Day out: Castell y Gwynt, Gwynedd
From a heap of shattered rocks on the roof of the Glyderau range in northern Snowdonia, drink in a view that stirs the soul
Something shifts in the ether – a rise in the mercury, a drying of the air – and with it the thick cloud that had filled the valley since dawn begins to change face. Small pockets of land materialise through the veil, before the haze lifts altogether.
Lucid and spectacular, the view from Castell y Gwynt in the Glyderau range is as special as any in this mountainous corner of Wales.
The Glyderau – or Glyders – run laterally through the north of Snowdonia National Park. Comprising five summits over 3,000 feet, it is possible to tramp the entire range in one arduous day. Those who prefer to take their time, however, might consider a shorter loop (though still strenuous), starting at the Llyn Ogwen car park and climbing past Llyn Bochlwyd and the Bwlch Tryfan saddle before veering west on to the Glyderau backbone. Once up high, the views are immense, no matter where you stand. My favourite is from Castell y Gwynt – Welsh for ‘castle of the wind’ – midway along the ridge.
Pew with a view
Shaped like a mound of jousting lances, the peak has a foreboding aura. Yet in truth it is a refuge, the very nature of its splintered form making it the perfect place to shelter from Snowdonia’s default weather of wind and rain.
The Snowdon Massif dominates the scene to the south, its iconic horseshoe ridge swinging towards the horizon, while to the north lies Nant Ffrancon Valley. Fed by the slate-blue waters of Llyn Idwal and Llyn Ogwen, the Afon Ogwen winds through the heart of the flat-floored basin and north towards Conwy Bay. Fields of sheep and drystone walls fan out from the river, dissipating as the flanks of the valley steepen – 800m up, more mountains loom. The clouds come and they go, a raven rises on a thermal, and a mountain wind blows.
Visit the National Outdoor Centre in the nearby village of Capel Curig to learn more about outdoor pursuits in Snowdonia. pyb.co.uk
Danny is the Section Editor of BBC Countryfile Magazine, responsible for commissioning, editing and writing articles that offer ideas and inspiration for exploring the UK countryside.