Thursday 17 August
Having kicked myself for not extending Wednesday’s walk to go over Pen Llithrig y Wrach, it was the first summit on my agenda for Thursday. A considerable amount of time had been spent poring over the map, internally debating the merits of various route options, and what I decided (absolutely definitely, and on good sound bases) to do was not this:
For one thing, I’d decided to take a longer-but-easier approach to the hill by walking up the reservoir access track, just to the west of where my GPS track starts, then along the leat (the man-made water channel which contours this hill). Mick duly pulled into my chosen start point and I had my bag on my back and sticks in my hand, when it suddenly struck me (despite all thought put into the subject the evening prior) to use the path a couple or three hundred metres to the east. Asking Mick to drop me there instead, he then found himself with a car on his tail and had to go on past before he could stop safely. I may just as well have walked down the road from the original start point, or even have stuck with my original plan.
It soon came back to me why I’d decided to take the longer route. Instead of moseying up a tarmac track for a while, up to a nice level path alongside the leat, I found myself playing ‘hunt the path’ through bracken and gorse, and wading through bog. I probably saved myself about 500m of distance, at the cost of very wet feet and with no time benefit.
My next deviation from plan came below the pass Bwlch y Tri Marchog, when I decided that heading up to the pass would be a much nicer route, even though I could clearly see that between me and it lay a huge area of bog and tussock. As it goes, this was a good decision, and undoubtedly more pleasing that my intended out-and-back up the south spur of the hill. My feet were wet anyway, so there was no point in dancing around the bog; I just waded on through.
It was 0840 when I reached the top, and in spite of having had breakfast before I set out, I was starving and wondering whether it was a reasonable hour to eat my packed lunch. I settled on having just one of my sandwiches, before heading down to the the path which runs along Llyn Colwyn Reservoir (along whose length we walked on our Length of Wales walk in 2012).
Just beyond the end of the reservoir was a good viewpoint for both of the day’s hills. The long-named one is on the left; Creigiau Gleision is on the right.
The Cicerone ‘Hillwalking in Wales’ book said that the only problem with my chosen route up Creigiau Gleision was one of boredom. I don’t think there was a single walk that I did last week where I agreed with that author’s perception of a route. I was not bored for a moment on this ascent – I was far too busy wading through bog, high-stepping on every pace, trying to pick out the best line and wondering if there was a trodden line hidden in the heather/bilberry/tussocks somewhere (possibly even a few feet away; the problem with this sort of terrain is that you can generally only see a trod if you’re on top of it). I was also thinking that shorts are not the best legwear for walking through woody knee-deep heather.
After no small amount of energy expenditure, I picked up the ridge path and from there it was easy. I even managed to make myself look composed for the summit selfie:
My first hill of the day had been that one in the centre of the snap.
My second sandwich met my stomach on top of this hill, whilst I considered the map some more and contemplated the option of calling Mick and asking him to meet me in Trefriw, on the east side of the hill, so that I wouldn’t have to wade through the heather again. But heather, bog and tussocks are always much easier in descent, so the original plan held and down I went. I even found the trodden line for the first and last bit of the descent. (As I’d started my ascent from the bridge at the end of the reservoir, I found myself with a choice of two trods, and (per my usual policy) chose the one which was best trodden (the left fork), but which soon ceased to be useful to me. I now know that if I’d followed my first instinct and retraced to the right fork, I would have had a happier ascent.)
It was a joy to get onto the bridleway which lies between the bridge and the A5, which (contrary to what the Cicerone book told me) wasn’t a bogfest at all. In fact, I got back to the road without any more water entering my shoes. It could have been what saved me from getting webbed feet after what had been the boggiest walk of the week.
With 8.1 miles walked, and around 2500’ of ascent, I entered the car park in Capel Curig and found Mick exactly where I expected him to be, poised ready to put the kettle on for me.