Bright skies across the valley here yesterday morning, and a feeling of crispness and frost underfoot tempted me to head west into the hills. I drove through to Mallwyd, Bertie in position as navigator next to me in the car, as wisps of cloud threatened to block out the Dyfi Hills ahead.
We drove to the top of the Bwlch Oerddrws – the high pass that forms a border between the Dyfi Hills to the south and the Arans to the north. The car park there was all but full, and we managed to squeeze into the last space, climb the stile, and hit the open hillside.
There’s an old fenceline that cuts across the north face of Cribin Fawr – most folk don’t see this and just bash up the steep slopes above, where the main paths goes. We took the faint path along the fence, following it high above the valley with thinning mists blowing across the fields far below. The path is easy to follow, and climbs very gradually to gain the obvious East Ridge of Cribin Fawr. At this point the path almost vanishes, but the ridge itself is obvious and grassy all the way up.
The ridge of Cribin Fawr (that gives the hill its name) has a fence running north-south along it, and as we gained the ridge, now completely shrouded in cloud, we turned to the left, handrailing along the fence to the summit, passing the huge hole-in-the-ground quarry at Clodda Gwanas on the way. The summit of Cribin Fawr has no cairn, and is just a grassy mound among many other grassy mounds. We continued along the fence down into the deep col at 565m, then steeply up the other side to the trig pillar on Waun-oer.
Still in deep cloud, it seemed a little pointless to trudge over to the third Hewitt of the group – Maesglase – I’d been there many times before, and would be going again soon enough, so we decided to enjoy a little navigation practice on the west side of Cribin Fawr as something to do on the way back.
We picked our way across the west side of Cribin Fawr, finding little indeterminate features as we went, then stopped for lunch beneath a lovely little slabby crag. Now at last the clouds began to thin, and we got our first real views of the day. Cadair Idris just to the south-west was still completely covered, but the Rhinogs away to the north-west were almost clear. Diffwys, Y Llethr and Rhinog Fach each had their tops free of cloud, and only Rhinog Fawr remained hidden.
Then, as we sat and ate, even Rhinog Fawr’s cloak blew clear, and the whole ridge could be seen. Nearer at hand Foel Offrwm and Foel Cynwrch, the tiny hills above Dolgellau looked lovely and still very autumnal, while Rhobell Fawr remained stubbornly beneath a dense cap of dark cloud.
At last, as we got ready to leave out picnic spot, the cloud on Cadair Idris began to reveal those huge buttresses and ridges that fall from the summit of Penygadair and Mynydd Moel. The only peaks still encased by cloud as we headed back to the car where Rhobell Fawr over in the Arennigau, and Cribin Fawr, our peak of the day.