21-Oct-2001 -- We were in North Wales for the 50th Anniversary Dinner of Wolverhampton Mountaineering Club. The following day we decided that 53 N 4 W would be a good hangover cure.
The confluence is on a high plateau to the east of Snowdon(1085m) the highest peak in Wales. The area is scarred by slate quarrying, and contains the rather grim town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. The confluence is in the middle of this high ground, far from any public road, but there is a choice of several possible approaches, we went for a couple of the scenic western routes.
We started in the little known valley of Nantmor, and followed a noisy school party up a gully past the first lake of the day, Llyn Llagi. The ascent was rough over the scattered volcanic rocks that make up this side of the hills. Soon we were over a pass, past another lake, Llyn yr Adar and on to slate country. Most of the roofs in Britain originated from this area, and a fair amount was exported. Slate is still quarried here today.
The British topo maps, the Ordnance Survey show 5 minute confluences on their maps with blue crosses, so our first move was to approach the cross(in a lake). The OS datum is usually about 100m out from WS84. To get there we had to scramble down from the pass and cross a few bogs. The target area was beside a pair of lakes, Llynau Diffwys (there are plenty of small lakes up here, good trout fishing). Hopefully our GPS would agree with the previous visitors and pitch up the zeros on dry land. (that Alaska confluence with the wader was going through my mind at this point).
A quick walk around the southern Diffwys brought up the zeros without too much dancing, no embarrassment, the only witnesses being a raven. Fortunately it was sunny for the piccies.
The point was on a small knoll on the lake shore. Eastward there was nondescript moorland, fortunately hiding Blaenau Ffestiniog. To the south is the highest hill in the Moelwyns, Moelwyn Mawr(770m) This hill is made of slate and is heavily quarried, there is also some very good climbing on the eastern side. As well as the quarries there are also mines and it is possible to walk through the hill. Beside the big hill, there was a long southern view to Pembrokeshire, across Cardigan Bay. This was interesting as these hills are just above Fishguard, home of 52N 4 W. It was almost a confluence to confluence view.
Westward, past our descent route of Cwm Croesor was the long hill of Cnicht, this is known as the Welsh Matterhorn as it is a 'paramount' peak from one angle. Everyone else sees a bulk though. Northwards is more moorland, our approach route, and numerous small crags. This moor slopes up to the northern rim of the plateau at just under 700m.
We left via a steep descent into the classic glacial valley of Cwm Croesor, and eventually picked up the disused railway that used to take the slates down to the sea port at Pothmadoc. This left a three mile walk back to the car, over a shoulder of Cnicht and up the narrow public road in Nantmor. Choughs were calling in Cwm Croesor, these alpine birds are a North Wales speciality, being rare in Britain.
There are no public roads near the confluence, so its best visited as part of a days walk over the surrounding hills. Hillwalking is popular here, and there are numerous paths. Navigation on the plateau can be hard, it is frequently in cloud, but the underfoot conditions allow easy walking. There are lots of interesting industrial relics but the scenery is mostly unscarred, the sea views are always fine.
The area can be seen in this topo. The arrow points to the spot on WS84
Some Welsh names in the text:
|Diffwys||High, wild, wasteland.|
|Llyn, Pl. llynau||Lake|
|Adar||Bird (Gulls nest on an island in Llyn yr Adar)|