Almost Cwm Bochlwyd Horseshoe Scramble

Looking towards Carnedd Dafydd/ Carnedd Llewelyn
Heading up to Heather Terrace

Friend and I travelled to North Wales on August bank holiday weekend… our mission: to do many enjoyable quality scrambles in the Cicierone guide book by Steve Ashton, but also be some distance away from majority of the crowd as we could.

Day 1: Almost Cwm Bochlwyd Horseshoe!

We had done the North Ridge many a times, so we opted for the Little and North Gullies ***(1) up to the top of Tryfan. The descent from Tryfan was via the South Ridge **(1). Instead of the ever-so-popular Bristly Ridge (it was very very busy on the day), we traversed towards the Alphabet Slab and up the Main Gully **(1). Up on the Glyders, we had a play on Cantilever stone and Castell-y-Gwynt before a down scramble on Y Gribin *(1). For detailed route descriptions, refer to Cicerone walking/ scrambling guide for the area.

Looking up towards Heather Terrace and east face of Tryfan
Looking up to the East face of Tryfan

As you might expect on a bank holiday weekend, the popular section of the route was fairly busy with people of all levels of ability and technical skill. The circuit’s considered a Grade 1 scramble though harder variations exist. The best bit of scramble, for us, would be the Main Gully. The ‘difficulties’ eased once you overcome the chockstone.

Traverse from South Ridge of Tryfan towards the Main Gully
Traverse towards the Alphabet Slab
Y Gribin Ridge from Glyder Fach
Y Gribin Ridge
Route map of almost Cwm Bochlwyd Horseshoe scramble
Elevation profile of almost Cwm Bochlwyn Horseshoe scramble

Distance: To give you a sense of the almost Bochlwyd Horseshoe scramble, the route is only just over 5 miles long with about 2220ft of ascent and descent, almost all of which involves scrambling over rocks and boulders.

Approximate Time: An all-day undertaking! It could take anywhere from 5-10 hours or even more, depending on your level of fitness and ability, as well as frequency and length of breaks/ rest. Do take into consideration faffing time (especially slow going if roping up or a slow-moving party in front) and breaks, bad weather, etc. Allow for more time if scrambling in snow during the winter months.

Conditions: August 2022, it wasn’t as sweltering as some of the hotter weekends we had in 2022 but it was still hot. No rain and luckily it wasn’t very windy. Flying ants and midges…

Total height climbed: From 1010 (310m) to 3230ft (984m) according to my app on the phone… there was a lot of up and down, and up again.

Parking: One of the car parks off the A5 near Llyn Ogwen. Note: There were many camper-vans/ motor-homes that stayed overnight in those car parks so get there early. Alternatively, catch a Sherpa bus.

Start: The path leads from the car park up the boulder field towards a well trodden footpath uphill towards the North Ridge of Tryfan.

Views: Spectacular views across to Snowdon, Carnedd Dafydd and Holyhead!

Exposure: Airy but excellent!

Map: OS Maps: Explorer OL17.

Gear: We brought along waterproof jacket and trousers but didn’t get to use any of them.

Tips and Lessons learnt: Arrive early if you want a parking spot, also the earlier you start, the sooner you finish before it gets dark.

Day 2: Crib Lem (Llech Ddu Spur)

Route map of Crib Lem
Elevation profile of Crib Lem

Carneddau of Snowdonia, described by Trail Magazine as… filled with plenty of big mountains and their rolling contours but the area isn’t over-endowed with crags and cliffs…. However what it loses out in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. We would agree as this scramble up Llech Ddu Spur from the isolated Cwm Llafar valley to the summit of Carnedd Dafydd was quality and very enjoyable. It’s been given ***(1) in the guidebook and what’s more, there wasn’t a crowd.

For detailed route descriptions, refer to Cicerone walking/ scrambling guide for the area.

View of the mountain from Cwm Llafar valley
Glorious scramble awaits…
Grassy ramp up to the start of the scramble
Grassy ramp that leads to the start of scramble
one of the rock buttresses along the scramble up Crib Lem
Quality scramble up Llech Ddu Spur
Crib Lem (Llech Ddu Spur)
View of Llech Ddu Spur along the return leg of the route

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