Snow Way update

GPX files from my Snowdonia Way walk have been posted on the Snowdonia Way page. I’ll be adding further posts and picture on what happened when I get the time, along with a step-by-step guide for an alternative to stage 1B avoiding the Card Idris climb.

Also, note that the hostel and Inn in Trawfydd at teh end of stage 2 were both closed during my walk in April this year, the only accommodation options being the B&B and the campsite; the latter is highly recommended.

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Snowdonia Way, post-mortem

Looking back now, I think my decision was the right one. It did continue to rain heavily for the rest of the week and with gale force winds it would have been a very “!bracing” experience. What’s more with snow over the mountains, my planned route would not have been possible.

Nevertheless, I look forward to returning sometime in the future to complete this excellent route. But, not at the beginning of April after record snowfall across the south of the country!

Time to bail

Come morning the rain had eased off for a while and I wondered what I should do.

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My home for the last night. Note the shiny wet decking.
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The view north across the lake. Note the clouds. At this time of the year they’re full of rain!

I had a phone signal, so checked the forecast and it looked worse than yesterday. Red weather warnings for rain and a bad outlook for the mountains in the North.

I spent some time pondering what to do then decided. I had not enjoyed things yesterday and time constraints meant that I could not wait the storm out. I had to carry on or bail., and it didn’t take me long to decide to bail.

The walk back to Trawsfynydd proved to be dry, and by the time I arrived at the bus stop in the middle of the village, it looked like the weather forecast might be wrong. I even spent a moment reconsidering my plan, but decided to head on home.

A bus ride to Machynlleth, lead me to a train to Swansea, another to Bristol, a replacement bus, then a third train home.

By this time, the last bus for the day had left, the only way home was via taxi or a 5 mile road walk down the back lanes. This being a backpacking trip, I opted for the latter, arriving home for 10pm, ready for food and shower and bed.

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A lakeside haven

Crossing the bridge that runs south across Llyn Trawsfynydd had been something I had been looking forward to, so it was a shame that I spent most of the crossing looking down at my feet as the rain blasted in from the south.

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The bridge across the lake. Almost as much water in the air as below the bridge!

Walking east along it was apparent that a night in the tent would be very rough. The ground was saturated and I wondered how my tent would stand up to these conditions., or more specifically, whether the pegs would stay in place. The map showed little in the way of trees to offer shelter and it was a long way to the next town. So, I arrived at Cae Adda campsite wondering what the night would bring.

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There;s a few hills out there.

For every cloud there is a silver lining and for me, the weather though bad, did produce something good. Something very good.

The whole of the site had been booked out by a group, but they had had to divert due to the poor weather (snow in the Midlands I think), leaving the camping huts on the site unoccupied. I willingly paid for one and spent a comfortable night inside while the rain lashed down as the darkness descended.


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This is how the other half glamp!

 

Snowdonia Way day 3 – nice weather for ducks

It was time to walk stage 2.

The rain started last night just before it got dark and it continued into the morning. Checking the forecast, the rain was due to lighten after 9am so I decided to stay in bed until then before heading north, destination TrawsfynyddThis stage followed paths NW out of the town, to the village of Llanelltyd before contouring along easy to follow tracks along the hillside. Looking back to the south, Card Idris had even more snow on its summit after that last weather system had passed through, but thankfully the rain held off – for now at least.

After lunch I entered the woods of Coed-y-Brenin and after about one hour, the rain started. Crossing the road I stopped in a shelter by the car park to eat some lunch, by which time, things had dried up. The walking was fairly easy good paths and easy direction finding leading me north. However, this was the calm before the storm.

Early afternoon the rain showers started to blow through. Annoying because it was a warm afternoon – not the kind of day you would want to wear waterproofs, but being in the woods, the umbrella came to the rescue. Something I was really glad for.

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Snack stop in the woods. Love my ‘brella; she’s called Ella.

By late afternoon, I had left the shelter of the woods and the walked climbed up higher. Up here the rain became crunchy – sleet if you prefer; so it was good when the route started the descent into Trawsfynydd. But, as the wind picked up the rain took on a horizontal nature, helped on by blasts of winds that forced Ella, the umbrella to be stashed away for another time. Type 3 fun.

Arriving in Trawsfynydd, I ducked into a bus shelter and looked at the map. Little chance of camping other than the side 2 miles away,  I also managed to get a phone signal and the forecast promised more of the same for the rest of the week. Lots of potential for type 4 fun.

I checked the guide book for accommodation. The B&B at the top end of the village was full, no response on the phone for the hostel or the Inn.

Walking into the middle of the village, it became clear that both the Inn and hostel were no longer open, so begrudgingly I walked onto the campsite. Fun had moved on to Type 4

The Cadr Idris bypass – a stage 1B alternate

The route I followed started following the path taken by the official route heading NW out of Abergynolwyn, before turning to the east to follow a very quiet back road. It was cold but peaceful and in time spent on this road I saw one car, a family out for a walk and two young lads arguing with each other in Welsh as they hurtled down the road on their bikes!

Leaving the back road, I speed walked a short section of the main road, before turning to the N to follow a path through the woods.

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Turn off the main road and join a footpath
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The footpath climbs the hill, then runs parallel to the main road

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The sun was out again and at a quite turning, I took a break and spread out my gear to dry things out while I ate lunch.

The route then heads along the hillside paralleling the road, along Cwm Rhwyddfor before re-joining it for a very short section. This did not look a lot of fun, but thankfully a permissive path (not marked on the map) is in place along the roadside just to the north of Bwlch-Llyn Bach. This meant only a couple of 100m road walking along the busy route was needed before taking NW to pick up another footpath that linked with the descent route of stage 1B which I followed into Dolgellau.

As I approached the town, I scanned the map for a place to stealth camp, but I could not see anything promising that I would be able to reach before dark.  Checking my phone, I had a signal, so I checked the weather and the forecast looked bleak, heavy rain, followed by light rain for the next few days. Add in some wind and it looked like it was going to be a bit damp.

I decided to check the guidebook accommodation list and it showed a promising looking campsite for the night. What’s more it had camping pods, so I decided to splash the cash and spend the night glamping.

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Glamping pod in Dollgelleau. Please excuse the mess. And yes, that is a heater!
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UL Easter Eggs. It was Easter Sunday after all!

Snowdonia Way day 2 – Welsh Cakes at Abergynolwyn

Day 2 started cold. Despite having brought along “Big Blue” my old winter sleeping bag which has a lot of down and weighs a ton, I was cold.

After getting moving things improved and  packed up, ate breakfast and left-no-trace! Before trying to pick up the path through the woods I had lost yesterday.

The guide book says the path could be “quite muddy” which is very accurate. Truth be told, I walked past it thinking, “that can’t be it” because it was so muddy.  Gortex socks and waterproof trousers on I slipped and slid down the slope towards Bryn-Egliwys Quarry, where UI picked up a hardtop path and for the first time (and only time) on the sun had come out and I was able to walk in shorts. A lovely sensation after the cold of the night with great views of the snow covered top of Cadr Idris to the north.

The path through the woods to Abergynolwyn was fantastic, following the river as it cascaded down the hillside through the woods. The paths exits the woods right beside Abergynolwyn Village Hall which served as a great place for a coffee and a  Welsh cake which gave me a chance to work out what to do next.

My next intended stage, stage 1B of the Snowdonia Way summits Cadr Idris, but the combination of a lot of snow, neither ice-axe nor crampons and cold weather, that part of the route was not an option for today, so I needed to check the map for an alternative route.

Snowdonia Way – Stage 1a

The climb up from Machynlleth was vicious, following a very steep narrow road, before heading into the hills.

P1030482Conditions under foot were good, before joining forestry land down a rough track, thence to a Pennai Towers

As the path looped around, then back north, I nearly missed the turn (at grid 701014) as you need to take a very sharp left after crossing the bridge. The track leads to a farm, (Rhos-farch) just as it says in the guide book, but here’s a surprise. Through the gate, and on the back of the gate there was a sign “Private – no public access”. Whoops!

From here, the route headed NW up into the hills and here I got to feel the full blast of the wind blasting in the the W. In the distance I could see black clouds,m but they seemed to bypass me, so thankfully it stayed dry if very grey and overcast.

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At the top of Tarren Hendre where it was really cold and windy; it was very clear that winter still had a grip on the hills, many of which still carried snow on their summits. With most of my clothes on:  base layer, fleece, windshirt, waterproof jacket, hat and gloves, I headed down the summit ridge, glad to get out of the blast of the wind.

On the way down, keen to drop down into the shelter of the woods, I turned off the ridge too soon, which meant I lost the path down and had to bushwack through a cut area top make it to the forest track. A tricky little cross stepping around and over the cut trees and avoiding the boggy areas which looked deep in places.

By the time I made the forest road night was approaching and I searched for a place to set up camp, which I made tucked under the trees.

After a very average meal of risotto, I bedded down for the night, easily sleeping through to the next dawn

The calm before the storm?

If you live at one end of the country, it’s a long way anywhere, so to ease the transport to the start of the Snowdonia Way, I traveled up to Birmingham with my family, who were heading north to visit relatives. Overnighting in a really nice hotel I didn’t sleep too well though as I had seen the weather forecast. Lots of potential for lots very heavy snow it said, which at first glance sounds exciting, but I was worried about the reality and whether I’d be able to complete the high-routes stages (1A+1B) over Cadr Idris.

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The walk to the train station was wet and really cold, making me wonder if I had sufficient gear, but as the train headed west, the weather seemed to improve and the forecast seemed to change every fifteen minutes so things looked up.

Arriving at Machynlellth at lunchtime, I bought a sandwich, then walked south to the official start of the route, then turned around heading north. I could just about peak snow on the top of a mountain to the north.

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Pausing at the River Dovey(?) for a moment I decided to head over stage 1A to see how things panned out, knowing that I could always retreat if necessary.P1030478