Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Walk 4 - Gentle Walk in the Devils Kitchen (Snowdonia) 4 miles (approx)

This is the first walk of the 100 Mile Adventure that is out of our beloved Derbyshire and also the first one which is under 5 miles.  I should explain.

The 100 Mile Adventure is 20 walks of 5 miles but this particular walk is worth a mention.  The plan was to do a 8 miler but the weather up top was pretty bad and with very steep vertical edges falling away it meant we had to cut the walk a bit short.  However, its my blog and I can change the rules if I want to!  :-)  This really was a walk I wanted to share.

The last time I did this was as a very young Army recruit serving in the RAOC Apprentice College, we came into Snowdonia for a bit of Adventure Training, this time I wanted to retrace my steps with Diane and Milly.

The walk starts at the northern tip of Llyn (Lake) Ogwen which sits on the A5 just north of Capel Curig.  There is a car park with toilets and a refreshment kiosk which is looked after by a very friendly lady.

Diane and Milly ready for off

The Cwm Idwal Nature trail is a National Trust path which starts just to the left of the toilet block and starts to climb gently from the off.  The path is much more defined than I remember from back in the day so there is no chance of getting lost.  As you climb you cross a wooden bridge over a waterfall, I just couldn't resist taking a photo:

As you can see from the photo the clouds lay heavy on the mountain tops and we had our fingers crossed we would remain dry!  

Follow the path all the way up to the lake known as Llyn Idwal.  The lake lies in a basin with but with just three sides if you know what I mean.  The low mist gave a menacing atmosphere, there were not many people about which also made it very peaceful.

As you reach the lake go through the gated fence and pick up the track on the left and follow the line of the lake.  The path sticks close to the shore for about half the length of the lake then it begins to climb  There is a small island just off the shore which intrigued me:

Don't know why but it just seemed a bit random.  As you can see the mist was low and the lake very still.

At this point the path begins to rise a bit more sharply and towards the foot of the dark cliffs known as Cwm Idwal.  Keep to the left as the Nature trail goes right around towards the top end of the lake and offers a complete circuit.  (If you are unsteady on your feet this would be a safer route to take.)  As the path goes left it also starts to climb up towards the Devils Kitchen, look left up the dark grey cliffs for the rock climbers, brave souls!  As the path gets higher it becomes a bit more difficult underfoot yet still well defined.  Here is the view looking behind as you walk:

In the left of the picture you can see the track and at the bottom of the photo (7 o'clock) you can make out the path of the Nature Trail around the lake.  The large lake begins to look small by comparison to its surroundings.

As I said this path is well defined but there are a couple of scary bits.  The path crosses a fast running brook and to be honest the only way across is to leap from one ledge to another.  Milly was a bit hesitant but I think the fear of being left behind encouraged her to jump, not that we would have left her!  The path does narrow in places so careful footwork is the order of the day:

Diane being brave ( I squealed!)

The high point of the climb up sits just beneath the Devils Kitchen.  The plan was to go up between the crag to the top of the ridge but the mist was too thick to make it worth while so we sat down and had a brew instead.  The view from this point was amazing, another few feet higher and it would have all disappeared behind a screen of mist:

View from the high point of the walk

We made the right choice to carry on the footpath and start to descend back down towards the left hand side of the lake.  The scramble down was good fun, in some places the path wasn't really a path and a bit of imagination was needed to get down under our own steam:

Down we go!

The scramble down is quite quick as its very steep and before you know it the lake becomes more profound. It did get a bit boggy under foot as we approached the lake but it wasn't long before the path became more solid:

Diane patiently waiting for me and my tripod!

As we approached the shore of the lake the mist began to drop a bit more but it managed to hang on a bit to allow me to take my favourite shot of the day.  Although we had mist hanging above us it was hard not to notice the weather conditions in the distance, glorious sunshine.  Would you Adam and Eve it!

Mountains in the distance basking in sunshine :-(

From here on in the route goes alongside the shore of the lake, as always keep turning round to take in the view as well, there is a sense of achievement when you pick out the path where you have just walked. 

As you walk around the lake you come to the gate again and then its time to head back to the car park.  We stayed by the lake for a while to allow Milly to partake in her favourite pastime which is swimming.  Trouble is, once she is in its a devil of a job trying to get her out.  In the end we just had to walk away and pretend to leave her.  She soon came running!

Follow the path back down to the car park obviously stopping to allow the dog time for a good old scratch!

I think its fair to say we were at first a little disappointed that we couldn't climb up to the very top but had we done so we wouldn't have seen anything anyway, maybe it was a blessing in disguise.

We really enjoyed this walk and will definitely do it again, hopefully in the summer on a bright day and we will be able to complete the longer route.

OK, it wasn't five miles but it wasn't far off and its definitely worth adding to the blog.

Thanks for reading.

Mark, Diane and Milly

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