Sep 212013

Cwm Idwal is a very popular place and here was the proof in a procession of sturdy bare calves, red rolled-down socks, big boots and sticks clattering up the stone-pitched path towards Llyn Idwal lying hidden in its dark dramatic bowl of cliffs.
First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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Soon we struck off the main path and followed a stony trod across bog feathery with cotton grass, then up the steep mountain cleft where Nant Bochlwyd came jumping down from rock to rock in a rush of foam and flying water. Up over the rim of the cleft we found Llyn Bochlwyd lying flat under the sombre cliffs of Glyder Fach, a wind-rippled mountain lake in a hollow of green bilberry, as quiet and lonely as could be.

The outline of Llyn Bochlwyd mirrors almost exactly that of Australia. We took great delight in walking the Gold Coast from Sydney to Cairns – so to speak – before making for the saddle of ground that looks down on Llyn Idwal lying as dark as tarnished copper 600 feet below. A sudden harsh rattle of alarm brought both our heads up, and there was a ring ouzel, a rarely seen mountain blackbird with a big white bib, alert on a rock as it waited for us to clear out of its high and wild territory.

A very steep rocky chute of a path landed us on the shore of Llyn Idwal, and from there we took the high road south, a slanting path rising under the tremendous crags of Glyder Fawr to reach a tumbled boulder field. Delicate starry saxifrages grew here, their white flowers powdered with bright scarlet dots of anthers. Along with royal blue butterwort and tiny green stars of alpine lady’s mantle, they made a really delightful mountain meadow to walk through before we descended the rough path to Llyn Idwal.

Some say that Prince Idwal the Bald was drowned here by his foster-father Nefydd the Handsome; others that the prince was cremated on its shores in 942 AD after falling in battle against the Saxon foe. We walked its gritty beach and looked our last on the Glyder cliffs, now wreathed in curls of mist, before turning down the homeward path in a whirl of flitting meadow pipits.

Start: Ogwen Warden Centre, Nant Ffrancon, Cwm Idwal car park, LL57 3LZ (OS ref SH 649603).

Getting there: Bus – Snowdon Sherpa ( service S6
Road – on A5 between Capel Curig and Bethesda

Walk (4½ miles, hard, OS Explorer OL 17. NB: online map, more walks: Up stone-pitched path at left side of Warden Centre. In 350m path bends right (652601); ahead here on stony track across bog; steeply up right side of Nant Bochlwyd to Llyn Bochlwyd (655594). Right (west) on path for 400m to saddle (652594); pitched path to Gribin climbs to left, but you keep ahead, then very steeply down to Llyn Idwal (647596). Left along lake. At south end take higher path (646593) slanting up to boulder field; take care fording torrent at 642589!

Arriving face to face with a big 20-ft boulder (640589), go right down side of boulder, then left across rocky grass to find downward path (640590), steep in places, to Llyn Idwal and Visitor Centre.

Conditions: Steep and slippery in places; a strenuous hike for sure-footed and confident hill walkers.

Lunch: Picnic

Accommodation: Tyn-y-Coed Inn, Capel Curig (01690-720331; – really helpful, walker-friendly inn

Information: Ogwen Warden Centre (01248-602080) or Betws-y-Coed Information Centre (01690-710426);

Snowdonia Walking Festival (26, 27 October; – walks for all

 Posted by at 01:18

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