Friday, February 09, 2007

Carneddau - above and below

Part 1 - The Conwy Estuary

A couple of weekends ago I drove off to meet some friends for some chilly sea kayaking. There was a big spring tide with high water shortly after midday so we had the option of either paddling round the Great Orme near Llandudno, or up the Conwy Estuary. On the day there was a sharp westerly blowing onto the beach at Llandudno's West Shore. The kitesurfers were making the most of the lumpy conditions and making plenty of good aerial moves.

We made an easy decision to change our original plan and drive accross to 'The Beacons' carpark beside Conwy Marina. The flood tide generates an exciting tidal stream that runs up to 6 knots between the marinas of Conwy and Deganwy. We played in the standing waves off the jetty before allowing ourselves to be swept along, upstream towards Conwy castle and the historic bridges. It can be an interesting ride with tricky water conditions because some of the larger mooring buoys become submerged by the powerful currents. Making contact with one of these buoys can give a nasty surprise, possibly followed by a capsize!

Once under the bridges and into calmer water we foundd time to relax and enjoy the views of the Carneddau, these are the mountains at the north-east corner of the Snowdonia national park.

The strong westerly wind began to funnel out of the Conwy valley giving us a stiff headwind to work up against. Eventually we found a nice sheltered spot for a brief lunch stop beside the bridge at Tal-y-Cafn. We couldn't stop for all that long because it was getting rapidly colder. We would be better of getting back into our boats and getting warm whilst paddling back to 'The Beacons'

We soon picked up the ebbing tide and with the wind behind us aided our swift return to where we had started. The end of the journey was not without entertainment. Mark gave us all a laugh whilst exploring whirlpools under the bridges beside the castle, a roll or two later and all was well, although I hear he needs a new hat and another pair of sunglasses.

Derek earned an astonishingly easy OBE by colliding with some moorings. There was a frantic struggle between folk to get to him quickly because it had been declared that the rescuer gets beer!

After getting changed, beers were duly exchanged at the recommended 'Mulberry' pub beside Conwy Marina.

Part 2 - A walk along the tops

The following weekend my brother Chris and I headed off to go in seach of fine views of the north wales coast and the Conwy valley and a strenuous walk on the Carneddau. We started from the A5 beside the Midland Association of Moutaineers' hut at western end of Llyn Ogwen. The walk up the side of the valley towards Cwm Loer is steep but rewarding because it gets you up high very quickly. Sadly once we arrived on the loer slopes of Pen yr Ole Wen, we lost all chances of getting a view due to hill fog and low cloud.

We carried on through pathches of deep soft snow accross the peaks of Carnedd Fach, Carnedd Dafydd and by the time we arrived at Carnedd Llewellyn we began to get a hint that the weather might clear.

Views finally became more promising on the ridge close to Pen yr Helgy Du. Once we had safely descended onto the resevoir access road all that remained was a gruelling 2 mile trudge along the A5 back to the car.

No comments: