Day 4’s 17.6km walk. This walk consisted of 928 mtrs of ascent and 1102 mtrs of descent.
Day 4 was a day of two halves. The first half consisted of great sunny weather and a lot of climbing. The second half was a walk in Dartmoor like terrain in thick fog. The contrast could not have been more different!
The overall objective for today was to essentially hike to the coast to put me within 10 km of Llanfairfechan where the train station resides for my departure from the area. This should make the last spare day a nice easy one.
This day was also a day where I needed to do a ‘Number 2’ but had no toilet paper. I held on for a while despite it being quite uncomfortable. But in the end I did find a solution to my predicament.
Yup – you read right!
I found some thick moss and used this. It is perfect for the role. It’s thick enough to keep your hands clean, and moist enough that it cleans really quickly and efficiently. In fact I think it is better than toilet paper at this job and is more environmentally friendly. Of course, the downside is that I had bits of moss appearing out of nowhere during the following days – but that is a small price to pay 😉
Once again, I’ll let a few photos from my Facebook journal tell the story of day 4!
In the morning I’m greeted to a brilliant sunny day on opening up the tent.
*Zoom on* Across from camp I spot a heard of horses enjoying the morning.
The view Westward down the valley towards Tryfan.
Today is going to consist of two big hill climbs with a lot of ridge walking. That plus the exceedingly hot weather prompts me to fill up all my water bottles. As a result I will be carrying almost 3 Ltrs. Although this is a departure from my normal routine, I know that given the heat and the climbing I have to do, water consumption is going to be high today…
With all the bottles filled up, I start to head back up to the camp site located around 20 metres up the hill.
On breaking camp I head Eastward to pick up the main trail up Pen yr Helgi Du. Once there I turn Northward to start the long ascent up the hill.
Pen yr Helgi Du is not a particularly steep hill, but the climb does go on for around 2.5 km. With its many false ridge-lines it feels like the ascent has no end!
To the South across the valley I get a great view onto the mountains I had climbed the previous day and the descent route I took to get to the A5 road. This road is now a long way down below.
The going is very smooth, but the heat makes the ascent hard work. Every now and then a cool breeze blows in from the East. During these periods I just stand there facing the breeze with my arms outstretched to try and cool off.
The view to the East whilst cooling off!
As I clear another false ridge-line I spot a number of horses sharing a watering hole with some nearby sheep which are off picture. It seems they have a perfect spot here!
Finally, the end is in sight! I spot the Cairn marking the top of Pen yr Helgi Du!
The view from the top! I wanted to stay here longer, but there are a swarm of small flies around the cairn. I decide to move off quickly before they notice me and start heading my way!
I manage to get a relatively safe distance from the cairn and its swarming companions. The views from up here are stunning!
To the North West I can see the top of Carnedd Llewelyn. I visited this peak on Day 2, so this will be my second ascent of this mountain. Before I get there though, I know that I will have to negotiate Bwlch Eryl Farchog….
As I head North West I get this great view onto the Ffynnon Llugwy reservoir.
I finally reach the Southern edge of Bwlch Eryl Farchog. This ridge-line is a long way below. Either side of this ridge-line are what seem like huge drops down to the reservoir on the left and Cwm Eigiau to the right. The feeling of elevation exposure from here is quite acute, but this is the reason why I chose this route. I feel that I need to get used to big drops, ready for my planned hike up Tryfan. Needless to say, the climb downward will be a slow one to make sure there are no accidents!
I finally reach the bottom of my climb down on to the ridge-line. This is the view back upward. The descent was pretty vertical!
Here I sit down to eat lunch whilst gazing back up toward the Pen yr Helgi Du peak that I had just descended. A year ago I would never have dreamed of climbing down such ridges! But I have to say that I do get a feeling of exhilaration whilst doing so!
Up ahead to the North West I have the ascent up Penywaun-wen to negotiate. The top looks quite vertical from here – I’m hoping that it’s climbable with a big rucksack…
This is the view downwards to the North East from the ridge line that I’m on. The bottom is a long way downward. It was this elevation plus the elevation of my descent from Pen yr Helgi Du that really got the adrenaline going!
The view back along the Bwlch Eryl Farchog ridge-line before I start my ascent of Penywaun-wen.
The climb up Penywaun-wen is pretty vertical in places, but it is easier than it looks!
As I ascend Penywaun-wen I stop off for a rest and take in the view downward!
The ascent soon flattens out, but up ahead I can see another climb!
Back on with the climb. Once again, it is actually a lot easier than it looks. The rock is quite grippy and there are numerous footholds and handholds to use!
This is the view of the Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir from the top of Penywaun-wen.
To the North-West is the final big ascent of the trip up Carnedd Llewelyn at 1064 mtrs elevation!
The ascent of Carnedd Llewelyn is quite steep in places, but the going is pretty good. After a lot of walking the peak is still looking a long way off!
The view to the South back along the route I took. The view is spectacular!
The peak of Carnedd Llewelyn is now within reach!
A self photo during the ascent of Carnedd Llewelyn!
Up ahead I spot the cairn I had visited on Day 2. I now know that the peak itself is very close indeed!
The view of the cairn looking Southward over my ascent route. What is particularly evident in this photo is the long relatively shallow ridge-line of Pen yr Helgi Du which seemed to take an age to climb earlier in the morning.
Finally at the top of Carnedd Llewelyn – my second visit of this peak on this walk! There are no more significant climbs for the rest of the trip. From here on in it should be plain sailing!
The view to the South West is amazing with the cloud rolling in from the West. The ridge-line in the distance is the route I took on Day 2.
This is the view to the North and the way to the coast.
Up ahead is Foel Grach, a relatively modest climb on my route Northward. This part of the walk is quite relaxing, though the boulder fields make progress a little slow in places. I note that the clouds to the West look like that they are in serious danger of overwhelming the area.
As I progress Northward I catch this glimpse of Yr Ellen’s rigde-line. This is the ridge I had climbed on Day 2 from the Ffynnon Caseg tarn.
Up ahead is Foel Grach which is now tantalisingly close. It is serviced by this well made track that helps to keep progress swift.
This is the view Southward into the Ffynnon Caseg tarn where I had made camp at the end of day 1. To the right is the ridge-line that I ascended at the start of Day 2 to get me up into the mountains. Looking at the tarn, I can now see why the night time ascent to it was quite hard work, as it looks quite steep from here!
The top of Foel Grach is now in view – woot!
The view North Eastward from Foel Grach. I took a 15 minute break here to eat snacks and drink water.
Up ahead is Carnedd Gwenllian. I need to reach this then break North Westward. To the left of this picture one can see a massive cloud bank coming in from the West. The whole area would soon be engulfed in thick fog. I think this picture quite clearly illustrates how quickly the conditions on the mountains can change!
The fog has now moved in for the rest of the day. Navigation would be via compass and the odd glance at my GPS to check position. The GPS makes for a great safety net under such conditions.
The weather has completely turned on its head compared to the morning. Off goes the sun hat as this is no longer required. I cannot believe how quickly the conditions changed. One minute sunshine, the next thick fog!
On occasion the fog clears to reveal large expanses of landscape. But these views are only fleeting. I believe this is the view toward Bera Mawr as I head North Westward.
The fog soon descends again. This part of the trip was very boggy and reminded me of Dartmoor.
As I head North Westward I spot this horse up on Drosgl hill. It seems motionless and I wonder whether it is a sculpture or an actual horse!
Here I’m now descending into the valley which should have the Afon Rhaeadr bach stream running through it. Water supplies are starting to get low, so this is a welcome sight! The track up head is one that I will need to take to get around the Drosgl hill. Most of the walk for the last hour or so had been completely cross country, so I was glad to finally be walking on a track again!
I took a rest at this stream and topped up my water supplies. The plan now is to follow this track Westward which should contour me around Drosgl hill and take me to Moel Wnion.
This is the view Northward back the way I came. The route I took contoured me around Drosgl on the right and around the Afon Gam valley directly in front. To the left is the Moel Wnion hill. The pylons are a good sign that I’m nearing the coast. I was originally going to camp on Moel Wnion, but given the weather I decide to head further toward the coast instead.
I’m now headed Northward around the top of Moel Wnion. The idea is to contour around this hill to take me to the Ffrid Ddu pass.
As I’m contouring around the top of Moel Wnion, the cloud sometimes clears to show just how high up I am. This helps me concentrate on my footing 🙂
At this point I know I’m about to leave the mountains for good on this particular walk, so take a last long look at them to the East.
I have finished contouring around Moel Wnion and I’m now headed Northward directly toward the Ffridd Ddu pass. I’m glad that the contouring has finally finished as it really hurts the ankles having to walk continuously side-on to a hill’s slope.
I clear the ridge-line where I’m confronted with this view of the electricity pylons that I had walked under during Day 1’s hike. This both confirms my position and lets me know that today’s walk is almost at an end!
I make it to my planned catchment feature – a wall running around the boundary of Ffrid Ddu. I now need to proceed Northwards until I intercept another catchment feature in the form of the North Wales Path.
The fog is back in force, so I’m having to frequently rely on my compass to keep me on the correct course!
To my right I can make out a wall. I’m now pretty certain that I’m headed the right way! With any luck I should soon reach the North Wales Path.
Woot!!!!!! And there it is! The North Wales Path just below me! A welcome sight in the fog laden landscape!
I check the GPS to get my exact position on the catchment feature. It seems that I have drifted too far Eastward to get to the water sources that I was after. But given that this is the way to the train station, I decide to make camp here and make do with the water that I have.
It’s strange that in my mind’s eye I had envisioned camping on this hill looking out over a great expanse of the sea. But alas, the reality was not to be. The coast is directly ahead, but with the fog like this, I don’t really get to see anything
As is traditional on all my walks, the last meal is always a Mountain House Curry. My favourite meal! Water is currently rationed so there will be no dessert tonight. I offset this by snacking out on spare cereal bars instead!
I zip up the tent and prepare for bed. I can’t believe that by this time tomorrow I will be at home. I spend the next hour or so looking at the photos and reflecting on one of the best walks I’ve had this far. Eventually I tuck into bed for my last sleep out in the wilds for this particular trip.
As I slept, the heavens opened up with a downpour that would last most of the night. I was really pleased that the Akto tent kept me nice and dry!
Only one more post to make for the final spare day of this walk. Hopefully I will have it up in the next few days 🙂