Tryfan and the Glyders from Idwal : the ultimate Welsh Workout

The traverse of the Glyders ridge must surely rank as THE best walker’s route in Southern Britain.  Throw in a quick scramble up Tryfan’s South face (and a little more practise on the edge of Bristly ridge) – and you achieve the perfect recipe for a great November day out in the hills.

We started out from Idwal Cottage, taking the track south east, then up and over the lip to Llyn Bochlwyd.  A nice easy start and a perfect place for a quick breather before the fun starts.  The whole day is mapped out for you from the shore of the lake : Tryfan’s conical peak to the West with the great wall of Glyder cliffs straight ahead.

Martin, Greg and Julian take five

Martin, Greg and Julian take five

As we followed the track up towards Bwlch Tryfan, the carefully planned route suddenly became the ‘ex-route’. The temptation to add Tryan – which I’d managed to resist when planning the route on paper – became impossible to resist when we could see it so close by.  I think my excuse was along the lines that we were about an hour ahead of schedule, or maybe it was the fact it looked like you could pop up and down in 5 minutes, but either way we just had to do it !

We attacked Tryfan by it’s western flank, giving Julian and Greg their first taste of scrambling.  After gaining the South ridge, we followed some of the 100’s of route options until finally arriving at ‘Adam and Eve’.  So not quite five minutes then – but well worth the detour.

Greg looking over the edge of Tryfan

Julian makes the most of the day's sunshine on Tryfan's flanks

Julian makes the most of the day’s sunshine on Tryfan’s flanks

We quickly descended the South ridge, trying as we did so to pick out the best route up Glyder Fach. In the end we went for the ‘straight up the scree approach’ – leaving the full Bristly ridge for another day.

PIck a route..  Glyder Fach's imposing wall

Pick a route….  Glyder Fach’s imposing face

The ever-steepening climb up Glyder’s face offers several great features.  Firstly, you can make it as hard or as easy as you like.  We opted for a mix of scree, then climbing to the right to sample some of the easier sections of the Bristly ridge.  The other great benefit is the fantastic views across to Tryfan.  Not sure how I ever thought we could ‘pop up and down in five minutes’!

Martin - taking a moment to rest on Glyder Fach's scree slope

Martin – taking a moment to savour the views across to Tryfan

It was at this point that I had to remember my promise to ‘bring every one back home safely’.  But … you can’t really do the Glyder’s without a little more excitement – can you ?  Every one had coped with some Grade 1 scrambling so well – so you have to push it just a little.  The rocky slopes of Glyder Fach offer perfect scrambling practise – a wide variety of routes to choose from, but without too much exposure.

Greg hangs on, whilst Martin has a WTF moment

Greg hangs on – whilst Martin has a WTF moment

The clamber up Glyder Fach encapsulates everything that makes the Glyder’s such fun. A bit more scrambling and we finally arrived on the lunar-like summit of the Glyder ridge.  By then we were well above the cloud base, with huge fragments of splintered rock looming out of the mist around us.

The final scramble - up through the splintered rock face

The final scramble – up through the splintered rock face

Taking a break on Glyder Fawr's summit

Taking a break on Glyder Fawr’s summit


After the excitement of the ascent, the summit plateau continues the rock theme, with huge fragments balanced precariously – many pointing skywards like some prehistoric Cape Canaveral graveyard.  Passing the gothic theatre of Castell y Gwynt, we followed the trail of cairns up and over Glyder Fawr, avoiding the vertical drops down into the Nameless Cwm. From the summit of Glyder Fawr, we searched through the mist for the start of the track, heading down the steep descent into Llyn y Cwm. The last obstacle was to scramble down the track, dropping through a spectacular rock face to finally reach the shores of Llyn Idwal and back to the car park.

The descent from the Devil's Kitchen, down to Llyn Idwal

The descent from the Devil’s Kitchen, down to Llyn Idwal

‘Man of the Match’ award goes to Martin : who else would spend a day out in mid-November, well above 3,000′ up in the Welsh Mounfains – wearing just a T-shirt ! Respect!

Tryfan and the Glyders ridge from Idwal Cottage : route

Tryfan and the Glyders ridge from Idwal Cottage : route


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