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Back in the late 1980s, before mountain bikes became popular, a group of us foolishly decided to bike all the 3000 footers in Snowdonia in a long weekend. This was the second day of this expedition.
Rocky mountain paths, some of which can be very rocky and exposed. Some minor scrambling to reach the summit.
Hazards and warnings
The heather terrace path is reasonably easy going compared to the other routes on the mountain. There is some scrambling over rocks in places, but not particularly exposed. This is not an easy route, but an easier way to the summit than other routes on this mountain.
From the parking area by Little Tryfan, follow the obvious path up, and across the fence. After climbing the stone shoot (see pictures) ascend for a about 100 meters, and look for the start of the Heather Terrace Path. Make sure you bear left onto the Heather Terrace path, which below the rocky east face of Tryfan, not the North Ridge path, which goes right,and on onto the ridge. Finding the start of the path can be tricky, as there are many indistinct paths, some of which will take you to impassable rocks, and others which trend back to the north ridge. The rocky nature of this part of the mountain means you can't see where the path goes from below. In poor visibility this is even harder, so you need to be careful in your navigation, and prepared to backtrack if you are not confident of your location.
The Heather Terrace path follows a line of less steep ground, hence the name heather terrace as it is vegetated, unlike the bare rock of the rest of the east face. It is a narrow, slippery and rocky path in parts, with considerable exposure, where a fall could be very serious. Although the path is only hard walking, rather than scrambling, the exposure, the lack of escape routes, and difficulty in finding the start of the path make this a serious walk, not to be undertaken lightly. When you are no longer immediately below the summit, a rocky path climbs sharply to the right. Taking this will get you to the boulder field below the summit (you can also follow the heather terrace path to Brych Tryfan for a slightly easier ascent).
Descend from the summit via the boulder field to the SSW (avoid following the ridge as this is a much harder line) and carry on to the col at Brych Tryfan. In poor visibility this can be a tricky one to navigate. This route then descends west along the obivous path, although you can use a much shorter path which goes east from Brych Tryfan back to Little Tryfan. We took the path which passes Llyn Bochlwyd, although there are plenty of other well made paths which head for the road between Tryfan and Idwl Cottage.
In the late 1980s, before mountain bikes became common, a group of us decided on a silly challenge of riding all the Welsh 3000s in one long weekend. Our trip to Tryfan was probably the most silly of all the peaks we did, although the previous days 'ride' over Carnedd Llewelyn was harder and longer.
Please note. Bikes are only allowed on bridleways. There is no bridleway up Tryfan. We were young and foolish, and this was in the days when taking a bike up a mountain would be met with astonishment, rather than punishment. Besides which it's only riding a bike that's wrong, not carrying one, and to be honest, we carried our bikes 99% of the way. Don't try this yourself, as you are likely to get in trouble, and mountain rescue are not going to be sympathetic. I decided to add the route, as it's a useful guide to the Heather Terrace if you are walking it (or carrying a bike like we did).
Getting up the start of the Heather Terrace proper required a great deal of carrying of the bikes, but fortunatly, in those days bikes were light, and often fitted with handy foam pads, made for carrying the bike over your shoulder. The stone shoot gully was particular tricky. Once we got to the Heather Terrace proper, we even managed to push the bikes, and I even managed to ride for about 10 metres, before the huge drop below, and lack of decent brakes made me get out of the saddle. The last climb over the boulder field to the summit featured much swearing and carrying of bikes again, but we did feel some foolish pride at the funny looks from more conventional walkers at the summit, who hadn't bothered to carry a bike with them.
We decended via the usual route to Brych Tryfan and headed down the initially fairly flat path towards the lake, which became steeper and rockier as it dropped towards the lake, in the vain hope of finding something we could ride on a bike lacking modern features like suspension and good brakes. I think we did manage to ride a bit along the path to Idwl Cottage from the lake, but the stone slabs on the path made even that hard with no suspension. I'm sure it would be a different story on a modern full suspension bike with disk brakes, but sadly, this is not allowed.
The moral of of the story, is even if you could legally ride a bike up Tryfan, you'd probably have a miserable time trying.
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