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Saturday, 5 October 2013

Dinorwic quarries September 2013

Despite being still tired from the Oggie 8 with a good weather forecast on the cards & the hints of a cloud inversion we were tempted to head to North Wales for a walk in the hills. Aside from the Oggie8 walk we hadn't spent much time in North Wales this year and we looked forward to a slower paced bimble without any time restrictions to keep too. We arranged to meet our friend Kirsch & her friend Paul in the carpark by the Llanberris Slate museum (well worth a visit if you are in the area, it's free and the talk is really interesting). You have to pay for parking there, and we were a bit disgruntled that the loos weren't open such was our early start. We'd left Northwich at 6.30am hoping that the early start might bag us a cloud inversion.

Kirsch had her dog Pinkle with her which was a nice suprise as it's always nice to walk with a dog. Our plan was to head up onto the hills via the slate quarries. We had done this same walk in January but due to group fatigue missed out one minor mountain top at the end of the ridge. I am trying to walk up all the Welsh mountains, so a return visit was needed.

The walk starts with a climb up through the start of of the slate workings on an official path. As you climb higher you get excellent views of Dolbadarn Castle, a place which reminds me of a day out to Llanberris me and my Mum had when I was a small child - we visited the Castle and had a picnic by the Llyn. 

As we climbed up I began to regret all the warm layers I had packed, it was an incredibly warm, muggy autumn day and my heavy bag was slowing me down. As we got higher we were treated to views down into Llyn Perris which is used to generate hydro power. Water is released into the lake from Marchlyn Mawr to produce electricity. The power station is buried deep inside the mountain. You can visit it on tours entitled 'electric mountain'.

As we walked more into the quarries the scale of them became even more immense 

The quarries were littered with old buildings which held the workings of the quarries. They are now home to sheep and the odd camper by the looks of some of the rubbish left in them. We surprisingly found a stash of tins of beans and one solitary bottle of Budweiser! 

The low cloud we'd had at the start of the walk started to lift. No cloud inversion for us, but still excellent views down to the valley below.

We found the old quarry mens's building which still had their shoes & some clothing left behind. There was less clothing when we had last visited, and I wondered how much longer it would stay there. It would be an atmospheric place to stay the night on a warm night, the lack of windows making it only a good weather option!

To get up to the higher sections of quarry there is an option of heading up some dodgy looking ladders or following various inclines up. As we had a dog with us, and most of us don't like heights we quickly opted for the latter option!

As we slowly made our way up the inclines we watched people climbing on the opposite face. After standing around looking at the route they then seemed to make very fast progress up it. It's hard to see how they could even climb up such smooth slate.

A mountain goat came running towards us as we reached the top of the incline. They are usually quite shy and retiring, the goat looked a bit upset, perhaps it was looking for it's family!

The cutting shed looking glorious in the sunshine

The cutting shed however was full of spiders which started to freak some of our party out, so after taking a few snaps of these crazy climbers a quick escape was made!

The view from the cutting shed down the valley to the Ogwen Valley is stunning

We soon had the slog up onto Elidir Fach which starts near the Snowdon Webcam point on the path. As per usual I was at the back and the last one up the hill. My lungs and my legs just weren't playing ball. I took every chance I could to stop and look back at the view below. 

We stopped on Elider Fach for some lunch which was very welcome as my stomach was pretty much on it's last legs! Next stop was up the scree to Elidir Fawr...

Last time we had been on Elidir Fawr it had been blowing a gale and I had my nine year old daughter with me. Once we got onto the ridge and into the wind there was no real time to stop and enjoy the views as we were just keen to get down and out of the wind. Thankfully on this occasion there was no wind and the sun was warm on our backs. It was so good to be able to take the time to look all around.

Looking to Tryfan and the Glyders, where we had been on our Oggie 8 walk the previous weekend

Descending off Elidir Fawr I nearly took a tumble off the eroded path, somehow I just managed to grab a rock in time to save myself from a roll down a grassly slope. A timely reminder to take care.

Probably one of the best views I have had of the Carneddau

The photos above show the beauty of our walk along the tops which was to take in Mynedd Perfeddand Carnedd Y Filliast. 

Carnedd Y Filliast has a few scambles on it's rock sides, all ones which I believe you would need a rope to do. It would be amazing to tackle one on them someday. What a location to do it in.

One of the scrambles is called 'Atlantic slabs' named after it's geology of what is I believe to be fossilized sea bed.

As we descended off the hill Pinkle enjoyed a cool down in a small pool at the bottom of the slope

Then it was back up for 10 mins or so to take in our last subsidiary top of Carnedd Y Filliast. Me looking happy to have completed my last hill top in this area, with glorious views to boot!

We then followed the old access road to the reservior to branch off it to follow the leat back to the quarries. 

Back in the quarries again we followed a good track all the way down and out. We recalled how when we were last there we ended up following a dodgy incline down off the hill in the dark as we'd missed the track. The track would have been so much easier!

Once back at the cars we paid a quick visit to the diving quarry which is called Vivian Quarry - despite visiting Llanberris quite a few times I had never been in there before - it's an impressive place. We spent some time stood there being mesmerized by the divers bubbles wondering when they would pop up.

Whilst stood there we also saw some rather cool caterpillars

Mike and I ended our rather excellent day having munchies in Petes Eats, with me silently sulking that I had not brought my swimming gear so could not have a swim in Padarn. It was an unexpectedly warm autumn day with great company, history, geology, views and fresh air. What more could you want for?