Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Walking the Moelwyns

Walking Moelwyn Mawr and Bach

This weekend was a bit of an big trip for me: A wild camp in the Moelwyns/Moelwynion, with 17 miles of walking and over a mile of ascent. No matter how I try, I still don't feel able to lighten my pack enough, and the strain on my knees was really telling by the end of the trip! The adventurous route started from Blaenaeu Dolwyddelan, up Yr Arddu, detoured to Cnicht, then doubled-back to Moelwyn Mawr and Bach. after a brief camp around there somewhere, I then planned to head back as directly as possible to the start point. 

The weather in the week leading up had been a mix of cold, heavy snow and sunshine. I arrived Saturday, (23rd November) morning at Blaenau Dolwyddelan to temperatures of -4°C in the valleys and beautiful frost. I had packed crampons and ice axe in the van just in case, but on arrival the tops were clear and these obviously weren't needed, so were left behind. The low winter sun shone all day, slowly turning the firm but nicely frozen tundra on the Moelwyns into their typical boggy condition.

Allt Fawr and Moel Druman on a frosty start from Blaenau Dolwyddelan


Ice, formed some days earlier, on Yr Arddu
Looking over to Allt-fawr and Moel Druman from Yr Arddu, 53.032608, -3.984698
Frosty Llynau'r Cwn
I trekked over Yr Arddu, Cnicht, and just about had time to make it up Moelwyn Mawr and Bach before sunset.

A busy Cnicht
Moelwyn Bach and Trawsfynydd on the way up the east side of Moelwyn Mawr
Summit of Moelwyn Mawr - no snow.
Sunset reflecting in the sea beyond Portmadog over Moelwyn Bach.
After arriving back down at the abandoned quarries at Cwmorthin in the almost-complete darkness, I night-nav'ed to find a sufficient camp-site near Llyn Cwm-corsiog. The stars were only partly visible through the broken cloud, but still very impressive, despite a little bit of light pollution coming up Cwm Cwmorthin from Blaenaeu Ffestiniog. It was late and I wasn't particularly hungry, so I drank some more water to re-hydrate (I'm terrible at drinking enough during the day), then settled down for the night without supper, snug in my Rab Ascent 700 down sleeping bag. 

I slept on-and-off between 1930 and 2230, then only stirred thereafter for the occasional curl up until waking at 0615. The temperatures didn't drop below 0 overnight: the ground just remained damp. Dawn arrived with very little fanfare, just a brightening of the grey overcast sky. But at least it wasn't raining, or windy!

A dull overcast dawn overlooking Llyn Cwm-corsiog and Moel Druman. Not as dry as it looked...
I compensated for no supper by making a double-breakfast of freeze-dried roast veg couscous with added chicken and vegetable soup (the soup adds extra calories, fluid, and texture), followed by instant seeded porridge with fudge hot chocolate and dried blueberries. Hot chocolate single sachets are the best way to buy dried milk, in my opinion: they can be drunk alone or added to fortify your breakfast.

Soon, though, my cold, damp, FREEZING feet told me it was time to get a move on! I headed indirectly toward Moel Druman by skirting around the contours to Llyn Terfyn then along the path. After summitting Druman I continued northeast, past Allt-fawr (one peak too many!), over Moel Dyrnogydd, then along the miner's trail and across the horrible, ankle-twisting-tussocked scrub to Hendre Farm and my starting point.

Snowdon & Glyderau Conditions

Conditions in the Snowdon and Glyder massifs looked impressive from the Moelwyns this weekend:
Snow was above 600m, so both Crib Goch, and Crib y Ddysgl were covered.

There was also significant snow cover on the Glyders, although Y Foel Goch (to the southeast) and Y Garn (to the north) did not appear to have any settled frozen stuff.

Saturday's Route View Larger Map

Sunday's Route View Larger Map