Guided trips on river and lake

Category: Snowdonia

Wild llyn Expedition – Fishing on the edge in Snowdonia

I was standing on top of a wind blasted mountain, barely able to keep my footing. The wind howled, and with it came the rain and thick fog. Somewhere far below us was a llyn which we had passed without even seeing. The steep path (if you can call it that) led ever upwards. My companion, Alan, was nothing more than a lurching hooded figure fading in and out of sight.

Somewhere up there……

How we had progressed this far without getting lost was remarkable, yet we were not even half way. We were trekking to one of the most remote llyns in Wales, whose name loosely translates as ‘the lake of the winged creature’. Somewhere up ahead, through the murk lay the lakes of the dogs, another ominously named place which brought to mind Arthur Conan Doyle’s ferocious hound of the baskervilles. The weather certainly suited the tale, and at 2000 feet it was relentless.

After a good hours walk we were completely drenched. We found ourselves taking a break at the outlet of the lower dogs lake, only halfway to our ultimate destination.

The eerie lake of the hounds

Little of this llyn could be seen, other than a reed bed and strange white quartzite boulders. We took a side each and proceeded to fish. Within a short while, several mountain trout came to hand, each one 8 or 9 inches long and dark, typical trout from a high llyn. A few more were bumped and missed.

A pretty llyn trout

I waded through the reedbed and conveniently found it floated, like a mattress, allowing me to cover fresh water with the ferocious wind at my back. On the way back to shore I found myself sinking helplessly into a bottomless ooze of peat, I was really lucky to get out of it without getting stuck. Lesson learnt – don’t wade in a reed bed miles from nowhere!

There were another two llyns here, each higher again. However we decided to press on, hoping the fog would lift.

The next part of the trekk found us shambling over trackless moors where heather and bilberry grew amongst treacherous green bog. We had to check our bearings a few times on my phone (remarkably I had occasional signal!) It took some time, but eventually we came to a rain swollen rivulet that took us to the remote llyn.

Shambling through trackless moors
Alan at the Lake of the winged creature

There are tales of big fish from this place. It is said the fish average over a pound, with monsters present that would grace a glass case. Its also said to be a dour, deep llyn which most of the time keeps its secrets.

A dour and rocky place (Image Alan Parfitt)

From what we could see of the lake it was indeed deep and dour, with rocky banks that sheered steeply into dark boulder strewn depths. Wading was difficult, so for the most part we had to scramble about above the water.

Fishing on the edge! (Image Alan Parfitt)

Today we had our work truly cut out – the wind must have been 40mph or more – with visibility at nearly zero! We could barely throw a line – the wind would gust and squall violently, and the banks were slippery and treacherous. This limited where we could fish to just a few places. I managed to find a good spot on a rocky islet that allowed me to get a line out a fair way.

Persistence paid off – I managed to capture two perfectly formed trout, each one hardly longer than my hand. Granted, they were not the giant creatures of myth, but we both had a few savage pulls which in my mind could have been good sized fish.

A wild llyn trout – small but perfect

We left the llyn after a few hours, sodden and freezing cold. Our final stop was the llyn we had passed on the way up, hidden in the murk. Thankfully the weather had lifted a little, allowing us to enjoy a view of this spectacular corrie lake.

The murk lifts revealing a corrie llyn

This llyn has a macabre tale – an angler, said to be a carpenter, drowned while fishing the lake, having climbed the sheer cliffs seeking to catch the larger fish that are said to sit beneath them.

Fishing below sheer cliffs (Image Alan Parfitt)

Indeed, half of the llyn was very shallow and not so good for fishing. In the gin clear water I actually spotted a few fish swimming about over pale patches of algae on the bottom. A few of these took my fly, smallish fish of from 6 to 10 inches.

A typical Snowdonia llyn trout

The best area proved to be in the deeper water under the slopes. The water appeared black as night, almost fathomless. Here I saw a trout move vertically from the deeps and nail my fly almost under my feet – this one was the best yet, just over a foot long.  Several other better fish also came to hand here. I didn’t risk the very steepest part, it looked dangerous, although I did see some temping rises just below them, they weren’t enough to lure me to a potential watery death!

Best of the day – a buttercup yellow brownie

We’d had a full day out, having walked a total of 12km accross some extremely challenging terrain. Sore footed we headed back to civilisation to dry off, content that we had caught fish from all three llyns. Another great adventure completed.

The way back to civilisation

Fly Fishing In Snowdonia – Llyn Dinas & Llyn Gwynant

These are two of Snowdonias most scenic llyns. They swarm with tourists in fine weather, but this morning (29th May) it was raining, that sort of fine, non-stop stuff that soaks into your very pores. So they were deserted. As a fisherman this suited me just fine.

Fishing llyn dinas – the lake of the fort

I was on Llyn Dinas, after picking up a day ticket at 8.00am for £15 from the post office in Beddgelert. It was flat calm, and I was expecting to see some rises, but I didn’t. I worked round the East Side of the llyn, stepping and casting as I went. A good breeze had picked up; from experience these conditions often produce capital sport. I must have carefully fished a good half a mile of bank, and all I had to show for it was one sharp pull. A sign at least that there were some fish here! The water of llyn dinas was gin clear, weedy in places but almost sterile in appearance with no insect life to be found on the water or in the margins. It seemed odd.

I decided to head to Llyn Gwynant which is a few miles further up the valley on the same ticket.

Fly fishing llyn gwynant – Lake of the white stream

Conditions were similar here. Crystal clear water with the odd discarded beer tin or child’s Wellington boot clearly visible on the bottom! Here I spent another two hours fruitlessly casting my fly line. At least on Gwynant I saw a singular rise – but nothing took an interest in my flies, not a single pull or swirl. I’d fished a lot of water in perfect conditions and covered it well. The lack of action was strange, but perhaps I’d come on the wrong day. Or maybe there aren’t that many fish in these llyns. Still, it was another two llyns ticked off and the scenery was superb, despite the rain.

In Search Of Wild Trout – Excursion To Llyn Arddu Snowdonia

It was Whitsun Bank Holiday week and I was staying in Snowdonia, just a few miles from llyn Arddu. Being within walking distance I thought I would pay it a visit.

Llyn yr Arddu

There isn’t much information about it, other than a brief entry in Frank Wards ‘Lakes of Wales’ book, which states it holds small trout.

Frank Wards lakes of Wales entry for llyn arddu

On the OS map the llyn was nestled in a dramatic rocky hollow at the top of a very steep slope. I would walk about 2 miles to the base of the mountain side and follow the stream coming out of the llyn all the way up to its source. It looked easy enough.

Stage 1 was a fairly pleasant walk through the Nant Mor valley. Through farm fields, tracks, meadows and finally fording a small river. This led me onto a narrow road where a small stream tumbled down from the high slopes above. This part of the journey had taken me 35 minutes.

The llyn is somewhere at the top!

Stage 2 involved a steep uphill scramble through a conifer forest. The stream ran to my left in a walled off gulley. This was a lot harder than I expected – the trees were dense, it was incredibly steep and slippery, with low branches and random boulders to contest with.

The dense forest leading up to llyn arddu.

Drenched with sweat I eventually broke through into a clearing, which led to a swampy plateau where the stream flowed under a jumble of boulders and an ancient stone wall.

Stairway to the llyn – the boulder strewn stream channel

Stage 3 involved following the stream bed, which ran through an almost vertical gorge. The stream boulders and rocks acted as a natural staircase for a time, although I had to be carefull as they were covered in treacherous slime and muck. I veered to the right of the Channel where a slightly easier route went through centuries old bilberry and heather, in parallel to the stream. This was lung busting stuff, much harder going than I expected. After many stops and starts I finally reached the summit and the llyn lay before me. It had taken me nearly 2 hours to get here.

First glimpse of llyn yr arddu

The llyn was beautifully situated with mountains and crags all around It. Further above views of Cnicht (the matterhorn of Wales) could be seen in the distance. At 6 or 7 acres The lake was circular in shape with steep rock walls to either side of me. In front of me I could see a jumble of red stained boulders in the clear water. In the margins I spotted buzzer shucks, some small sedges and a few tiny pond olives. Enough food to sustain wild brown trout I hoped. I rigged up with a 7 weight 4 section fly rod, a floating fly line and a leech pattern and took a few speculative casts.

The stunning llyn arddu with Cnicht Mountain beyond

I worked my way around the llyn, which appeared to be fairly deep away from the margins. The far side was quite open and easy to access, although the wind was blowing hard into my face. Clumps of emerald green weed could be seen here and there. It looked fishy, but I didn’t see a rise, or have any interest in my flies. I noticed the odd natural flitting about on the water, and in one corner the wind funnelled them into a wind lane, a place where fish can always be found on llyns like these. However there were no fish to be seen mopping them up….. After just over an hour I had covered all the likely spots on the llyn and had to conclude that it was empty of fish. Frank Ward doesn’t always get it right – or had the llyn been wiped out by acid rain in the 1980’s? Either way, it hadn’t been a wasted trip, it had been worth it for the breathtaking views alone. With curiosity satisfied, I headed back down the mountain. The decent was significantly easier.

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