HILL, DALES AND MOUNTAIN HIKING

12th February 2009: The Moelwyns, Ysgafell Wen.    Web page by Bryan Benn

Start/Finish: Bryn Bedd, (Nantgwynant) 150m

Highest Point: Ysgafell Wen 672m

Distance: circa 10 kms

Weather: Sub zero and cloudy

Vertical altitude gain: circa 750m

Time: circa 6 hrs 0 mins

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

I had gone to Wales knowing the really cold spell was about to end. So I was very keen to walk once again on the frozen Moelwynion before the boggy land up there came out of it's winter deep freeze. So I started just as the sun was rising. The only time during the day I would see any evidence of that glowing orb as it shone very briefly on the Snowdon Horseshoe behind me!

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

On my way and it was water falls coming out of the freeze lower down, a still frozen lake, the main gulley up still with some snow and of course a lovely view back behind me over Moel Hebog and other peaks.

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

Heading up to the snow line a look behind me saw an even snowier Snowdon Horseshoe.

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

But then I was above the snow line and had to face forward as I found a route up a fairly steep snow filled gulley.

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

On reaching the top it became obvious from the totally frozen small lake at Llynnau'r Cwn that my plan to walk up on the Moelwynion while they were still frozen solid was going to be met!

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

It was a steep climb up from the lake, in snow that had filled the undulations in the surface, making the depth vary from a few inches to a couple of feet!

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

I had rather stumbled upon one of the Ysgafell Wen summits during my Christmas and New Year trip, just getting tot eh top of Ysgafell Wen Far North Top. For this walk I planned to walk over the top of Ysgafell Wen North top, (stone cairn above), and then head onto Ysgafell Wen and beyond.

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

I can be hard enough navigating the Moelwyns when on the ground. Even worse when trying to identify locations after a walk just from photos! But I think this view is of Cnicht, with Lyn yr Adar in front of it.

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

And this a view of Moelwyn Mawr, at 770m the highest of the Moelwynion at the Southern end of that small range. Complete with a lovely band of cloud that moved over it's summit as I watched.

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

And I'm fairly certain from the time the photo was taken, that this is a view of Ysgafell Wen North Top with me looking back at it as I headed on SE to get to the "main" summit of Ysgafell Wen!

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

Ysgafell Wen summit proper has only a small amount of prominence over the surrounding area, but I made the summit, and was in the area for a few minutes, enjoying a quite superb view over a still very wintry Moelwynion.

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

A lovely view of Moelwyn Mawr with what I believe to be Llyn Cwn-Corsiog. Another frozen lakes in an area full of small lakes: that's what can make the navigation so hard at times!

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

This one is easier to identify, because of the county boundary fence! Moel Druman, (left), with Llyn Conglog next to it. This Moel was supposed to be my third and final summit of the day.

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

But with the weather front due from the West that was to end this bitter winter spell I hesitated from going forward for a few minutes, enjoying the view of Cnicht with it's winter coating.

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

My hesitation was worthwhile as I could soon see the cloud starting to obscure Snowdon, (cleared again before I took this photo!), and that had been my turn around criteria. Criteria I had set myself as I walk on my own and knew the reputation of the Moelwynion as difficult to navigate in poor visibility. There were virtually no footstep tracks for me to follow, even my own proved hard to find on return in still good visibility.

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

My "emergency route" should I have become lost in poor visibility was to have followed the County boundary fence North for some miles to a point with a ladder style and a distinctive rock. Where I knew a track led off West to the main road down to Nantgwynant. An exhausting walk in such underfoot conditions! So, with the advancing front starting to obscure Snowdon again I was pleased I had decided to retrace my steps.

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

The descent route I had chosen back down to the small lake, (next photo), was steep and in quite deep snow. For once I did not feel secure using my Leki walking sticks to help me, so swapped to my ice axe to get me down.

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

The steep descent back down to the lake at the top of the gulley that would get me back down to my starting point.

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

The gulley was interesting as I took a different route back. Hanging onto my ice axe which I was glad of as I did fall once in the slippery conditions. Then I was below the snow line with the approaching weather front still not sure what it wanted to do.

Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns Ysgafell Wen walk in Molewyns

I stopped for a late snack, becoming the focal point for what I guess was a training exercise for a search and rescue crew who firstly headed directly for me, then circled me quite a number of times! I soon finished my snack and headed on back to my car. Arriving at the very moment the weather closed in and it started to snow. My turn around criteria had worked this time!