Jumping in the car and driving down the A55 along the North Welsh coast towards Conwy is a favourite pastime of mine. Not only is the journey beautiful (for the most part), but the array of possible adventure destinations in North Wales is staggering. One of my favourite places to head to is the Ogwen Valley. The sharp jagged peak of Tryfan reflecting in Lyn Ogwen, Devil’s Kitchen standing tall above Lyn Idwal and the sprawling high grasslands of the Carneddau gives you a real sense of being in the wild.
In the neighboring valley lies Snowdon. It’s here where the majority of the crowds head when the weather is nice. I tend to avoid Snowdon on fair weather days, unless heading up for sunrise or late in the day to camp out. In the Glyderau you can truly feel like you’re in the mountains- not having to queue to reach to trig stone at the summit as is the case on Snowdon.
One of the most under-rated, and therefore quietest peaks in the valley is Y Garn. Standing at 947m, Y Garn is one of the Welsh 3000s (15 peaks over 3000 feet) and climbing to the summit is a great day of walking in the mountains. An ascent offers spectacular views over the Ogwen Valley below, the craggy rock formations of the Glyders, and Snowdon in the distance. The walk is short and fairly easy, but offers spectacular views of the surrounding area.
Starting from Ogwen Cottage on the A5- where there is lots of space to park on the road for free- follow the footpath towards Lyn Idwal. The path is well maintained and snakes through the valley towards Devil’s Kitchen, crossing a footbridge over one of the outlets from the lake.
The surrounding landscape improves in magnitude with every metre of elevation gained; the Carneddau and Pen yr Ole Wen to the north-east with their grassy plains are a treat rain or shine, and the rocky outcrops on Glyder Fawr come into view. Stopping for a cup of tea on the way up to enjoy the views is a good way to soak it all in, and catch your breath.
Following the path to the summit is advisable, however, you can make the ascent slightly more interesting by heading off the path and scrambling up one of the steep gullies. This should only be done if you feel comfortable with exposure and you have the correct gear.
The descent from the summit follows gentle slopes towards Devil’s Kitchen via an obvious path down. Once at the bottom, take the right hand fork to go under Idwal Slabs where you’ll see climbers on the face. This path leads all the way back to the carpark, crossing the bridge where you started the day.
On a sunny afternoon there is nothing better than climbing Y Garn, or one of the neighboring peaks, followed by a dip in the glistening waters of Lyn Idwal. Setting up camp for the night on the shores of the lake is also a great way to spend a weekend. Just watch out for the midges.
Elliott Waring is an adventure/travel photographer and writer currently based in the UK. After graduating in Spanish and PR, he spent time travelling in South East Asia, Indonesia and New Zealand before returning to the UK to resume a career in digital marketing. A passion for the mountains, cycling and photography sees him spend most weekends exploring Snowdonia, The Peaks or The Lakes- all of which are within 90 mins drive from his Cheshire home. This year he will up sticks once more and travel to Sri Lanka with his girlfriend before returning to New Zealand to work.
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