There’s only one way to enjoy a walk on a Bank Holiday. Well, ok, there’s 2 if you count don’t bother, but getting up just after dawn and being on the hill for 7am is the one I’d choose. Even the car park at Ogwen was empty!
So this weekend, why not try and miss the crowds by getting out of bed before them, if not you’ll just have to put up with the crowds on the tops and the queues to get past almost any obstacle! You may even get back to Ogwen when there are still some sausage rolls left.
The NE ridge of Y Garn is with little doubt the best way to walk up this mountain. You’ve even got choices of how to get there. On walking up the path to Cwm Idwal, you can take the immediate turn right up the cleft in the rock known as Tin Pan Alley and then across a wet path directly to the start of the climb. Alternatively, you can walk to Llyn Idwal and take your time.
Getting up the ridge offers two choices. The obvious one is directly up the ridge along the path that’s visible from the road. The less obvious one is to walk to Llyn Idwal and then follow the faint path to the left of the river that falls from Llyn Clyd far above. This is steep, but reasonably clear to follow, and brings you out beside Llyn Clyd and an ideal breakfast stop. Following the lip of the corrie, you can then rejoin the more obvious path up.
This morning, it was the obvious path that we took. It’s steep, but also pretty badly eroded in places. There are large maxi bags of stone as it looks like the path is going to undergo a desperately needed repair. This is why i usually avoid Ogwen as its just far too popular, but if those extra boots went elsewhere then the problem is likely to be moved rather than cured.
Once the first steep section is out of the way, you’ll be level with Llyn Clyd and the NE ridge curves off to the right. It’s not a technical ridge, and is definitely a walk not a scramble, but a steep one. Before long you’re on the main spine of the range and the summit shelter of Yr Garn is literally a couple of minutes away.
Descending to Llyn y Cwn from here follows another badly eroded path. This one was a ‘motorway’ when I first did it almost twenty years ago. It then leads to one of the worst paths in the area, the Scree Chute up Glyder Fawr. Wisely, we took a variant following a small stream to the left which is much better but still a fair way from being a good path.
It was all worth it to find Glyder Fawr free of other walkers. Again, we were the first up here today. The visibility was very good, but a little haze meant that the shots toward Snowdon weren’t as good as I’d have liked. Crossing the sea of cairns, we soon arrived at Glyder Fach where it seems that a little boulder scrambling is inevitable to reach the plateau. It was just below Castell y Gwynt that we saw our first fellow walker, and i think he was quite surprised to see us.
Following the path to Glyder Fach, the cantilever was empty for once so a few photos were taken here and an early lunch taken. We still had Tryfan to do, and were unsure how to get there. There’s a scree path that drops alarmingly to the side of Bristly Ridge, but the longer Miner’s Track to Bwlch Tryfan was the best route. It meant we could double check where this starts from the top, and it is just a few boulders down a bit to the left of the Cantilever. It does look like there’s no path and after the boulders the slope appears to vanish from above. But clambering over these reveals the path below, and it’s easy to follow once you find it.
The path leads either to Pen y Gwryd if you take the right fork, or carrying onwards you can take a fork left and down to Bwlch Tryfan. Make sure you turn left at the correct point as there are a number of spots before the best path that look ok at first glance but are seriously steep once you take a few steps along them. You should be almost to the lakes of Llyn Caseg Fraith before dropping down.
Typically for the Glyderau, not even this path is easy. It’s got a few scrambly down climbing sections that are technically easy, but were still a bit slippery this morning. The only difficulty comes in poor visibility of knowing where to branch off to take the more direct route up Bwlch Tryfan. Miss it and you’ll just end up walking a little further before another path takes you there instead.
There’s little to be said for the route up the South Ridge of Tryfan. It’s bouldery with deceptive little paths, and you’ll really have to work it out for yourself. Following the wall up will lead you to steep crags that are likely easily scrambled up, but not knowing whats above (They looked less easily downclimbed!) you can skirt the crags left and downhill before clambering uphill over the boulders in the summit’s general direction. Only at the top will you feel the exposure, where there is a fair drop to the side of one boulder (only noticeable on descent).
You’ll know you’re there as there’s the twin boulders of Adam and Eve, but you’ll need to queue to get near them. Once you’ve leapt from one to the other, you can try and find the same way down as you came up. Fortunately, this facet of Tryfan is more forgiving and with care you can pick your own rough way over boulders towards a path, but keep roughly to the crest as opposed to veering your descent right and you’ll be more likely to hit the path.
From Bwlch Tryfan, follow the path down to Bochlwyd and cross the river. A faint path goes right and joins the main path a little further down. This is a man-made path and takes you with little further thought (apart from trying to avoid tripping over tourists) to Ogwen Cottage and those sausage rolls at the snack cabin, the thought of which have kept you going all morning!Ogwen