While some parts of the UK saw falling snow on
many consecutive days, with considerable
accumulations in places, here in Machynlleth we
had no such luck. We are only a few metres above
sea-level, after all.
Didn't stop heavy snow showers turning up from
time to time though, as this pic shows, and the
mountains hereabouts received several snowfalls
which settled one on top of the other and drifted
in the strong winds.
one afternoon I drove up the Llanidloes mountain
road in poor light to see what the higher
mountains looked like. The plastering of snow on
the higher parts of the Arans, at the head of the
Dyfi (sometimes mis-spelt Dovey) valley,
immediately made my mind up for me. With a
wind-free high-pressure cell forecast to be
slap-bang over us the following Sunday I decided
it was time I took the camera for a walk.....
The standard route up the Arans begins at the
head of Cwm Cywarch, a beautiful valley above
Dinas Mawddwy. The first mile of the route is
dominated by Craig Cywarch, a big rambling crag
with some big, rambling climbs on it! With the
forecast spot-on, conditions above looked to be
ideal. Note the different light on some of the
following images - because I decided to
concentrate mostly on getting to the top on the
way up then make my way back in a more leisurely
manner. Thus some were taken during the ascent,
some in the descent. I started walking at 11am
and with a few photo-stops reached the top at
The route goes diagonally along an old miners'
track up the LHS of this deep valley - you can
just about see its faint line here. The track
ends in a peaty sprawl from where a less
well-defined path works up onto the shoulder of
on across a narrowing ridge to the sharp
mini-summit at Drws Bach (2500ft ASL), seen in
the distance. A cairn on the top with a plaque
marks where a Mountain Rescue Team member was
killed by lightning back in the 1960s, and
standing at that spot one can appreciate its
exposure and its liability to be prone to a C-G
The final wind-blasted snow slopes leading up to
Drws Bach. The snow was variable wind-slab which
supported one fully for a few paces then gave way
plunging one knee-deep or further in places
making for tiring progress uphill...
.....on the final approach to the narrows of Drws
Bach. Here, a great drift had banked up over the
top of the fence to form a fluted ridge for a
short distance with substantial drops on the L.
Here the ice-axe was carried in case of a
through this section the next task was unfolding
- the broken ground leading to the summit rocks
of Aran Fawddwy (2970ft ASL). Note the ground
blown clear of snow in places....
....approaching the beginning of the final slope
with the broken East Face straight ahead and,
below, the lonely source of Afon Dyfi - Craiglyn
Dyfi - partly frozen over. The ridge that slants
diagonally up L behind the lake used to be called
"Death Ridge" by people I once climbed
with many years ago. Sounds melodramatic? Try
climbing it on a hot, windless, humid August day
and you'll appreciate why!!
Another view of Craiglyn Dyfi from one of the
snowless patches. The haze at lower levels is
evident as the greyness just above the far
The ridge to Aran Fawddwy from the first top is a
pleasant half-mile in good weather, although a
little hard-going with the fragile slab snow.
With every few hundred feet gained in ascent, the
sky to the north and overhead turned a deeper and
deeper blue, with the lower-level haze apparent
in this image masking the horizon and obscuring
the longer-range view. Never mind that: plenty of
decent foreground to concentrate on today!
Approaching the summit past great drifts and
rocks covered in ice-rime...
Phew! Looking at the summit trig point and beyond
into the hazy south. It was well below freezing
up here, with a thin Northerly breeze not
apparent further down...
....and nobody except a raven for company.....
I had noticed these drifts on the way to the top
so wandered across to them for a few shots. The
ice-rime on the wire was rounded, having thawed
quite considerably at some point...
...and so it was time to go back down into the
By now, the sun was at a much lower angle. This
image was taken on the way up, before noon....
...while this was taken looking in exactly the
same direction shortly before 1600. The sun's
rays are picking up the haze, to the extent that
the detail on Craig Cywarch is now obscured and
crepuscular rays beam faintly across the valley
in between. It was good, despite now aching legs
and sore feet, to have climbed up above it all
into the clearer air of the mountain tops. Such
days are remembered long after the aches have
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