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More book ideas
26/11/2003

Cwm Silyn and Cwellyn (Eifionydd)

By Paul Jenkinson and Bob Wightman

Climbers' Club

RRP: £12.00

Despite being located just a valley away from some of the busiest crags in NorthWales, the Cwm Silyn and Cwellyn area is often referred to as the backwater or forgotten venue of Snowdonia. On the other hand, that rare commodity of a quiet day on the hill can (usually) be taken for granted around these parts.

With its predecessor, the 1989 Tremadog guide having been out of print for several years this latest ClimbersíClub publication makes a welcome addition to the bookshelf. (Editor's note: the crag listing for the Tremadog guide was rationalized down to a more geographically logical size for the 2000 edition Ė Cwm Silyn and Cwellyn were not included.)

The first thing you notice about this new guide is the size; itís pretty thin. At one point it was conceived as a combined title with Clogwyn Duír Arddu, which arguably would have made more sense, both from a financial and geographical perspective. However, with the Cloggy script still not finished, the decision was taken to produce separate volumes.

It sells at a similar price to the Paul Williams select guide, which for many occasional visitors has been a popular purchase; so do you need the comprehensive record? Well if your aspirations include the harder test pieces of Castell Cidwm, recent developments at Llechog or you have an appreciation of mountaineering classics in a secluded and idyllic setting, then read on this is the book for you.

On the crags that Iíve climbed at, the text, route descriptions and quality have been given a welcome reappraisal; i.e. the confusing middle pitchís of Kirkusís/Direct on Craig yr Ogof. However, Crucible felt a bit mean at HVS (although I could be getting old) and Iím reliably informed that the peg on pitch 2 is no longer there.

The colour photo diagrams, which were introduced in the Meirionnydd guide, are used to good effect. In fact the only black and white diagram, that of Castell Cidwm, has not reproduced well and suffers badly in comparison. This is a real shame because if ever a crag deserved a good and detailed series of diagrams, this is it. (Unfortunately I know who took those black and white photoís!)

From next year, once the current batch of guides that are at the final proof reading stage are published, i.e. Llanberis, Clogwyn Duír Arddu and Avon and Cheddar, I believe it is the ClimbersíClubís intention to incorporate as many colour diagrams as possible. The quality and clarity of the diagrams in this guide completely advocates this decision.

As for the action photos, they are the usual mixed bunch. My favourites include the front cover, which shows the character of Llechog and the sunny view of Kirkusís Route at Cwm Silyn. Unsurprisingly the lionís share of photos are from Cwm Silyn; a reflection of the cragís undoubted popularity. I especially like the historical black and white prints at the front, but some more shots of lesser-known areas would have been a welcome addition.

Although winter conditions are not as reliable as elsewhere, there is a diverse range of winter climbing to be had in the area. Bedrock Gully in particular is a hidden gem and perhaps in future, snow and ice info could be expanded and included in the text.

With regard to mistake spotting, I have relied upon greater local authorities than myself, yet there appears to be little of great concern. Other than minor niggles about route lines on the Cwm Silyn diagram, or that Efnisien in Cwm Pennant is overgrown and not worth two stars, the only real point of note raised was that route number 5 on the Craig Cwm Trwsgl diagram is wrongly marked. Apparently The Killing Fields (E4) lies on the same section of cliff as route number 6 Indefinite Article (E2) and share common sections of climbing. On a personal note the abseil block at the top of the Pickpocket Slab at Llechog does require care.

All in all a well-researched guide, this has no doubt involved (probably quite literally) a lot of legwork to produce. Cwm Silyn and Cwellyn have always had devotees; and this new book should amply reward anyone willing to explore or reacquaint themselves with this diverse and adventurous area.

Long mountaineering days out, cutting edge modern classics or unclimbed rock aplenty. Itís all there just waiting. Fingers crossed for another good summer.

The book can be purchased online from various websites, or from any good Outdoor shop.

Reviewed by Alan Leary


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