Y Garn via Twll Du – mountain day adventures of a trainee Mountain Leader and her companions.

I was blessed with a high pressure system, a blue sky and not a cloud in sight on Saturday March 19, 2022 as I parked my vehicle on the A5 in Snowdonia National Park. Today my quality mountain day included a hike up to Y Garn in the Glyderau of Snowdonia National Park with two fellow hiking buddies, Gemma and Michelle, and their dog, Saffie.

Our hike began from Ogwen Cottage, a National Trust owned building. Ogwen Cottage began as a toll house in 1815, and then a mountaineering school in 1959. The Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Team also used it from 1964 to 1975. Ogwen Cottage now works in partnership with the Outward Bound Trust, offering outdoor and adventurous experiences to young people.

We walked West around Llyn Idwal, a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to specific plant species that grow there, and stood within Cwm Idwal, staring up at our route ahead via Twll Du – Devil’s Kitchen.

Twll Du – the Devil’s Kitchen, refers to the black, dark crack that splits the rock, and means ”black hole”. There is often a plume of steam seen rising from the crack, which means the Devil is cooking. Thankfully, no steam was seen on our ascent, and we were rewarded with stunning views of Llyn Idwal and Pen yr Ole Wen.

Our hike up to Y Garn was windy, with gusts that knocked us off balance, forcing us to sometimes stand still, or crouch down. Michelle had a wind meter reading device on her, and often looked very scientific as she attempted to measure the wind speed. The highest reading she measured was 41mph (66km ph). But in spite of these moments, the gradual ascent gave us panoramic views of Tryfan, Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach, and Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon).

At the summit of Y Garn at 947m (3107ft), a well deserved lunch break was enjoyed on the tenth-highest peak in Wales. Y Garn is one the 15 Welsh 3000s, summits of over 3000 feet (914.4m) in Wales.

The second half of our hike down really tested my Mountain Leader skills as I prepare for my assessment later this year. Hiking with others, and being the individual taking lead with the map and compass really forced me to make certain decisions around route options and route descent.

We hiked across to Foel-goch, north of Y Garn. The decision not to descend via the path above Cwm Clyd due to the wind gusts, I felt, was the right one. Instead I found a route down south of Y Llymllwyd, using wider contour options, before a steeper descent, eventually handrailing the stream down to Llyn Cywion.

A brief stop at the end of the stream to gaze at the wild ponies, the final part of our hike took us south east past the Pinnacle Crag, before picking up the track back to Llyn Idwal.

Hiking with others, while on my Mountain Leader journey towards assessment, is rewarding in so many ways. I still value solo hikes, to build confidence when you only have yourself to rely on. But the companionship and shared experience can make a quality mountain day fun and memorable, with good conversation and shared moments to remember. Thank you to Gemma, Michelle and mountain dog Saffie! See you next time for the Glyders!

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