#137 – Three days in the Aran Hills of Wales (Part 3)

The start of the Aran Ridge from Llanuwchllyn near Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake)

The start of the Aran Ridge from Llanuwchllyn near Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake)

Our two previous days in the Aran Hills (see posts #135 and #136) had been in ‘typical’ UK summer conditions, with conditions varying from cool to wet.  However, out in the Atlantic the weather systems were shaping up for a big change, and within a week the July heat-wave had arrived.  I still had one more Aran trip planned, and it looked as though it was going to be a warm one.

Companions for the trip – Border Collie ‘Mist’ and the lightest pack possible

Companions for the trip – Border Collie ‘Mist’ and the lightest pack possible

I had planned a there-and–back trip from Llanuwchllyn near Bala to the summit of Aran Fawddwy, visited on the walk in post #135.  The map showed an undulating ridge with a total distance of 16 kms (10 miles) and a height gain of 972 metres (3188 ft).  Down in the valley the temperature was 26° Celsius, and I had no intention of carrying more gear than I needed, which in this case was a micro-fleece top, a thin windproof jacket, map, compass and GPS and a small amount of food.

 The low part of the ridge stretching out ahead with Aran Benllyn in the distance

The low part of the ridge stretching out ahead with Aran Benllyn in the distance

It was also quite clear from the map that water was going to be scarce – a few tiny pools were shown on the map, but I suspected that they could well be dry.  The light pack more than doubled in weight when I added water, 2 litres for me and 1 litre for the dog.  The question hanging over me was this – would it be enough?

Aran Benllyn with Aran Fawddwy beyond

Aran Benllyn with Aran Fawddwy beyond

Border Collies will work until they drop, but carrying a 20 kilo dog with heat exhaustion on isolated high ground was not an option!  With that in mind, I set off prepared to top up the dog’s water with mine if necessary, and to be ready to turn back before things became serious.  The lower part of the ridge looked as though my concerns might be real, with the bogs bone dry.  Then we arrived at the small lake of Llyn Pen Aran, looking just like an oasis!

The small lake of Llyn Pen Aran, just below the summit of Aran Benllyn

The small lake of Llyn Pen Aran, just below the summit of Aran Benllyn

By now ‘Mist’ was more than halfway through her litre of water, but I got her to drink at the lake, then threw her in for good measure to keep her body temperature down.  Having topped up the dog’s water bottle again, I continued much more confident that that the trip was going to be OK.

Quartz deposits near the summit of Aran Benllyn, looking back towards Llyn Pen Aran (centre)

Quartz deposits near the summit of Aran Benllyn, looking back towards Llyn Pen Aran (centre)

The view from Aran Benllyn towards Aran Fawddwy, with the un-named top between the two

The view from Aran Benllyn towards Aran Fawddwy, with the un-named top between the two

The Rhinog Mountains 20 kms (12½ miles) to the west

The Rhinog Mountains 20 kms (12½ miles) to the west

Aran Fawddwy getting nearer

Aran Fawddwy getting nearer

The view back towards Aran Benllyn

The view back towards Aran Benllyn

From the lake it was a delightful broad ridge from Aran Benllyn (885 metres) via an un-named top (872 metres) to Aran Fawddwy, the objective of the day and the highest peak in the Arans at 905 metres.  Views were not as clear as they might have been, which was not surprising in the heat haze, but the Rhinog mountains could easily be picked out to the west.

The summit rocks of Aran Fawddwy

The summit rocks of Aran Fawddwy

Walkers just below the summit of Aran Fawddwy, the only people I saw all day

Walkers just below the summit of Aran Fawddwy, the only people I saw all day

Looking towards Drysgol, the route taken in post #135

Looking towards Drysgol, the route taken in post #135

Border Collie ‘Mist’ at the summit of Aran Fawddwy (compare with the photo in post #135)

Border Collie ‘Mist’ at the summit of Aran Fawddwy (compare with the photo in post #135)

The view down to the lake of Creiglyn Dyfi

The view down to the lake of Creiglyn Dyfi

Steady walking brought us eventually to the summit rocks of Aran Fawddwy, where I spotted the only other walkers I saw all day.  The usual photos were taken, including one of ‘Mist’ by the survey trig column at the summit – the photo in post #135 a week earlier, had showed very different conditions.

The viewpoint cairn on the un-named top ….

The viewpoint cairn on the un-named top ….

…. with an even better view of Creiglyn Dyfi

…. with an even better view of Creiglyn Dyfi

At the summit I had leaned out over an impressive drop to get a photo of Creiglyn, the lake below Aran Fawddwy and the source of the Afon Dyfi (River Dovey) which flows by Machynlleth before reaching the sea at Aberdyfi (Aberdovey).  I needn’t have bothered – on my return I saw a cairn on the shoulder of the un-named top that marked a point where the view of the lake was far better.

On the descent with Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake) in the top left corner

On the descent with Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake) in the top left corner

The return trip was still hot, but mostly downhill.  The water refill and the ‘dog dunking’ on the way up meant that I didn’t have to re-visit the small lake on the way back, but even with that, the dog and I downed 2 litres of water each during the walk.  It was the hottest hill day that ‘Mist’ has done to date, with a good bit of distance and height gain thrown in, but it has given me more confidence in what she is capable of when she qualifies as a search and rescue dog – that’s far in the future for now though, with at least one winter to work through first!

Nearly finished – the low part of the ridge looking towards the village of Llanuwchllyn

Nearly finished – the low part of the ridge looking towards the village of Llanuwchllyn

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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18 Responses to #137 – Three days in the Aran Hills of Wales (Part 3)

  1. I like this one Paul…looks uncomfortably hot but what exceptional views. I love Wales and I think the mountains are any bit as good as the Lake District (and not nearly as busy)

    • There was a bit of breeze as I got onto the higher ground, and a small size pack made life easier – I was glad that I didn’t have the dog’s black and white coat though 🙂

  2. redjim99 says:

    Yes, hot weather can pose as many problems as cold. Especially when the weight of water is added to any other kit. Walking in Tenerife I carried three litres in my daysack, and it made a huge difference. I still ran short on the second day.

    I think I came up here from the other end. I wasn’t nav-man that day so enjoyed the walk and the daydreaming. 🙂

    Jim

  3. Unless it’s extreme you can wrap up against the cold but with the heat there’s no escape. I for one am pleased it’s cooler now.
    Have you tried one of those filter drinking bottles btw? Based on NASA technology but only useful if there is water to fill it with.

    • Yes, got a filter bottle, but a couple of litres of water is the most I’ve ever needed (plus extra for the dog in hot weather) I have quite enjoyed being on the hills in a T-shirt and carrying next to nowt, but it’s looking like we’ll be layering up again soon 😦

  4. Good idea to throw the dog in the llyn! Bet she loved it anyway 😉

    I don’t find naked ramblers scary – I’ve stripped off in the hills myself if I’ve felt inclined – I tend to avoid other people when I do, not because I would be embarrassed (because I wouldn’t) but because I gather a lot of people don’t like it! It’s only nature though – I’m pretty much a naturist at heart and have friends who actively practice it.

    I remember doing those from Llanuwchllyn with my friend Mark and us sitting right over that drop down to the llyn from the summit – I found it really uncomfortable and was glad to finish my break!

  5. LensScaper says:

    Just caught up on this series this morning, Paul. What a difference a good day makes, but there are some wonderful greens visible in the first two posts. Another range that is new to me. I’ve under-estimated water in the past and discovered how sluggish it makes me. Not a pleasant experience. Having an animal to look after and care for is an added responsibility. Some great photography Paul. Thanks

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

  7. Matt Jones says:

    The unamed top is actually Erw a Ddafad Du. i think ive spelled it right..

    • Cheers Matt – I thought that name referred to the eastern slopes of the mountain, but I’ll go with that name for the summit as well. Just checked the translation – ‘The Black Sheep Acres’ – great name!!

      • Matt Jones says:

        Yup thats its name on wikipedia and hill-bagging.co.uk (great site you should check it out)
        never thought about translating the name before!

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