Britain’s greatest scrambles: Tryfan: Little and North Gullies

On Tryfan, a mountain awash with fab Grade 1 scrambles, this gully combo often goes unnoticed. Well, notice it now – it’s a corker.

Britain's greatest scrambles: Tryfan: Little and North Gullies

by Ben Weeks |

Total distance 4.8km | Total ascent 620m | Scramble rating Grade 1 | Go there almost any time when there’s no snow – the gullies themselves are fairly sheltered.

Tryfan is a veritable smorgasbord of scrambling excellence, appealing to everyone from the newbie clamberer transitioning from hillwalking to the experienced rock clinger with a wealth of routes in their log-book.

Little and North Gullies slice up the east face of Tryfan and are easily reached by starting off along the Heather Terrace. Unfortunately, there are almost as many gullies and buttresses on this side of Tryfan as there are scrambles on the mountain as a whole. Indeed, most of these features are routes in their own right, many of them at a grade that requires ropes. Once into Little Gully the scrambling is a solid Grade 1, continuing as such through into North Gully and up onto the summit ridge. But first you have to find it, so pay attention…

1.

From the parking along the A5 you need to get to the northern end of Heather Terrace. This can be accessed from the west by following the main path below Milestone Buttress and continuing east past the start of the North Ridge route, or, perhaps preferably, from the east by walking through Gwern Gof Uchaf campsite and taking the path past the obvious slab of Tryfan Bach (probably peppered with climbers) and following it up and west to the start of the Terrace.

2.

Once onto the Heather Terrace proper, you will begin to spot gullies: The first is little more than a grass and stone covered stream. Past the start of the proper crags above is the second, more defined gully – Bastow Gully. 75m further on is Nor’ Nor’ Gully – identifiable by a coffin-shaped boulder lying roughly 40m up. Another 75m along the Terrace is Green Gully. Look for ‘GA’ (for Grooved Arête) carved into the rock some 6m to the left of its entrance. Further along the Terrace is North Gully. Look up the gully to spot a jammed block forming a cave roughly 40m above the path. Beyond North Gully a flat-topped boulder lies in the middle of Heather Terrace. Then 5m past this a small path leads up to the right to a recess in the rockface and the start of Little Gully.

3.

From the back of the recess the scrambling begins. Climb up and out of the cleft and continue up a series of short steps to reach the elevated notch where Little joins North Gully.

Scrambling on the rocks alongside Little Gully.
Scrambling on the rocks alongside Little Gully. ©Tom Bailey, Trail magazine

4.

Cross a ledge and join the scree-covered path in North Gully that winds up past steep walls, using solid rocks to grasp onto to aid progress.

5.

North Gully gradually opens out, culminating in an impressive steep-walled amphitheatre. It’s worth pausing here to admire the architecture of this part of the mountain.

Playing with the spiked architecture above the east traverse path.
Playing with the spiked architecture above the east traverse path. ©Tom Bailey, Trail magazine

6.

Cross the path that runs around the back of the amphitheatre (this is the eastern traverse path) and continue into the last narrow stretch of North Gully, following it up and under a chock stone to emerge on the North Ridge in the col between the North summit and Tryfan’s true summit.

7.

A short scramble brings you to the unmistakable Adam and Eve. Now descend south to the col just before the Far South Peak and drop down east back to Heather Terrace or, for a more interesting walk out, continue down to the path along Cwm Tryfan from where you can admire the mountain’s mighty east face.

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