HILL, DALES AND MOUNTAIN HIKING

5th April 2009: Carneddau "horseshoe" walk    Web page by Bryan Benn and Lolli

Start: Near Tal y Bont

Highest Point: Summit of Carnedd Llewellyn 1064m

Distance: circa 20km

Weather: Mild, with some low cloud higher up

Vertical altitude gain: circa 1250m

Time: 9 hrs 20 mins

Carneddau This walk was the hardest one I had planned for Lolli and I to do. We had moved it from the first day of our long weekend as it wasn't sensible to tackle it the day after our journeys to Wales. It was a walk I only wanted to do in decent weather. Which is exactly what we had as Lolli got out of the car for the third time on the narrow lane to open a gate, allowing is to drive into the truly beautiful Cwm Eigiau. With the two mountains that would be the last of five we would cross directly in front of us!
Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

With Pen-Lithrig y Wrach dominating the view behind Lyn Eigiau we set out on a very well defined track that served as an access road to another local reservoir.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

It was simple walking to start with. Something I had planned to ensure we could both get nicely warmed up before we got to the harder parts!

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

As we headed almost due South to Craig Eigiau, Carnedd Llewellyn, the highest summit in the lovely Carneddau walking area, was very clear to the East.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

We were mainly on grass tracks until close to our first summit. But as it's name suggests we did get onto some rocks before standing on our first summit of the day: Craig Eigiau at 735m

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

Looking SSW from the summit we could see "our" final two mountains of the day, "Pen yr Helgi Du and Pen Llithrig y Wrach. Still a few hours walking away!

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

As we walked along the route to Carnedd Llewellyn the exposed ridge between Penywaun-wen and Pen yr Helgi Du became clear. With the prospect of scrambles either end of the ridge starting to get our adrenaline flowing!

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

Always above us was Carnedd Llewellyn. Although we did divert NW for a short while to see if we could include Foel Grach. But the onset of some unexpected low cloud forced us back to the main plan for the day.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

Heading up towards Carnedd Llewellyn and Yr Elen was clearly seen to the West.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

In what, very briefly, became the worst weather of the day we reached the summit of Carnedd Llewellyn, (1064m). A very short debate about whether to continue was answered quickly as we stuck to our plan. Being rewarded as the low cloud went almost as quickly as it arrived. Giving us a clear view of the route ahead.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

That route was initially down a steep rocky/scree slope from the summit of Llewellyn, seen looking back after we had descended it.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

We crossed a very broad ridge, with the almost vertical cliffs of Craig y Ysfa to our NE. Ahead was the named summit of Penywaun-wen. Not on any list due to lack of prominence. But if I have to ascend any rocks to reach a top that has a name, it counts! Our third summit of the day.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

Looking through the summit rocks we could see the path ahead over the exposed ridge and up the very steep ascent to the summit of Pen yr Helgi Du.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

To our NE was a view though the rocky top down into Cwm Eigiau.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

A pace or two forward and we could see the very steep scramble down onto the ridge, with Ffynnon Llugwy, (reservoir), now very clearly in view: seemingly almost vertically below us!

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

Indeed to me it was damn near vertical as we part scrambled, part slid down the rocks! Then we took a short break and watched others climb it.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

Ahead now was the exposed ridge. But not a knife edge ridge as it had been described in some of the web sites I had found it's description on.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

Ffynnon Llugwy was steeply below us, with the Ogwen Valley and the Glyders beyond. The track to the left of the lake is the one that heads off the ridge and back down to the Ogwen Valley: not our route today.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

Lolli gets going after our short break.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

Onto the ridge leading to Pen yr Helgi Du.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

In front was the hardest section, the scramble up the very steep front of Pen yr Helgi Du. Yes, it is steep, much more than it looks in this photo! Despite what at least one guide book says, I felt there was significant exposure both sides. I chose a route up the right hand side, probably increasing the scrambling needed.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

But we both stuck to the right hand side, and in reality enjoyed the challenge that the extra scrambling gave us, rather than following a sort of track that came and went on the ascent. View looking very steeply above me.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

Nearer the top and I was back onto a track for a short distance. With Lolli just getting over a harder section below.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

Over the top, and onto the summit of Pen yr Helgi Du, (833m). Our fourth summit of the day! The very steep drop down to the ridge path, (left), can be seen here, as can (just), two people way below about to follow us. Also in shot is the very steep rock face (near top left of photo), that we had earlier scrambled down.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

The view from the summit over Ffynnon Llugwy and onto Tryfan in the Glyders, and then the Snowdon horseshoe.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

Ahead was the descent across the cold and windswept saddle before one last slog up the grassy slopes of Pen Llithrig-y-Wrach. Our last summit of the day.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

Yes. For at least one of the two of us it was a cold and wind swept saddle we had to get down to!
Lolli! Are you under all that lot somewhere?

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

Onto the summit of Pen Llithrig-y-Wrach, our fifth of the day! And the view back over Pen yr Helgi Du and the route we had taken from Carnedd Llewellyn.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

The summit of Pen Llithrig-y-Wrach overlooked the lake/reservoir of llyn Cowlyd.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

View down back to Llyn Eigiau. There was no path down from the summit of Pen Llithrig-y-Wrach. But it was a steep but grassy slope to follow. Lining up on an old quarry to keep us going in the right direction.

Carneddau "horseshoe" walk Carneddau

A closer view of Lyn Eigiau as we descended the steep slope and prepared ourselves for a quite long, but easy slog back to our car at the end of a superb days walking in the Carneddau.