Monday, March 17, 2014

Shadowlands





Alas poor Eweric...I knew her well
After the wettest UK winter on record, nine rainless days of blue skies and sunshine continued in north east Wales. Time to take a break from an intensive period of work restoring an old cottage and get out into the hills. I chose somewhere nearby; somewhere I’d only discovered in the past few years despite its close proximity. That is the great wild cwm of Gylchedd with the option of bagging Carnedd Filiast and enjoying some of the finest mountain views in Wales.



The wild and wonderful Cwm Gylchedd 
I left the quiet Blaen y Cwm valley in glorious sunshine and broke off the old drovers track to head into the cwm as a band of mist separated the blue sky above from the dun moorland landscape below. On a sunny Sunday, a walk like this is the antithesis of the crocodile crawl up Snowdon or Tryfan in the company of thousands. You are as likely to meet a yeti as another human being within this wild trackless land.



Skirting the edge of the cwm I gradually gained height and aimed for the ridge which contains the cwm at its head. As I reached what I believed was the main connecting ridge I was by now held by a cold clag. Visibility was measured in metres and the usual outstanding views from up here could only be guessed at. At least Carnedd Filiast summit was but a stone’s throw away. However, after wandering in the general direction and without a map, I decided it was time to dig out my iPhone. I might not be able to see my hand in front of my face but I’ve got ‘Apps’ ! Yes,an OS GPS gizmo, an altimeter gizmo and a compass gizmo...what could go wrong?



Bringing up the OS map I could see the summit was not far away but up here it was impossible to discern any features. The high ground of Gychedd is a strange and almost unique plateau of extensive peat hags, small tarns  and of course heather. On a clear day it’s a great place with fantastic views all around, however today, the peat hags and tarns carried a spectral air. Ghostly impressions which hove into view before disappearing.



Despite the cwm head being so close from the summit, I somehow managed to wander around for an hour or so, continually missing the summit and at one point wandering in the opposite direction. I’m never that concerned about getting lost in the mountains. After all, it’s north Wales not Alaska we’re talking about,however, it is a bit disconcerting, wandering about in a strange twilight world of shadows and blurred topographical features.



Eventually, the strong westerlies whipped the mist into submission and revealed a blue sky. When I reached the summit, the vistas were beginning to emerge from the mist. Cwm Hesgin briefly appeared before the mist obliterated it from view, then, to the north, the main Snowdonia mountains were revealed. I had brought an old SLR film camera with me to test it out and balanced it on the trig point. Cold fingers struggled with the lenses and various dials as north south east and west, the views were revealed before the mountain mist blew across and smudged them out.



Eventually the sun won its battle and the mist dispersed which meant I could make a beeline for Cwm Gilchedd which I reached in less than 10 minutes. I realised just how far out I had been when I first reached the ridge and headed in what I thought was the right direction. So much for my uncanny sense of direction and map apps!


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