The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday 16 February 2008

Beddgelert - Day 1

Just as we were enjoying the frozen delights of the Langdale Valley the week before Christmas, v-g of were out in the Beddgelert area. Reading their excellent trip report, it got me thinking about a trip to that area.

It must be four years since I walked along the river at Beddgelert, and more years since we ventured up onto the hills behind it.

So, I looked at a map and came up with a route, with the intention (shamelessly stolen from the v-g trip report) of camping up by Llyn yr Arddu.

Our customary level of faffing before leaving home, plus the journey time, saw us setting off from the free car park in Beddgelert (contrasted with the one on the other side of the river at which a £3/day fee applies; I know not why the difference as both seem to be council car parks) at just a few minutes after 1pm.

Under stunningly gin-clear skies, off we set along the river, where I met with a bit of a surprise.

I know that there has been talk for many years of re-opening the railway that used to run along this route (the old track-bed of which formed part of the highly accessible footpath along the river). What I didn’t expect as we got to the second bridge over the river was to find a railway line running across the footpath.

My first thought on seeing the narrow-gauge tracks was that the tunnel, which has been closed for at least eight years for safety reasons, must have been repaired. Then I realised that with a railway now running through it, the footpath would not go that way in any case.

My second thought was correct, and the path still takes the route of the old ‘fisherman’s path’ along the very edge of the river of this part of the route were proved.

This ‘path’ used to be a perilous route around a rocky outcrop, using only natural footholds. For passage along it, the iron handles that are tied into the rock were a handy aid.

About four years ago a path was built around the outcrop, giving a good and easy path in place of the previous clamber. The old iron handles now look superfluous, but I guess that it was easier to leave them in place than to remove them.

After leaving the river, we made along lanes and across farmland, still revelling in the unseasonably warm weather. I couldn’t believe when I looked at the little thermometer hanging off the back of my pack (which admittedly in direct sunlight) to find that it read 30 degrees! In mid-February, I ask you! No wonder I was hot, even though I was wearing a thin baselayer and had my trousers hitched up into highly unsexy make-shift shorts.

The crossing of a lane marked the end of the low lying farm-land, and the start of the ascent up Yr Arddu, which is initially through woodland at the top of which we paused to collect fuel for the Bushbuddy.

A deviation was taken from the line of the right of way marked on the map (the RoW seemingly not being passable), and upon reaching a stream we opted not to try to rejoin the right of way, but instead to follow the stream up – or at least that’s what we did until I made the incredibly bad judgement call (with the benefit of hindsight) and decided that a route to our left looked easier than going straight up over boulders.

An arduous period of heather-bashing, interspersed with quiet cursing, saw us get back to the stream just before Llyn Yr Arddu came into view.

A pitch by the outlet stream looked feasible, which would give us the evening sun – but it wouldn’t give us the best of the views (and my goodness the views were good up here), nor would it give us morning sun (in the unlikely event that we were still there when the sun made it high enough to come over the hills).

The first views of Snowdon, from below Llyn yr Arddu
Snowdon comes into view, as we climb up to Llyn yr Arddu

So, we made our way to the far side of the llyn, where we found an excellent flat pitch with fine views, with Snowdon dominating immediately to the north. (Just before I started typing this I thought I would see how our outing compared with v-g’s, as although I completely stole their idea, I didn’t actually look in detail where they’d gone. The answer was that our trip was remarkably similar, and it amused me to see in one of their photos that we had pitched on the exact same spot as had they; obviously the best choice of the terrain!)

Taking advantage of the last sunshine of the day, our bags were ditched by our chosen pitch and we quickly made our way unburdened up to the top of Yr Arddu, from where we drank in the magnificent views, with Snowdon to the north, Cnict to the east and the sea a way away to the south west.

Poorly positioned photo; well pitched tent!
A poorly composed photo, but a well pitched tent!

With the tent pitched, the evening was spent feeding the Bushbuddy as we made tea, then our evening meals, followed by more tea, whilst watching darkness fall with a good play of light on the surrounding tops.

Sunset reflecting on Llyn yr Arddu
Husband played with various settings on the camera, so we have lots of versions of this photo. This one came out the best (perhaps unsurprisingly, using the 'sunset' setting)

By the time we got as far as putting the food on to heat the stars were a-twinkling. By the time we got to our post-meal cup of tea, we had a fine night sky in which the view of the stars was only marred by the amount of light being provided by the moon.

Finally, with the temperature having plummeted and with feet going numb we retired to the tent, looking forward to yet more fine sunshine and outstanding views the following morning.


  1. How are you getting on with that (stunningly well pitched) Stephenson's tent?

  2. Splendid Piccies: That Geoff (wonderful chap) is getting ripped off royally! :-)

    Phil & I pinched one of his wildcamp spots last October in the Lakes.

    I have to say (as well): Wendy looks beautiful!

  3. Hi Phil, Hi Alan!

    I will make a separate post about the latest performance of Wendy (summary: wet, but nowhere near as wet as the last two trips).

    Could be a few days away yet though: not only have I got Day 2 of this trip to write about yet, but with training to be done and other hills calling out for our immediate attention, I'm going to be away from the computer for a few days :-)

  4. Now is that one of the jewels of Wales or what?.

    People sometimes contemplate all the walks they have done and wonder where their favourite place is, the place where they would like their ashes scattered. I think this would be mine. I cherish it far more than the loftiest rocky mountain circuit I've walked.