#161 – Aber Falls and the Northern Carneddau

Aber Falls (just visible right of centre in the shadow) and the mountains of the Northern Carneddau

Aber Falls (just visible right of centre in the shadow) and the mountains of the Northern Carneddau

In September Chris and I took advantage of the unexpected late summer by heading a bit further afield to the hills of the Berwyns (two blog posts waiting in the queue) but then a free day and yet another forecast for sun tempted us back to the Carneddau. I’ve been to Aber Falls before, but usually just for a stroll out to the bottom or as an access point to the mountains of the Northern Carneddau – this time the plan was to have a mooch around on the paths above the falls.

Stating out – Autumn colours starting to show

Stating out – Autumn colours starting to show

For those who have never been there, Aber Falls is a spectacular waterfall that plunges 120 ft (37 metres) into the valley below. It’s not the easiest of subjects to photograph though – there are few ideal viewpoints on the valley approach, and because the falls are north facing they are usually in shadow. The result is either an under-exposed image of the falls, or ‘bleached out’ surroundings.

Aber Falls (Sept 2011) JB

Aber Falls (Sept 2011) JB

Aber Falls (Sept 2011) JB

Aber Falls (Sept 2011) JB

Heading for the top of the Falls

Heading for the top of the Falls (Sept 2011) JB

Autumn colours were starting to show as we set off, a reminder that summer was officially over – however, there seemed to be a breakdown in communication with the seasons as it was T-shirt conditions in the valley bottom. We made the almost obligatory visit to see the falls, which hadn’t changed at all since our last visit, or probably for that matter since the last Ice-Age. Having done that, we set off on the path to the top of the falls.

On the way up – a tree-climbing sheep!

On the way up – a tree-climbing sheep!

At the end of the scree slope ….

At the end of the scree slope ….

…. with the airy bit coming up

…. with the airy bit coming up

I had described to path to Chris before we set off, at least I described it as well as I could remember it. The first section crosses a scree slope, but the stones are nicely bedded in and don’t move much, so no problem there. Beyond there the route picks a way through small crags, and I had forgotten that some people (e.g. me missus) might not like the drop below the path in places, though I hadn’t really registered this before, insensitive soul that I am!

The greasy slab

The greasy slab

“Come on then, we haven’t got all day”

“Come on then, we haven’t got all day”

Above the Falls

Above the Falls

Beyond the airy bit there was one remaining problem. There is a greasy slab of rock, with a drop-off below, and it’s the kind of place you would not want to slip. On previous visits in dry conditions, the slab has required a bit of care, but this time it wasn’t just greasy – it was ‘well greasy’, complete with small stream flowing over it. Words of encouragement and a ‘helping hand’ got Chris over the obstacle, with Border Collie ‘Mist’ wondering as usual why we were taking so long.

View up the Afon Goch (Red River) JB

View up the Afon Goch (Red River) JB

Just beyond the sheepfolds

Just beyond the sheepfolds

Heading up the valley with Llwytmor on the left

Heading up the valley with Llwytmor on the left

Looking back towards Llwytmor

Looking back towards Llwytmor

The view towards the coast

The view towards the coast

Our route carried on above the Afon Goch, passing the remains of old settlements and some more recent (but still quite old) sheepfolds, with the hills of the Northern Carneddau providing the view. The first of three stream crossings gave us some more amusement, but then it was time to turn to the north, and the view changed from mountains to coast.

‘One man and his dog’

‘One man and his dog’

Heading down towards Afon Gam (Crooked River) ….

Heading down towards Afon Gam (Crooked River) ….

…. with Moel Wnion ahead

…. with Moel Wnion ahead

The path stretching out ahead

The path stretching out ahead

 ‘Mist’ at full speed!

‘Mist’ at full speed!

The path here contours around the hillside, making for easy progress, and it wasn’t very long before we were looking back towards our outward route. The scale of the Carneddau is so massive that from here Aber Falls looked quite insignificant.

Aber Falls just right of centre, with the scree slope we crossed dead centre

Aber Falls just right of centre, with the scree slope we crossed dead centre

The Hills of the northern Carneddau

The Hills of the northern Carneddau

Above the coast at last

Above the coast at last

The North Wales Path

The North Wales Path

 

Before long we were on the North Wales Path overlooking the sea, with the coast and the new North Wales Coastal Path below us. Although we hadn’t ventured far into the Carneddau, the trip had felt like a mountain day, and only the long shadows as we finished indicated that summer really is over now.  Perhaps!

The end in sight – heading down to Abergwyngregin

The end in sight – heading down to Abergwyngregin

Text and images © Paul Shorrock – Images tagged (JB) © John Bamber

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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11 Responses to #161 – Aber Falls and the Northern Carneddau

  1. Great photos. Wish I’d come with you – I had a feeling that path might be nasty higher up – I didn’t see how there could be a route up that side at all – you could have helped me too!

    • T’would have been a pleasure to give you a hand as well 🙂
      Actually, it’s not that bad, and the only bit likely to cause concern (the greasy slab) is quite short – a couple or three moves and you’re over it.

  2. Always enjoy your posts Paul…makes me realize how much I have missed the mountains and I really must get up high soon 🙂

  3. LensScaper says:

    What a beautiful day you had in this wild country, Paul. I envy you being so close to this great area of the UK.

    • Thanks for the comment Andy – we try to take advantage of our good fortune living here by getting out on the hills as often as possible, and the recent fine spell has been wonderful.

  4. rlbwilson says:

    I went on a walk very similar to this a few years ago. I had mist too when we reached the higher ground … one of those days when I was glad I remembered how to take a bearing!

  5. As a total wimp I felt quite vertiginous reading about the slippery slope – I hate things like that, which probably explains why I didn’t make a career out of mountain guiding. On one of our walks some years ago we came to a series of streams on a slope, full after heavy rain, which I had great difficulty crossing. They were quite narrow and it was more a mental than physical problem I’m sure. Richard was very relieved when a farmer on a quad bike took pity and gave me a lift across one of the particularly bad ones! I might have been there still as the option to turn round and go back over the ones I had already crossed did not fill me with joy. Age probably plays a part – I’m very loathe to risk injury as that means indefinite time out from something I enjoy.
    Another very entertaining post, though Mist steals the show as usual 🙂
    Must get my picture back somehow – it’s disappeared after I updated my blog again.

    • I’ve got to admit that I am now much more careful on tricky stuff than when I was younger – I don’t think it’s nerve that has failed, more like the strength in me bl**dy legs 😦

  6. Pingback: #172 – The North-western hills of the Carneddau | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

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