Snowdonia with Cossey
A few weeks ago myself and Jim Cossey headed up to Snowdonia for an explore and prep some content ready for Jim’s talk at London Camera Exchange Bath Optics Show.
When we planned the trip last minute the weather was looking perfect and my day started out clear and around where I work in Marlow we had several inversions in the valleys so I was very excited to say the least. If we had inversions in the Chilterns. Snowdonia was sure to have something. Before I could get to Snowdonia however we both had to contend with the usual traffic nightmares. For me travelling along the M40, M6, M54 and A5 most of which had heavy traffic or just closed from several burning HGVs from the morning. So both our journeys were 6+ hours and neither of us arrived until after dark around 11pm at llyn Ogwen but you wouldn’t had thought it was dark with how bright the moon was.
By the time we had both finished faffing with bags and sorted ourselves out it was coming up midnight so clearly we weren’t in a rush. As we began our climb up to Y Garn we decided to stop by Cwm Idwal for some moonlit reflections.
Below our the two routes we took to get up to Y Garn and llyn Caseg-Fraith, both of which link to my ViewRanger so you can follow the route yourselves.
We’ve both visited the area numerous times and yet neither of us have ever had Cwm Idwal so still like this so for the next hour we spent a fair amount of time just playing and running around the lake side trying to find the right composition.
It was great specially with the moon so bright, neither of us had to bother with headlamps but trying to get any chance of capturing the stars as well was slim. Both of us were shooting at f/2.8, ISO 500 and shooting 7-14 second exposures and some of these were still blowing highlights. I for one am looking forward to returning back here in a few weeks as I’ve worked out a few more shots I would like to achieve but require day light. Anyway moving back to the weekend, after running around at Idwal for an hour we decided it was about time we headed up Y Garn to find our pitch and get some sleep.
For those who have never climbed up Y Garn this route, it’s not to difficult but its very steep! The steps really help and remain this way most of the way up until the summit. For our spot we planned to pitch lower and just below the summit at Llyn Clyd Bach just off the main route up Y Garn, approx 280metres below the summit but still offers superb views! Our reasoning for this was being a little lazy as well but also looking at the weather we saw the morning was due to be very windy so we hoped this outcrop would offer some protection. The lazy reason was we had less to walk and climb back down in the morning as we planned to climb Snowdon via Crib Goch.
Now this lack of wind was the case for most of the night until the early hours where the wind changed direction which we knew was going to happen but our sheltered spot or what we thought was going to be sheltered turned in to a wind tunnel. As you can see from the tent below which was essentially on it’s side. A few outcrops of rocks along the front did offer some protection for us to sit between whilst the sun came up over Tryfan.
With all this wind we knew we had no hope of cooking up here so we packed up our kit and headed down to a lower level in order to have breakfast.
As Jim was busy grinding away his coffee several others continued to climb past us and what struck me the most and always surprises me even now is how friendly everyone is and always say “Good morning” or asks how you are. Compare that to where I live near Reading, everyone here to be blunt are grumpy arse holes and if you even look at someone they assume you are up to no good. Forget even saying good morning or holding a conversation.
With the strong winds on the higher levels we were a little anxious as to the conditions and ability to cross Crib Goch but we made our way round to Snowdon at 11am. Yes we had a very slow and lazy morning considering sunrise was at 7:30am. I have climbed Snowdon five times now and to date this is the busiest I have ever seen Snowdon. There was no parking at all and we ended up driving half way down A498 and finally I spotted a place to park.
Yes that’s right I got my car stuck in a ditch, the spot I thought was clear was actually clear for a reason and the grass was so wet it gave way under the weight of the car (of course). Fortunately it wasn’t difficult to get the car out. One push and the car free but if anyone who has been in this situation before the noise you hear inside the car is horrible but on inspection the car was completely fine.
So no parking remotely close to Snowdon we opted to abandon the plans and head over to one of my new favourite spots to explore - Dinorwic.
I forgot to mention to Jim who was driving his little van, that the roads up were interesting and steep at points. Anyway we managed to arrive but even Dinorwic’s little car park was packed but we found some where. Having prepped our kit earlier at llyn Ogwen we needed to faff some more and change our kit over for a more leisurely walk around rather than scrambling.
What we weren’t expecting was the heat! It was forecasted to be low teens but we were down to tshirts and could have happily changed to shorts as well.
It was a brilliant afternoon wondering around the old slate quarry and it was great to see the area with some more life. My last visit here was in Winter during Storm Brian the year before and most of the trees and area was sodden or lacked colour on the trees. Its alarming just how big Dinorwic is and we didn’t even scratch the surface of the quarry before it hit 4pm and our previous night of 3 hours sleep was catching up so we called it a day to head back to make some coffee and decide where we would spend the night as well as getting an update on the weather.
The weather was saying low lying fog so we began to get very excited at a possible inversion and atmospheric conditions so we wanted to go some where new and decided on llyn Caseg-Fraith which follows the Miners track from the main road (A5) up past Tryfan and over the 800m mountain top of Y Foel Goch and Glyder Fach. Up here it offers brilliant views… If the conditions were clear which they weren’t for us. Once again the weather reports weren’t accurate.
As we climbed up the wind was increasing and our thoughts quickly turned from planning a clear evening by the lake to getting inside a warm tent out of the wind. The climb up along the Miners Track was fairly easy but both myself and Jim were struggling. By this point we had clocked in some 24000 steps which is roughly 12 miles and the three hours sleep the night before this gentle walk up the track was tougher than first looked.
The last 500metres of the track is incredibly steep. You are actually climbing up scree and good boots were needed, between this, wind and lack of sleep really started to take its toll on us but we pushed on.
That evening Mat Price joined us for the night having spent the afternoon exploring Glyder Fach and us over the range on Dinorwic.
The climb for all of us was about an hour from the road but as soon as we approached the top we started to struggle to find suitable locations to pitch up. The top here was just bog! What did we all forget… Gaiters.
As we ventured off the top plateau we began to see several other tents spread along the outcrops to the edge. Clearly they had the best idea, the outcrops offer plenty of cover and the ground was dry around here.
By the time the tents were pitched and dinner cooked the light had gone. Not that we had any good light to capture Tryfan in the lakes and with the wind it really put us off.
Many say Autumn/Winter wild camps you will get the best and longest night sleep and up until now we were skeptical as to how considering our average wild camp sleeps ranged from 2-4 hours.
Saturday night stayed true however and by half 8 we had all retired and gone to sleep.
I woke up around 11pm to see if the sky had cleared up and it had but only briefly, the wind was still whipping up around me and with two down jackets on and considering grabbing my sleeping bag just for one shot I quickly gave up and headed back in to the protection and shelter of the tent.
8 hours later and a good nights sleep we woke up to no view out of the tents. The low lying fog wasn’t low it was very high. At 7am when we peaked our heads out of the tents it was just completely white. You couldn’t see the edge where we had pitched up near and as for Tryfan that was a right off too.
Around 10am the fog finally lifted and we had some what of a view but this was only brief so we finally ventured up on to the plateau top where Caseg-Fraith sits and began shooting long exposures in an attempt to hide the wind in the reflections but to no avail. As you will see from the photos below. Having spent some 20 minutes up on the exposed tops we gave up and returned back to our pitch in order to pack up and just as well we did. Moments after packing up the kit the cloud that had settled began to empty it’s contents.
The final climb down was a slow trudge in the rain back to the cars and the walkers who had braved the mountain tops with us that night were just ahead although most of them on their backs as they ran down the scree sloop. Not that we can comment as we all at one point on the climb down did the same. The pathways became bogs or small streams as the water rolled off the tops.
So to cheer ourselves up and recover from the cold we finished our weekend at Moel Siabod cafe with a fry up and several coffees.
Update following my cars MOT 6th December - Car failed MOT as the rear left tyre has been dented and damaged following being stuck in something - Couldn’t think what that might had been.
Jim’s vlog from the weekend
Fitbit stats from the weekend:
Total = 12,200
Total = 58779
Total = 488
Total = 27.9
Friday 3 hours
Saturday 8 and half hours
Climbs & Walks:
Cwm Idwal walk / Y Garn / Dinorwic / llyn Caseg-fraith / Miners Track
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