The All Wales Weekend was held in Bethesda at the north-western end of Snowdonia’s Carneddau range of mountains.
The weather in the days before the weekend had seen lots of heavy rain and a recce the night before of the start of the planned route had to end rather sharply. A ford across a normally insignificant little stream had been transformed into an impassable torrent. And the weather forecast for the Saturday looked dire with predictions of heavy showers, perhaps merging into longer periods of rain, and – worryingly – a risk of lightning.
A quick revision of plans led us to opt for an easier walk on the Saturday to visit four low prominences at the foot of Carnedd Dafydd in search of drier conditions underfoot and an easier route off the heights if thunder and lightning did occur. As it happened we had only when a single shortish shower at lunchtime, and here a suitable crag provided shelter from the rain and the cool wind. The higher peaks stayed resolutely in the cloud so we congratulated ourselves for deciding to stay a bit lower. Our last and highest prominence (at 580 metres) was in the cloud for a few minutes as we approached, but the cloud soon lifted. All these lower hills (Moel Faban, Llefn, Gyrn and Moel Wnion) that we did plod up were revealed to be superb viewpoints, north to Anglesey and the sea, and east, south and west to the mountains of northern Snowdonia. We then returned high up along a valley side, following a derelict leat to a viewpoint over Bethesda and the steep mountains framing it.
A communally shared meal that evening left everyone replete and wearily content. Some of those with a long way to travel left early on the Sunday morning but others were eager to soak up more of the Welsh mountains. We headed off to Cwm Idwal one of the most dramatic spots in Snowdonia though easily reached from the main A5 road and a complete contrast to the previous day’s walk. Rather than the vast open spaces seen on Saturday, Cwm Ogwen is a deep, foreboding chunk cut by glaciers out of the Glyderau range (a conclusion reached in the 1840s by Charles Darwin). A walk round the lake, Llyn Idwal, under the mighty crags of Y Garn and Glyder Fawr, was spiced by an ascent halfway up the steep rock fall at the back of cwm. Then we headed down an easier track, though with one sting in the tail – an awkward stream crossing. Work had started on building an (ugly, over-engineered) bridge at this location so next time we visit we won’t have to sacrifice our dignity by sitting on wet rocks to get across the steep, fast-flowing stream. But everyone made it and we then sauntered back to our start point passing under the famous Idwal Slabs climbing crags.