An easier route to Glyder Fach visiting Bwlch Tryfan
The north westerly wind drove the cloud shadows swiftly across the Ogwen Valley rapidly changing the landscape from a harsh winter grey to softer autumn golds as the sun shone momentarily in blue space before retreating behind iron grey clouds.
The route I was taking today was from the exposed shore of Llyn Ogwen directly up to Llyn Bochlwyd before crossing Bwlch Tryfan - the gap separating Tryfan from Glyder Fach. Instead of the scrambling route up Bristly Ridge I would gain the summit of Glyder Fach by firstly following the path across its north east face and then heading back up the east ridge, an altogether easier route than Bristly Ridge.
I left the car park near the mid point of Llyn Ogwen and headed up the stone steps of the path behind it. After the initially steep but short slope, the path began heading over towards the sharp rocky peak of Tryfan. I left the main path and crossed a boggy area before climbing another steep slope of tussock and boulders to the south. The path faded in and out a bit here and it was a case of scrambling and sliding one's way up towards Llyn Bochlwyd which isn't too far above.
The main aim was to avoid following the gully and its stream too closely and the route was easier now I'd climbed up to the left a bit. You can avoid these shennanigans by setting off from the main car park at the western end of Llyn Ogwen and following the main path past Llyn Idwal - I could see people on it on the far side of the gully below. That path is clear all the way but you have to pay for parking whereas it was free where I'd stopped!
Soon though I joined the wide highway of the main path as it skirted past Llyn Bochlwyd, a fine mountain tarn nestled beneath the crags of the Glyderau. The rocky face of Glyder Fach towered ahead to the clouds seemingly inacessible to walkers from here.
The path now led up into increasingly rough terrain, following a narrow stony valley upwards between Glyder Fach and Tryfan. After passing some huge boulders which had at some point crashed down from the crags above, the ground opened up ahead to reveal the col of Bwlch Tryfan not far on. I was soon up to it and crossing the stile over the wall which follows the ridge. The far side of the wall was sheltered from the cold wind which was gusting in from the north west.
Leaving Bwlch Tryfan, I followed the track firstly through heather and boulders, then out across the more open scree slopes below Glyder Fach. The route here was interesting being an easy route through the craggy Glyderau Range, continuing as it does down to Capel Curig opr the Pen y Gwryd Hotel on the far side. From this secure path over an unstable looking mountainside was a view which summed up the best of Snowdonia. Below my vantage point the slope plunged into the heathery depths of Cwm Tryfan while the peak of Tryfan rose like a jagged three pronged tower on its far side, shreds of mist occasionally hiding its top. Across the Ogwen Valley, the mountains of the Carneddau rose into a grey ceiling - no view from that side today. The Glyderau often escapes the low cloud though, having slightly higher peaks both to the north and the south.
Where the path forked I took the right branch which took me steeply up the slope to emerge on the ridge above not far from the tarn of Llyn Caseg Fraith. Now, with views right across Wales I began the walk up the wide ridge to the west. Dark clouds and heavy showers which would be of snow up here drifted across the sun dappled landscape of mountains, valleys and shining lakes but all seemed to miss Glyder Fach. Once as I drew level with the top of Tryfan, that peak vanished into the grey as did the bouldery slopes above but they soon re emerged and I miraculously stayed dry!
Finally I approached the rough top of Glyder Fach - on this route only the last bit is excessively rough but there was the balanced slab of rock known as The Cantilever and the pile of car and bus sized boulders marking the highest point. The views were better to the north from the edge of the crags - Snowdon was invisible the other way as a rainstorm or blizzard appeared to be in progress.
After lunch sheltering below the summit rocks, I returned down the ridge the way I had come up but carried a little further along it to Llyn Caseg Fraith where there are good views of Tryfan across the waters of the tarn. There were no reflections today though due to the wind. I now returned back towards Glyder Fach but kept close to the edge of the steep ground to the north, soon picking up a path which would take me back towards Bwlch Tryfan across the mountainside I'd ascended earlier.
Soon I descended to a short rocky section where it was necessary to scramble down though it's not hard at all. After here I soon found myself near where I'd branched off up the slope earlier. Here a path descended the slopes of scree and heather into the wild valley of Cwm Tryfan dominated by the alpine looking Tryfan and Glyder Fach. Once down I followed a wide path which led steadily down to where the Tryfan campsite could be seen ahead. From here a deviation to the left below the crag of Tryfan Bach cut out some of the road walking back to where I had left the car.
Pete Buckley November 2008
Essentials >>> Up 730m >>> Down 730m >>> How Far? 9.7km
For more walks in Snowdonia please see the table of contents below.