We were pushing our luck going for a hike in Snowdonia on such an overcast day. Chances were that we would not make it around the lake before getting soaked but the rain clouds did make for a very dramatic scenery. I had my own “personal guide” in the form of my friend Yvonne for this wonderful hike.
This walk offered some of the most dramatic mountainous scenery that I have ever seen on a hike. It took us through the beautiful ice-sculpted Cwm Idwal – a bowl-shaped hollow filled with the crystal clear waters of Llyn Idwal.
Cwm Idwal is a hanging valley in the Glyderau range of mountains in northern Snowdonia, the national park in the mountainous region of North Wales. In a 2005 poll conducted by Radio Times, Cwm Idwal was ranked the 7th greatest natural wonder in Britain.
Through Yvonne I learned that Cwm Idwal comprises volcanic and sedimentary rock which was laid down in a shallow Ordovician sea, and later folded to give rise to the distinctive trough-shaped arrangement of strata known today as the Idwal Syncline. This fold in the rock is visible today, thanks to the layering of the sedimentary rocks. The area was then eroded by glacial action to form the classic semicircular valley.
The spectacular hanging valley of Cwm Idwal, surrounded by the high peaks of Y Garn and Glyder Fawr is a classic example of a landscape which was dramatically sculptured by ice thousands of years ago.
At Llyn Idwal (lake) we chose a clockwise route around this nature reserve. As we started this circular walk the rain clouds came rolling in thicker and faster with the arrival of some very strong gusts. I would like to say gale force winds but have to admit that it was just very strong gusts, although I was nearly blown over while posing for a photo.
As we started along the footpath we were greeted by a collection of large fractured rocks known as Darwin Idwal Boulders.
Llyn Idwal (lake), is named after Idwal, the son of one of the ancient Princes of Wales, Owain, Prince of Gwyneddd, legend relates Idwal was murdered by being drowned in the lake by his uncle. Tradition further states that no bird flies over the lake, as a result of Idwal’s terrible fate. It was too windy that day for any birds to be flying about so I couldn’t test this myth.
Look up to our left were the sheer cliffs which form the headwall of Cwm Idwal, known as ‘The Devil’s Kitchen’.
Walking along the pebbled lake shore around to the east the weather did start to turn a little and we felt the first warning drops. As we arrived at the slate bridge that crosses Afon Idwal as it drains out of the lake it started dripping and we started hurrying towards the car. Our luck for the day held and we made it to the car without getting soaked and before the heavens opened up releasing a cold hard torrent of rain.