Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit

Frank Borman

I’ve only been here a few days but every time I walk to the back of the Hostel I keep seeing this footpath that goes up the west side of our hostel and towards the North and imagine just running off suddenly up it and vanishing. After a few chats with a colleague about where we used to get our water from which turns out to be Llyn Cwmffynnon which exists some way up this trail I’ve seen, I decide to hike up there, at first to the lake because I’m looking for a place to practice my wild swimming. When I’ve got a spare few hours I head a short distance up the trail to find the lake.I’ve taken the map with me and using it I can see the summit I’m looking at is the back of Glyder Fawr, having only really approached it from the Ogwen Valley side I’m instantly thinking about heading up this way on day off. The path however is just marked as a right of way, and it ends part way up and then starts agin just below the summit on the map.

A much overlooked footpath through YHA Pen Y Pass Beer Garden

One day I finish work at 4 and being as the weathers really nice I grab all my stuff and get out of the house about 4:30. I’m digging the fact I’m starting in what is essentially the hostels beer garden and two minutes later straight onto the foot of the mountains like stepping though some magic portal. Theres a few steep bits and it’s a bit wet underfoot but before long I’m looking down on the dark waters of Llyn Cwmffynnon just imagining how bone chillingly cold it’s going to be and wondering how deep it’s going to be when I finally take a dip in it. There’s a lot of legends of various spirits inhabiting a few lakes in Wales that drown people but I think it’s more likely that they jumped into the things not realising how cold it was going to be and went into shock. Either that or I’m totally wrong and I’m going to get decked by the Lady of The Lake at some point. As I start heading down the ‘trail’ to the foot of Glyder Fawr I instantly regret paying out more photographs than attention.The grassy looking slopes here are actually slightly marshy and as I’m taking what I think’s a pretty good photo while walking my feet slip out from under me like someone just whipped a table cloth from under my feet. I land on my ass with a big ‘oof’ and I’m kinda glad most people don’t walk this way much because I look like a total tit. Luckily I escape without much more than a bruised butt which is also drenched in dirty water and green Algae. I guess I’ll be adding that to my mountain leader log as a hazard then!

Looking down at Llyn Cwmffynnon (left) and Pen Y Pass (right)

Getting myself back together and now paying more attention I start heading Northwest towards Glyder Fawr via the rocky outcrops I’m seeing on the maps, thinking i’d rather do a bit of scrambling than trudging through boggy ground again. I’ve only recently learned that the mountains name is pronounced ‘Gleyder Vower’ and not ‘ Glider Fower’, then again I’m only now getting to grips with how to say certain places so the welsh people I meet know what I’m referring to.Soon enough I reach the crags and can see because not many people come this way the rock is still really rough and very grippy. Soon I’m scrambling up the rocks, with the sun beating down and a huge smile on my face because I can see the hostel off far in the distance now looking tiny. Because I’m a child I stop for a moment to pretend to squish it between my fingers with the perspective. Squidge!

Good POV there

Apparently Glyder means ‘heap of stones’ or ‘mound’ and ‘Fawr’ means ‘big’ or ‘great’ in Welsh which makes sense as the top of Glyder Fawr is pretty much a big (999 metres tall or 3,278 feet)heap of stones, but that description really doesn’t do the aggressively freeze thaw weathered almost dinosaur spine looking tors on the Glyderau justice.

The Jagged Rocks on Glyder Fawr

I get to the top of Glyder Fawr just as the sun starts setting, with the dinosaur like rock spikes on the top of the mountain backlit by the setting sun. I can see the more famous spikes in the distance but as the suns setting now decide against heading right over to them. After all I’ve seen them plenty of times before. I decide I’m going to head down the North West way towards Llyn y Cwn, which turns out not to be the best course of action because this side would probably be better coming up then down being as my knees are shot. It’s steep loose scree which I’m having to slowly make my way down like an old man, and just as I’m inching my way down a fell runner zips down past me like he’s got springs for legs putting me to total shame. From here it’s down towards Nant Peris via the Afon Las just as it’s starting to get dark. When it finally does get dark I’m slowly making my walk down more than a bit crippled until I’m having to use my head torch. I almost make the bad choice of climbing down a mini cliff edge. It’s only as I’m about to carefully make my way down this, sat on the edge of this cliff on my butt when I realise how badly this could go wrong, and that the actual trail is about 15 metres below me. Which isn’t really where I want it to be. I decide to back up and re find the trail instead or risking becoming a stain on the mountainside. I’m thinking pretty overoptimistically that I can make it to the pub have a pint and then get a taxi back but by the time I finally really the Pen Y Pass road the pubs closed, further away than I thought and no taxis are answering. So I decide to head up the road walking, which is ironically when I actually manage to injure myself , tripping and cutting my hand open on a wall, blood everywhere. Then the fog comes down and luckily a friendly welsh taxi driver stops, tell me if i keep walking up the road with the worse fog that’s coming down I’m probably going to be hit by a car. And i guess he has a point, so I jump in and before long I’m back at Pen Y Pass wiping blood off myself.