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Tal-y-Fan, GW/NW-040, details of easy route


I activated Tal-y-Fan on March 12th in dull and drizzly weather as an easy alternative to the intended plod up Moel Siabod, expecting the weather to be better nearer the north coast (in which I was correct) and expecting it to be a doddle suited to the dank conditions. Boy, was I wrong! There was indeed a nice easy path up to the col, and then an obvious path amongst the rocks on the right - mistake number one was following this path, there was a better path over the stile on the other side of the wall! The rock was wet, greasy, lichenous and mossy,and balance moves had to be replaced by yank and grunt moves with feet skating off unpredictably. There was a marked dip before the final pull up to the trig point, and the final pull up to the trig point was a short full-blooded scramble that in these conditions was a bit hairy.

The summit was obviously a really good viewpoint, although the view kept disapperaing in the clag! I sat on the sheltered side of the wall and worked 10 stations on 2m FM, getting rather damp but not cold, thank goodness! Frankly, at this point I didn’t fancy reversing my route, there had to be a better way down, and indeed there was, a simple route that makes this summit a doddle. So, here is the alternative route.

At the col, cross the stile and follow a well-worn track to the right. It heads straight for a rocky slope, but just before arriving at the rocks a fainter path branches off to the left. Follow it as it contours around but below the rock ridge…watch out for hungry wild ponies! After 100m or so there is an obvious cone of grass leading up to a dip on the skyline - ignore it, it is a snare and delusion and leads straight to the hardest part of the scramble. As you continue along the contouring path, keep a careful eye on the rocky slope, after about another 100 m a narrow tongue of rock-free grass leads up, with a faint track heading for it at an angle. Take this grass slope, it is fairly easy and leads direct to the trig point!

In poor conditions the rocky scramble is a pointless search for difficulty, although in fine weather it will be fun. The grass route described above is a good poor weather alternative.


In reply to G8ADD:

There goes a man who had not done his prior research on the http://tomread.co.uk website! On there, you can see that I have had full experience of all the NW-040 ascent routes over the years, and have finally settled for the one you discovered on your descent.

It is the path marked on the OS 1:25000 sheet that is the most difficult final approach! The other two easier approaches are not indicated.



In reply to M1EYP:

However, I had read your item on the page for that summit, and your description seemed to me to indicate that you had taken the grass cone to the col and then the direct scramble to the summit rather than the grass ribbon to the trig point, so perhaps my description will be useful useful in that it gives a clearer route description.

Incidentally, did you see the bullet holes on the footpath sign, nine .22 and one enormous one that might have been a .45 or .5, I wasn’t about to climb up and measure it - particularly as a guy with a rifle and two dogs was behind me!


Brian G8ADD


Depends which year. I have done activations of Tal y Fan in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2010, and over the course of those five have done all final approaches. The 03, 04, 05 and 06 pages are clickable from the bottom of the '10 page.

I don’t really know what a ‘cone’ or a ‘ribbon’ are, but it was an easy walk up to the summit in 2010 with no scrambling. Previous years have involved some scrambling to various very mild degrees.



In reply to M1EYP:

Sorry, Tom, old climbing terminology. A grass cone is a scree or talus fan from a gully which has become grassed over. A grass ribbon is where a narrow line of weakness in the rock has become grassed over, so a grass cone would look like a triangle of grass (but a “cone” because it has a curved cross-section) and a ribbon would look like a narrow streak of grass. Another amusing one is where a narrow horizontal or inclined ledge of rock has become grassed over, this is known as a “grass caterpillar”, and has a nasty habit of becoming detached just when you are depending on it!


Brian G8ADD