The Western Carneddau
Pen yr Ole Wen, Carnedd Dafydd, Carnedd Llewelyn & Pen yr Helgi Du
Thursday 13 September 2018
Gwern Gof Isaf - Llyn Ogwen - Pen yr Ole Wen - Carnedd Fach - Carnedd Dafydd - Cefn Ysgolion Duon - Bwlch Cyfryw drum - Carnedd Llewelyn - Penywaun-wen - Craig yr Ysfa - Bwlch Eryl Farchog - Pen yr Helgi du - Y Braich - Gwern Gof Isaf
Gwern Gof Isaf (£2 all day, pay at the Farmhouse) - Grid Ref SH685602
Classic ridge walking on good mountain paths. The ascent of Pen yr Ole Wen includes a short but enjoyable Grade 1 Scramble. The descent into Bwlch Eryl Farthog from Craig yr Ysfa is steep and requires care to be taken.
Mild and sunny with good visibility
OL17 - Snowdon & Conwy Valley
The Carneddau are a group of mountains in Snowdonia and are the largest contiguous stretch of mountain land in Wales & England. They are maybe not as rugged as the Snowdon massif or the Glyderau but are impressive nevertheless. Much of the higher tops are covered with rough grass and heather with patches of shattered rocks. Pen-yr-Ole-Wen (Head of the White Slope) lies on the western edge of the range and dominates the Nant Ffrancon pass. Continuing along the ridge from here Carnedd Dafydd (David's Cairn) is reached, then Carnedd Llewellyn (Llewellyn's Cairn) and on to various lower summits. To the north and west of the ridge are mostly grassy slopes, while to the east there are some high cliffs, deep valleys and small lakes. Apparently the Carneddau range is home to the only population of wild horses in the United Kingdom.
The walk today is one we have done a few times over the years - this time we would add on the summit of Pen yr Helgi Du (Head of the Black Hound). There are several places to start this walk from however today we parked up at the farm at Gwern Gof Isaf just below Tryfan. A delightful path leaves the farm to run parallel with the A5 to emerge at the road opposite Glan Dena - the buildings here are owned by the Midland Association of Mountaineers. Leaving the track at Tal y Llyn Ogwen Farm soon the Afon Lloer is crossed from where a sometimes intermittent path is followed in the general direction of north towards Clogwyn Mawr - white topped posts show the route. The gradient eases and the path turns to the west to reach the foot of Pen yr Ole Wen's eastern ridge. Now the fun starts - a delightful scramble up a rocky chute which, whilst appearing difficult at first is not as hard as it looks. From the top of the scramble a path makes its way above Ffynnon Lloer to finally reach the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen. The summit affords fantastic views in all directions and it is worth venturing a 100 yards or so to the west in order to see the fantastic view over to Foel-goch, Elidir Fawr & Mynydd Perfedd.
Leaving the summit there is now a delightful ridge walk to firstly Carnedd Fach then the rise to Carnedd Dafydd although there is an option to drop down and bag the Nuttall of Foel Meirch. Carnedd Dafydd's summit has an array of wind shelters therefore we got out of the wind and had a spot of lunch before making our way via the wonderful ridge walk along Cefn Ysgolion Duon (The Black Ladders) and Bwlch Cyfryw-drum to the summit of Carnedd Llewellyn. There is a steep pull up to the summit and as we were making our way up it was clear that we would have no views from the top today - a huge great blanket of clag was sitting over the top and did not budge until we were making our descent.
The descent from Carnedd Llewellyn in a thick grey soup requires careful navigation and having taken the necessary bearing we emerged from the cloud to see the ridge of Penywaun-wen stretching out ahead of us to Craig yr Ysfa. The descent into Bwlch Eryl Farthog is a wonderful steep scramble that requires a little care to be taken - all the while the views down into the Bwlch and over to Pen yr Helgi du are superb. Once down in the Bwlch there is an option to descend back down to the A5 via the eastern edge of the Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir - we opted to carry on along the ridge and enjoy the exceptional scramble up on to the summit of Pen yr Helgi du to return back to the A5 via the sweeping, grassy ridge of Y Braich - from the road we passed through a gate to follow a good path back to Gwern Gof Isaf.
From Gwern Gof Isaf the route heads along a good path with a cracking view of Tryfan
The classic view of the north ridge of Tryfan and the superb east face of this iconic and beautiful mountain.
Bristly Ridge & Glyder Fach are to the rear
Bristly Ridge & Glyder Fach are to the rear
Why the long faces eh fellas?
A bit closer - how could anyone tire of looking at that??
The footpath at the start of the walk is part of The Snowdonia Slate Trail - an 83 mile journey through the unique slate heritage of North Wales. A link to the official website is here
Zooming in on Y Garn and Llyn Ogwen
The route crosses the A5 near Glan Dena which gives an impressive view of Tryfan's North Ridge
At the junction with the track to the farm the path heads uphill to the right - Pen yr Ole Wen suddenly seems not that far away
Whilst the path is clear for the most part, white topped marker posts show the way
A little higher up and the full majesty of Tryfan reveals itself. Llyn Ogwen sits serenely below.
Looking up to Clogwyn Mawr - the route turns sharp left here for Pen yr Ole Wen
The eastern face of Pen yr Ole Wen - the route heads over to a point just right of centre to reach the bottom of a rock chute
A Pen yr Ole Wen & Carnedd Dafydd panorama
Fudge as ever on the alert
The bottom of the rock chute - there is some really enjoyable scrambling to negotiate from here
Angie approaching the top of the scramble - this was great fun
Looking back down the scramble from near the top of the rock chute - the 4 people below were the only other people we saw all day
The top of the scramble - the path is clear from here all the way to the summit which is still some way off
A lovely panorama of Tryfan, The Glyders & Llyn Ogwen
Looking back to the scramble exit point which is roughly in the centre of shot
At last the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen comes into view
Ffynnon Lloer below as we make our transit up to the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen
A bit further round - Carnedd Dafydd & Ffynnon Lloer
Looking to Snowdon from the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen
Our route over Carnedd Fach to Carnedd Dafydd - a superb walk along the ridge
Tryfan & The Glyders
A panorama from Pen yr Ole Wen's summit - l-r Y Garn, Foel-goch, Elidir Fawr, Mynydd Perfedd & Carnedd y Filiast
Foel-goch with Elidir Fawr in cloud
Looking back to Pen yr Ole Wen from the ridge to Carnedd Dafydd
Heading for Carnedd Dafydd via Carnedd Fach
Heading for Carnedd Dafydd
Pen yr Ole Wen & Carnedd Fach
The summit of Carnedd Dafydd
Crib Lem Spur - I climbed this ridge a couple of years ago but could not see a thing that day
Heading along Ysgolion Duon (Black Ladders)
Carnedd Llewellyn ahead - the weather was starting to close in now - would we get any views from the top?
Cwm Pen-lafarr with Foel Meirch to the left
Pen yr Helgi Du, Pen Llithrig y Wrach & Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir from Carnedd Llewellyn
A thick grey soup on the summit of Carnedd Llewellyn
Descending Carnedd Llewellyn along Penywaun-wen to Craig yr Ysfa
Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir - if not climbing Pen yr Helgi Du the return to the start is via the path seen to the left.
Our route to Pen yr Helgi Du & Bwlch Eryl Farthog from Craig yr Ysfa - Pen Llithrig y Wrach is to the left
This is a cracking descent & scramble
Just great fun descending Craig yr Ysfa to Bwlch Eryl Farthog
One of those days on the mountain that you do not want to end
Angie contemplates the short but steep ascent of Pen yr Helgi Du
A little bit closer
Looking back to our route of descent to Bwlch Eryl Farthog from Craig yr Ysfa
Nearing the summit of Pen yr Helgi Du with Craig yr Ysfa & Carnedd Llewellyn to the rear
On the summit plateau of Pen yr Helgi Du
The south eastern end of Pen yr Helgi Du's summit looking over to Pen Llithrig y Wrach
Pen Llithrig y Wrach from the descent of Pen yr Helgi Du
A last look at beautiful Tryfan - this time in mono.
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