25 Aug, 2019

Day 2 – The Glyderau

Written by: Russ

South Downs Way

Distance:

miles

Time:

hours

Elevation gain:

feet

Watch the video

Day 2 route overview

From the Cae Gwyn Campsite it’s a short double back to the road before heading north along the stream at the foot of Elidir Fawr. The ascent to the summit of Elidir Fawr is steep and covered in thick tussocks with a thin yet well-maintained trail sneaking up the side of the mountain.

Once at the summit enjoy the views of Llanberis and Marchlyn Mawr before heading northeast toward the Glyderau, the second of the three mountain ranges to traverse along the route. The route to Y Garn is steady for the most part with some elevation gain to the summit, but on a hot day, it’s not as leisurely as it looks from the summit of Elidir Fawr.

From the summit of Y Garn, continue southeast to the ridgeline which will lead you along the Glyderau; Glyder Fawr, Glyder Fach and the famous Cantilever Rock, before descending the steep and infamous Bristly Ridge.

At the foot of Bristly Ridge, Tryfan, the last summit of the day awaits. It’s a short scramble to the top from the south-facing side of Tryfan. The summit of Tryfan is home to Adam and Eve, two legendary pillar-shaped rocks which stand evenly in height. An old tradition is to jump between the two, however, it’s not advised as it isn’t necessary to complete the Welsh 3,000s and is a serious risk of injury and therefore, a risk of calling Mountain Rescue.

From the summit of Tryfan, you can choose the shorter, yet more technical descent of the North Ridge, however less experienced hikers may wish to take the longer south-facing route down again and make their way to the A5 and Llyn Ogwen before heading to the campsite and bunkhouse at Gwern Gof Uchafe.

Elevation

After Elidir Fawr the elevation is less apparent than on day 1, but a further distance with more summits and descents makes day two a longer day with more effort required.

Over the M3

To Elidir Fawr and beyond

I woke to an incredible Alpen glow in the early hours and there was thankfully no sign of the flying ants. The temperature had dropped significantly in the night leaving a cool, yet gentle breeze along the slopes looking over to Elidir Fawr. Reaching the stream to refill my water, all I had ahead was the long and steep ascent to the summit and incredible views awaited me at the top.

The trail was thin and broken leading up the side of the so-called Electric Mountain, named as such due to the reservoir and dam that lay behind it. It was tough going as the sun rose and burned off the last of the morning dew and began warming up the slopes.

From the summit I could see for miles and only one hiker dwelled in the sheltered stone circle marking the summit.

Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3

The summit of Elidir Fawr

From the summit I was greeted with incredible views, I could see Snowdon and Crib Goch to the south, a stark reminder of where I’d come from, and ahead to the south-east I could see the Glyderau, the epic mountain traverse which lay ahead.

Over the M3
Over the M3

Onward to Y Garn

Thee following stretch looked gentle and leisurely from the summit of Elidir Fawr, but as I progressed onward to Y Garn the steepness of the sopes became apparent and the heat was catching up on me. A growing fever and a headache made matters worse, but I decided to press on.

Over the M3
Over the M3

The summit of Y Garn

From here you can clearly see the route ahead and look back at Snowdon. On a clear day, you can even see the Snowdon Mountain Railway laden with trains going to the summit.

Over the M3

The Glyders

A short yet steep hike to the summit of Glyder Fawr takes you across the most alien of landscapes, peppered with scree and the huge pinnacles of Castell Y Gwynt, the way to Glyder Fach and the famous Cantilever rock is impressive and awe-inspiring.

Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3

Bristly Ridge and the mountain goats

It’s a long and steep descent down Bristly Ridge with loose rocks and boulders making it dangerous to descend. Making sure not to knock rocks down the slope and keep other walkers safe from falling debris is a task in itself, let alone the descent to the foot of Tryfan. A fantastic display of mountain goats fighting over mating rights was a very welcome reward. 

Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3

Summiting Tryfan

From the foot of Bristly Ridge, it’s a relatively short scramble to the summit of Tryfan making this the most technical part of the Glyderau. At the summit, many walkers take on the challenge of jumping the gap between Adam and Eve, however, my attempt made me realise how stupid an idea this is, should you injure yourself for an unnecessary jump between them, it’s game over for you and at the expense of Mountain Rescue. 

All that’s left after Tryfan is the descent to the A5 which can be done via the north ridge of Tryfan (for those with the energy) or the longer and simpler descent back down the south side and then via either the Eastern or Western slope sides and finally, reaching camp. What a day!

Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3

Gallery

Overview

  • Views and vista 90% 90%
  • Difficulty 70% 70%
  • Elevation gain 90% 90%

Start time:

08:00

Camp time:

18:00

Accommodation

Campsites

Cae Gwyn Campsite

Gwern Gof Uchafe

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