Milestone Gully, Tryfan North Ridge, and Nor Nor Groove
An epic day of hiking and scrambling around Ogwen starting with a hike up to Bwlch Eryl Farchog for a touch of introductory scrambling on the nose of rock that leads upwards towards Carnedd Llewelyn, followed by a walk across the ridge and up to Pen yr Helgi Du before a pleasant descent back to the A5. This was then followed by some good quality scrambling on Tryfan which incorporated the Milestone Gully approach, the classic Tryfan North Ridge, and then a descent via Nor Nor Groove.
It’s been a few months since me and the kids enjoyed a day on Pen yr Ole Wen, and so I had a bit of an epic arranged for them this time round, courtesy of our guide for the day Carl. The kids were eager to get straight to the climbing, especially Sam who has been doing indoor climbing for the last year, but unfortunately had hardly ever experienced the real thing due to him living in Norfolk. Unfortunately they would have to wait a while for the really exciting stuff as Carl explained the plans for the day. First up was the warm up… a gentle hike uphill around to the right of Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir before a short but steep ascent onto the ridge of Bwlch Eryl Farchog. At the north-west end of the ridge lies a short 10 metre nose of rock that made for a bit of practice scrambling before we headed back south across the ridge and up towards the summit of Pen yr Helgi Du where the views included Pen yr Ole Wen, Carnedd Llewelyn, the Craig yr Ysfa amphitheatre, and the eastern face of Tryfan. We made the gentle and pleasant descent down the grass ridge of Y Braich and headed to Ogwen Cottage and the refreshments kiosk where the kids enjoyed a chocolate brownie each and I indulged in an ice cream, all courtesy of Carl.
Next on the agenda was the Tryfan North Ridge via Milestone Gully (a scramble I also did a couple of months or so back), and the kids were really looking forward to it. It was a relatively easy scramble for them although they didn’t stand a chance getting up onto the mantle shelf without a little help. I, on the other hand, seem to have gotten the move off to a fine art now. One acrobatic manoeuvre and I’m up. Once at the top of the gully, we headed around to the main North Ridge route where we took the traditional Cannon Stone photos before moving on towards the best scrambling nearer the top. After questioning the kids the next day, they told me that they enjoyed the north ridge scramble the most out of the three we did, which doesn’t surprise me – it’s popular for a reason! Once we’d dropped into the notch, it was time to leave the north ridge and begin the third scramble of the day.
We descended down the Nor Nor Groove route, which is a scramble I hadn’t done before. Nor Nor Gully begins in the notch and runs down Tryfans east face as far as heather terrace. Nor Nor Groove follows a line of rock (or a groove) that runs up the side of the gully. At a grade 1/2, it’s a lower grade than taking the Gully direct, which is graded at 2/3. The kids definitely found this the hardest bit of climbing of the day. Descending is trickier than ascending to most people, and my kids were no exception. It was slow going as Carl spotted Sam down the gully and I attempted to spot Luke. Admittedly, my spotting skills weren’t very good as I had a tendency to lose my patience too easily so Carl gave me a hand with Luke several times too. The wind had picked up quite a lot by this point and the cloud was low making it all feel rather atmospheric – just how I like it. Eventually we arrived at the bottom of Nor Nor Gully where Carl split from us to take a look at a scramble route on South Buttress, whilst me and the kids headed back along heather terrace and then skirted around back onto the main Tryfan north ridge path, before a final descent back to the car park – just in time for it starting to go dark!
It was a very long day – 3 a half hours to drive to Snowdonia, and 10 hours hiking and scrambling. It was no surprise that the kids fell asleep in the car within 5 minutes of setting off back!
Walk Completed on 7th August, 2016.