1985, The Moelwyns from Beddgelert

The idea for this trip was nothing more than an unplanned circuit of the Moelwyn group of mountains. I had been quite impressed with what I saw on my day walk in the area three years previously, and I wanted to have another attempt at reaching Llyn yr Adar and Cnicht, but beyond that nothing was predetermined.

The holidays in my job were quite generous, in fact I used to joke that I only worked there for the time off. We were entitled to a week in autumn, but the official line was that it should be taken between October and December. This year, I crossed my fingers and applied for the last week in September, which I was granted. It turned out to be most fortunate for I was blessed with fine “Indian summer” weather most of the time.

I spent the night of Sunday 22nd September at the Beddgelert Forestry Commission campsite, at the time my favourite in Snowdonia, although on this occasion I was disturbed by very late arrivers pitching tents aided by of their car headlights. On arising reasonably early, I was delighted by the sight of rabbits hopping around the tents and caravans.

Day 1

Parking once again near the converted chapel on the old Nanmor road, I easily made my way up to Llyn yr Adar, having made sure this time to turn right off the path at the white quartz rock. I camped for the night tucked behind the concrete dam wall of one of the lakes up in the heights; I am no longer sure which one, there are so many up there. In the morning I was greeted by the sight of an awesome amphitheatre of empty hillsides stretching away around me. When I was ready some two hours later to move on, I walked southwards to explore the disused diggings, tips and empty buildings of Rhossyd Quarry, before continuing to the lower slopes of Moelwyn Mawr. Here I left my rucksack behind while I plodded up the steep grassy hill to the 2,527 foot summit, atop a narrow apex. I had a glimpse of Llyn Stwlan far below me, and of the sea in the distance, but clouds were rolling quickly towards me and obscuring everything. What appeared to me to be a knife-edge ridge dipped down and back up again to the adjacent 2,334-foot summit of Moelwyn Bach. I gingerly tiptoed up to the concrete trig point, barely touched it with my fingertips, and fled back down the way I had come, before everything disappeared in the clouds. I must have bought my Karrimor Jaguar 6 rucksack by then, for I recall I had difficulty relocating it as I descended the grassy slope, because it is a wonderfully camouflaged olive and sage-green colour.

Day 2

I spent the night beside another lake, and after pottering about in the morning, I headed for the north end of the long ridge of 2,265-foot Cnicht. It was a great walk along this ridge until I approached the summit, where steady feet and a good sense of balance were required to continue along narrow ledges above steep slopes. The last few yards looked rather dodgy to me, so I decided not to risk continuing, and turned back.

This night was spent on the eastern edge of the three Dog Lakes, Llynnau’r Cwn. An evening exploration showed that a clear path commenced by the shore of the nearest lake, which was downhill to the west. Three walkers passed while I was here; they were the first, and only, people I saw during the whole of this outing.

Day 3

Came the morning, and everything was shrouded in thick mist. Visibility was only about thirty feet. When I was ready to leave, I walked on a compass bearing down to the lake where the path started, but somehow I missed it, nor could I find it by cautiously retracing my footsteps. I pressed on in the assumption that I should eventually come to the valley through which the path led. The land was eerily silent, and it was frustrating to be moving in no more than a tiny circle of grass and stones, with startled sheep quickly rising to their feet and trotting off to disappear into the greyness. After walking for what seemed to be some distance, I thought I heard the sound of running water wafted to me briefly in the air. I stopped, and listened intently. Nothing! I walked forward a few yards, and then a few more, listening hard all the while. Yes, there! Ahead of me somewhere! I seemed to be descending rather a lot; I did not want to be having to go back up again, neither did I want to find myself in the wrong valley. In a while, I found the stream, and the path, but I still walked some way along it before I was confident it was the right one.

By the afternoon, I was at Cartref campsite near Shrewsbury, in those days my favourite stopping-off point on the way home, so long as I did not mind batting away hundreds of daddy longlegs (crane flies). The picturesque town centre had plenty of interest in the way of medieval buildings, secondhand bookshops and antiques centres, as well as two or three curry restaurants, one of which would be sure to get my custom that evening. I was home by the following day, Friday 27th September.

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