(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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.