We took the LH valley up out of Cwm Cywarch,
which leads steeply up under the crag of Craig
...seen here towering above the bracken-covered
...and here, from way up the path, in
The path exits onto a broad boggy plateau area
across which Aran Fawddwy is a good tramp of
about a mile. This is looking the other way,
westwards across to Cadair Idris...
...while this is looking north-east towards the
Arenigs and Rhobell Fawr....
All the way up we'd become aware of a fog-bank,
drifting in like a summer sea-fog off Cardigan
Bay. Here, Cadair Idris has almost been engulfed
and it looks like we're next!
Looking NE from the summit and a substantial
moorland-fire is generating its very own
cloud-bank away in the distance, somewhere on the
NW Berwyns at a guess...
The path divides on the way down and tracks lead
off to each valley draining the head of Cwm
Cywarch. I had noticed some unusual ground
disturbances on the way up and now while the
others had a late lunch I went to check them out
before the fog rolled in.
Here is the first example. It's up to 0.3m wide.
It's as if the ground has burst open with peat
and stones flung out sideways.
First thought was an extreme downpour &
flash-flood damage, but on level and sometimes
uphill ground? I think not!
Second thought was an impact from a breaking-up
meteor. However, if that was the case, the
trajectory involved would have demolished the
fence that was just behind me when I took this...
Parallel and along in the same direction was this
hole plus the wiggling, narrow and shallow trail
to its L. It appeared that the agent of
destruction had started up by the fence and had
radiated out across >15m of ground....
Here, another nearby parallel wiggling trail can
be seen going from the upper L to bottom R...
....while this rock outcrop has been rent
asunder. The large, microwave-sized boulder and
brown rock fragments in the foreground have all
come out of the shattered outcrop between them
and the style. The other holes and "wiggly
trails" are just out of view to the L.
So what caused this damage?
I cannot imagine any human motive to create this
mess. Apart from anything else, to achieve the
damage in the last photo, one would need to carry
a compressor, rock-drills and explosives all the
way up there - it's hard enough work carrying
ones lunch that far!!
Lightning is a good candidate, and specifically a
positive "superbolt" C-G strike. These
bolts occur when there is a discharge between the
anvil at the top of the thundercloud and the
ground - a much greater distance travelled than a
standard, negative C-G stroke. Such bolts have to
overcome far more electrical resistance due to
the distance involved, and are therefore many
times more powerful than ordinary bolts -
themselves capable of splitting mature trees down
So my theory - and that's all it is - is that a
very powerful lightning bolt struck here. The
ground was saturated and the heat converted the
water to steam with explosive rapidity, rending
the ground open and flinging rocks out sideways.
The lightning dissipated to earth along a series
of radiating channels. I'd be interested to read
any thoughts as to the validity of this idea, but
the lack of a plausible alternative is glaring!
Meanwhile the fog duly rolled in. Luckily the
paths are easy to follow as they run alongside
Luckily enough the fog cleared again revealing
beautiful late afternoon skies out westwards....
Here is the view west from just beyond Drws Bach,
with the memorial cairn.....
....and here is a late afternoon aspect of Aran
Fawddwy and Aran Benllyn from Dyrysgol's grassy
...and finally, homeward bound on the miners'
track down to Cwm Cywarch and in due course the
A great day for photography, mountain air and the
TO WEATHER-BLOG MENU
New! Fine Art Prints &
digital images for sale-
Welsh Weather & Dyfi Valley landscapes
Slide-Library - Click HERE