Aran Fawddwy has to be my favourite mountain. When I am there, as with many places in Wales, I really do wonder why there is any need to adventure further afield. Another reason why I love it, is because you can see this mountain from the top of the Vastre (the road from Kerry to Newtown) – on a clear day you can see the contours and shadows and appreciate its vastness as it stands proud of all surrounding hills. It is higher than Cadiar Idris (893m) at 905m and in my opinion more beautiful, has a satisfying varied climb and is a lot less busy.
This time, my 6th time up there, I took my mum, niece, and husband. I’m very proud of my mum – she is getting towards 77 and still climbing mountains. We can all aspire to that – lots of fresh air and keeping active. So many book are published and so many programs produced on how to keep fit and healthy. We can read it all, watch it all, but let’s face it – just keep active, get lots of fresh air and eat a balanced, healthy diet.
It was a misty start and I had already decided that if the visibility was just too bad (and it can be very changeable) once we reached the first plateau, that I would say turn back and not be too disheartened. The climb up the side of the stream is good fun and at times takes some concentration, the mist and dew had made it very slippery in places. Taking your time is key, not only to avoid wrong footing but to enjoy the whole experience – stopping and turning round to take in the ever impressive views.
As we climbed further up towards the mist, the mist itself seemed to get higher too and thinned a little, although when we arrived at the plateau we still couldn’t see the little lake up there. From here taking a right turn, it is an undulating climb, some of it very boggy but boards in places to keep above the water. I think a combination of the mist, dampness and heat rising from the peaty bogs gave the gnats a chance to have a field day - we got bitten repeatedly and this meant that stopping for longer than 2 minutes was really impossible.
Blue sky! Patches started to appear and little windows opened up to glorious views. The heat from the sun beamed down and we now had a very good chance of getting to the summit, getting the views that are out of this world and not getting bitten while having our picnic at the top. And that’s exactly how it turned out and we could clearly see Bala Lake. We chose a lovely spot to have our lunch, watching the patchy shadows of the clouds passing over the many hidden valleys and contours of the peat bogs.
The way down gives a fantastic position to see the whole horseshoe of Aran Fawddwy and although it can get a little tedious because it is only down and down it is worth taking your time on the descent too, stopping to take in the view of the horseshoe and of Cwm Cywarch, the valley where the start is, and to give your knees a rest if you suffer from achy knees.
Highly recommended and it is just as beautiful at any time of year.