Llyn Bochlwyd, Glyderau

Llyn Bochlwyd

Llyn Bochlwyd below the Glyder range in the Ogwen Valley, Snowdonia. Available to buy at my Photobox Gallery

A moody image for this post -I love the light in the Ogwen Valley, where this photo was taken. I think it’s because the weather can be so changeable because of the effect the mountains have on the local climate. So often you get the sunshine breaking through disintegrating clouds, creating angel rays and highlighting features in the landscape, making for very dramatic images.

This photo was taken during an ascent of the renowned Tryfan’s North Ridge on a day when the cloud base was constantly shifting -we’re somewhere near the Cannon here for those that know it. A brief opening in the clouds allowed me to snap ‘Australia Lake’, as Llyn Bochlwyd is also known, which sits below Bwlch Tryfan, the col between Tryfan’s South Peak and Glyder Fach (you only get a hint of where it gets its name in this picture -Tryfan got in the way!). I was once told that this lake was so acidic you can’t swim in it -but I have a feeling that was just a story told by outdoor instructors to wind up annoying 15-year olds! But what I especially like about the photo, and why I included it in this collection, is the way y Gribin, the ridge behind the lake, is picked out by the sunshine, the contrast with the dark volcanic rocks in the foreground, the beautiful blue colour on the water and the hint of other mountains on the skyline.

From a geomorphologist’s point of view, this is a fairly classic tarn lake: this whole area was glaciated during the last ice age, and neighbouring Cwm Idwal is one of the classic examples of a corrie. Something of a hidden valley, it was overdeepened by the action of a cirque glacier, which was presumably constrained by the rock step between Tryfan and Y Gribin, resulting in a deep basin for water to collect in, which is now dammed by the same resistant rock with the moraines built on top. The result is an oligotrophic lake, which means a nutrient-poor, rain-fed lake, which often leads to higher than normal oxygen content and very clear waters. Apparently they’re quite common in mountain environments, especially where there’s volcanic bedrock. Reading around, they are also therefore somewhat acidified -rainwater being naturally acidic (notwithstanding acid rain from industrial pollution), so perhaps those instructors weren’t just pulling my leg!  Somewhat bizarrely, the lake is now home to brown trout -questions about how they get all the way up there spring to mind (the lake is around 600m above see level behind a pretty steep drop)? Guess they must jump like salmon…? In any case, it takes an intrepid fly-fisherman to go and catch them though!

All in all a fascinating place.


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Buy prints at normal photo dimensions e.g. 4″ x 6″ or scaled up

All images © Stephen Tyrrell, Mountains, Wild Places & Water, 2013. All rights reserved.

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