Ascent of Plynlimon on 2015-02-14

Climber: Marcus Lostracco

Date:Saturday, February 14, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:2467 ft / 751 m

Ascent Trip Report

Wales County Highpoint #15 of 22 for me

Stayed Friday the 13th at George Borrow Hotel, the only hotel in Ponterwyd for 50 quid. I was the only paying customer, but the place was busy, with relatives of the owner staying for the night. The other primary patron was a very old man hard of hearing from Sussex who was writing a book about ferries. I would recommend this place to anyone looking to hike Plynlimon for the convenient access to the TH and for the experience of this quirky hotel.

Plynlimon is the highpoint of Ceredigion county and is Welsh for "5 peaks" - it is part of the Cambrian mountain range, which its landscape is described as the "Welsh desert", indicating the general barrenness of the mid-Wales surroundings. Plynlimon is notable in that it is the source of two of the UK's longest rivers: the Severn river, and the river Wye. The primary access for reaching the summit is at Eisteddfa Gurig, a farmhouse along the A44 which is about 5 miles east of Ponterwyd. The name means "seat of St Curig", which is apparently where an ancient Roman catholic saint spent some time while settling in Wales. The access is near the locally renowned "Elvis rock" - a rock that has "ELVIS" spray painted on it along the A44... The farmhouse asks for a 5 pound donation for those that use the parking for walking the hills... having only a "tenner" I donated 5 USD, hope that's ok.

I got to the TH Eisteddfa Gurig farm at around 10am. In the absence of a map, I had routed my hike on my Suunto Ambit 2R, with plans of bagging all 5 of Plynlimon's peaks, a 15km route bagging in the order of:
-Y Garn
-Pumlumom Fach
-Pen Pumlumon Llygad-bychan
-Pen Pumlumon Arwystli

I referenced Howard Mann's suggested route for the hike from his book "A walking guide to the County Tops of Wales, the North of England and the Isle of Man", and I have to credit his recommended route, but his instructions omitted all of Plynlimon's sub-peaks, which I thought was a total miss from a peakbagger's perspective. Additionally, there are routes that are more interesting from the Nant-y-Moch reservoir (the North side) that are more interesting/challenging than the gradual approach he recommends from the south side. It is a useful reference book for those that are working through the list of the Welsh county high points.

The conditions today were not great - bad visibility and temps around freezing at higher elevations. My GPS was trusty in guiding me through to the 5 peaks, but I screwed up for the GPS tracking so that's the reason the resulting gpx file looks wonky.

From Eisteddfa Gurig I took the gravel road that goes left (not the one labeled "ALL WALKS") and followed it until it became adjacent to a fence (no barbed wire). Followed the fence straight up to the summit of Y Garn for my first peak of the day. Pretty snowy and boggy in this area - no dry feet today! From Y Garn I tracked back down the fence to the gravel path that leads more or less up to Plynlimon, the county highpoint. There is a windshelter (circle pile of rocks) at the summit where I took cover and relaxed for a while. With it being Valentine's day I made a heart in the snow with some loose rocks. My Valentine this year was Plynlimon, she's not a bad old girl.

I bagged the other 3 peaks, not really getting any views except for at Punlumon Fawr (eye of the head) which had a view of Nant y Moch reservoir. I followed the other gravel road which I picked up along the tip of the Severn river. It was actually more interesting than I expected to walk along this river, maybe it's because the visibility was finally decent. This gravel road is really scenic and must be glorious on a clear day. I find myself saying that a lot in Wales, where clear days are a rarity. I made it back to the car at 1:55pm, having completed the approx 15km route in approx 4 hrs including breaks. Not a soul on the trail today, the only other life form I saw was a crow.

From Eisteddfa Gurig I drove up to Welshpool where I would plan to stay the night to bag the highpoint of Dengbingshire the following day. However after further analysis I discovered that there were closer places to stay. This discovery was made at the Welshpool tourist information center - great place with very helpful staff. I don't normally visit the tourist info centers but now I know how useful they are!! I almost stopped at a castle on the way over, but I'm glad I didn't because I wouldn't have had time to get over to Bala for the night. Castles are boring anyway.

I made the drive to Bala where I booked a B&B, Monfa, lovely place for 40 quid. The drive there was a windy B road, B4391, through the valleys and mountains. Love these roads in northern Wales. Along the way I noticed a car parked at a TH and I couldn't resist scoping out the area, it was 4:45p., cloudy, but very clear. I got on the trail with my "good boots", Kenneth Cole, no tread... No intention on going too far, until I realized, this was the trail for Moel Sych - the county highpoint of Dengbingshire! I decided I'd make it to the first subpeak and then come back to the car. The trail was super wet, snow and bog. I met a couple with their dogs on the trail, nice locals that gave me recommendations for nice things to see off the B4391. I jumped back in the car at 5:45 and made it to my B&B in Bala at 6pm. Showered, changed and headed out for dinner. Ate up the street at a really nice pub, black pudding starter and sea bass main.

Big day, great day, who cares about Valentine's day? It seems to gain more and more baseless hype every year. Rather be peakbagging....

I've seen a lot of Wales with this county highpointing initiative, but every time I go out to a new county, I realize how much there actually is to see in this country.

Lessons of the day:
- Tourist info centers are very helpful
- Valentines day is overrated
- Welshpool is a nice town
- the B4391 is a great drive in N Wales
-Every time you go to a new county highpoint, you will learn something new, and have an invigorating motivation to continue to experience more of the world. There is a lot to see, even in your own back yard.en in your own back yard.
Summary Total Data
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Marcus Lostracco
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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