The plan for today was to do the day trip to Bardsey Island but the boatman decided it was too windy and that never happened. So instead I hoovered up a couple of Lleyn peninsula Marilyns. Fist off Garn Boduan. There is a forestry track off the B4354 to the south where there is space to park so I did. From here a path zigzags and contours gently up to the top. It is a lovely spot with very abundant traces of the hill fort that once stood here.
It didn’t take very long to walk up and down this so then I drove north for Gyrn Ddu. Here is a little yellow road to the east of the latter hill, very narrow, very quiet. From here the map shows a footpath heading onto the plateau halfway between a place called Hengwm and a mast a bit to the north. The road widens briefly just where the path joins it making it possible to park without creating an obstruction. So I did. It’s not a very pleasant path up onto the plateau but it improves when it gets there giving lovely walking in this beautiful, deserted place. The path leads to a short walled lane between fields after which I left the path marked on the map but a faint path not on the map took me up to the right and most of the way to the summit. The summit itself is a massive pile of boulders clambering up which was not very pleasant but did not take long.
I parked by a chapel to the south where there is a public footpath signpost. A horribly overgrown path goes from here to Pwlldefaid where a couple of kissing gates lead into a field. A couple of doggies barked at me as I passed Pwlldefaid but they didn’t look like maneaters. The path soon turns uphill passing a couple of little farmhouses. A sign on the gate of the first says simply ‘Danger’ without going into any detail what the danger consists in. I carried boldly on without coming to any harm. A pleasant climb brought me to the top. I went down the same way, again unassailed by the dangerous thing, as far as Pwlldefaid. Here another path goes off left returning to the road more quickly so I gratefully used it and avoided the jungle.
This was the walk described on pp. 40-42 of Steve Ashton,s Walking in Snowdonia. It starts up the footpath signposted off the A5 about 1k north of Capel Curig. Parking here is not abundant but there is a small lay-by thing a sort distance north. I followed the path uphill past a house to a gate in a wall (not the ladder stile Ashton reports). Then the path carries on north over a rather boggy moor eventually crossing two bridges a short distance apart, the first concrete, the second wood. From here it’s straight up the ridge of Pen Llithrig y Wrach. Ashton says ‘pathless and breathless’ and he’s right about the latter but I was on a narrow but fairly clear path all the way, thank heaven, as fighting up the pervasive steep heather would not have been fun. On a path it wasn’t so bad.
The weather was turning from summer to autumn. Showers came and went but they blew past fast enough and didn’t stop it being delightful high up as I carried on down and up straightforwardly enough to Pen yr Helga Du. The rocks of Craig Eigiau gleamed in the sunlight across the Cwm. Tryfan, the other way, mainly stayed gloomy. The descent of of Pen yr Helga Du by Y Braich is delightful, easy angled on a pleasant grassy path. Towards the bottom a stone wall crosses the ridge and Ashton writes, “trend left, descending steep grass to reach the leat. Cross it by the second of twin footbridges, turn left,...” Turns out these days the landowner is not keen for us to do this and both footbridges are blocked by a sturdy and taut barbed wire fence. I am a highly experienced barbed wire fence gymnast and crossed it regardless but I am not in my first youth and it was tricky and a pest. I had some wild horses for company here, grazing placidly a few feet away. From here I did as Ashton recommends and followed the grassy towpath back to the wooden bridge crossed on the way up and so home.
I broke the drive from Sheffield to Snowdonia by gathering up another little Marilyn in the Clwydian Hills. I parked at the top of the Bwlch Pembarras (pay and display, cash only, £1.50, be sure you have change). There are paths everywhere on this little hill and you can choose whether to take it direct, which is short but unrelentingly very steep, or relieve the steepness by going in zigzags. I did the former going up, the latter going down..
There is a small layby thing acrtoss the road from Castle Nook Farm. I parked here and headed into the weeds where the Pennine Way is signposted. It emerges from the woods above the farm and heads over pasture. I deviated a bit to avoid some cattle and found myself on strange terrain, the ground moulded into an array of small ridges. It soon dawned that this was manmade, the remnants of the old Roman fort of Epiacum. I kept on the Pennine WAy crossing the Gilderdale Burn. A little after this, just before it turns left towards Harbut Law, there is a track heads off southwest. This follows the valley along the line of a fence, getting a bit intermittent as it apprached the head. Finally the fence comes to a T-junction by some ruined sheepfolds. After this it is pathless to the top of Black Fell. From here over Tom Smith's Stone and onto Grey Nag is a long boggy fence following exercise with occasion signs of a vestigial path, utterly typical of the North Pennines. The energetic could lengthen this walk with a long detour out along a ridge to the west to collect the newly promoted Nuttall of Thack Moor. Not me, I'll come back fro it another time. Before Grey Nag the ridge passes Tom Smith's stone and the barely noticeably bump in the ridge that is the hill named after him. EVen with the mighty resources of Google I cannot find out who Tom Smith was. From the top of Grey Nag I headed off over more pathless ground down the ridge to the northeast labelled Great Heaplaw on the map. A long trudge over little visited hills meeting not a soul.
There is a car park at Inverey just by a memorial to John Lamont (Johann Von Lamont) born here in 1805 who went on to become a distinguished astronomer in Bavaria. From here a sign post points the way down Glen Ey. This took me pretty easily and pleasantly to Auchelie, which is just a sheep haunted ruin. From here another track branches off right climbing up onto Carn nan Seileach and on towards Carn Creagach some way before which it ends abruptly. From here a faint - and I mean faint - path leads, sort of, across rough, grough-infested ground bypassing Carn Creagach toward the bealach below Carn Bhac. This was the bit of the day that was most like hard work. At the bealach a less faint path can be found that leads to the summit of Carn Bhac.
This is one of a small number of annoying Munros that I am not quite sure if I have climbed before or not. If I have, it was about 40 years ago so it all felt new enough. On a lovely day like today it is a wonderful viewpoint for the high Cairngorms off to the north. It is too long since I have been there. From here it was good paths then a track all the way back, over the SW top, on to Geal Carn, then easily and delightfully north along the broad ridge almost to Carn Liath. Just before the track climbs the latter a side path cuts the corner to pick up the track that leads down contouring a short way above the Allt Cristie Beag and so back to Inverey. A long but straightforward really enjoyable walk. It was a long drive back to St Andrews.
Sgurr Nan Clach Geala at 3586 ft. Is the second highest of the Fannichs while it’s neighbours, Meall a’Chrasgaidh and Sgurr Nan Each at 3064 and 3028 ft. respectively are much lower barely qualifying as Munros. From the top of Sgurr Nan Clach Geala, the the two look quite insignificant while from the Geala us on either side the former is a really very substantial climb. So the traverse feels less like a ridge walk than an ascent of a single very big hill with a couple of eee subsidiary peaks on each side. There is a small car park on the A382 a very short distance from where a track heads off near some woodland towards Loch a’Bhraoin about a kilometre away. I headed down this to near the Loch where a gate bars progress straight on (towards a boathouse) and paths branch off right (signposted to Kinlochewe) and left (towards Loch Fannich). I took the left branch and followed the sometimes faint riverside path for about 5k to the top of the pass. At one point I crossed from left to right of the river. It was not a hard crossing but I was careless and got a bit of a soaking - worryingly my camera packed in for about an hour but seemed to dry out and recover. Approaching the top of the pass I stopped to chat with an agreeable man who had completed the circuit of the three Munros going the other way round - clockwise. It was barely lunchtime and he was planning to pop up Am Faogagach in the afternoon! He was only ten Munros away from completion and it was another on his list. From the top of the pass I headed straight up towards the bealach between Sgurr nan Clach Geala and Sgurr nan Each. This was a pathless, steep and somewhat purgatorial slog but from the bealach and easy gentle climb up a part led to the top of Sgurr Nan Each and back again.
From here the climb up Sgurr Nan Clach Geala was a lot steeper and longer but not too bad with a path still under my feet. The view from the summit is astonishing. An Teallach dominates it but all the hills of Torridon, Fisherfield and Assynt are clearly visible along with countless others. The path now veers right and follows the cliffs above Coire Mor for a bit. Soon the slopes to my left got less infeasibly precipitous and I followed a steep grassy band straight down. Meall a’Chrasgaidh I had climbed before one winter long ago so I decided to skip it. As I made the steep descent a large herd of deer observed me from below only to scatter as I got too close for their comfort. I climbed down into the basin below the Sgurr Nan Clach Geala-Meall a’Chrasgaidh bealach from where more pathless trudging down not too unpleasant ground eventually put me on the stalkers path that took me back to the rover and so home. I never had a walk when I saw so many frogs. They seemed to be everywhere.
There is a big car park at Aberarder. So I parked there and walked up to the Lodge. It is a short walk from here to the farm house - now a centre for the National Nature Reserve complete with picnic tables and toilets. They are keen for walkers to keep off the main track and use the signposted path to the side. So I did. The path continues past the Lodge to a junction. A sign says go right for the Coire, left is marked with a picture of a pine marten. I went right and followed this path uphill looking out (thanks to directions at Walkhighlands site) for a cairn that marks the path branching off up Carn Liath, Munro number one.This climbs up over Na Capanan and the going eases after that subsidiary bump is behind you. But it’s still a fair slog to the top.
From here a long, easy, delightful broad ridge leads over three tops to Stob Poite Coire Ardair, Munro number two. This leads to The Window, a fair-sized dip in the ridge where you go down and back up onto the big wild plateau of Creag Meagaidh itself. Munro number three. A big impressive cairn, Mad Meg’s Cairn, is soon reached which I bet has been mistaken for the summit in poor visibility once or twice. It isn’t. The summit, Munro number three is a few minutes further up a gentle slope. Then back to the window and down. Down from the window involves some rather disagreeable steep scree but it doesn’t last that long and the path eases off as it approaches the Lochan. From there a trudge of about three miles leads back to the car park.
This big plateau must have been a wild place back in the day. Today it is a massive power station, bristling with huge wind turbines. There is space at the entrance to the wind farm track for a couple of cars to park without being in anyone’s way and nobody seems to mind.
There is a car park well signposted from Bridge of Earn off to the east below Wallacetown Wood. From here I had a lovely wander through these delightful woodlands awash with summer foxgloves. I followed the ‘red’ waymarked route which contours the southern slopes all the way almost to meet the motorway at the other end of the hill where there is a bit of a descent and reascent onto the northern side of the main ridge with lovely views up the Tay past Perth. I left the red waymarks where a sign pointed towards the two hill forts hereabouts, the first marked with a trig point, the second, considerably higher, Moredun Top, with a substantial cairn. It was lovely up here on a very hot day - when news reports have been reporting record-toppling heat all over Europe - even though a very unfriendly off the leash German Shepherd dog nearly ate me. ‘He doesn’t like men’, his (female) human companions explained. A great place for a woodland stroll and collecting an easy Marilyn.