#129 – Yr Aran. “Small but perfectly formed”

Yr Aran seen from Llyn Gwynant

Yr Aran seen from Llyn Gwynant

Standing at a height of 747 metres, and surrounded by higher neighbours, Yr Aran is a much neglected little mountain.  Being almost literally in the shadow of the highest UK mountain outside Scotland is not a good career move for a mountain aiming for a place in the popularity stakes, and it’s Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) that grabs all the attention.

Yr Aran on the right, with Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) higher on the left

Yr Aran on the right, with Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) higher on the left

The plus side is that the small summit of Yr Aran is almost always empty, giving grandstand views of many of the more popular mountains of Snowdonia.  Yr Aran is a well kept secret, and even a bit of exposure in this blog isn’t going to change that, which is fine with me!

The start of the Watkin Path from Nantgwynant

The start of the Watkin Path from Nantgwynant

View from the Watkin Path towards the waterfalls

View from the Watkin Path towards the waterfalls

The Khyber Pass?

The Khyber Pass?

The first view of Yr Wyddfa, seen from the south

The first view of Yr Wyddfa, seen from the south

The Watkin Path from Nantgwynant is one of the popular routes to the summit of Yr Wyddfa, but it also makes a fine approach route to Yr Aran.  A woodland path opens out into a track with a fine set of waterfalls, and the route has a vague feeling of being in much higher mountains, so much so that it was chosen as a location for the film “Carry on up the Khyber” – even the first view of Yr Wyddfa looks almost Himalayan in Character.

Abandoned mine near to the Watkin Path

Abandoned mine near to the Watkin Path

Old stone wall near to the abandoned mine

Old stone wall near to the abandoned mine

Border Collie ‘Mist’ waits patiently

Border Collie ‘Mist’ waits patiently

Above the mine and quarry, heading towards the East Ridge of Yr Aran

Above the mine and quarry, heading towards the East Ridge of Yr Aran

The broad East Ridge, leading straight to the summit of Yr Aran.

The broad East Ridge, leading straight to the summit of Yr Aran.

Many of those toiling up towards Yr Wyddfa do not notice the less-frequented path heading up through the remains of long abandoned mines and quarries.  These remains of old industries are soon left behind as the route strikes out for the East Ridge of Yr Aran.  The summit is surprisingly small, but the views are extensive.

The summit of Yr Aran, a superb viewpoint

The summit of Yr Aran, a superb viewpoint

Part of the panorama (l to r) Moel Hebog, Moel yr Ogof and Moel Lefn

Part of the panorama (l to r) Moel Hebog, Moel yr Ogof and Moel Lefn

The Nantlle Ridge

The Nantlle Ridge

Mynydd Mawr

Mynydd Mawr

Moel Eilio

Moel Eilio

Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) on the left with Crib Goch to the right

Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) on the left with Crib Goch to the right

 Moel Siabod

Moel Siabod

Chris was having a lazy day, so I had dropped her off just below the summit.  My ten minutes to the summit and back hadn’t included time for photos, so I was back a little later than I had estimated.  Light conditions made some of the photos less interesting than they might have been, but they are probably good enough to encourage others to visit the top.

Base camp!  Chris guarding the sandwiches

Base camp! Chris guarding the sandwiches

Heading back towards the Watkin Path

Heading back towards the Watkin Path

 The view down Cwm Llan, our descent route

The view down Cwm Llan, our descent route

Rock-climbing sheep near the Gladstone Rock

Rock-climbing sheep near the Gladstone Rock

Still in search of a meal!

Still in search of a meal!

Our descent route was down the North Ridge, to hit the path in Cwm Llan.  Before re-joining the Watkin Path for the return we saw three ‘death defying’ sheep snatching a meal on the small climbers’ crag near the Gladstone Rock – the grazing must have been good, as a fourth soon joined them for a snack.  We left them to it and didn’t hear any sounds of disaster as we returned down the Khyber Pass lookalike.

The return down the Khyber Pass lookalike

The return down the Khyber Pass lookalike

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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20 Responses to #129 – Yr Aran. “Small but perfectly formed”

  1. Super looking day. Funnily enough, I’ve never been up Yr Aran – have always bypassed it for Snowdon! And I remember Carry On Up The Khyber, too!

  2. LensScaper says:

    It’s a long time since I was on this peak – it’s certainly well placed for a grandstand view of many of the other summits in the southern half of Snowdonia. I was hoping to walk it later this year from Rhyd Ddu and carry on to Snowdon and then back to Rhyd Ddu. That would mean a detour from the standard path according to the map but I am well used to the concept of path on map not matching path on ground and vice versa.

    • Hope you get good weather for the trip Andy. Your planned route is a good way of including Yr Aran in a longer day – some include Yr Aran as an alternative to the Watkin Path to Yr Wyddfa summit.

  3. Looks a great walk Paul…did you go in the mine?

  4. You didn’t bump into the 3rd Foot and Mouth Regiment ( the Devils in Skirts) up there did you? 🙂

  5. Mz Zoomer says:

    I love hiking any and every where. Thrilled to have found your blog. Great post and am really enjoying it. Thanks.

  6. I quite often do Yr Aran as I usually use the western approaches to Snowdon and often add it on at the end. It’s a lovely little peak.

    Gladstone’s Rock looks quite interesting for beginner’s rock climbing – might persuade someone from my club at Nant Peris to take me up it sometime. Sheep always scare the hell out of me on crags!

  7. Gladstone’s Crag does look fun – I would imagine the greatest hazard is falling sheep 😀

  8. great write up and photies Paul 🙂

  9. Pete Buckley says:

    Hi Paul – thanks for reminding me! I keep intending to go up Yr Aran as it looks such a great walk Definitely next time…

  10. Pingback: #147 – Ring out the old … 2013 hill memories | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

  11. Pingback: #153 – “Foot Mountain” – on foot! | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

  12. Colin Jones says:

    Hi Paul,
    I live locally and have climbed Yr Aran many a time, but yesterday was the first time since the Helicopter accident last August. As you mentioned not many walkers were up there and I saw only one person and his three dogs. A very nice walk

    • Thanks Colin – yes, it’s a great walk out and one that I don’t I would ever get bored with. It’s great to have peace and quiet, and to get away from the crowds!

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