different sizes to make sure that I had got the best fit and wandered about the shop in them.

I bought them and wore them at home for about an hour before the holiday. I also wore them on the plane to Italy, but their first real test was a six hour walk around Sassalungo. This is definitely not the recommended method of breaking in new boots. However, I felt comfortable all the way round and at the end of the day my feet had no blisters or sore spots. I just hope that they last a long time, so I don't have to worry about buying another pair of boots for some time!

Dolomites Photos

These photos were taken in July 2010. Click here to read more about this route.

Hover your mouse over the photo to see the caption. Click the photo to see a larger version.

Looking down the gully at the start of the ferrata

Looking down to the ledge above the ladder

Ella at the start of the traverse

John just above the ladder

Ella on the wall above the first ledge

Ella on the final steep wall below the shoulder

View of the route from the descent gully

Cir V Via Ferrata

This summer we went on a family holiday to Val Gardena, in the Italian Dolomites. This was our first visit to the Dolomites I was keen to climb a Via Ferrata. Two of of the children wanted to come with me, so I wanted to choose a route that was hard enough to be interesting, easily accessible and not too long.

Cir V. Aproximate line of route marked

We were staying in Selva and after extensive research (OK, so I noticed the route from the cable car station), we decided on the Cir V. The start of the route was only about half an hour's walk from the Dantercepies telepherique. According to the Cicerone Guide the route was grade 2 and the descent was straightforward. You can see more photographs of the route here

I had brought a rope, harnesses and a minimal climbing rack, but we had no Via Ferrata gear. A trip round the gear shops in Selva soon had us kitted out. On the morning of the climb John was too tired to come with us, so Ella and I set off on our own. To get to the foot of the climb involves a short walk from the telepherique station, followed by a plod up the gully. At the top of the gully a short iron ladder marks the start of the route.

Ella on Cir V Via Ferrata

I wasn't sure what to expect, so had brought along a 50 metre rope. However, we didn't need to use it and it stayed in the bottom of the sack for the whole route. From the top of the ladder I stepped right onto the face and climbed up this to a good ledge at the foot of a steep wall. Ella soon joined me, managing both the climbing and the clipping into the wire with ease.

There were a couple of Germans behind us and I offered to let them climb past us. Once the two Germans had climbed past us, we started up the steep wall above. The anchor points on the wall were well placed, set closer together on sections that were more difficult. Above the steep wall there was a leftwards traverse into a chimney. This lead upwards to the shoulder below the final summit bock. There was a short walk/scramble along the ridge to reach the summit block. A short steep climb lead up the small summit, where I clipped Ella onto the cross, as there were large drops all around us. The two Germans, who had arrived at the summit a few minutes before us, greeted us with a "Berg Heil" and a handshake. They both congratulated Ella on how well she had climbed the route.

We stayed on the summit for about 20 minutes admiring the views and taking photos.

Down climbing from the summit block, we descended into a gully. The top part of the descent was protected by a cable, although it wasn't really difficult. However, there were a lot of loose blocks and I wouldn't have liked to have been descending with a lot of other people above me. About forty minutes later we were back at the telepherique station, where the others had come up to meet us.

We had both enjoyed the route so much, that we came back the next morning with John and did it again. This time we made a very early start, arriving at the base of the route before the first chair lift from Corvara had arrived, so we had the whole route to ourselves.

I really enjoyed the climbing and it's a good route for children, since it's short and wouldn't be too difficult to retreat from in the event of bad weather. My only reservation would be the danger of stone fall on the descent if the route was really crowded.

Aran Photos

To read about the walk click here. Hover your mouse over the photo to see the caption.

Gully up to the start of the walk

Aran Fawddwy from the col below Glasgwm

Approaching the summit plateau of Aran Fawddwy

Cadair Idris from slopes of Aran Fawddwy

Creiglyn Dyfi from summit of Aran Fawddwy

Memorial Cairn on ridge above Hengwm

Cwm Cywarch from the memorial cairn

Aran Fawddwy

This was the day of the England versus West Germany World Cup match, so it seemed like a good idea to go for a walk. I couldn't persuade anyone else to come out with me so decided the visit Cwm Cywarch, where I have never been before. I also wanted to climb Aran Fawddwy, which would be another first for me.

To see more photos click here.

Cadair Idris from the summit of Aran Fawddwy

I managed to find the road into Cwn Cywarch easily enough. The turn off from Abercywarch onto the minor road into the cwm is actually sign posted. The final section of road is single track, but luckily I only met one car coming the opposite way and I was close to a passing place. There is a small car park next to the farm at Blaencywarch Farm. This was almost empty and I parked next to a car whose occupants were going climbing on Craig Cywarch. It was predicted to be the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures reaching 30C. Not wanting to repeat my experience of getting dehydrated on the Glyders, I made sure that I packed plenty of fluids.

I put on my boots and set off up the road past the farm. The path is well marked on the left just past the farm and climbs up the hillside past an obvious tree. It continues up alongside a stream up the obvious gully to the col below Glasgwm. There are good views northwards over the Rhinogs from here.

The path now follows the line of a fence, which runs slightly East of North. This area can be very wet and boggy and there are several sections with duckboards. Luckily, after the recent extended dry spell it was almost completely dry and I didn't need the duckboards.

You can see the summit of Aran Fawddwy in the distance. In poor visibility the fence would be a very useful navigational aid. As you approach the summit area, the ground steepens slightly and about half a kilometre from the top a fence comes in from the right. The descent route follows this fence. Note that you cross a couple of other fence before you reach this one.

View of the Rhinogs

Finally you emerge on the summit plateau and the trig point is visible some way in front. The view from the summit is exceptional. Looking North along the ridge over Aran Benllyn, Lake Bala is visible. To the South Cadair Idris stands out and there are views over most of the other peaks of North and mid Wales. Below the steep East face the isolated waters of Creiglyn Dyfi can be seen. To the North East vast areas of boggy moorland surrounding Lake Vyrnwy are visible.

While I was on the summit the wind had picked up, so I put on my Paramo Tores Gilet. I retraced my steps back to the junction of the two fences and set off towards the cairn on the ridge above the valley of Hengwm. This commemorates Mike Aspain, a member of the RAF mountain rescue team, who was killed in 1960 by lightning near here. From here the path continues to the summit of Drysgol. There are fine retrospective views of Aran Fawddwy from the whole of this section. The wind had blown in the clouds from the west and the summit of Aran Fawddwy was intermittently disappearing.

Looking towards the memorial cairn

Once over the summit of Drysgol, I headed downhill towards the col at the base of Waun Goch. From the col there is an obvious path that heads South West along the western slope of Waun Goch, leading back to the road a hundred yards or so from the car park. As I descended the track the cloud over the summits began to disperse again and they were clear by the time I got back to the road.

Apart from the two climbers, I saw only two other people, one near the summit of Aran Fawddwy and one near the bottom of the final descent. I was surprised at the remoteness of Aran Fawddwy. In the good conditions I experienced it was straightforward, but in poor visibility navigating the route would be quite a challange. Although there are paths their relativley uneroded state, given the boggy nature of the ground, suggests that there must be relatively light traffic. I shall definitely be back, possibly on a two day trip, to explore the area better.

Osprey Talon 33 Rucksack

For many years I owned a Karrimor Hot Ice rucksack. Generally, I was very happy with it. However, it did have two slight failings: firstly it was slightly too small and secondly for something called "Hot Ice" it had absolutely rubbish axe attachments. Like all the original sacks made in Accrington it lasted for years.

A few years ago I bought a replacement Karrimor, wich was a tear drop design, with zip closure. I can't remember exactly how much it cost, but it was quite cheap. The materials and construction weren't up to the old Karrimor standard, but given the price, I didn't expect them to be. Recently, the stitching around the zip started to give way and the whole lot began to fray.

I wanted to replace it with something that was large enough to use as a climbing day sack, but could also be used for cycling, or just going for a day walk. I decided that what I wanted was a sack that was around 30 litres, single compartment and not a pear drop shape with zip fastening. There are probably hundreds of sacks that meet this specification, so it took quite a bit of research. I was happy to pay for something that would last, but if it was going to be expensive, I wanted to make sure I liked it!

Finally, I settled on an Osprey Talon 33. One of the things I liked was that it came in a range of back sizes. I am 6ft 2", so generally need a long back size. However, I had read a review on the TGO web site, which although quite positive stated that it was let down by the back being too flexible. I went along to my local branch of Cotswold, who had it in a sale, to try one out. I think that Osprey must have changed the design since TGO's review, since the back on the sack I tried on wasn't at all floppy.

The pack itself is very light (0.92kg according to the data sheet) and although the shoulder straps aren't padded, they seem comfortable enough when carrying a load. The shoulder straps have a couple of small pouches on them, which are apparently for holding energy gels. I can't see me using these, but then they don't weigh much! The back length is adjustable using a velcro attachment system. Easy to adjust, but you will probably only ever use it once. There isn't an internal frame, but there does seem to be some sort of semi rigid back panel, which gives the back some stability. The back panel itself is covered in some sort of mesh, which aids ventilation.

There are a number of tension straps, which make it easy to fold the sack down to carry small loads. There are several small features which make the pack more attractive:

  • Zipped pockets in the hip belt, large enough to hold something like a compact camera.
  • An external bladder pocket. Not much use to me, but nice if you use a bladder.
  • Internal zipped mesh pocket in the lid.
  • External zipped lid pocket, which also contains a velcroed pouch, for things like keys.
  • Captive ends for the adjustable straps to stop them blowing in your face.
  • Nifty web strap under the lid to hold your rope.
  • Stretch front and side pockets.

I have used the sack a few times now and am very happy with it. It costs around £80.

Montane Terra Pants

I wanted to get some trousers which were cool enough for cycling and walking in hot summer weather. I get too hot in my Craghopper Kiwis when cycling in warm weather. Also I have to tuck the ends into my socks to stop them getting tangled up in the chain, as I don't like cycle clips.

The last time I was in Betwys y Coed I saw a pair of Montane Terra Pants in Cotswold. I had read many good reviews of these pants, but as they are expensive I didn't want to buy a pair without seeing them and trying some on. Having tried them on and decided that I like them, I wanted to buy a pair. I wanted a black pair, but Cotswold didn't have any in stock. I searched on line and ended up buying them from Tower Ridge. I bought my Rab sleeping back from them and they have been quick and efficient. The trousers were posted the same day as my order and arrived the next day.

I got a chance to try them out straight away during the current hot spell. I have used them for cycling and as everyday wear for a couple of weeks. Overall I am very happy with them:

Good points.

  • Lightweight and very comfortable. Not too hot in summer, but I shall be interested to see how they fare in the other seasons.
  • Zipped pockets, make it harder to lose your keys or money.
  • Zipped thigh vents, with black mesh underneath, so people can't see my pasty white legs.
  • Zipped bottoms making them easy to roll up, or fit over big boots.
  • Poppers on the bottom of the legs. You can use these to cinch up the ankles, so they don't get snagged in bike chains, or let cold drafts in. You can also roll the legs up and use the poppers to stop them unfolding.
  • Reinforced knee and bum patches.
  • Enough room around the crotch and articulated knees, so good for scrambling and climbing.
  • Smart enough for everyday use.

Bad Points.

  • I am quite tall (6ft 2") and I would like the legs to be a couple of inches longer. They are only available in regular and short leg sizes.
  • Not particularly water resistant. Better then my Craghopper Kiwi's, but anything more than a brief shower will wet them. However, they do dry quickly.

In fact I like them so much, that have just ordered a second pair.

Bryn Tyrch Hotel

When I was a small child, in the 1960's, we often stayed at Cobdens in Capel Curig. The hotel was then owned by a Mrs Newman, who also owned the Tyn y Coed just down the road. I think that she also owned the hotel on the A5 at Pentrefoelas. She lived in the house opposite to Cobdens, by the green bridge over the river. Cobdens was always a bit ramshackle, but in a nice sort of way.

In the 1970's Cobdens had really gone down hill and my parents started to stay up the road at the Bryn Tyrch . By this time I had left home, so didn't stay there with them, but often called to have a meal with them when my weekend trips to North Wales coincided with theirs. Over the years I have drunk countless pints of beer and eaten innumerable bar meals at the Bryn Tyrch. Recently the hotel has been refurbished and the standard and choice of food has been greatly improved. There are still the old photographs, taken by the guidebook author WA Poucher, who use to stay here.

Bryn Tyrch

We have three children and now that they are getting older, we tend not to stay in hotels and guest houses, as we can no longer all fit in one room, so it can work out very expensive. However, it turns out the Bryn Tyrch has a couple of bunk rooms inside the hotel, which meant that we could fit in one room and the children had a room to themselves. The food was excellent, importantly there were things that the children would eat available in child size portions.

The standard of the rooms was very good, with excellent breakfasts. The staff are also family friendly and the price for B&B for all five of us very reasonable. The location of the hotel in Capel Curig is ideal for visiting all parts of Snowdonia. In fact you can start many walks from the hotel itself, so you don't have to drive at all. I am sure that we shall be staying there again.

Traverse Of The Glyders From Capel Curig To Nant Peris

A Traverse of the Glyders from Capel Curig to Nant Peris.

I have traversed the Glyders a few times starting at Ogwen and descending to into Capel Curig. Back in 1980 I started in Nant Peris and did the traverse to Capel Curig. However, this year we were staying at the Bryn Tyrch in Capel Curig and I decided to do the walk the opposite way round, from Capel Curig to Nant Peris.

<div class="photofloatr"> <p><a class="fancybox-thumb" rel="fancybox-thumb" href="/images/2010-06-glyders/DSCF2134.JPG" title="Summit of Glyder Fach from Castle of the Winds."> <img src="/images/2010-06-glyders/DSCF2134.JPG" width="200" alt="Summit of Glyder Fach from Castle of the Winds."></a></p> <p>Summit of Glyder Fach from Castle of the Winds.</p>

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Note to see more photographs from the walk click here .

It was going to be hot and sunny, so I stopped at the shop in Capel to buy some flavoured water and a couple of slabs of flapjack. Walking from West to East (Nant Peris to Capel), finding the route from the end of the Glyders down over Y Foel Goch into Capel Curig is straightforward, as you can see exactly where you are going. However, the route finding when starting from Capel was a bit more of a challenge. I walked up the track behind Joe Brown's shop and after a few hundred yards passed a farm on my left. I walked along the track for another few hundred yards and then struck up the hill to the left of the track. There are several indistinct tracks around here, but if you walk roughly parallel to the summit ridge of Moel Siabod, while trending up hill, you should arrive at a ladder style where various tracks converge.

Once over the style the track is much more distinct and crosses a broad grassy plateau towards the summit of Gallt yr Ogof. It is possible to contour below the summit by following the path to the left, but I scrambled up via various subsidiary tops to the summit cairn. The views from here are spectacular. You are more or less right in the middle of the Snowdonia range, with views towards the Carneddeau, Snowdon plus views of the mountains to the south and west. Almost all of the significant Snowdonia peaks are visible from here.

<div class="photofloatl"> <p><a class="fancybox-thumb" rel="fancybox-thumb" href="/images/2010-06-glyders/DSCF2132.JPG" title="Snowdon and the Castle of the Winds."> <img src="/images/2010-06-glyders/DSCF2132.JPG" width="200" alt="Snowdon and the Castle of the Winds."></a></p> <p>Snowdon and the Castle of the Winds.</p>

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From Gallt yr Ogof there is a slight descent to a damp col, which contains a lovely small llyn, then a short climb to the flat summit of Y Foel Goch. In my old (1979) version of Pouchers "The Welsh Peaks" Y Foel Goch is described as the "Nameless Peak" and it was only very recently I discovered its name. Although it was a half term weekend, I hadn't seen another person on this part of the walk all morning.

From the summit of Y Foel Goch the track drops down towards the shores of Llyn Caseg Ffraith. The ground round here can be very boggy in all but the driest of conditions. Many years ago when the ground was covered in snow I remember wandering about up here wondering where the lake was, when I suddenly broke through the ice and went in up to my knees.

There were great views of the East Face of Tryfan and Bristly Ridge as I climbed up the scree slope towards Glyder Fach. Many years ago I remember descending this slope in a white out after climbing one of the gullies on Glyder Fach. It was so windy that we had to lean a long way forwards as we forced our way down the slope. Today I was sweating buckets as climbed up towards the point where Bristly Ridge emerges onto the summit plateau. I continued up the Cantilever, where I took the obligatory photos of someone standing on it. Continuing over the large pile of blocks that form the summit of Glyder Fach, I made my way towards the Castle of the Winds. I scrambled up to the top and ate my lunch. Although there were now plenty of other people around, I was the only one who scrambled up to the top of the Castle. Maybe it was the large cloud of midges up there that had discouraged others from climbing up.

After eating my flapjack and having a short rest I scrambled down to the path and on to the col between Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach. From here you can clearly see where the Gribin Ridge emerges onto the summit plateau and a little further on there are good views of the cliffs at the back of Cwm Cneifon (Nameless Cwm). It's difficult to say exactly which pile of stones atop Glyder Fawr is the summit, but soon the path begins its descent to Llyn y Cwn. This is a really unpleasant slither down loose scree, which in many places has been completely eroded into a muddy path. The only good thing that can be said about it, is that it better descending than ascending it. A couple of years ago in February I started up this slope, having completely a couple of winter climbs on the Devil's Kitchen. I fancied carrying on up to the summit of Glyder Fawr, but after wading about half way up in bottomless powder snow I gave up and turned back.

Today I was glad of a rest when I reached Llyn y Cwn. I was starting to get dehydrated. I had only bought about 500ml of water and really I needed far more. I didn't fancy drinking the water directly from the lake and there were no sources of running water close by.

<div class="photofloatr"> <p><a class="fancybox-thumb" rel="fancybox-thumb" href="/images/2010-06-glyders/DSCF2120.JPG" title="Glyder fach from Y Foel Goch."> <img src="/images/2010-06-glyders/DSCF2120.JPG" width="200" alt="Glyder fach from Y Foel Goch."></a></p> <p>Glyder fach from Y Foel Goch.</p>

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Time was pressing, as I had arranged to meet the family outside the Vaynol Arms at 3:15pm. Also given the lack of water, I decided not to climb Y Garn, but to descend to the Llanberis Pass via the path that follows the Afon Las into Cwm Padrig. The path descends easily at first and then steeply, with a couple of scrambly sections. Just above the road there is a metal bridge (not shown on my map) over the stream.

Once down in Gwastadant I followed the new wooden footpath, which runs along the far side of the stone wall to Nant Peris. I don't know who was responsible for installing the path, but it certainly makes walking along this section of road much easier and safer. I arrived back at the car about 3:45pm, half an hour later than anticipated. By this time I was really dehydrated with a headache and feeling dizzy. However, a quick trip to Pete's Eats and a pint of tea made me feel much better.