Saturday, 31 October 2015

5 Nuttalls from Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw to Y Groes Fagl

Walk Summary
SOTA member (gw4vpx) in situ on Cyrniau Nod
First full day out above 2000'.
Culmination of two months careful preparation and rehabilitation, following four months with a persistent back injury that seemed to refuse to recover.
I was confident I was capable of such a walk but apprehensive about any immediate symptoms on the hill or recurrence of symptoms following completion. 
The walk would involve:- 
  • a lung buster of an initial ascent of 160m in less than ¼ mile out of Cwm Hirnant,
  • a test of core strength and balance (that you normally take for granted through ¾ mile of calf deep heather and uneven ground from the fence to Cefn Gwyntog summit,
  • stamina sapping ankle deep saturated sphagnum moss hidden by course reeds along the fence to Bwlch y Groes Fagl,
  • endurance testing 4 mile return from final summit Groes Fagl.
All this to bag 5 Nuttalls, 2 with obvious summits but the other 3 requiring wandering around various high points around the summit area just in case I had walked all this way and stood on a point that may have been 2 or 3 inches lower than the ascribed summit.
Good to be back in the hills.
Good also to meet up with Allan Jones SOTA member chasing Marilyns in a different way than us regular peak baggers.

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 31 October 2015
Walkers - Steve Smith

Accommodation -  Bala Camping and Caravan Club Site
Start Point - Off road parking 50m north of cattle grid (GR - SH 95011 29053)
Start Time - 10:32
Finish Point 
Off road parking 50m north of cattle grid (GR - SH 95011 29053)
Finish Time - 16:22
Duration - 5hrs 50mins
Average pace - 1.80mph
Distance Walked - 10.52 miles
Height Ascended - 653.20metres

Other walks on this trip
26th Walton Hill + Titterstone Clee Hill & Beacon Hill
27th North Shropshire Marilyns
28th Remaining South Shropshire Marilyns
30th Foel y Geifr ridge
31st Five Nuttalls from Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw to Y Groes Fagl
02nd Foel Cwn-Sian Llŵd & Post Gwyn

Peaks visited
Nuttalls (190W - 444E&W)
Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw (81W - 334E &W)
Stac Rhos (82W - 335E &W)
Cefn Gwyntog (83W - 336E &W)
Cyrniau Nod (84W - 337E &W)
Y Groes Fagl (85W - 338E &W)
Hewitts (138W - 317E&W)
Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw (56W - 235E &W)
Cyrniau Nod (57W - 236E &W)
Marilyns (158W - 1550E,W&S)
Cyrniau Nod (24W - 167E,W &S)
Deweys (241W - 427EW&S)
HuMPs (364W - 2977EW&S)
Cyrniau Nod (34W - 244E,W &S)
Historic County Tops (13W - 93E,W&S)
W: Wales. 
E,W&S:England,Wales & Scotland

GPX can be downloaded from
Walk Description
Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw
Looking down at walk start point
from top of steep ascent up Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw
I had spotted an alternative ascent route yesterday on the way down from Foel y Geifr. On arriving I also found off road parking before the cattle grid more or less adjacent to the new ascent route. So the walk began with climbing over the fence and crossing a swollen stream rather than walk the short distance to the cattle grid and following the path back to the point I struggled to reach.
From here it was a straight forward diagonal steep ascent (the lung busting bit) heading more or less due south towards the ex-Nuttall Pen y Cerrig Duon. The path does disappear near the top but the gradient reduces for the final wade through heather to reach the feeder road which passes to the south of all the days planned summits.
Pass the sheep pen then after passing Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw summit to the south turn right when you see a gate on your right and then turn right at the gate following the fence to the summit. Several candidates for the high point on the south side of the fence but the summit is on the other side of the fence indicated by a cairn on a grassy knoll.
Stac Rhos
Trum y Gwrgedd summit other side of fence
Returning to the path and staying with it until due north of Stac Rhos summit marked by a fence junction rather than cutting the corner across untracked heather. 
Follow the fence all the way to the summit. Again several candidates for high point in the area rising above 630m contour rings so wandered around them all but in the end plumped for the first one you come across marked by a small pile of stones in the corner on the other side of the fence.

Cefn Gwyntog
Leave fence to gain summit of Foel y Geifr
Weather permitting, you can see Cefn Gwyntog from Stac Rhos to the SE. Moving on through Stac Rhos summit area continue following the fence and turn left following it east until you reach the summit ridge. I was looking for a path that would take me to the right and on to Cefn Gwyntog summit but eventually lost patience and turned right anyway though knee deep heather. It was this that provided the test of core strength we take for granted and just as well I passed with flying colours as although I came across vague paths, some disguised as sheep tracks they all filtered away to nothing and returned to heather.
Twenty minutes later I reached the summit marked by a small pile of stones. 100m to the south there is a further high point which once was the top so I went to that as well just in case. I did have thoughts about continuing south to pick up the Dewey Gareg Wen and probably would have done if there had been a decent path. However common sense overcame me (yes I did feel dizzy) by not wanting to overdo things and returned to the focus of the day and the next Nuttall, Cyrniau Nod.
Cyrniau Nod
Trum y Gwrgedd summit other side of fence
Turning to the north and returning to the fence I followed what was the best path I could make out but once again it disappeared into a sea of heather that continued more or less all the way to the fence. I think it is safe to say that as at time of writing and the walk if you want to go to Cefn Gwyntog you will have to wade through calf deep heather most of the time.
On return to the fence and looking right to Cyrniau Nod all looks straight forward following what looks like a well distinguished path along the fence to the bwlch between Cyrniau Nod and Y Groes Fagl. Do not be misled it is watery ribbon off grass stamina sapping ankle deep saturated sphagnum moss.
As I approached the bwlch my energy levels were depleting and rather than continuing through fatigue decided to stop and recharge with my lunch of two ham, tomato & ham rolls, loaded with mustard, a handful of almonds and a date and walnut flapjack washed down with a flask full of strong hot black coffee to aid with matabalism of what protein there was in the meal.
Refreshed by food and rest it was a matter of making the final push to Cyrniau Nod summit where I came across Allan Jones, accompanied by his wife, transmitting behind a bothy bag set up as a windbreak with his wife.
He seemed a busy chap saying "roger" "signing off" etc. etc. etc. I reckon he must have spoken to about 10 different people from other hill tops in the UK and even from France via short wave due to the favourable atmospheric conditions of the day and the US on VHF. While all this was going on I completed summit rituals and just before heading off had a chance to have an interesting chat with him about what SOTA was all about and what he was doing to attain the sought after "Mountain Goat" status. Like me he keeps a blog of all his walks and contacts. This is the link to Cyrniau Nod. I guess this is hill bagging with a twist but judging by all the kit including batteries I reckon a five Marilyn day would be even more elusive than it is for me.
Good to chat with you Allan - hope to maybe see you on hill-bagging.

Y Groes Fagl
Leave fence to gain summit of Foel y Geifr
After the three summits of Stac Rhos, Cefn Gwyntog and Cyrniau Nod it was time to return to the track and head for the final Nuttall of the day. All straight forward with the path to Y Groes Fagl being marked by a small cairn on the side of the track.
The path takes you straight to a stout stake hammered in to the ground which you assume is the summit. However you will cross the highpoint on the path about 3m before the post.
Looks like higher ground about 40m to the NE on the other side of the fence. I had to go and have a look, again just in case but after gaining the top of the heathery hag looking back at the post it was obviously lower.
All that remained now was the final endurance test and the 4 mile hike back to the van all the way along the track I had used in part as a feeder to the days summits. Tiring and satisfying but fortunately no long term negative symptoms. Just a nice feeling of being tired at the end of a successful day and waking up next morning with a relaxing ache that passed round about late afternoon.
10.52 miles with 653m of ascent in 5hrs 50mins confirms my return to the hills. I will be avoiding the Munrios this winter but look forward to trying out some of the sub 2500' summits in the Southern Uplands of Scotland and making a large dent in the 105 Nuttalls I have left to due to complete England & Wales.
More Photographs
Cyrniau Nod, highest point of the day. Cadair Berwyn beyond
Click on photograph to view slide-show