Welsh Weekend

I've been missing Snowdonia. It's usual for me to go playing there, however, my efforts were concentrated on the lakes for a while and the welsh mountain's nose's were pushed out a little. However.... It's great to have them back... whoop :)

So, the weekend has been amazing. A friend Ant Bethell and I headed over to Wales on Friday with the intention of some massive days running mountains. Ant and another friend George Bate have entered the Tor Des Geants race on the 9th September and Ant was hoping to get his last mammoth training session in before his mammoth taper. And I, well, I just wanted to run in the mountains I've been missing so so much.

My plan was for an early (ish) start on Saturday, however those of you who know Ant know he doesn't fair well when the sun raises, so I took off alone knowing that Ant would catch up when he was in the land of the living.

We'd decided to go with the flow and see where the day took us however to start  at Ogwen Cottage and heading for the Carneddau, taking in the first 5 peaks: Pen Yr Ole Wen, Carnedd Dafydd, Carnedd Llewelyn, Pen Yr Helgi Du, Pen Llithrig y Wrach and down in to Plas Y Brenin.

 Armed with map and compass, I headed like a little soldier towards Pen Yr Ole Wen. This is Llyn Ogwen on the right and the twenty min road run I took to the start of the ascent up Pen yr Ole Wen. I was excited about finding a fast route up and hopeful to have ascended within an hour. Pah hahaha haha.

I'd consulted with Ant t(who is very knowledgeable about the north Wales mountain ranges), the day before and he'd given me a few pointers to look out for like... 'when you come to the end of the shingly bit, bear right', 'it's about 3/4 of the way up the mountain'!

 Happily ascending, feeling good, and running the very few runnable sections. Pen Yr Ole Wen is 1.8km up, 2300 ft (700 m). It's physically challenging and testing and certainly running turns into climbing in parts. So far so good. I reach the 'shingly bit' and believed that I'm actually getting the hang of this navigation lark. I come to the end of the 'shingly bit' and look for a faint path/trod to the right... I take what I think ought to be it. I can see shear rock with a few foot and hand holds. In spite of telling myself  'I can't remember this bit before', I continue on in my stubbornness as I'd had instruction and I had a map...  I end up crag fast!!! First nav cock up! I managed to get out of it after twenty minutes and head back down to find the 'shingly bit again'. Chuntering, swearing lots and of course blaming Ant. haha... You see, I tend to be literal and pedantic and 'the end' of something means the 'end of something' in my world, am I an idiot? it's difficult to tell!  I found the path/trod which was somewhere near the top of the shingly bit ..sigh..and managed to get back on track. Poor Ant had to listen to my rant when I met him near the summit, although as quickly as I blurted it out, he received an apology as I understand it's my own inadequacy in navigation that was the problem and not the fault of a friend trying to be helpful. He's great. Anyhow, Ant had decided to ascent  Pen Yer Ole Wen from the East ridge and had legged it up the more gentle route.

 The summit is just in the background there, peeping up in the clouds.

 Views from Pen Yr Ole Wen

What I like about the Carneddau is 'once you're up you're up'. There are plenty of runnable sections from one summit to the next around the ridge. I adore the descent off Pen Llithrig y Wrach, when it flattens out on the approach to Capel Curig you meet a massive spring board of grassy, boggy terrain and it's fast and bouncy. I love it.

The weather was a hit and miss all day really, claggy at times, showery, and then the clouds would part and left breath taking views and sunny moments.

After a swift coffee in the Pinnalce cafe it was off to the next climb, Moel Siabod (2300 ft /700m), the start of the Moelwyns. Now...most runners I know carry some kind of niggle or injury at various points, it's the consequence that I think we come to accept for the wonderful times that running gives us. Unfortunately I've picked up a hamstring pull and after a high milage week last week and some big climbs the hamstring started to shout  and scream at me. I was struggling and my pace had really slowed and I was in danger of having to hop the rest of the route or take a piggy back. Nonetheless Ant saved the day as he had 'pain relief with him and said 'here you are, they are strong but they'll do the job'. Three hours later I came back down to earth, jeez, they put me on another planet haha, I don't think I've ever smiled so much... haha.

The rest of the day took me to Clogwyn Bwlch Y Maen and Caredd Y Cribau before taking a path to decent off the range, through trail towards the 'Miners track'. We picked up the path in between Clyder Fach and Tryfan and headed back to Llyn Ogwen where we had camped for the evening.

The total hours running was 10, with 6700 ft of ascent 2040m. Awesome.

 I had a little chat with some friendly fell ponies, wild and free...

 Ant the Fell pony, not ↑ this one, this one ↓
 And some mountain goats

Day two

Sunday was forecast for great weather. It poured with rain all night and was still raining in the morning, oh, and there was wind... and lots of it. Not good when you are a shortie and on top of big mountains... did it stop me... not a chance... haha. It's a good job I'd packed for every eventuality, because after an hour of starting, the weather changed and it stayed warm and sunny most of the day. What more could you ask for!

The first climb was to be Cnicht which stands at a proud 689m. We took the well worn path up and timed it with the Cnicht Fell race so that we'd be waiting at the summit when the front runners were reaching the top. It's a race that I'd contemplated on entering, however having a ten hour day the day before I'd not have ran at my best and would have wanted to do well so took the decision to leave it for now. It was exciting to be a spectator and offer some encouragement. Here are some of the front runners. I'll put the other pictures in the pics section.

Ascending Cnicht

Views from Cnicht
 Cnicht race marshal, friendly and interesting fell runner.
 First Male to the summit
4th is Mike Robinson  whom I met in 'Petes Eats' in Llanberris with his wife Hazel (and second lady) later that evening. He won the Tryfan downhill race race on Friday and Hazel was first lady. Great people superb mountain runners.

 First Lady is Andrea Rowlands Eryri Harriers.
 Finishing second lady is Hazel Robinson Dark Peak

And so I followed the racers on the descent

The remainder of the day we headed to Nantmoor and then took in 9 more peaks, starting with Bryn Banog and finishing with Y Garn following a natural route with a total of 5100 ft (1500m) of ascent. My hamstring was not happy, however there was no way I was going to have any of Ant's happy pills again, so persevered and settled into the pain. From Pont Cae r Gors we made the decision to stay low and do some more runnable trail and therefore picked up a track that swings around Yr ARan and brought us back around to Geli Lago car park.

Total hours on feet were 9 and total ciders in the pub..x2.

The weather for Monday was forecast grim, and then a bit grimmer, so it was home for fairy. Happy days.

The woodland on the ascent of Bryn Banog
Approaching the summit, on hands and knees
 Pulling myself up on the grass :)
 This is why we do it!

The trail back to the camp site.


  1. Nice blog Tracy, a real good couple of days out. Difficult to separate the pictures of the fell ponies and Ant though ;-) And though I've known him for years I'm wondering if Mike Robinson and Ant long lost cousins? :-) Take care :-)

  2. Yeah I think it's the hair parting that's confusing with the horse and Ant. Ant and Mike, again, it's difficult to say, Mike wins races, Ant comes second, maybe the differences are just too great!!!!


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