Devil's Kitchen to Capel Curig
Ogwen Cottage 310m
Y Foel Goch
13.7 km/8.5 miles
Start: Ogwen Cottage
End: Capel Curig
Map: OS Explorer OL17
Setting off from Ogwen Cottage at roughly 10 am, we tramped up through the dank air to Llyn Idwal. Huddling beneath the looming, seemingly impenetrable, fortress of Devil’s kitchen, Llyn Idwal is a beautiful lake. Crisp blue waters free from any form of human pollution are wonderful to cool off in after a trek in the ogwen valley. However, on this occasion, it was barely 2˚C and looked about to snow as we trudged up to the peak of Glyder Fawr.
The initial 691m ascent in the first 3km is tough but this only heightens the sense of achievement when you peak out on the summit of Glyder Fawr. At 1001m up from sea level this is the highest point on this walk and the views should have been incredible. However, at the top we were engulfed in cloud and visibility was massively limited. We stopped for a quick sandwich before wandering off in search for our second peak, Glyder Fach
The Glyder Fawr ascent.
The landscape underfoot changes dramatically. We are now picking our way across the stony moonscape known as the Glyder plateau. This geological feature was shaped with the formation of the Snowdonian range 450 million years ago. In this age, Wales was the floor of a shallow sea 30˚ south of the equator on the edge of an ancient continental tectonic plate, Laurentia, which was colliding with an oceanic plate, Lapetus. Via subduction, the heavier oceanic plate moved beneath the continental plate causing massive volcanic eruptions. The resulting formation was a mountain range similar in height to today’s Himalayas which, over the subsequent 450 million years, was eroded to the current height of the Snowdonian mountains.
Picking our way across the Glyder plateau.
Thrusting up above the plateau is Castell y Gwynt or the Castle of the Winds. An incredibly stark and foreboding rock formation, in the snow it is only further emphasised.
Castell y Gwynt.
Castell y Gwynt lies just below the summit of Glyder Fach a short amble away. Home to opportunistic ravens which surreptitiously snaffle sandwiches left by careless ramblers, the summit is a windbeaten area. To the right, the sun begins to cut through the cloud, illuminating a small lake in the valley below, turning it to silver.
On the other side the land drops away, the valley sides framing a second lake far below.
Just past the summit is the continuously photographed Cantilever stone and we couldn’t continue the walk without sending Dom up.
A surreptitious raven.
We now begin to descend to the final peak of our walk, Y Foel Goch. This was a much gentler section in comparison to the demanding, near vertical, ascents of Devil’s Kitchen and provided us with fantastic views of Tryfan and the rest of the Ogwen valley.
A knobbly boulder appears on the path. Upon closer inspection it is revealed to be full of Gigantoproductus fossil shells. Incredibly, these are the 450 million year old remnants of Wales' time as a tropical shallow sea. I'm certain that the early molluscs would never have dreamed of being almost a kilometre above sea level and be able to view the stunning beauty of Snowdonia.
Dom on the summit of Glyder Fach.
The Cantilever stone.
Tryfan and the Ogwen valley.
Boulder full of Gigantoproductus fossils.
At this point the sun had begun to set in the Snowdonian mountains. Looking back from the summit of Y Foel Goch we are treated to the beautiful Snowdon horseshoe bathed in a warm evening light.
Final stretch towards Y Foel Goch and Capel Curig.
Sunset over the Snowdon horseshoe.
By this point we had been walking for a good 7 hours or so and getting rather hungry. As we crossed the summit of Y Foel Goch, the village of Capel Curig appeared below us signalling the destination of our walk. We scramble down the final descent and enter the village via an old farm track. Heading into the settlement, we meander down the road until arriving at Moel Siabod cafe. It was just before 6 o'clock at this point and so, after 8 hours walking, we devour our tea before heading home to recover.
Capel Curig at the bottom of the valley.