Eastern Carneddau 2011
Less visited parts of the second highest mountain range in Wales.
Not to be confused with the far more popular gorge and waterfalls with the same collective name near Betws-y-Coed, this Fairy Glen is situated in the tiny village of Capelulo at the northeastern tip of the Carneddau, close to Conwy town. Many years ago, this small gorge was set up as a tourist attraction, but has clearly not been used as one for a very long time. The overgrown remains of a walkway can be traced up the gorge, leading to the centrepiece and highlight of the gorge; the waterfalls at its head.
Unfortunately, the current owners have decided not to allow access along the walkway, and have made it very clear that they do not want anyone to use that route. Instead, a series of public footpaths loop around the plateau above the glen. Although a fragment of public right of way descends to the waterfalls, the fragment is not connected to the footpaths, and so at least one field will need to be crossed to reach it. Our route crosses the nearest field. You do so at your own discretion.
- Hazy conditions at the Llyn Clywedog reservoir in Mid Wales. This has nothing to do with the other pictures in this section. Carry on, carry on.
- The Fairy Glen pub in Capelulo, the only significant landmark in the village. Fairy Glen Road starts just to its right, and there is a parking area a short distance along it.
- Fairy Glen Road becomes a dirt track quite quickly, where to the left is the keeper's cottage for the old attraction. Access is no longer allowed from here, so our route follows the other branch of the dirt track, heading in the wrong direction, and slowly climbing up onto the plateau.
- View from Glyn-uchaf above Capelulo. On the left is Foel Lûs (362 metres), in the middle is the hill-fort-topped Alltwen (255 metres), and on the right is Maen Esgob (300 metres). The last two are separated by the Sychnant Pass.
- Looking over the Fairy Glen trees.
- Once on the plateau, the path follows a series of stone walls to skirt the glen, with views towards the Cefn Maen Amor ridge, Tal y Fan (610 metres) and Foel Lwyd (603 metres).
- A footpath leads over the stream at a small cascade, upstream of the glen.
- Craig Hafodwen (381 metres), with Cefn Côch's Ffridd Wanc outcrop (394 metres) on the left. There are some very bad jokes available in that last name...
- Once on the far side of the stream, we crossed the field to reach the fragment of path, which has become completely overgrown and decorated with large dryad's saddles.
- The waterfalls begin before the old right of way reaches the stream. The easiest way downstream is to ford the stream above the waterfalls, and pick up the poorly defined remains of a stone stepped path on the other side. However, it is also quite overgrown and requires a lot of care.
- It will get better.
- Nearly there.
- The largest part of the waterfall, about 7 metres in height.
- The bottom drop of the main set is another 4 metres, and marks the end of the old tourist route. The old stepped route follows the fern-filled gully on the right. The fragmentary right of way descends the crags to the left of this picture, and must be treated with great care. It is possible to get down, but needs experience with these conditions, and a careful choice of route. It is unknown how such a route could have become a right of way. It's probably better to continue downstream above the crags, then descend and head back upstream to the waterfalls.
- Below the main set, the stream continues down some badly obscured drops, with this one being about 4 metres high.
- Some rocky drops then spell the end of the waterfalls.
- A path cut into the side of the gorge was the old tourist route, but quickly becomes overgrown, and only leads back to the keeper's cottage.
- We headed back up the steep sides through the forest, eventually reaching the fields above the glen.
- The fields were filled with head-height bracken, but a path leads downstream, just inside the glen boundary, through the forest of falling trees.
- Once the path reached the end of the forest, we rejoined the looping path to descend back to the car park, with views over Craig Hafodwen and Foel Lûs.
- Foel Lûs, Penmaen Mawr (about 350 metres) and crags on Alltwen from the Sychnant Pass.
- View from the pass towards Echo Rock, Tal y Fan, Foel Lwyd, Craig Hafodwen and Foel Lûs.
- Quarries on Conwy Mountain (224 metres).
- Llandudno and the Great Orme peninsula (207 metres). On a good day, this should be a far more impressive limestone outcrop.
- Conwy old town walls.
- Conwy Castle.
- Little Orme (141 metres) - a smaller version of the Great Orme, and Dreganwy (107 metres) at the Conwy estuary.
- The Crafnant valley at Trefriw, between Grinllwm (287 metres) and Cefn Cafarwydd (503 metres).
- The Conwy valley above Betws-y-Coed.
- Moel Siabod (872 metres).
This area is known for the flooding disaster that happened when the two main reservoirs in the area burst in 1925. For more pictures of the area affected by the disaster, see the Porth-llwyd part of my previous gallery.
- The view from our campsite; the Glyderau peaks of Tryfan (917 metres), Y Garn (947 metres) and Foel-goch (831 metres).
- And in the other direction; the Carneddau peaks of Pen yr Ole Wen (978 metres) and Carnedd Dafydd (1044 metres). The latter is the second tallest of the Carneddau, and fourth tallest in Wales.
- Cloud over the Afon Dulyn on the Carneddau plateau, setting the scene for the day. Our target is Craig Eigiau, the ridge on the left. The mountains in the middle will be covered later, while on the right is Pen y Castell (623 metres).
- Path towards the ridge.
- Superb light on the Pen-y-gaer hill fort, which sits at about 380 metres.
- Igneous outcrop, showing the area's history as the site of a violent volcano. Most of the ridge and surrounding mountains are of volcanic origin.
- Llyn Eigiau, backed by Pen Llithrig y Wrach (799 metres) and Craig Eigiau. The old dam wall can be seen to the left of the lake.
- Creigiau Gleision North Top (634 metres) and Creigiau Gleision (678 metres), seen over the ridge of Pen Llithrig y Wrach, and a small outcrop on Craig Eigiau.
- One of the best views of the day. On the left is the slope of Foel Grach (976 metres), and the tiny bump of Garnedd Uchaf (926 metres), followed by the large top of Foel-fras (942 metres), smaller bumps of Drum (770 metres), then the lower ridge of Pen y Castell, Penygadair (507 metres) and Pen-y-gaer.
- The impressive Craig y Dulyn corrie crags, around 250 metres high. There are several streams dropping down these, but they only manage to make drops of as much as 10 metres at a time. Behind the corrie are the summits of Foel Grach and Garnedd Uchaf, but the clouds are starting to get too low to see them.
- Our route leaves the track heading up to the corries, and picks up the wall leading directly up the Craig Eigiau ridge.
- Moel Eilio (546 metres), with the Coedty Reservoir below it. This was the second dam to burst in 1925, washing away the village below.
- Now high enough to see Llyn Dulyn nestled below its crags. Like many of the natural lakes around here, this corrie lake is used as a reservoir.
- A little higher, and the Melynllyn corrie lake (also a reservoir) comes into view. The cliffs are not visible, however, thanks to the lowering cloud base.
- Now at the top of the Craig Eigiau ridge (738 metres), the clouds had become too low, whistling over the ridge, and there was no point in continuing up the slopes to the mountain tops.
- Volcanic outcrops lining the top of the Craig Eigiau cliffs.
- One of the hardy Carneddau ponies on the ridge. These ~180 ponies are the descendents of feral ponies, similar to those in the Brecon Beacons of South Wales.
- The deteriorating weather prompted an early descent into the upper Cwm Eigiau. This should be a superb view of the 300 metre Craig yr Ysfa cliffs, but instead, the best I can give you is a rain-soaked lens.
- A herd of ponies that met us in the valley.
- A grey, posing for a picture.
- A foal, not entirely sure if photographers are dangerous.
- These ponies are generally quite tame, and allowed me to get close enough for portraits, without needing to zoom.
- The clouds decided to lift just enough for us to see Bwlch y Tri Marchog.
- The north face of Pen Llithrig y Wrach,with 250 metres of scarp.
- Washed out bed of the old tramway.
- The lower part of Cwm Eigiau. Note the Cedryn Quarry on the right, and the remains of its steep tramroad.
- Pronounced meanders in the Afon Eigiau.
- Cutting for the old Cedryn Quarry tramway.
- Weir that controls the outflow from Llyn Eigiau. On my last visit,the water had been actively spilling over it, but now in summer, the weir was left high above the water level.
- Looking through the intentional distruction towards the accidental breach of the Llyn Eigiau dam.
- Scottish thistle at the lake outflow.
- The breach in the dam, where the water undercut the wall and broke it.
- The deep ditch dug by the flood water. The water then continued downstream to burst the Coedty reservoir, causing the 1925 disaster.