#186 – Yr Elen, Carnedd Llewelyn and Carnedd Dafydd

Carnedd Llewelyn (left) and Carnedd Dafydd (right) seen from Yr Elen

Carnedd Llewelyn (left) and Carnedd Dafydd (right) seen from Yr Elen

It’s rare that I have a bad day out in the mountains – there are great days, and even better days!    Every now and then though, I find myself on a route that I just can’t wait to get back to.   A year earlier I had done a circuit in the mountains of the Carneddau that included the Northeast Ridge of Yr Elen (see post #159) and even before I finished the trip I was longing to be back there.

The route - 19kms and 1136 metres height gain

The route – 19kms and 1136 metres height gain

 

My planned route for the day was up the valley of the Afon Caseg (Mare’s River) to the small cwm (valley) which held the tiny lake of Ffynnon Caseg (Mare’s Spring).    From there I would follow the Northeast Ridge again to the summit of Yr Elen  before heading onto the main plateau of the Carneddau to cross Carnedd Llewelyn and Carnedd Dafydd before heading back from Pen yr Ole Wen.

Just after setting out – Yr Elen (centre) and Carnedd Dafydd (right)

Just after setting out – Yr Elen (centre) and Carnedd Dafydd (right)

One that didn’t make it! Horse skeleton near the Afon Caseg

One that didn’t make it! Horse skeleton near the Afon Caseg

The northern side of Yr Elen, where the valley of the Afon Caseg narrows

The northern side of Yr Elen, where the valley of the Afon Caseg narrows

The route starts with a long gradual ascent by the Afon Caseg.    This section is almost a third of the total distance for the day with half of the height gain, but the height gain is so gradual that it isn’t really noticed.    As the name suggests, many of the wild ponies that live in the Carneddau can be found around Afon Caseg, but the only one seen on the walk up the valley was a collection of bones.

Further up the valley

Further up the valley

Below the Northeast Ridge of Yr Elen, looking into Cwm Caseg

Below the Northeast Ridge of Yr Elen, looking into Cwm Caseg

The view looking back down the Afon Caseg ….

The view looking back down the Afon Caseg ….

…. with the Northeast Ridge waiting above

…. with the Northeast Ridge waiting above

Border Collie ‘Mist’ near the tiny lake of Ffynnon Caseg

Border Collie ‘Mist’ near the tiny lake of Ffynnon Caseg

The old hafod in Cwm Caseg, the fireplace visible at the far end

The old hafod in Cwm Caseg, the fireplace visible at the far end

Further up the valley the sides start to close in a bit, and on a first visit you might be forgiven in thinking that the valley is a dead end.   Indeed, on arriving at the lake of Ffynnon Caseg, the small cwm appears to be just that, a dead end.     There is an escape though, up the Northeast Ridge, otherwise known as the Dragon’s Teeth! Before setting off up the ridge I visited the ruins of the tiny Hafod (summer dwelling) nestling next to the lake.

Looking up to the Northeast Ridge ….

Looking up to the Northeast Ridge ….

…. and the view back down

…. and the view back down

Short rocky section near the top

Short rocky section near the top

When it comes to the ridge, it’s a bit of a slog – less than 1 km of distance with a height gain of over 200 metres.    The ‘Dragon’s Teeth’ bit doesn’t have any technical difficulty, but the rocky outcrops along the spine of the route add to the interest.

On the summit of Yr Elen ….

On the summit of Yr Elen ….

…. and looking back to Yr Elen on the way up Carnedd Llewelyn

…. and looking back to Yr Elen on the way up Carnedd Llewelyn

The summit shelter of Carnedd Llewelyn, looking towards Carnedd Dafydd

The summit shelter of Carnedd Llewelyn, looking towards Carnedd Dafydd

Pen yr Helgi Du above the lake of Ffynnon Llugwy, with Pen Llithrig yr Wrach behind

Pen yr Helgi Du above the lake of Ffynnon Llugwy, with Pen Llithrig yr Wrach behind

Heading towards Pen yr Ole Wen from Carnedd Dafydd

Heading towards Pen yr Ole Wen from Carnedd Dafydd

Pen yr Ole Wen ahead

Pen yr Ole Wen ahead

From the summit of Yr Elen, the route is a glorious switchback over the summits of Carnedd Llewelyn followed by Carnedd Dafydd.    From there, the most logical route is back towards Bethesda above the Afon Llafar, but I had another mission in mind and headed down to Pen yr Ole Wen instead.

Setting off down Braich Ty Du

Setting off down Braich Ty Du

Since I moved to North Wales, the mountain rescue team in the Ogwen Valley (OVMRO) has had a handful of incidents with people getting on to dangerous ground descending northwest from Pen yr Ole Wen down Braich Ty Du, usually in the dark.    There was nothing on the map to indicate a problem, but being curious I thought I would check it out – the only realistic way to do this was to take a compass bearing down the intended route and follow it, even though the visibility was perfect.

Looking down to the A5, a long way below

Looking down to the A5, a long way below

As with many navigation traps, the route starts off without difficulty, other than an occasional boulder field – when I had to cross boulders I deliberately took a left option, this being the way that would take me nearer to the cliffs of Clogwyn Twll Du.    In the daylight it was easy to avoid the craggy ground, but in the dark with a wind blowing from the east it would be easy to drift too far left onto technical and dangerous ground – the drop down to the A5 road below was quite impressive!

Carneddau ponies

Carneddau ponies

Having satisfied curiosity, it was off home by the easiest route, eventually joining the Afon Llafar path.    Apart from the heap of bones early on, there had been no sightings of the wild ponies of the Carneddau, but I don’t think I have ever walked these hills without seeing at least a couple, and sure enough I passed a family group on the descent.  ‘Mist’ didn’t appear to be much impressed, probably because it was well past her dinner time!

Heading for home

Heading for home

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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6 Responses to #186 – Yr Elen, Carnedd Llewelyn and Carnedd Dafydd

  1. Ashley, mark says:

    Looks good mr Shorrock, i may do that on a clear, snow day. By the way, i think there was a dog following you!

  2. I think that’s the only route I’ve ever done for Yr Elen and a nice one it is too. Haven’t tried that route down off Pen Yr Ole Wen though but I’ve looked at it often enough from the A5. Haven’t been to Snowdonia for years now 😦

  3. Pingback: #208 – Back to the Carneddau. Again! | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

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