#283 – Elidir Fawr revisited

Elidir Fawr standing above the small lake of Marchlyn Mawr (Olympus E-M10 with ultra-wide lens)

(For the best viewing experience, left-click the images and maps to zoom in, then use your browser return arrow to go back – go on, it really does work!)

It was near the end of August 2020, and we had planned for a long trip away to Scotland in the camper, with the hopes of getting in some mountain walking days. The problem was, neither Chris and I (or Border Collie ‘Mist’ for that matter) had been getting in any mountain hikes during the Covid-19 restrictions. I felt the need for a good solo yomp, and I had just the hill in mind – Elidir Fawr.

Snowdonia with the Glyderau central, the Carneddau (North) and Snowdon Range (South)

The last time I had been on the mountain had been, incredibly, a long eight years earlier (see post #90) when I had gone up from Nant Peris. The thing is, from that direction, Elidir Fawr is a bit of a one-trick pony, but there’s another approach from the Deiniolen side of the mountain – that would do nicely!

The Route, clockwise starting at Talywaen near Deiniolen

I also wanted to make it a photographic trip – I’m very much an Olympus fan, and my regular camera is the E-M5 Mk3, which is weatherproof. The day was looking to be fair though, and the trip wasn’t very long, so I decided to take along my non-weatherproof E-M10 as well, with an ultra-wide lens to save the trouble of constant lens swapping – to give an idea of the width possible, the first image in this post was taken using the E-M10 and the ultra-wide lens. (I’ll put some notes at the end of this post for the camera geeks amongst you)

The road up to Marchlyn Mawr, with Carnedd y Filiast standing above

The route starts with a walk up a road, and as ‘Mist’ and I walked up we were passed by several cyclists on what is a fairly steep climb! The road seems a bit out of place unless you have looked at the map for the area – it’s there to service the reservoir of Marchlyn Mawr. Unlike many Welsh reservoirs that provide water for distant towns (and not all of them in Wales) Marchlyn Mawr is part of a power station.

Carnedd y Filiast (right) with the unnamed top, aka Spot Height 721 metres

Dinorwig power station has become a tourist attraction in its own right, known to the world as ‘Electric Mountain’. Cheap off-peak electricity is used to pump water from Llyn Peris in the valley up to Marchlyn Mawr. When there’s a sudden surge of demand for electricity (tea breaks during important televised football matches are typical) the water can be released to provide almost instant power.

The start of the height gain up to Spot Height 721

Before too long I had left the hardy cyclists behind on the service road and set off up the slopes of an unnamed summit at a height of 721 metres. Although totally unremarkable in many ways, the altitude of 721 metres is above the arbitrary 2000 ft (610 metres) that in the UK designate a hill as being a mountain – poor old 721 might not have a name, but it is the most northerly mountain in the Glyderau Range.

The view across to Elidir Fawr ….

…. and the mountains of the Carneddau on the other side

The northern slope of Carnedd y Filiast seen from Spot Height 721

From Spot Height 721 I had a great view across to my main objective, Elidir Fawr, and in the other direction I had a panorama of the Carneddau Mountains (you really will have to left-click the image to see it properly 😊). Ahead was a bit of a steeper section up to the summit of Carnedd y Filiast (Cairn of the Greyhound Bitch) at 821 metres altitude.

Looking back to Spot Height 721 from the boulder field of Carnedd y Filiast

The Glyderau – Foel Goch and Y Garn nearest, Tryfan and Glyder Fach and Fawr further away

The mountains of the Carneddau still looking very tempting – but not on the menu for today!

Carnedd y Filiast provided even more extensive views. Behind me was Spot Height 721 and a group of young hikers who became my ‘stalkers’ for the next part of the trip – I never succeeded in leaving them behind but they never seemed to get any closer to overtaking me. In the other direction, the Glyderau stretched out in front of me with the Carneddau still present on my left.

Looking back to Carnedd y Filiast, my ‘stalkers’ still following

Looking ahead – Foel Goch and Y Garn ….

…. but I’m heading to Elidir Fawr and Marchlyn Mawr ….

…. so it’s a right turn down to Bwlch y Marchlyn

From Carnedd y Filiast I carried on to the less interesting Mynydd Perfedd (812 metres). Straight ahead was the escarpment of Foel Goch and Y Garn, which manages to look interesting from wherever you look at it, even from the valley bottom at Ogwen. I wasn’t going that way today though – it was time to take a right turn towards Big Elidir.

Approaching the final ridge to Elidir Fawr

The start of the final ascent

Looking back down to Bwlch y Marchlyn ….

20

….and a final view of Foel Goch and Y Garn (Olympus E-M10 with ultra-wide lens)

Between me and Elidir was the pass of Bwlch y Marchlyn, which involved a height loss of over 60 metres before a height gain of 175 metres to reach the summit of Elidir Fawr (924 metres). The final ascent looks as interesting as that Foel Goch/Y Garn edge, with what looks like a narrow ridge, but close up it’s just a long plod upwards – still, it gave the opportunity for more photos on the way, with the E-M10 and ultra-wide lens coming into use again.

Group ahead of me at the summit of Elidir Fawr

View down to Marchlyn Mawr reservoir (Olympus E-M10 with ultra-wide lens)

On the way to the summit there were views down to the Marchlyn reservoir, but the main focus was on the long ridge ahead. Then all of a sudden I was there, on the high point of the route. From there it was a steady descent to the waiting car and an equally steady drive back home …. and dinner time for the waiting Collie.

Time to head for home

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

p.s. Ah, the photographic gear – for those who are interested.

Olympus cameras and lenses use a system called ‘Micro Four Thirds’ or M43 for short. By using smaller sensors in the camera, Olympus (and Panasonic) produce gear that is lighter and smaller, with a slight payoff of less resolution, which is no problem at all for most hobby photographers or for quite a few professionals who don’t want to carry a ton of gear all day. The bottom line is – unless you want to print an image the size of a dinner table, you probably wouldn’t notice the difference

If you are familiar with the conventional 35mm sizing of film cameras and full frame digital cameras, the focal length of the M43 lenses seems to reads strangely – you get the same view in the viewfinder, but the focal length is halved, so a 40mm M43 lens sees the same view as an 80mm full-frame lens.

I mostly use a 12-40mm ‘Pro’ lens on the E-M5 camera. Both are weatherproof and rugged, and the setup gives me the focal range of a full-frame 24-80mm lens – versatile and great for landscapes. On the non-weatherproof E-M10, I used an ultra-wide 9-18mm lens on this trip (also non-weatherproofed) giving me a focal range of 18-36mm – now, that’s wide!

p.p.s. I mentioned the trip to Scotland at the beginning of the post – I came back with loads of photos, some of which I’m still sorting out – they will be featured over the next couple of months or more.

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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3 Responses to #283 – Elidir Fawr revisited

  1. Steve says:

    Stunning pics yet again!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well I’m still a fan of my Olympus Trip 35 (35mm) – but it’s semi-automated so I prefer my old totally manual Zenith 11!

    Mynydd Perfedd only looks perfect from the Ogwen Valley I think. I did more or less the same round with my friend Colin but I don’t think we took your descent ridge off Elidir Fawr – I think we went straight down to the quarries and took an old trackway back to the car.

    There is a bit of excitement somewhere along the little ridge to the summit of Elidir Fawr – I remember scrambling the very top of the ridge for a distance and having a bird’s-eye view of the Marchlyn Mawr reservoir as I scrambled – it was fairly exposed for a while but fun.

    Isn’t there a big spooky ‘hole’ down the middle of the Marchlyn Mawr – sort of a death slide (or set of steps) into the bowels of the power station piping? I seem to remember there was something nasty there… a bit like the Ladybower Reservoir ‘plug hole’ (see link below):
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/03/21/pictures-day-21-march-2019/upper-derwent-valley-uk-west-spillway-shaft-known-locally-plug/

    Liked by 1 person

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