Where in this view would you like to be?
A rare find.
This small and beautifully formed lake is tucked away and hidden above Pen–y–Pass.
Visitors are rare.
There is a fabulous view, looking across Lyn Cwm-y-ffannon, to Crib Goch, with its impressive knife-edge ridge, which leads you up onto Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, at a lofty 3560 feet (1085 metres).
This is a small, fresh-water lake in Gwynedd, Snowdonia, below the summit of Moel Berfedd and nestled in a gorgeous, small, valley offering solitude, if you don’t mind being alone. I find that it is blissful to get away from the crowds at times in our lives.
The lake lies at an altitude of about 385 metres with a shoreline of around 1.5 km and the depth is fairly shallow, but I was not planning on swimming in it on this Winter’s day to discover what depths they may be!
There is a new form of sport, and here in Wales, that is cold water endurance swimming outdoors (Winter Swimming or Ice Swimming), however I was already cold enough from the biting, icy, weather not to be tempted to swim.
You get a great taste of the mountains in this location.
From Pen-y-Pass it is a short, steep hike with rough terrain.
This lake and cwm is well hidden and I will surprise you by telling you that access is over a ladder style, only minutes walk from the main road. You won’t see many people here ever, no matter what the season. Lyn Cwm-y-ffannon, nestling under Flyder Fawr, is accessed by wild campers and the adventurous looking for rough going. If you did not know this lake was here, or have a map, then you would not believe what you would discover after an uphill ascent, following the river bed, and dropping down again to the lakeside.
Why? Because most people coming here have only one goal, and that is to climb Mount Snowdon. Then they go home.
The Welsh mountains are just as impressive as those found in Scotland.
At the time of my adventure, there are technical difficulties. The air is cold and clear, the ascent was boggy, making steps difficult, and I sank, knee high, into many, deep, unchartered areas. Water invaded my boots and soaked my socks, stealing the heat from my souls, it rose up my walking gear, inside my base layer, climbing up my legs, making me shudder with the icy coldness. The extra weight was a burden. Once wet, there was nothing I could do, but continue on, or retreat. This grinding, hard journey, over the roughest terrain was getting to me. There were no dry spots here today. Those that know me, realise that I love a challenge! So, guess what? Yes! You got it! I ventured on!
The Welsh Winter is a variable beast indeed.
No sound rang out from the emptiness. The only sound I could hear was those that I was making. My boots crunched on the ground and it felt magical to be the only person here.
I was carrying my heavy camera gear and tripod, and at one point I had to extend my tripod to use the additional three legs to steady myself. My brain kept on telling me to turn back as the weather had been hideous, making the ground treacherous and the going really difficult and I was getting colder. There was thin ice on some puddles, which were cracking under my boots. I was slipping and sliding, falling, sinking deeper into wet boggy holes, which were becoming more like craters, and I was concerned about breaking a limb, or sinking so far in that I would be lost forever and never found.
My thoughts turned to Scott and the Antarctic and I thought if he could set off on that great feat in those times, then I could jolly well do this, and I was spurred on by the fact that there was a pot of gold at the end of my relentless journey.
When I reached the lake, it delighted me. I made a mental note that it really was a rarity and a hidden gem of Snowdonia and, indeed, the World and I was blessed to be here, right now, in this exceptional spot.
Breathless, I found a large rock to sit down on, looking at the glorious lustre of the water and breathed in the stunning beauty all around me. I was shaking and shivering from the cold, which surrounded me, my skin rough with goosebumps, and it was biting hard on me. I removed my flask from my rucksack and took a welcome drink of coffee, desperately wanting to feel the heat through the mug on my hands, and I ate a sandwich. I was re-charging my batteries.
This scenery around me was heavenly and was what dreams are made of.
If it had been summer, I think I would have stayed for hours, but I was on a mission with my photography and I knew that I couldn’t stay too long or I would be caught out by the early onsite of Winter’s darkness, placing me in grave danger.
My journey here had been extremely difficult and I didn’t want to suffer hypothermia. I needed the energy from my muscles to regenerate heat into my body.
I could feel the icy air and it stung my face and hands. The lake looked white? Graphite? Silver? I pondered over this thought, but there was one thing I was very clear of, that it looked to me like a rare diamond.
Mountains standing proudly behind this lake were covered in snow, glistening in the sun, looking like they had been dusted with icing sugar.
At the edge of the still, restful, shallow water, the lake looked crystal clear.
Impulsively, I cupped my hands and took a sip, it was so cold. I noted the absence of city additives of fluoride, only nectar from the gods, that thrilled my tongue and was a perfect potion for my body.
I set up my tripod and camera and was led immediately into this peaceful image. It was a cloud-filled sky and the late afternoon sun slashed above the mountain and through the openings in the clouds.
There had been a breeze, which was creating ripples on the lake. I had waited so long for the wind to lower, at the expense of me leaving in good, safe, time. It is hard for me as a photographer to prize myself away from such an idyllic scene.
At one time, the sun was casting a warm, golden tint onto the surface of the silver lake, making it glimmer and the sky seemed to light up. Pools of molten gold lay on the surface. The lake became more tranquil and I was in paradise. I could see reflections on the lake of the reeds and boulders, like ice balls, in a polar vortex, and there was calmness like no other. The boulders sat there, unmoving, like prehistoric dinosaurs, with layers of lichen, dusted in frost. The windswept, bare, rocks led you into the scene.
I had a lightning bolt moment.
Click! This moment created a sensational shot.
Sighing, I stood up to forge my way back to my hotel in Llanberis. I really did not want to leave this most beautiful place on Earth, and I really had to tear myself away to go back on that gruelling journey, but I smiled, glowing inside, knowing that I had the most splendid memory of Lyn Cwm-y-ffyannon, captured in time on my camera. A place that I was so glad to have discovered, and knowing that I would probably never get the chance to return to again in my lifetime.
When home, I processed this photo and it made me very emotional. I wanted to leap into this scene, to breathe it all in again.This beautiful, perfectly formed lake, is dazzling like a diamond, bathed and glowing in the Winter’s sun, with the most splendid backdrop you could ever hope to see.
I will never, ever, forget this moment. I was so truly alive this day.
This is a rare find.
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