#324 – One last dog walk – a wander in the mountains of the Southern Carneddau, July 2022

The Southern Carneddau – Carnedd Dafydd on the left with Pen yr Helgi Du on the right in the distance

For the best viewing experience, left-click the images and maps to zoom in to a new window, then exit that window to go back – go on, it really does work!

Eryri (Snowdonia) with the mountains of the Carneddau in the centre

If you are a regular reader, you would probably have seen the recent post (see post #320) which announced that my Border Collie ‘Mist’ had died at the respectable age of 14.  After ‘Mist’ was cremated, Chris and I distributed some of her ashes on our local dog walks near home, but I had made plans to take ‘Mist’ for one last walk in the mountains of the Carneddau.

The Carneddau, showing the route
Closer view of the route

Before moving to North Wales in 2012, I hardly knew the Carneddau, but since then these mountains have become one of my favourite areas to walk.   (If you search on Carneddau in the Blog page search box, you will probably find enough posts to fritter away half a morning!)    Just the place for a final dog walk, and I knew exactly where I would be going.

Looking up towards Pen yr Ole Wen (left) and Cwm Lloer ….
…. and looking across the valley to a cloud-draped Tryfan
The East Ridge of Pen yr Ole Wen coming into view
‘Mist’ in Cwm Lloer – December 2012

The Carneddau range covers quite an area, so there was a lot to go at.   One of my favourite trips, and one that ‘Mist’ had always accompanied me on, is the circuit of mountains starting with Pen yr Ole Wen via its East Ridge, then continuing above Cwm Lloer to Carnedd Dafydd.  From there, on to Carnedd Llewelyn, the highest peak in the Carneddau, before heading down to Pen yr Helgi Du, and returning to the valley via Y Braich.

The rock band on the East Ridge – the short scramble is in the left-leaning groove, just to the left of centre
The short scramble – no problem if you have opposing thumbs!
A bit more of a problem if you only have doggie paws! (July 2014)
Looking down the scramble

The East Ridge of Pen yr Ole Wen has a rock band that appears from below to block further progress, but there’s a lovely little scramble that has only one defect – it’s too short!  It has its moments though, especially if you have paws instead of opposing thumbs, and I always used to put a harness and rope on ‘Mist’ instead of risking an accident.   On a traverse of the range from Ogwen to Conwy in 2014 (see post #160) I reported that “the last time we came this way, ‘Mist’ had struggled a bit getting up the rock obstacle – I can now report that her rock climbing standard has gone up by at least a grade, and at one point the dog overtook me, making this her first lead on a rock route!”

Once past the scramble, it’s a steady plod to the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen
Tryfan, now cloud free
Carnedd Dafydd (just left of centre) seen from Pen yr Ole Wen

Once above the rock step, it’s a steady plod to the top of Pen yr Ole Wen, where I scattered some of Mist’s ashes on the summit.    I had planned to do the same by the summit cairn of Carnedd Dafydd, where she would usually try to mug me for one of my sandwiches, but a group of young Mountain Leader trainees had taken over the top, so rather than have a bit of dog grit land in their sarnies, I did the decent thing and moved about 25 metres downwind.

The summit of Carnedd Dafydd looking east © Philip Halling
Looking east from Carnedd Dafydd with Carnedd Llewelyn on the left
Cloud brewing up above the cliffs of Ysgolion Duon
Almost the same location in July 2014, with Ysgolion Duon cloud free
Heading east, the cloud closes in ….
…. but gradually starts to clear

From Carnedd Dafydd, the route passes above the cliffs of Ysgolion Duon.  Irregular patches of cloud were blowing in and out, but it’s a route I know well, and I only stopped once to check the direction of travel, in the middle of a particularly dense bank of fog.  Before long the hill cloud began to clear as I headed upwards to Carnedd Llewelyn.

Carnedd Llewelyn ahead ….
….with a view across to Pen yr Helgi Du, the last summit of the South Carneddau Circuit
Above Craig yr Ysfa with Pen yr Helgi Du ahead – just the rock step to sort out
Looking back to the rock step – note the figure dead centre
Looking back to Craig yr Ysfa, with Carnedd Llewelyn hidden in the cloud

Carnedd Llewelyn was my third location to leave some of ‘Mist’ behind – that being done, I started heading down the gradually narrowing ridge that crosses above the climbers’ crag of Craig yr Ysfa.  Another rock band provides a bit more amusement requiring some ‘hands on’ scrambling – ‘Mist’ always found a quicker way down this than I did, probably by following the scent of others, but this time I had to find my own route.

The lonely summit of Pen yr Helgi Du – just two sheep for company

From the rock band, the route heads in a southerly direction, crossing the ridge of Bwlch Eryl Farchog before heading up to the final summit of Pen yr Helgi Du, where I left my last bit of ‘Mist’ behind, sharing the summit with two sheep.  From there, it’s an easy return to the valley down the broad ridge of Y Braich, a route I’ve followed several times before with ‘Mist’, but this time I was heading down alone – it was time to head for home.

The way down – the broad ridge of Y Braich in July 2014
Time to head for home

Text and images © Paul Shorrock with the exception of the image tagged © Philip Halling which is taken from the Geograph Project and reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence.

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.
This entry was posted in 5. North Wales and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to #324 – One last dog walk – a wander in the mountains of the Southern Carneddau, July 2022

  1. Much as I dislike Tryfan (I think it’s overrated and loose with not many walking routes compared to my favourite, Snowdon), that first photo of it is a belter – well worth putting on the wall!

    I’ve only done that arete up onto Pen Yr Helgi Du once and found it narrower and more scrambly than I expected – much harder the the Craig yr Isfa side and I thought at the time I wouldn’t want to go down it!

    Talking of dogs and the route at the start of Pen Yr Olau Wen, I’ve only ever been down the scramble and found it fine but once, we had my friend’s collie with us. His collie wasn’t very keen on anyone except his owner and I had to descend first and then have his dog passed down the various rocky bits to me. It wasn’t nice having a snarling collie coming towards your face! It did bite people too when it felt like it so it was no idle threat!


  2. Will says:

    What a wonderful post, RIP Mist


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s