Perfect backpack, 19-20 April 2018

I had been itching to get out for a wild camp once the clocks had gone forward and the forecast of two successive fine days was an opportunity too good to miss. I already had a list of future backpacking trips prepared and decided that the northern Carnedds in Snowdonia with a summit camp would be a good option. I anxiously scanned the weather forecast in the days before, especially in relation to the likely winds, but all looked good for a successful backpack and wild camp.

So it was that I found myself getting off the bus at the small village of Abergwyngregyn after travelling by train from Derby to Llandudno Junction. The weather was sunny and warm and the first thing I did was to apply sun screen before walking up the road and then the path finally reaching the impressive Aber Falls, a bit of a tourist draw and sure enough there were quite a few people there admiring the falls and picnicking. Following the path right, I was soon alone as I headed left up the valley of the Afon Gam. This was the first section of serious climb and I’d promised myself that when I completed this first section, reaching 450m,  I’d have lunch. I also replenished one of my water bottles from the stream.

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The lower section of Aber Falls
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Heading up the Afon Gam

I was now on the broad ridge leading up to Drosgl (758m) with good views opening up to the west. All I had for company were the skylarks singing their hearts out. The going underfoot was springy grass and ideal when carrying a heavy load. I could see a cold front out to the west and hoped that it wouldn’t move closer east. From Drosgl, it was an easy walk to Bera Bach (807m) surmounted by a crown of stones and spiky rocks, followed by Yr Aryg, Carnedd Gwenllian (926m) and Foel Grach (976m) my chosen summit for the night’s camp. I spent some time looking around for a good camping spot and finally settled for a small spur facing directly towards Carnedd Llewelyn and Yr Elen with the small teardrop shaped lake of Ffynnon Caseg at the bottom. The mountain scenery was spectacular.

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Foel Grach, Carnedd Llewelyn and Yr Elen from Yr Aryg
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Bera Bach and Bera Mawr from Yr Aryg, looking across to Anglesey

Having pitched my tent on a reasonably level grassy area of ground and having had a brew, I decided to walk up Carnedd Llewelyn (1064m) about a mile away and the third highest mountain in Snowdonia. When I reached the summit, I was transfixed by the amount of cloud in the Ogwen Valley and particularly that which was spilling over between Pen yr Helgi Du and Pen Llithrig y Wrach. I spent some time drinking in the scene and taking photographs before returning to my tent to have dinner.

 

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Cloud spilling over between Pen yr Helgi Du and Pen Llithrig y Wrach

Dinner was easily prepared as I just needed to boil some water and add it to my dehydrated chicken curry. Dessert was chocolate mousse, again just requiring water, cold this time, to reconstitute it. Afterwards, I settled down to wait for the sun to set with my camera set up to photograph it. By now, a cloud inversion had settled over Anglesey, which made for an interesting and stunning sunset as the sun dropped and went behind the cloud. As it got dark, the moon became obvious and Venus shone brightly. It was time to retire to my tent.

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Sunset from my campsite, Yr Elen (left)

After a fairly fitful night’s sleep when the temperature had obviously dropped significantly, I climbed out of my tent just after 6am expecting to find a beautiful start to the day. Although it was clear at that time, I was very soon shrouded in chilly low cloud so retreated to my tent and made breakfast in the porch. Again, this just needed boiling water to reconstitute a dehydrated porridge like dish and make tea. 

It wasn’t long before the cloud cleared and the sun was shining, making it feel much more pleasant. The view to Ffynnon Caseg backed by cliffs was spectacular with the details picked out by the sun. I packed up my tent and headed across the easy ground to the stony summit of Foel Fras (942m), the last summit of any significance before descending to the peak of Drum (770m). Much in evidence, here as elsewhere in the area were some wild ponies and I stopped to photograph some that were feeding from the grass.

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Carnedd Dafydd and Yr Elen from Foel Grach with Ffynnon Caseg in the bottom
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Summit of Foel Fras looking back to the Carneddau
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A few of the many wild ponies to be found in the northern Carneddau

After Drum, it was downhill all the way to Llanfairfechan on the coast with beautiful views across to Anglesey, and I stopped only to make a brew part way down. I walked all the way to the sea front, there being something peculiarly satisfying about walking from mountains to the sea. After that, it was time for a late lunch in the Beach Cafe followed by the train home, my appetite for backpacking satisfied, for now at least.

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Final stage of the walk down to Llanfairfechan

The 25 km route taken is shown below:

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Route taken shown in red
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