Yey! We arrived in Snowdonia and this year, it seemed our walking activities will focus on finding a parking space and avoiding the heaving post-lockdown crowds piling up the eastern side of Yr Wyddfa.
As a first port of call, we usually kick off with an easy walk to get us into the swing, and this time, we chose Tryfan Far South Peak. OK, to be clear to any walkers not familiar with the area, Tryfan isn’t an easy walk – you need to know it before you go up it, and the Far South Peak isn’t the main (northern) peak, it’s the smaller bump to the south. For us, the south side is very familiar – we’ve swum in Llyn Bochlwyd enough times now to start naming the rocks, and the hop up to the far south peak is fairly short with some easy scrambling.
Last year we didn’t make it up many peaks, mostly due to my having a broken thumb, but this time we were good to go – I thought.
We arrived about 2pm (late to start a walk; normally we’d be there by 8am) and the forecast was for rain and mist by 7-8pm, so we headed straight up to Bochlwyd. Halfway up, all the exhaustion of the last few weeks (and the heat of the afternoon sun) caught up with me and I nearly fainted. This was a whole new experience: I never faint. So anyway, I managed to stay on my feet, drank some water, and stomped up to the lake where we abandoned all thoughts of summits and I just threw myself into the water. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such physical relief. While my kids lingered on the shore and dipped in for some frenzied splashing and laughter, I just sank in — the water cold enough to make feet tingle but not bad enough to give brain-freeze headaches (I go sea swimming in winter when you can’t duck your head under without it hurting; this was not that cold even fully submerged). We saw numerous walkers stomp past but we were the only ones swimming. I don’t know why. Honestly, Llyn Bochlwyd in summer is a great swim when you’re all well and happy — mountain-surrounded infinity pool under clouds and sunshine — but it’s an absolute game-changer when you feel rough (assuming you can swim!). Complete bliss.
Don’t dive in though, or jump – it’s a crawl in.
There are some mighty rocks on the bottom.
500m later and I felt like I could take on the world, so we threw (dragged/hauled) on our soggy clothes and with not a lot of time to spare, clambered up the nearest lump, which was the Tryfan Far South Peak.
Now, this is NOT the main 917m Tryfan summit: it’s the nice little lower lump (831m) to the south. Sure, I’ll take the kids up Tryfan main peaks one day but although I love Tryfan, it’s not exactly safe, and not one to take on in a hurry between feeling faint and the forecasted clouds coming in! So we opted for the lower peak and had ten lovely minutes of watching the swirling cloud formations before grabbing a bearing and heading back to the lake.
For anyone not quite ready or without the time to tackle the main Tryfan peaks, the Llyn Bochlwyd swim + Far South peak is a really lovely, gentle introduction to the approach to Tryfan.
Would we do it again? Yeah, probably quite often.
On a safety note – while we were pottering around with this one, short walk, we found a lost child who was faster than his parents, so had galloped off ahead. It took us 20 mins to find his parents and make sure he was safe before we could move on. There was also a helicopter hovering over Glyder Fach (not sure if there were any rescues or not). Everyone’s pretty good on the mountains and tend to help each other out, but it’s a bit of a worry sometimes. Take care out there.
Want to walk Tryfan?
I might take the kids up there soon, and will read all the guides again before we go (Mud and Routes all routes up Tryfan to start). One tip — don’t rely on phone maps on Tryfan AT ALL – OS maps is fabulous, but my phone had no signal for ages, worked for about five minutes, then died (and the spare battery turned out to be broken). My hand compass and paper map, meanwhile, lasted the whole trip…
Also bear in mind there are a lot of ways down Tryfan and most of them are too steep for things without wings. Quite a lot of them are paths that take you halfway down and then won’t let you back up — so you can end up cragfast (aka cold, wet and shitting yourself) for hours, needing rescue. Even the main paths can be a bit hidden, so take it easy.