Last Sunday I was up early and set off for a quiet journey through the M6 roadworks and along the M56 and A55 to Conwy. Then up the narrow Sychnant Pass where I parked up at the foot of Allt Wen. I wasn’t going up that modest, but steep and rugged hill, though – I’d planned a route to take me up Tal y Fan, which, at a tad over 2,000 feet, is the most northerly mountain in Eyri – the Snowdonia National Park – and, indeed, Wales, seperated from the main Carneddau plateau by the Bwlch-y-Ddeufaen.
After booting up, I crossed the road and went through the gate, joining the Cambrian Way, the long distance path that traverses the ridge of Tal y Fan.
The path weedled around and up and down for a while, passing the remains of prehistoric culture from a time when what today is a quiet corner was occupied first by Neolithic farmers, who cleared the forests from the slopes and valleys, and then by Bronze Age people who errected stone circles and megaliths.
Just after the sheepfolds I passed a couple of walkers taking a break on a convenient rock. I stopped for a few moments while we swapped greetings before I carried on. We were to met again later in the day.
It was a fine Autumn day but as I’d climbed the wind had picked up. Reaching the top of the ridge there was a little scrambling up and down. There’s false summit, and I had to descend a few metres then scramble back up before reaching the highest point of the mountain.
The trig point was on the opposite side of a drystone wall that runs along the ridge. I climbed over the stile to take in the views over the Conwy valley
and across to the high mountains of the Cardennau including Foel Fras and Drum that I’d climbed during my break at the end of June
It was particularly windy on this side of the wall – the wind was blowing from the south – so I climbed back over and perched on a rock for a brew and a bite to eat. A couple of walkers arrived and we chatted for a while and another pair arrived, coming up from the opposite direction I’d taken, as I started my descent, following the wall in the direction from which they’d arrived. Again, as on my way up, there was a bit of scrambling up and down before the final steep descent down off the summit into the bwlch.
As I reached the bwlch I saw the couple I’d met near the sheepfolds coming up having first climbed a stile over the drystone wall that had run up, along and down the ridge. I asked them about their route and they told me they’d circumnavigated the south side of the mountain and were going to go over the top and then return via the route I’d taken up. I had planned to return to the Sychnant Pass over the plateau to the north of the mountain but thought the alternative sounded more interesting – and that’s the way it worked out!
I climbed over the stile and took the path through the fields heading downhill towards the old Roman Road. There were good views down into the valley and across to the mountains as I descended
Reaching the Roman Road I walked along a short stretch of tarmac and onto a rough track before taking a path back across the fields near the farm at Cae Coch
I followed the path which ran parallel to the Tal y Fan ridge
I was head towards Caer Bach (‘Small Fort’), the site of a Prehistoric hill fort where I’d turn north. As I approached I spotted a herd of ponies
I made a short diversion, climbing to the top of the mound where there were visible remains of the fortifications
I carried on along the path passing to the east of Tal y Fan, taking in the views of the Carneddau to the west
Leaving the ponies behind as I climbed a modest slope the sea cam back into view
I passed some former mine workings as I approached the standing stone I’d passed earlier in the day
Rather than take the same path I’d followed during the morning I climbed up Cefn Maen Amor, a modest hill, and joined a narrow path along the ridge. A little further along I passed through another herd of ponies
They didn’t pay much attention to me and just carried on munching
I reached the summit of the modest hill which was crowned by a rock formation
and where there were good views back down to the coast and the Great Orme
and the Conwy Valley
I joined the route of the north wales Coast path which would take me back to the Sychnant Pass
It had been a good walk of about 12 miles on what had been a fine Autumn day when I’d seen more ponies than people! Time to drive back down the pass to Penmaenmawr and then on to home.