Bera Mawr, and the Northern Carneddau

This write up is one with a difference, with very good reasons.         

I’m not old, well, not yet, but like the rest of us, I’m not getting any younger and as a result, certain types of terrain are now starting to get a little harder to complete. Much of this is down to a motorbike accident I had when I was seventeen and damaged my left knee, of which certain things have only really come to light in very recent years since breaking my ankle back in December 2009.

My employer, quite a large manufacturer with facilities worldwide has its own medical facility, complete with a very good physio.

To cut a long story short, prior to my return to work after breaking my ankle, the physio detected various problems, one of which was that my lower left leg seemed to be swollen though it was my ankle that had been broken. As a result of that and numerous trips to my GP, I was finally referred back to the hospital, where "DVT from an old injury was diagnosed".

The world just seemed to drop from beneath me, DVT, old injury and the impact that would have on my love for getting out in the hills!

Not to be beaten in any way whatsoever, I was determined to continue walking in the hills, across the moors and through the Dales.

Looking up to the Northern Carneddau from Beaumaris,
taken a couple of days after the walk.

However, I've noticed on recent walks where I am getting slower and certain ascents seem to be a lot slower than they used to be. This doesn't seem to change, whether I’m fully kitted up or just wandering without any payload. Added to that, I’m not out of breath when I completed the ascent, so it doesn't seem to suggest a fitness issue.

But remember, effectively I've a blocked vein; therefore the muscles in the left leg will tire quicker than the right, which is what slows me right down.

This walk I’m about to write about was one such walk, though it was completed on the 1st June 2011, before I started blogging, which is why it’s never appeared before, but one I want to share with you.

A word of warning first, this walk took me up on to the Carneddau, which if you take a wrong turn, could put you right in the middle of a vast and wild landscape. Therefore good navigation skills and being suitably kitted out are two very vital necessities.

Just for reference, I have family who live in North Wales, not too far from Conwy, and as a child, spent many summer holidays around the Conwy area with my Grandparents.

I’ve often driven past the Northern Carneddau and thought to myself, one day, I’ll get up there. Knowing in recent years what the Carneddau harbours, and to enjoy the peace and tranquillity that the Carneddau provides, this day, was going to be the order of the day.

I parked up in the car park for Aber Falls, at Abergwyngregyn, got suited and booted, then headed for Aber Falls following the normal pedestrian path.

Aber Falls and the steep ascent ahead of me

Closer views of Aber Falls

Stopping to take in the view of this spectacular waterfall, I then started to walk the route properly, with a steep ascent quite early in the walk, to prove that I could still make good ascents.

Remembering the advice given to all would be climbers, never tackle an ascent you can’t get down.

So to keep things in perspective, I had taken in to account the motor bike injury and the ascent I made, would not have been difficult to get down should I need to turn around at any point.

It was during this initial steep ascent, that I started to witness some awe-inspiring views over Llanfairfechan slightly to the east and across towards Puffin Island over to the North West, just to the North East of Anglesey.

Looking up towards Rhaeadr-bach

Looking down to Puffin Island and the Menai Straits

Looking down the valley leading up to Aber Falls

That part of Anglesey, has some superb memories, coupled with some superb scenery, as you travel northwards from Beaumaris out towards Black Point, otherwise known as Penmon Head, where the Penmon Light just at the northern mouth of the Menai Straits serves as a warning of shallow waters, and also Puffin Island, which was once inhabited by monks, but now a haven for bird life with the remains of the old monastery still visible.

As a result of these fabulous and awe-inspiring views, the clear visibility and fantastic weather, even though it was a hot day, I took too many stops and got my camera out to photograph them.

Still, it’s not every day you get views like that to admire, so I wasn’t too worried and throughout the walk, kept a close eye on the time.

The steep ascent was nearing its end and I was more than atop Aber Falls, though the falls were no longer visible at this stage, lunch was getting near, but not quite near enough to consider stopping. I was to continue onwards and upwards, crossing towards a lower point on the slope of Drosgyl, where I stopped to take my lunch.

Here I was really rewarded with fantastic views, not just Puffin Island, the northern point of the Menai Straights, but also Beaumaris and quite a large chunk of the Menai Straights, along with the views over to the east, Llandudno, the Great Orme and the Conwy Estuary.

While I as enjoying my lunch and its views, a herd of wild Carneddau Ponies appeared, stopped and took a good look at me, then started to graze.

The wild ponies on the Carneddau

My lunchtime view, Anglesey, the Menai, Puffin Island and the sands at Llanfairfechan

At this point, I decided to get my maps out, one Ordnance Survey, the other a Harveys Superwalker map, mainly to double check my location and plan the next stage and even at this point, start to reconsider my final destination, which was to be Carnedd Llewlyn.

Added to that, I had observed in the distance, the cloud was heading my way, meaning I could be under what looked like thick low cloud!

So some quick route calculations and an assessment of the terrain, I decided that Carnedd Llewlyn was not going to be today’s destination. Cloud or no cloud, but I would continue as far as I could, but, at 14:30, no matter where I was, I would turn around and head back to the car, for I couldn’t be too late back to where I was staying.

This was one walk where the views would ensure that I would be awestruck, once I had started to walk the Carneddau Plateau, I was rewarded with yet more fabulous views, this time of the Carneddau itself.

This included the immediate peaks of Drosgyl, Bera Mawr and Bear Bach. Not only were the views fantastic, but the peace and tranquillity that I was surrounded with just took my breath away.

While walking across the plateau heading towards Bera Mawr, I was keeping a close watch on not just the time, but also the cloud that was fast rolling my way.

I was also conscious of the terrain, which if you study the map, will notice that it is generally marsh covered ground. So a lot of care points had to be kept in mind, time, cloud and terrain. The terrain was generally good, but in wet periods would almost certainly be waterlogged.

Looking up towards Bera Mawr

I finally reached Bera Mawr, a craggy summit, which gave fantastic views all around, not just the previously mentioned views, but more towards the south on the Carneddau and I reckon I could make out the two key summits, Carnedd Llewelyn and Carnedd Dafydd, amid the cloud really starting to roll in from the west.

I did contemplate pushing my limits and walking to Bera Bach. If it wasn’t for the cloud rolling in, then I probably would have done, and risked getting my wrist slapped by Mrs Peak Rambler for being late!

However, I couldn’t see an end to the cloud coming in and being almost a featureless plateau, just like Kinder and Bleaklow, two favourite haunts of mine, I wasn’t going to push my luck that far.

Though I’ve been trained in through poor visibility situations, as my instructor said, if you get in to that situation, your planning was crap. For this instance, that would most certainly be true…..

So after a brief time enjoying Bera Mawr, it was time to descend, the cloud was just reaching me, though the cloud base wasn’t that low, so keeping out of any trouble wasn’t going to be difficult.

Bera Mawr

Part of the view across the Carneddau from Bera Mawr
Not long after I started my descent, than I was clear of the cloud and starting to enjoy the views again, and guess what, the sun was in front of me!

So I was enjoying the sunny views across the Menai, Anglesey and northwards. The views south and east were sadly cloud capped.

Once I reached Rhaeadr Back Waterfalls and the rocky outcrop, I opted for a different descent route to my ascent. Careful study of the map and earlier observations of the screen along the west slope of Marian Rhaeadr-fawr, I was prepared for a difficult descent, even though the map shown the footpath going through the scree!

The departing view of Bera Mawr, becoming cloud covered

It wasn't long before Bera Mawr was engulfed in cloud
So once I reached the plateau above that rocky outcrop, I headed east, crossing Afon Goch, which feeds in to the Aber Falls.

This required a steep descent down to the river and a climb back up. Here I had to concentrate, so photos took a very back seat here, to the point none were taken, added to the fact time was definitely against me.

Plus, the view I was enjoying were fast disappearing

Pressing on, I then followed the water course and eventually reached the scree on the west side of Marian Rhaeadr-fawr, following a faint trodden trail across the scree, resembling a path.

I’m sure it goes without saying; walking along a scree requires care and attention, for all stones and rocks are loose!

The slightest mis-footing could result in a fall and associated injuries! So care is required, especially as this is the end of a good days walking and a certain amount of tiredness will have crept in.

Pressing on, walking along the scree making a steady descent and aiming for the wooded area below and in front, where the path is shown to go on the map, I was sheltered from any breeze and the temperature was fast climbing. I was looking forward to the shade of the wooded area,

I finally reached the end of the scree and crossed a small field where soon after, I was in the shade of the wooded area. Guess what?

It was still just as hot!

Pressing on, it was not too long a walk through the wooded area, then fairly quickly, the car park was in view, and so was my journeys end.

The information boards at the car park for Aber Falls

I’ve promised myself I’ll do this walk again, with a few changes, mainly to get more distance, but I don’t regret in any way what I had done. The views were splendid, but the walk could be intrepid if you’re not used to steep ascents or descent, screes and off path walking requiring very good navigational skills, along with the kit required should you become benighted.

If you want to see what I carry when I’m out, have a look at my blog “What’s in my pack?

A map showing the route taken

Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,
Peak Rambler

Twitter            @PeakRambler
YouTube        Peak Rambler on YouTube

Links to some of the areas I’ve mentioned and written about here:


  1. Not actually walked there yet, Mike. Those Aber Falls look spectacular!

    1. Aber Falls are spectacular, along with many of the falls, large and small, in Snowdonia.
      I think you both would enjoy walking the Carneddau. just like Kinder and Bleaklow, its wild.

  2. It looks brilliant PR. I think you've just added this to my list of things to do. :-)

    1. It is a brilliant walk, one I definitely will do again, one day.