With other plans on Saturday morning I couldn’t spend 3 days on the hills as I would have liked but I was looking for a new route that would offer a diverse experience including mountains, ridges, llyns and forests. As it was Bank Holiday I knew only too well that the popular mountains of Snowdonia were going to be rammed, so I tried to keep away from these areas.
Looking at my ‘Welsh Mountains to-do List’ I spied a route that offered everything I was looking for: Nantlle Ridge. Referring to my maps I plotted a route that would take me over a number of mountains, following the ridge that ties them together. Here I would drop down into Cwm Pennant before ascending towards Moel Lefn and back down through Beddgelert Forest.
I decided to start the route from the village of Rhyd-Du, leaving the car there and heading up to Y Garn (not the one above Llyn Idwal) for the first night. Driving through Snowdonia mid-afternoon I passed the usual long lines of parked cars and wondered if I would actually get a parking spot in the village. Fortunately, as I arrived there was one space free so I parked up, grabbed my kit and headed toward Y Garn, passing Llyn y Gader on my left. By this time it was early evening and the slog up to Y Garn was certainly a shock to the system.
After a bit more exploring I headed back to the tent where I watched a beautiful sunset that slowly gave way to clear night skies. Spotting shooting stars and satellites I sat there once again in awe of this incredible planet and the space beyond it. I was soon ready to hit the hay so retired to my tent to fall into a blissful sleep. That’s one of the things I have noticed after years of sleeping in the wilds. I always sleep better in the wild.
As the sun began to rise higher into the sky I packed up my things and set off on the day’s walk. I made my way along the ridge, following the easy scramble to the top of Mynydd Drws-y-coed before continuing along the path with a steep drop to the right before passing Trum y Ddysg.
Here I was met by a rather handy stile and popped over the wall, continuing down to a stream to top up my water. This spot was perfectly nestled in the valley and I sat there for a while dipping my feet in the cold stream. I looked back to the ridge I had walked along and could just about make out two small moving dots. People! The first I had seen since leaving my car in Rhyd-Du. After enjoying relaxing in the sun I hoisted on my Bergen and once again set off, making my way up stream passing two connecting llyns.
It was a sweaty slog up to the top and as I walked I could make out many people at the summit of Garnedd-goch. I also noticed a fair few climbers on the rock to the left of the lake that leads up to the top via a gully. At the summit I bumped into a few people, exchanging pleasantries before taking my time to explore the area. The views continued to be phenomenal and I sat looking at the mountains, naming them all to myself as I scanned the landscape. Here I noted the ones I had climbed and others I was yet to climb. Snowdon had now shaken off its summit cloud and was looking grand. I wondered how many people had been on that mountain today - a lot more than had been on this one, that’s for sure!
Waving them farewell, I sat on a large rock and cracked open a small beer that I had brought with me. Sipping the refreshing beverage I watched a couple of buzzards out hunting and listened to the chirping of birds. I could see out to sea and all the way to the Wicklow Mountains on the east coast of Ireland. Finishing my beer I made my way back to the tent, exploring the area again as I went. With the tent up and dinner on I sat back and enjoyed the scenery surrounding me. Here I was, alone again on a mountain and I felt free. And boy that felt good. As the evening light began to fade I once again watched a beautiful sunset and sat under the stars before retreating to my tent to sleep.
The Prince of Wales Quarry (1873-1886) features evidence of the work that once went on here and has a lovely reservoir situated next to it - a perfect spot to sit and have lunch in the sun. From here I ascended up to Moel Lefn, takin a rather spicy route up that involved a bit of crag scrambling! Ascending to the top I was met by a great view across to Snowdon which was teeming with people. Watching through my binoculars I could see a line of what looked like hundreds making their way to the summit and here was me, alone on the summit of a lovely mountain in Wales.
Drying off and clothes back on I headed passed Llyn y Gader and followed the road back into Rhyd-Du, stopping off to get an ice cream at the café in the village on the way. Back at the car I popped my Bergen back in the car and looked out to the mountains that I had spent the last couple of days on.