The Crimea Pass car park makes the ascent of Allt-fawr that bit easier as you start at over 1200 feet which is more than halfway up before you’ve even laced up your boots! But the smug feeling was tempered by the grey conditions, matching the grey quarries hereabouts.
|above Llyn Iwerddon|
I decided to take a route that would skirt the south shore of Llyn Conglog and lead me to the isolated Moss summit. But the mistake I made was to use my live track on my GPS unit as a way of navigating instead of taking a bearing. Finding myself descending a re-entrant a lot wider than anticipated I checked the map and decided to carry on as, although packed with close contours, I felt that the ground ahead wouldn’t pose any problem to traverse and that the height I had unnecessarily lost could be easily regained. The reality was a little different!
The ground was steep but looked reasonable to cross. Ahead I spotted a group of sheep who had seen me and headed away on a traverse line that I decided would be my way across. It turned out to be a very narrow trod – often narrower than the width of one of my boots – and it led across steepening ground. My ankles had to work hard to support me on the slope and although walking poles would have significantly eased the traverse, I reckoned that getting them out of my rucksack would have been a greater risk than just carrying on. This headwall of Cwmorthin wasn’t letting up and a slip here would have been calamitous. I checked the ground above looking for any weakness so I could directly ascend but none was forthcoming; it was steep and grassy and wet. I had no option but to continue the traverse until the ground eased, which it eventually did.
I followed the stream up to the outflow of Llyn Conglog and although easily crossed, I still ended up with one leg plunged knee-deep in peat. Easy ground led to the two 630-metre contour lines which I crossed but I wasn’t able to clearly work out which one held the summit. But I went over both and claimed the tick.
|the face of Moel Druman|
The shroud of mist continued to lay down as I continued to Moel Druman, passing an eerie profile of a face outlined in a rock outcrop, and the poor visibility dissuaded me from staying on high ground towards Ysgafell Wen. I decided to head back to the car and crossed the northern slopes of Allt-fawr before rejoining the ridge above Llyn Iwerddon at which point the mist had lifted and I could now see the highpoints of today’s route.
It’s now obvious that my approach to navigating in poor visibility isn’t as accurate as it could be. My problems arose from an unjustified confidence in navigating using a small screen, despite the undoubted accuracy of the GPS system. The use of a map to see the “bigger picture” and a compass to direct me on accurate bearings needs to be brought back into my hillwalking method.
I think only my experience and confidence of crossing challenging terrain got me out of a situation that many may have seen as one to call for help on.
A lesson has been learnt.