Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Slea Paddlers Use the Centre at Cynwyd

At the beginning of April we had a new group use the centre the Slea paddlers. Charlie Russell, who is a junior member of the club, wrote the following after staying at Yr Hen Felin for the weekend.
‘We arrived at the centre on Friday 1st April. We came to the centre because we were going kayaking on the Saturday and Sunday in Bala & Llangollen.
The centre was brilliant and the beds where warm and cosy. I would recommend the centre to anybody who are looking for a place to stay in North Wales.
The kitchen was perfect for all our needs. There was also a drying room that was brilliant for us to dry our kit out in after a brilliant day paddling!
The only down side was Barry snoring.’
Charlie Russell Junior Member Of Slea Paddlers (BCU 3 STAR)
The team from Slea Paddlers were so impressed by the centre they have booked another weekend later in the year and we are pleased to have been able to welcome them to Cynwyd. If other groups would like to write about their stay at Cynwyd we would be pleased to hear from you.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Slea Paddlers group see their website

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Montane Sabretooth Soft Shell Jacket

It was my birthday in January and as usual I was struggling to think of something suitable to have from Kay. I had been looking at two things being a Rab Vapour Rise pull on top but must confess that I already have one of these (which is great) so although this is quite old and they have been revamped it was not top of the list. The other item I had been looking at was the Montane Sabretooth Soft Shell Jacket. Since getting my Millet soft shell jacket over three years ago this has been my favorite jacket and it has been used extensively in all weathers and on many different activities. This is a fantastic piece of kit which is really lightweight, very wind resistant and has proved a great asset to be carried at the bottom of a rucksack. Its only disadvantage is that the hood is not that big and the pockets are limited in size hence why I had been looking at the Montane jacket. This jacket is described as a highly technical soft shell mountain jacket which had received Trail Magazine 2010 soft shell award BEST IN TEST. Their verdict was that it was "An excellent soft shell for wearing in typically mixed mountain weather."
The Trail magazine test said:
The real hero is the fabric. Polartec Powershield is a truly exceptional fabric. 90% of the time that you are outside this Powershield is probably the most comfortable and effective outerwear for the majority of mountain activities. Blocking 98% of the wind, highly breathable, water repellent and extremely abrasion resistant the Sabretooth has phenomenal potential. The advantages of a softshell are obvious, stretch for active comfort, less noise than a hard shell, warmth without weight and weather protective. Featuring the classic alpine features, adjustable hood, venting pockets and active tailored fit, the Sabretooth is the outerwear that gets worn, not carried.
In the past few years the Trail magazine tests have proved to be a very, very good way of deciding which kit to buy and generally I do refer to them before buying any equipment. With this in mind I decided the Montane jacket was what I wanted to have from Kay and although she pointed out how many jackets I already had it was ordered. Unfortunately we were out of luck and although I could have got one in January the cheapest place I found it said they would be out of stock until the end of March. Finally last week the jacket arrived and its first outing will be over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend when I am assessing two D of E expeditions who are using the centre. First impressions of the Montane Sabretooth jacket are that although it is not as lightweight and compactable as the Millet Jacket it would appear to be harder wearing and all four of the pockets are large enough for map, compass hat and gloves (all in separate pockets if you choose to use them). The hood is large enough for a helmet to easily fit under it and the construction may indeed be more weather resistant than other soft shell jackets.

The jacket had its first real test out on Easter Saturday when I was out assessing both a bronze and silver D of E Group. On the Saturday the weather was mild but the mist descended to a level of 300 metres and it was quite cold out on the Clwydian range of hills. Although I started in just a base layer as it was quite warm first thing in the morning by mid morning it had clouded over and so I put on the new Montane jacket. Initial impression was that the cut is quite short but that is not really a criticism just a comment as the short cut easily allowed access to trouser pockets. The jacket work superbly well and I kept it on all day. The pockets are large enough to carry a map and compass with room to spare and this in itself is a bonus. The jacket was good at keeping the wind off and even when I was moving quickly uphill through heather (therefore lots of moisture) the jacket was able to deal with this and wicked it away with no effort at all. 

I used the jacket throughout the three days of assessing the silver expedition and it proved to be excellent at keeping me warm, free from condensation and dry from a light shower. All in all I would highly recommend this jacket and as it is considerably cheaper than my Millet jacket it is superb value for money. Well done to Montane on producing yet more excellent kit.

Since getting the jacket I have now used it extensively in various weathers and it has already become a favourite bit of kit. In the October 2011 Trail magazine they again ran their test on Soft Shells and the Montane Sabretooth came out as Trail Magazine Best Value and Trail Magazine Best in Test. It was the only jacket that got five stars in all the categories and the only jacket to come close was the Rab Vapour Rise Guide Jacket which is heavier, has less pockets and lost one star on performance. the only thing it does have is pit zips which can be useful so for seriously fast moving people this jacket may be a good option and Rab always make excellent kit so worth comparing.

The following technical information has been taken from the Montane Website:
The Montane Sabretooth Jacket is perfect for a range of outdoor activities, utilising Polartec Power Shield fabric for highly breathable water and windproof protection in a stretch fit for maximum comfort. This walking jacket also features a roll-away helmet hood with a wired peak and volume adjuster combined with a full length, reversed two way zip for additional protection.
Fabric: POLARTEC® Powershield®
Colour: Black / alpine red (zips)
Weight: 545g / 19.2oz (Size Medium)
RRP: £150.00

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Brenig Way

The Brenig way is a 32 mile route for walkers that goes from Corwen to Llyn Brenig. On leaving Corwen the route comes right through Cynwyd and is therefore very accessible from the centre and cottage.

The route has only just opened and takes walkers into some of the quietest parts of Denbighshire, where peaceful paths snake though natural woodlands and along steep sided river valleys.  It follows ancient drovers roads and passes even more ancient cairns, navigating its way through the Clocaenog Forest to reveal stunning views of the Clwydian range at Pincyn Llys and around Cyffylliog. It culminates in a steady, but isolated, climb along the Afon Clywedog, passing just a handful of houses, to reach Llyn Brenig at the Archaeological Trail.  This is the site of a Bronze Age burial ground, with several ritual cairns creating a sense of solitude against the stunning backdrop of Hiraethog and Snowdonia. A gentle walk around the lake is completed by walking across the Brenig dam to finish the walk at the Visitors Centre for a well-earned treat.
The route of the Brenig Way has been marked with distinctive waymarkers based on the stone cairns found along the way. It has been designed to be walked over two or three days in either direction.
By staying in the centre or cottage you would be able to complete the whole route over a couple of days and could do this with two vehicles. Due to the nature of the walk it is an  ideal route for both young people and adults. More information on the route can be found at If you get round to walking the route why not send us some photos or feedback so we can include it within the blog.

Llyn Brenig

Last time we were up at the centre we spent the afternoon visiting Llyn Brenig which is about ten miles from Cynwyd. Llyn Brenig is a large lake, surrounded by heather moorland and spruce forests. Most of the moorland around Brenig is in the Mynydd Hiraethog Site of Special Scientific Interest. The moorland management scheme within the area is regenerating black grouse.

At Llyn Brenig there is a large pay and display parking area and a visitors centre, shop and café which are open seven days a week in season and the café offers panoramic views of the lake. Within the visitors centre there is an audio visual programme that tells the story of Llyn Brenig which is steeped in history. Bronze age man used Brenig as a burial ground constructing cairn fields. Foundations of a 16th century farmhouses also form part of the site’s archaeological trail which is 2 miles long.

The sites two nature trails offers glimpses of Llyn Brenig’s wildlife and there is a walk that goes the whole way around the lake which is 10 ½ miles long and takes about four hours to complete. Bryn Maen has outstanding views of Snowdonia and the Berwyns, and there is a stream side picnic site at Pont y Brenig.

Bird hides offer the chance to see Mallard, teal, goldeneye with goosander seen in October and November. Also, hen harrier, merlin and peregrine can be seen from the hides.

There is a great outdoor play area which is free of charge.

Llyn Brenig is well worth a visit if staying at the centre and can be found by going back to the A5 and heading towards Betws Y Coed. After about 9 ½ miles you get to the right hand turn to Cerrigydrudion and you will see the brown tourist signs showing Llyn Brenig which you can follow right to the lake.