Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Our Welsh odyssey

After our visit to Edale two weeks earlier, we decided we wanted to try something a little different that would combine two days walking and wildcamp with a final night at a campsite at the end of the walk. We decided on the Aran ridge in Snowdonia which is a linear walk taking in Aran Fawddwy (905 metres) and Aran Benllyn (885 metres). The plan was to take in both summits on the first day then camp overnight up high before dropping back down to civilisation in Llanuwchllyn on the second day.

5am friday morning we set off from our home in Lincs for what would turn out to be a very hot 'indian summer' weekend of adventure. Although the drive seemed to take forever, the car was filled with chatter about what the weekend would have instore for us which helped while away the time. We stopped in a lay by on the Welsh/English border and had a proper egg and bacon sandwich. Just look at how thick that bread is! Mmh...

We finally arrived at the end of a long and twisty lane in Cwm Cwyarch, where there is a small grass car park and chemical toilet (OS Grid Ref SH853184) provided by a local farmer. There is no charge to park but there is an honesty box at the entrance and all funds are given to the local air ambulance, which we thought was very cool of the farmer.

Once we had kitted up we made our way out of the car park, crossed the small road and followed an almost dry stream bed up onto the open hillside of Hengwm. 5 mins into the walk i was already knackered! Probably the long drive that did it, (plus i have asthma so have to take plenty of rest stops to catch my breath)..

Looking across Hengwm valley towards Creigiau Camddwr

Following the track up to the head of the Cwm

Once at the head of the valley we took the path NW along the ridge to Drisgol at 731 metres. Doesn't look too steep...

But it is a long hard upward slog in places, and we were drinking almost a litre of water every hour and a half or so. This brings me to pack weight. We were carrying 14 kilos each which seems alot to some however we had to carry plenty of water and with each litre weighing 1 kilo vs the rate at which we were drinking it meant we had to collect extra water from a stream on Hengwm.

Views starting to open out

First glimpse of Aran Fawddwy

Drisgol 731 metres

Creiglyn Dyfi in the shadow of Aran

We carried on towards Drws Bach and to the cairn that is dedicated to the memory of Michael Aspain,
an RAF St. Athan MRT member who was sadly struck by lightening and killed near this spot while out on exercise.

Looking down into the valley from Drws Bach. You can see the track we followed up Hengwm

We negotiated behind and around the field of rocks and the top and finally we caught sight of the summit trig point of Aran Fawddwy.

Once at the top we spent quite some time soaking up the stunning 360 degree views.

Creiglyn Dyfi

Rhinogs in the distance

Hazy Arenigs

Arenig Fawr
After leaving the summit of Aran Fawddwy, we pressed on towards the location of our pitch for the night, taking in Aran Benllyn on the way.

Aran Benllyn 885 mtrs

Llyn Pen Aran

 We took water from the Llyn which was a lovely yellow/brown colour! We would filter this later
using out trusty Drinksafe systems Aquaguard inline filter.

After 6 hours hard walking we finally pitched our tent just as the sun was setting.
Its a great little spot on a ledge on the western side of Aran.

As the light faded i filtered the water and cooked up some well deserved tea.

After we had eaten we sat in the doorway of our home watching the darkness fall over a silent and peaceful landscape. Spending the night up high in the mountains gives one a deep sense of tranquility
and relaxation far away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, allowing us to simply breathe and enjoy our surroundings.

Morning view from our pitch

After a quick brew, we packed up and started the long descent off the Aran. Our route took us down the northern escarpment towards the tiny village of Llanuwchllyn. The descent is via a series of levels which you can see in the pictures below.

It doesn't look too steep but in places we had to scramble our way down a few hairy sections of rock.

Looking back to the first section of descent

Llyn Tegid (Lake Bala)
Quick break

Looking back

The descent was much longer than we thought!
Nearly at the bottom the land started to level out giving my knees a rest, they were shot!

We finished our walk with a drink in the village pub before getting a cab back to the beginning to pick up the car. Late afternoon we drove to Bala, picked up some supplies and decided to stay at Glanllyn camping and caravan site for the night. This is a great site to stay at with perfectly level ground and well looked after facilities. We will definitely be staying there again when we return to the area. Next morning we had breakfast and packed the car, then took a stoll down to the lake side which has some great views back towards Aran.

It was with a heavy heart we had to get back to the car and make the 5 hour trip back home, having had such a great couple of days in a beautiful area of Snowdonia. We will definitely be returning soon!


  1. Nice blog. Looka like you had damn good time.

  2. Thanks Mike, its a stunning area to visit, and far away from the crowds. Think we saw around six people over the two days. Plenty of wild camping spots too :)

  3. Hi Matt, really good report, sounds like you have a great couple of days.

    I've been thinking about the Aquaguard inline filter. Do you use it gravity fed at all and how many/size of water containers do you carry?

    Thanks, Bryan.

  4. Hi Brian, thanks the trip was awesome! Yes i use it inline. On the wales trip i had my usual 2 litre ziplock platypus with tube as normal, plus a spare 2 litre platy that i used to fill up from whatever water source i came across on the way. This was the one that i attached my inline filter to. I do usually prefer to have 2 platys as i can keep my ziplock with water filled from the tap then the spare for filtering and boiling. We took water from the Lyn and in the platy it looked like dark urine with a lot of peat floating. Sheep droppings all over the place but the filter cleaned it and took all taste away. Amazing bit of kit, highly recommended! :)

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