A memorable day in the Welsh Mountains, 20 March 2018

I was feeling the need for a mountain ‘fix’ and the weather forecast for Snowdonia looked promising. I duly got everything ready the night before and set my alarm for 05:20. Unfortunately, I inadvertently switched it off during the night and woke at 05:57. Not disastrous, but a bit of a panic to get on the road having just had time for a quick cuppa and to make up a flask of coffee. I arrived at Capel Curig without incident at about 9am and had a tasty fried breakfast at the excellent Moel Siabod Café. Then it was on to Bethesda, a few miles away, and the starting point of my walk to include three of the Welsh 3000ft mountains; Yr Elen, Carnedd Llewelyn and Carnedd Dafydd.

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The route taken shown in red

Although I’d climbed these mountains several times before, I was intent on trying a new route (to me) up Yr Elen via its unfrequented North East Ridge from the lonely Ffynnon Caseg. This took a good couple of hours to reach over fairly rough and boggy terrain in places. The tops were in cloud but I was hopeful that the sun would break through and the cloud lift off.

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The way to Ffynnon Caseg with Yr Elen (right) and Carnedd Llewelyn in the background

The view on reaching Ffynon Caseg at 750m was enough to take your breath away; the lake was still frozen and the crags of Yr Elen in the background were spectacular with all the details picked out by the snow and ice. This looked like a great place in which to camp.

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Ffynnon Caseg and the crags of Yr Elen

Now it was time for the crux of the day’s walking and summoning up courage I headed up the steep grass slope to gain the North East Ridge of Yr Elen. This looked a little intimidating from the bottom but I gained the summit (962m) without difficulty, much to my relief; it was hardly even a scramble. If there had been more snow and ice, it would have been a different matter.

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The North East ridge of Yr Elen

I could relax now and followed the path skirting the edge of the crags, which I had been looking up at from below, and climbed the bouldery slopes to the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn, Wales’s second highest mountain at 1064m high.

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The way from Yr Elen to Carnedd Llewelyn

By the time I got to the summit, the cloud had descended, but then it cleared again and it felt reasonably pleasant in the sun as I ate my sandwiches.

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The view south from from the frozen summit of Carnedd Llewelyn looking over Pen yr Helgi Du and Pen Llithrig y Wrach

Then it was time to follow the ridge that bounds Cwm Llafar the 3km or so to Carnedd Dafydd (1044m), and the final peak of the day. Unfortunately, by the time I reached it, the cloud had descended again.

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The summit of Carnedd Dafydd, no views to be had unfortunately

Navigation to the ridge running north to Bethesda was a little tricky in the mist and over very bouldery ground; I was keen to avoid the cliffs to the right! However, it wasn’t long before I was in the sunshine again and stopped to admire the head of Cwm Llafar and the famous Black Ladders cliffs.

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The head of Cwm Llafar with Carnedd Llewelyn (left), the Black Ladders and with Carnedd Dafydd out of shot (right). The sunlit ridge in the middle ground is that of Crib Lem, which is an entertaining scramble to the summit of Carnedd Dafydd that I have climbed a couple of times

Now it was just a case of walking down easy grass slopes back to Bethesda and the end of an exhilarating walk, some 20km long, in the Welsh Mountains. There still remained time to photograph the sunset from Penmaenmawr beach before the drive home.

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Sunset over Anglesey from Penmaenmawr
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