With 6 weeks to go to the Vegan Carneddau and no real improvement in my shoulder it seemed about time to try myself out, I’ve never actually walked or run to the top of a mountain before. We had already booked a couple of nights B&B in Betws y Coed for a break and had been jammy enough to get some wonderful sunny weather. So after a long mornings drive then vegan pastie and chips at the Alpine Coffee Shop Jane dropped me at the east end of Llyn Ogwen with instructions to pick me up in 3 hours allowing me time to find my way up Pen yr Ole Wen and back, maybe with a leg out to Carnedd Dafydd thrown in if I was making good time. I had brought a choice of trail shoes and light showerproof or boots and proper coat, it was warm at the bottom but I could see a couple of patches of remaining snow up there so went for the boots and coat.
I’d plotted on Garmin and map what I understood to be the easier but longer way up, following Afon Lloer up the east of Pen yr Ole Wen then following a path left round to the south to reach the summit. It turned out to be pretty boggy by Afon Lloer with no clear path but marking posts and steps over walls showed the way quite clearly at first. It was of course all uphill and pretty soon I was regretting bringing my coat as the sweat flowed. I took it off and carried it under my good arm, tied my fleece round my waist and slowed the pace reminding myself that the hard work was yet to come.
One of the marker posts had fallen so I stuck it back in it’s hole. They ran out after 40 minutes or so but I could make out a sort of path leading to the rocky bit below the summit and was still on the course I’d loaded the Garmin with. I wasn’t in sight of the small lake, Ffynnon Lloer, snuggled near the top yet but remembered a route description had cryptically stated the need to bear left before you could see the lake. I continued on to the start of the rocks where it was fortunately a bit cooler with altitude as I had to put my coat back on to free up my good arm.
I picked my way up what seemed to be a steep path over rocks and grassy bits but soon found my way blocked by some larger slabs resting at a quite steep angle. I thought I could see a level bit not far up that could well be the path but there was no way I was going to get past these without a bit of what’s know as a scramble and that wasn’t going to happen with my lack of experience and only one arm working properly. Turning round to retrace I was reminded that I don’t like heights, particularly where the footing is not secure – I pushed that phobia back into it’s hiding place where it was quickly forgotten as I took in the view.
I retraced a bit but couldn’t see any obvious path further south so decided to ignore the Garmin and continue towards Ffynnon Lloer to look for a way up I could manage. Perhaps that hadn’t been the correct path and it was a little further on, there were no shortage of false tracks. It was an hour since I set off and I’d not seen anyone since leaving tarmac – not exactly a multitude of walkers to tread a clear path. The little lake was pretty and it was a great place to have to myself. The continual wall of loose rocks towering to my left didn’t offer much promise though. I tried a couple of possible paths but they tapered to nothing, one got so steep that I ended up sliding part way back down on my bum as the vertigo gremlin tried to crawl back out his hole.
A week and a bit of research later and it seems I’d failed to find the proper route though looking at a couple of videos of the scramble I still wouldn’t have got up there without 2 good arms.
I continued round the lake to the shallower looking slopes below Carnedd Fach but really knew it was time to admit defeat. If I couldn’t gain the first summit walking in perfect conditions I wasn’t going to be up to running the Vegan Carneddau with a further 6 peaks. I reckoned I had another 30 minutes maximum before I needed to start back down so decided to follow a clear path up from the lake to a big rock I could see a bit before what looked like another yet more loose rock. Getting closer I could see that with sufficient skill, strength and limbs it might be possible to gain the ridge this way but it wasn’t for me. Time to give up!