Sunday, 22 June 2014

Welsh Mountain running

Another week in the summer holidays and another trip to Wales was planned. This time our base was Nant Peris for two nights. Tim was doing some Welsh 3000s guiding work and he headed off from Pen-y-pass to have a recce of Crib Goch and the route down to Nant Peris.

Heading up to Foel Goch with Elidir Fawr still cloud free
Meanwhile, I headed up the north side of the valley to Foel Goch (831m). The climb from the campsite is brutal - starting at about 120m that makes for 700m+ of ascent in a little over 3km. There are sections where the angle is touching 50degrees, and it is mostly above 25degrees of steep, tufty-grassy-ness. I also did a spectacular job of completely missing a trod lower down and found myself battling amongst some seriously big soft rush grass. But, I made it up to the ridge just north-west of Y Garn (where I'd been last week with Tim) and the views  down into the Ogwen Valley and across to Snowdon were spectacular.

View down to Ogwen valley with Y Garn to the right
The summit of Foel Goch is an impressive lump with a seriously steep drop off a corner - thankfully a fence prevents you from getting too close, but the 'vista' is a little airy for me!

Descending rocky section off Foel Goch with  Mynedd Perfedd in view
and looking back to the summit of Foel Goch
Next was a downhill rocky section to a lovely path, across the saddle and up to Mynydd Perfedd (812m), then onwards to Carnedd Filiast (821m). It was delightful to be able to run across the tops, hopping from rock to rock and picking up a decent trod.

Summit of Mynedd Perfedd with Carnedd Filiast in the distance
The summit of Carnedd Filiast is a jumble of rocks that made progress slow and the descent even slower. I'm not sure if I missed a path, but looking at satellite images I can't pick out any decent way down.

Descending Carnedd Filiast in the jumble of rocks, 721m north summit just visible through the cloud
Descending to the Marchlyn Mawr reservoir - Elidir Fach should in the cloud somewhere!

The lower north summit of Cardedd Filiast (721m) was reached easily enough once I left the rocks behind and from there I dropped down to the Marchlyn Mawr reservoir. A pair of stonechats kept me company for a while with their unmistakable song as I made my way along the tarmac track under the reservoir, and there was a buzzard soaring overhead. These were my only company for most of the run, not another soul in sight otherwise.

All along the route so far I could keep an eye on my final two peaks....Elidir Fach (795m) and Elidir Fawr (923m). Trouble was, the cloud base kept rolling in and out and as I headed northwards both summits completely disappeared into cloud. I reckoned cloud base was around 750m as I left the reservoir behind. I've never run in this area, so, out came the compass and a bearing was taken to the summit of Elidir Fach. I found a decent line to climb up and reached the summit with no issue - well apart from the 20m visibility! I'm sure the view up there must be spectacular.

Summit of Elidir Fach

From Elidir Fach I continued round and up to Elidir Fawr. Tim was making his way up from Nant Peris and we met at the summit shelter in the clag. No view to be had here either so we made a direct descent south west on a good path back to the campsite 800m below.

Summit ridge of Elidir Fawr

I was really chuffed to make it all the way round this route. It was my first big mountain exploration on my own (though company from Elidir Fawr where I met Tim) and although I didn't run a lot of the route due to the steepness or rough ground, I feel that I had a good adventure. Total distance was just short of 15km in about 3.5hrs (strava says 2.5hrs moving time) but with 1251m of ascent the slow pace is understandable.

Final part of the descent to the east of the slate mines

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