Monday, 4 July 2011

Backpacking in the Arans - 03-04/07/2011

Cadair Idris from the plateau south of Aran Fawddwy (06:45)
After last weekend's little "adventure" at Rossett Gill, I thought I'd slip away for a night out in the Aran Mountains in mid-Wales.

I parked up in Cwm Cywarch where there's a new car park a few hundred yards beyond the end of the unfenced bit of road. The view as you enter the Cwm is amazing, especially the crags of Glasgwm on the left...

I hiked up the traversing path above Hengwm to the 568m col at Waun Goch, and then dropped the sack and headed south west to the top of Pen yr Allt Uchaf (this is a Hewitt - a peak over 2,000' with a drop of more than 30m all round).

Summit of Pen yr Allt Uchaf, looking north to Drysgol and the Aran
Picking the sack back up at the col, I headed up to Drysgol (731m) and then along the narrow ridge of Drws Bach to gain the main Aran ridge.

Cairn with memorial tablet to an RAF crewman killed by lightning near
the top of Drws Bach while on rescue duties
Dropping down 300m to the north west there's a good spring just below the start of the rocks on the south face of Aran Fawddwy. I found a level spot near the stream and set up camp.

Sign at a stile near the campsite with the Rhinogs behind (22:30!)
In contrast to last week I had a very calm night. I got up for a pee at one-ish and had the usual clear mountain night fabulous starry sky experience, but with the clear sky went a pretty cold night. I was up again around half five, had breakfast, took some pics in the morning light and then broke camp.

Gwaun y Llwyni at 06:00 while packing up camp
I dumped the sack up on the edge of the phenomonal crags that form the east face of the Aran, and headed off up to the summit. At 907m (about 2,980'), this, not Cadair Idris, is the highest point in mid-Wales. The view was spectacular with Snowdon clearly visible in the north, the Shropshire Hills to the east, Plynlimon to the south, and the Rhinogs prominent to the west.

Summit of Aran Fawddwy with Cadair Idris in the background
The Rhinogs from the summit of Aran Fawddwy
View over the north ridge of the Aran towards mist over Bala Lake
I reversed my steps to Drws Bach, picking up the sack on the way, and took a few photos of the cliffs. There was a temperature inversion over Bala Lake - sadly this isn't the best viewpoint, but it shows on a few of the pictures.

Crags on east face of the Aran and the tarn, Creiglyn Dyfi
I headed south, downhill at first on a lovely runnable grassy path, then up to the summit of Gwaun y Llwyni, another Hewitt. From here a line of old fenceposts leads across to the main path up the Aran. It's a pleasant descent from there down the rocky defile between Glasgwm and Gwaun y Llwyni back to the car park in Cwm Cywarch.

Foxglove above Cwm Cywarch
Y Gribin in the background, and bracken under the crags of Glasgwm
I was back at the car at 09:10, so headed off to see and photograph the Callow fell race (see next post).

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