Bryant’s Gully Scramble

Bryant’s Gully is a grade 2+ scramble on the south side of the Glyders. It follows a line up the Glyder Fawr south-west spur of Esgair Felen, from the valley floor all the way to its crest. At 500m long, it’s one of the longest scrambles in Snowdonia. I’d wanted to do it for some time and so when an opportunity came up – not only to do the route with an experienced scrambler and climber, but also to potentially have my photo taken to appear in the new revision of Steve Ashtons Scrambles in Snowdonia book – I grabbed it!

Travelling wasn’t an issue for once this time around as I was already in Snowdonia, staying for a couple of nights in Betws-y-Coed as part of my 40th birthday treat. Carl came to collect me in his car around 10am and we headed to the Llanberis Pass where the scramble began. As a bonus, the weather was glorious, the sky blue, and not a cloud in sight.

As with most gullies, some of the rock on Bryant’s Gully can be wet, or even worse wet and slimy with algae / lichen. This does mean that you need to put a bit more thought into some of the moves to get over obstacles. What may look like an easy foothold at first glance may be too slippery to use. Saying this, the majority of the route has surprisingly sound rock, with the extra slimy rock concentrated around the chockstone areas.

As we ventured up Bryant’s Gully, we soon arrived at the first obstacle – and in my opinion the hardest obstacle of the route. The gully was blocked with a large boulder and the way to get by it was to attempt to climb a steep wet slimy slab on the left. It was pretty useless even trying to find a foothold on this, and the only way to ascend was to slither and squirm your way up the greasy slab whilst pulling yourself up using the top edge as a handhold. It was a pretty undignified move to be honest and wasn’t at all easy. It also left the front of my t-shirt and trousers covered in green crap. If anyone doesn’t fancy this bit of fun, there’s no need to worry as the slab can be bypassed easily by backtracking a few steps and then climbing up and around it – also on the left.

Bryants Gully - Initial Section
On the initial section of Bryant’s Gully
© Carl McKeating (Cicerone Press)
Bryant's Gully - Greasy Slab
About to tackle the greasy slab on Bryant’s Gully
© Carl McKeating (Cicerone Press)

The route was so long from here, and with so many little (or not so little) obstacles that it’s difficult to remember the exact details of them all. I believe that the next few obstacles involved chockstones or other blockages and the way forward, more often than not, involved tackling the left hand side of the obstacle and required quite a lot of bridging technique with the climbing. This needed care as some of the rock was very greasy. Further along, and on the upper sections of the route, were two alcoves. Both of these were escapable up the right hand wall before dropping back into the gully a little further up. The wall in the second alcove doesn’t look easily climbable at first glance. It’s wet, black, and at first I thought it was soil. On closer inspection, it’s actually quite decent material and doesn’t prove too much of a problem to get up.

Bridging - Bryant's Gully
Demonstrating my bridging technique on Bryant’s Gully
© Carl McKeating (Cicerone Press)

Eventually, the gully floor turned into a wider scree slope, and I realised that perhaps wearing a helmet would have been advisable further down on the route. It’s almost impossible not to dislodge stones in the scree and send them tumbling down Bryant’s Gully. The gully soon emerges onto the scree on Esgair Felen’s upper slopes. To the left of the scree is a rocky rib that makes a more interesting journey to the top and adds a bit more grade 1 scrambling to the route.

And that’s it. Scramble finished and a walk back to Llanberis path was all that remained. It was a really good day’s scrambling and one of the most enjoyable routes I’ve done so far. The scrambling is sustained and there’s plenty of variation both in the terrain, and in the climbing techniques needed to conquer it, to keep it interesting. At the moment, it has a 2 star rating in Steve Ashtons book but, in dry weather, I’d certainly push that up a bit and give it a 3 star.

Photo album from the Bryant’s Gully scramble

All images © Carl McKeating (Cicerone Press)

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