A Tale of Two Peaks- Part 1

Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach both mark the highest points in the Glyderau range of Snowdonia. Practically twins, Glyder Fawr stands slightly higher at 3,284ft, as opposed to Glyder Fach’s 3,261ft. Even their names, which literally translate to big mound and small mound, highlight their similarity. My dad and I had been looking to ascend these mountains for over a year now but conditions have never been right. However as I was up in Bangor this week to move stuff into my new student house, the weekend presented itself as idea opportunity for us. We woke up this morning to find the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky, so we hurriedly ate breakfast and set off into Snowdonia.

The sun shines bright on Llyn Ogwen

We started the walk at the foot of the Bochlwyd Buttress, a marshy path that led us up towards the Cribben Facet. Quickly however we turned around as, in my haste to rush out this morning, I had forgotten to pack my much needed water bottles. So after buying some more at the nearby (and in this case very handy) Ogwen cafe we finally, at about twenty past nine, set off up the buttress. The going here was hard as the gradient grew steadily steeper and sun was blazing down on our backs; in addition half way up the buttress the path transformed into a grassy bog and we had to find our own way to the Cribben Facet. Eventually we joined up with the main path that I had followed when doing my walk up Tryfan (see here).

Walking up the Bochlwyd Buttress

This path led us to the bottom of the Cribben Facet, here the route became a near climb, as the path rose abruptly upwards. This stage of the walk was perhaps the hardest test on our lungs, and with sweat soaking our brows the whole event became rather uncomfortable and several breathers were needed. We slumped down at the top of the Cribben Facet and were greeted with the reassuring sight of Llyn Bochlwyd.

Llyn Bochlwyd, a welcome sight

After a short break we continued onward towards the col that separates Tryfan from Bristly Ridge, this part of the walk is considerably easier as it rises up gently, though towards the end the path did disappear into a jumble of rocks and scree, leading to a last little slog up to the col. However when reached the col we were already past the 2000 foot mark, meaning we only had roughly 1000 something feet left to go, easy…..

At least it would have been easy if our route didn’t lead up to Bristly Ridge; which ,on paper, is not really a frightening prospect as its only a grade one scramble. However the night before we had been watching videos of people ascending the ridge and realized in places the going could get pretty hairy, with awkward climbs and steep drops. Wisely, since this was the first time either of us had done Bristly Ridge, we decided to go for an easier route that led up a part of the ridge known as Sinister Gully (yeah, it certainly didn’t sound like the easier route).

The beginning of Bristly Ridge

While following the stone wall on the col towards the bottom of Bristly Ridge we couldn’t help but be enthralled by the beautiful views across Tryfan and the foothills of the Glyderau Range.

Tryfan and Eastern Snowdonia

But all too soon we were at the bottom of Sinister Gully and had to begin our ascent upwards. After about 10 minutes of scrambling we realized that at some point we had taken a wrong turn and this was in fact the Main Gully, the hardest route (OOPS). And while it was said that on the whole Bristly Ridge is a grade one scramble, Main Gully is in fact borderline grade two, with perilous drops and exposed climbs. Nevertheless we were now committed and had no choice but to continue up the gully. Not going to lie, this got pretty scary at some points, if I slipped or fell backwards I could easily plunge a good 30 feet onto the ridge behind me and if I kept sliding it would mean going off the side of the mountain altogether. The gully became exceptionally narrow at certain points and I was having to swap my legs and hand holds around constantly and at one point my camera bag even became snagged on a rock and I had to careful yank it free whilst keeping my balance. On top of all this the rocks were still wet, making them slippery and difficult to grip, a real hazard.

The start of what we thought was Sinister Gully

Fortunately at the top of the gully the ridge became a much more pleasant grade one scramble. From the top of Main Gully it is around an hour of scrambling over the twisting rocks of Bristly Ridge, there is no path here so your best bet is just to find your own path among the rocks and be prepared to double back if your own route doesn’t work out. Eventually we stumbled upon the Great Pinnacle Gap, which required some descending, but nothing overly difficult. From there we crossed over to a scree path that appeared to follow along the right hand side of the ridge, however this quickly turned into a rocky scramble and we were soon back on our hands and knees.

We wait our turn to climb up the Great Pinnacle Gap

Throughout all this we were surrounded by some brilliant views of Snowdonia.

Looking out over Southern Snowdonia and Moel Siabod
The Ogwen Valley from Bristly Ridge

Eventually, at 20 minutes to one, we reached the top of Bristly Ridge and collapsed; exhausted from our adventurous route. While taking a much needed break, we surveyed the land around us.

Tryfan from the top of Bristly Ridge

At this point we suffered the first casualty of the walk as my dad accidentally dropped his Rocky chocolate biscuit, a snack he had been looking forward too, and it was promptly swallowed by the mountain. Bristly Ridge was obviously not a forgiving place.

Dad breaks down after losing his beloved Rocky bar

Despite this great lost, I took comfort, as we now had very little height left to gain and I already had the top of our first summit in my sights; Glyder Fach.

The rocky summit of Glyder Fach

to be continued….

Thus concludes my tale , if you enjoyed this story feel free to write in the comments, or leave like and thanks for reading.

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  1. I don’t mind a BIT of a scramble but this looks absolutely beyond me. My mountain goat days are over and I start to get a bit scaredy cat. Trouble is, once you start going back can be just as hard. But I admire your energy. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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