I had a fantastic day today… must have been the company. It was all the more remarkable in that I had boarded a coach bound for Minfford and intending to traverse the full Cadair Idris ridge, yet I ended up traversing the entire Aran range, well pretty much most of it anyway.
Boarding the coach at West Bromwich, I was trying to sell a traverse of Cadair Idris from Cross Foxes to Fairborne. There was only Chris interested in this, so I pretty much binned the idea, and resigned us to the procession up the Minfordd Path. John Hipwood, being the legend that he is, suggested that we should do the Arans. I was bemused somewhat by this suggestion, but seeing as though the club had failed to put the Aran ridge on the meet card, thought that we might as well have a pop at it
The only thing that put me off this route was that I had completed a circuit a little earlier in the year around Foel Rhudd and Esgeiriau Gwynion. I knew that Paul and I had taken up pretty much most of the day on that route, which was less ambitious than what we completed today, and thought that I might not gain any new ascents as we could run out of time.
The four of us left the coach at Dinas Mawddwyat about 09:45 and promptly started biting into the 6 mile road walk up the Dovey Valley towards Bwlch y Groes. We had intended to head up to the Bwlch and over Llechwedd Du by the route that Paul and I had taken previously. Arriving at the foot of Llechwedd Du we decided to take the right of way on its flank, and to the ascend to the summit direct. This was far quicker than my previous visit, although the ascent from this side is quite fiercely steep – I wouldn’t have wanted to be doing this at the end of the day. After a long pull up its flank, I soon saw the small white quartz cairn which I ran over to. We had taken the opportunity to have a bite to eat prior to the sharp ascent, sat over a hollow where a descending stream ran underground.
After a momentary pause on top the four of us headed off to Esgeiriau Gwynion. I thought that the group were going to do Foel Rhudd also, which we did not. I was not concerned by this, as I had ascended it on my previous visit, and it was also blighted by a tractor on this occasion.
Arriving at the top of Esgeiriau Gwynion I recognised the area where the cairn was located, and headed straight to it. By this point the weather had started to close in. The Aran ridge, which had been clear earlier, was now encompassed in an ever descending cloud, and rain was starting to fall upon us.
We descended to Bwlch Sirddyn a little to the left of the fence which I had previously followed. The ground underfoot here was much more boggy and difficult to cross, although the route up onto Foel Hafod-fynydd is less severe. John and I were the first to attain the ridge, with Chris just behind us, we met up later with Mike who had ascended along the aforementioned fence.
Before long we arrived at the first bump on the ridge, but John was none too impressed when I informed him that there were 6 false summits to come! We had lunch between the first bump and the summit, there is only one false summit in reality. The rain became more intense now, and I felt cold for the first time today. I had the waterproof overtrousers on at this point, and the gloves went on, and I remained wearing both until near the end of the day.
Ascending to the summit of Foel Hafod Fynydd we then descended direct to the foot of Erw y Ddafad-ddu which provides a nice staircase up onto the Aran Ridge.
On my previous visit I had allowed myself to be fooled into not ascending onto the Aran Ridge, and had sunbathed under the crags. The ascent onto the ridge is approximately 300m, it is fairly steep, but I don’t think it puts you as out of the way as the Nuttalls book suggests in the Foel Rhudd walk. Game on!!!!!!
Not really feeling fantastic on attaining the ridge, I had intended to walk down to Dinas Mawddwy as quickly as possible over Aran Fawddwy. My plan was soon thwarted when Chris announced that he was going to double the section to Aran Benllyn. The reasonance behind this is twofold. Firstly, I didn’t really want Chris bimbling off with no support. Secondly, and rather more importantly, I didnt want to defer the ascendancy and allow anyone to bag another top over me!!!!
We had a good chat as we walked up to Aran Benllyn, and the stretches that I had felt in the left calf on the way up Erw y Ddafad-ddu were walked off on the ridge. We were well and truly clagged in at this point, but I think the route finding was fairly ok even in the cloud. Attaining Aran Benllyn we reversed back to Erw y Ddafad-ddu, and on up to Aran Fawddwy where Mike and John awaited us
Homing in on the pub we headed down to Dinas Mawddwy, Mike guiding us very eloquently off the summit. I think that it would have taken a little longer had navigation been necessary. We headed over Drysgl to Pen yr Ally Uchaf, our last top of the day, before descending very steeply of its southern flank and into Cwm Cywarch.
The descent took longer than we had banked on. Chris and John had a quick pint in the pub whilst Mike and I waited outside, neither of us feeling like downing a pint. We arrived at the layby at 18:10, with five minutes to spare…how’s that for getting the most out of a day?
Accompanied by:John Hipwood, Mike Nicholls, Chris Dean
Estimated ‘Dead’ Time:45min
0905m Aran Fawddwy
0885m Aran Benllyn
0872m Erw y Ddafad-ddu
0765m Drws Bach
0689m Foel Hafod-fynydd
0671m Esgeiriau Gwynion
0620m Pen yr Allt Uchaf
0614m Llechwedd Du
0605m Waun Goch