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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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.