Friday, 6 September 2019

Y Garn, Devil's Kitchen & Cwm Idwal

Open Space Web-Map builder Code

Route: Idwal Cottage, Pen y Benglog, Y Garn, Castell y Geifr, Cneifion Duon, Twll Du, Cwm Idwal, Idwal Cottage

Date: 06/09/2019
From: A5 - Idwal Cottage

Parking: Laybys on A5
Start Point: Idwal Cottage
Region: Snowdonia

Route length: 4.5 miles (8.5 km)
Time taken: 02:20
Average speed: 1.9 mph
Ascent: 731m
Descent: 728m

Summits: Y Garn (947m)

Other points of interest: Twll Du, Llyn Idwal

With our move to Sydney just around the corner (literally, in three days time) we've moved out of All the Gear HQ and are living a nomadic lifestyle out the back of the car. Fortunately, the last two weeks in the UK have been bookended with friends weddings meaning we've been staying at friends and in hotels in various parts of the country. The last of these was in north Wales giving me the perfect opportunity for one last Snowdonia outing.

With time and the weather both against me, I opted against Snowdon or Tryfan, instead looking to Y Garn for a short-ish outing which would avoid the worst of any wind or rain but still get into the higher mountains.
Starting from Idwal Cottage I was lucky enough to find one of the free parking spaces vacant when I arrived. After getting kitted up I set off, passing the information building and climbing the steps a short distance away from the road. A second path leaves the paved one to climb through a ravine, the remnant of a long-disused quarry. Low clouds were shrouding much of the mountain but the forecast was for them to lift during the day.
The old quarry below Pen y Benglog
The route up the northeast ridge starts from the north end of Llyn Idwal and can be reached by crossing the footbridge at the lake's outlet. Heading west, the path climbs steeply for 250m around the rear of Pinnacle Crag. The entire climb up Y Garn is pretty steep but there is some respite when you reach Cwm Clyd, one of two glacial cwms that make their home on the slopes of Y Garn.
Y Garn stands shrouded in cloud
Clouds on Pen yr Ole Wen
Y Garn
The route up alongside Pinnacle Crag
The Idwal Slabs
Cwm Cneifion
Looking east along the Ogwen valley
Once at Cwm Clyd, the route continues up the northeast ridge proper, a path that gets very steep towards the top but provides tremendous views down into the cwms on either side. The summit sits a short distance from the top of the ridge.

The great mass of Y Garn
Pen yr Ole Wen, Tryfan and Glyder Fach
Y Garn over Cwm Clyd
The east ridge
Cwm Cywion backed by Foel-goch and Y Llymllwyd
Y Garn's east ridge
The many lakes and tarns of Ogwen
Looking down the east ridge
Clouds over the Glyders
Y Garn
It was fairly blustery on the summit, much cooler than recent days and a reminder that autumn is not far away. Of all the Welsh mountains called Y Garn (translated as 'the cairn' or 'the rock'), this particular variant is the tenth highest in the country and has a superb panorama thanks to its location on the bend of the Ogwen valley. To the east is Llyn Owgen, Tryfan and the Glyders while Nant Ffrancon stretches away to the north. To the south stands Crib Goch, Garnedd Ugain and Yr Wyddfa, hidden in the cloud.
Y Garn's summit
A cloudy Glyder Fawr
Glyder Fawr
 After pausing in the summit shelter on Y Garn I started down the southeastern slope, making a short diversion along Castell y Geifr, a rocky rib that protrudes out from the slopes and gives further impressive views. From here, it was a short descent down to the top of the Devil's Kitchen (Twll Du).
Tyrfan and the Glyders
Castell y Geifr and Cwm Clyd
Y Garn
Castell y Geifr
Castell y Geifr panorama
The Devil's Kitchen is a deep cleft in the wall of crag above Cwm Idwal. The Welsh name for Devil’s Kitchen is Twll Du, meaning ‘black hole’, which is a fairly apt description. The name Devil’s Kitchen comes about because of the plume of water that is often seen rising from the crack resembling a chimney. It’s said when water (or steam) can be seen rising from the chimney, the Devil was cooking.
Clouds cap Glyder Fawr
The path leading to the top of Twll Du
Descending into Twll Du
Twll Du
Cwm Idwal
Twll Du
Cwm Idwal
The shattered rocks below Twll Du
A new footbridge crosses one of the streams below Twll Du
After hopping down the slippery boulders below Twll Du, I took the path leading off to the right towards the Idwal Slabs. I remember there being a tricky stream crossing along this section but it seems a new footbridge has been built to avoid such a challenge. As with many of my visits to Cwm Idwal it had started raining heavily by now so the remaining photos are limited. Nice to see Wales giving a proper send-off.
The Idwal Slabs
Idwal Slabs
The dark crevice of the Idwal Staircase
Y Garn and Llyn Idwal
I arrived back at the car and bade farewell to north wales with a customary drive along the A5 and a stop off in Betws-y-Coed to have one last rummage through the gear shops. I'll miss hiking in the UK but a whole new adventure awaits just around the corner - watch this space.

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