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I described the lovely, quiet corner of Cwm Glas in an earlier post after a trip there in 2014 (see post #154). It’s hard to believe that Cwm Glas is about 1 kilometre as the raven flies from the highest, busiest and most visited mountain in England and Wales, and I had been meaning to explore more of this high mountain valley, but it was 2019 before I returned, along with my usual hill companion, Border Collie ‘Mist’.
Well, there’s nowt like making up for lost time, and in the space of three months, the dog and I had two great trips into this haven of peace. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not moaning, as some do, about the crowds who hike over Snowdon (or Yr Wyddfa to give its correct Welsh name). Yr Wyddfa is a lovely mountain and it takes more than a few hundred humans to spoil it – it’s just that the lonely Cwm Glas still has a wildness and grandeur about it.
The first trip was on a warm April day. I decided on the direct route into Cwm Glas (Green Valley) via Cwm Glas Mawr (Big Green Valley). The bus from Llanberis solves car parking problems, and there’s a stop opposite the start of the route at Blaen y Nant. I followed the route I had taken in 2014 but decided on a variation, taking a more direct line between the two cwms instead of the variation (green on the map) that I had taken last time.
A handy looking path took me straight on this time, and the short rocky headwall ahead proved to be nothing of a problem – well, not if you have the reach of a human and hands with opposable thumbs. It soon became obvious that the steep rocky headwall was going to be a bit much for ‘Mist’ until a couple of friendly guys offered the assistance of a rope.
I think they were both itching to find an excuse to get the rope out, but I wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth. I quickly improvised a harness out of a tape sling, clipped the dog on the end of the rope, and climbed up behind giving her an encouraging push up the bum when things became more difficult.
The difficulties being behind us, I released the dog from her harness and said goodbye to our new buddies. A retreat from the steep bit would have cost time and effort but it wasn’t long before we reached Llyn Bach (Small Lake) having by-passed Llyn Glas (Green Lake). The steep slope out of Cwm Glas didn’t seem to take long, and in a short time the dog and I were posing for a celebratory selfie.
Having taken the bus from Llanberis, we had to return there to collect the car. The usual option is the least pleasant part of one of the best mountains in the UK – the Llanberis Path. It’s a horrible slog, and I’ve never been up to the summit by this route. The descent isn’t much better, but this time I was going off-piste to follow the skyline above the Llanberis Pass.
The Llanberis Path drops below the Mountain Railway at Clogwyn Station, and that’s were the crowds were heading. The dog and I stayed by the railway instead, with great views down to the Llanberis Pass along the way. It’s the first time I’d come this way, and it would make a superb runners route, but I was happy to amble down in my own good time.
I re-joined the Llanberis Path near to Hebron Station on the railway, after taking a last look back along the descent route – one thing for sure, I think I’ve walked the Llanberis Path for the last time!
The other route into Cwm Glas that I’d been itching to get back to is the Fox’s Path into Cwm Uchaf (High Valley) from the Crib Goch path. I had written in the 2014 post (see post #154) about the great mountaineering route up the Clogwyn y Person Arête – we had taken the Fox’s Path that day, but I was wondering how difficult it would be to find after a gap of forty years!
The summit of Crib Goch (Red Ridge) is the most obvious peak to hikers following the PyG track from Pen y Pass and is frequently mistaken for Yr Wyddfa, so much so that there are now discreet warning signs pointing out the correct route. The route up to the summit of Crib Goch isn’t too bad unless you absolutely hate steep stuff, but the fun starts on the (in)famous Crib Goch Ridge.
It’s very ‘hands on’ as routes go, and although fit hikers with a head for heights have little difficulty, it’s a black spot for Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team who spend a lot of their operational time helping cragfast walkers down to safety. It’s one of my favourite ways to Yr Wyddfa, but ‘Mist’ isn’t as agile as she was as a young dog, and I didn’t want any dramas, so the Fox’s Path was on the menu instead.
The line of the Fox’s Path sets off as if heading for the summit of Crib Goch, but takes a turn to the right to contour round the flank of the North Ridge instead. I had managed to acquire a small group of followers who didn’t really look as if the Crib Goch Ridge was their usual sort of route, and when I turned off on the Fox’s Path I wasn’t sure if they would continue following me. They didn’t, and the Fox’s Path was mine alone – well me and a Border Collie.
I remembered little of the route from the last visit forty years earlier, but it obviously doesn’t get much traffic. The path, clinging to the hillside in places, is little wider than a sheep track and is just the sort of place my missus hates! A tumble or slip would be quite serious in places, but it’s a really neat path which heads round the North Ridge of Crib Goch to end up in Cwm Uchaf. As the path turns into the cwm, the view of the Crib Goch Ridge above is one that people don’t usually see.
‘Mist’ celebrated with a cooling dip in Llyn Glas before we headed up into Cwm Glas for the final ascent to join a short section of the Llanberis Path. Every time I go to Cwm Glas, I seem to take a slightly different way up, and this time it was probably my worst choice of route ever! After a slog of an ascent on a warm July afternoon, the dog and I joined the crowds to descend by the Pyg Track.
It had been another great day out, and for the dog it was about to get better in a couple of hours – it was almost dinner time!
Text and images © Paul Shorrock
p.s. I always include maps and pics to give an idea of where me and the dog have been. Please, please, please don’t use these as navigational aids if you follow these routes – they are just for illustration and the boys and girls of Llanberis MRT are busy enough! If anyone needs accurate grid references to find the routes, just get in touch.