A fun scramble up a gully within a gully on Tryfan’s east face all the way to The Notch on the North Ridge.
At the upper end of the grade scale, with the lower section bordering a low grade 2, Nor’ Nor Groove is best tackled on a dry day and by those with experience at this grade.
The Groove stays close to the main Nor’ Nor’ Gully, and the two routes merge at several points, providing the scrambler with a taste of the more challenging grade 2+ route.
Park in one of the laybys on the A5 between Llyn Ogwen and the campsite at Gwern Gof Isaf (free parking but stick to laybys and public car parks or risk getting a ticket).
Ascend the well-worn walking route from behind the campsite up to Heather Terrace, circling behind Tryfan Bach en route.
The start of Heather Terrace at this end of Tryfan is notoriously difficult to locate as well-polished rocks are hidden by heather.
First-timers should avoid days with poor visibility, but the route to Heather Terrace can be found easily on Google Earth/Maps.
Nor’ Nor’ Gully is the second obvious gully after Bastow Gully and is easily distinguishable from all the other gullies on this side of the mountain – look for large deposits of rocks at its entrance (see Google Maps screenshot) and larger boulders wedged in the gully itself.
Watch my video below, I only edited the footage very lightly so you’ll see the entire route up Nor’ Nor’ Groove:
Nor’ Nor Groove is ascended in several stages, some of which bypass steep rises in the main gully:
1) Take a line slightly to the left, which rises quickly above the main gully but stays parallel. Continue up the steps until this “groove” brings you level with the main gully; you’ve now bypassed the first two steep rises in the main gully.
2) Look for a small opening and a mucky quartz rock to your left; this is an escape route from the main Nor’ Nor’ Gully and takes you up to the heather section. The quartz rock is slippery and, when wet, treacherous. Look for grippy rock to the left of the quartz.
3) A clear path in the heather section should now be visible, first veering left towards the rock wall before swinging back to the right, towards the main gully. You’ve now bypassed the nasty third rise in the main gully.
4) Follow the main gully up where the path widens into several forks, all of which are fairly close to each other, expect more loose scree in this section but the route should be easier to follow.
5) Stay roughly central in the gully and continue your ascent until you’ve reached the East Traverse Path.
6) Pass the East Traverse Path (which runs left/right) and continue in the gully, avoid the large smooth slab blocking the route by climbing briefly to the right. Ascend to and scramble over the balanced rock at the very top of the gully at The Notch on the North Ridge.
Photos of Nor’ Nor’ Groove
(click to expand)
Looking down to the base of the gully. The Groove rises quickly above the main gully at the start. Note the rocks at the mouth of the gully.
The heather section on Nor’ Nor’ Groove. The path (just visible) veers back to the main gully just above the nasty third rise.
Looking down the gully as it widens. From here up to the East Traverse Path there are several lines of ascent.
Descents and Continuation
Don’t be tempted to descend the gully on the other side of The Notch as it’s a grade 2+ and those unfamiliar with the escape routes could end up in trouble.
Either descend via the North Ridge to the A5 or continue to the summit where there are several descent options.
Why not make a day of it and continue up Sinister Gully and Bristly Ridge?
My favourite route on the Glyderau is:
Tryfan – Sinister Gully – Bristly Ridge – Glyder Fach – Glyder Fawr – Y Garn (as shown on the map below)
Nor’ Nor’ Groove is described by Steve Ashton as a grade 1+ scramble, although some recent forum and blog comments suggest some parts of the route are closer to a grade 2-.
The east face of Tryfan is often bathed in the morning sun, but the gully and groove can remain damp for some time, depending on recent rainfall. Some of the rocks in the lower section were slippery during my visit, and the quartz rock had water running down it and was covered in algae too.
Approach time: ~1 hour (inc taking photos and taking notes).
Ascent time: ~45 mins (inc photos and note-taking).
Popularity: Very quiet, most scramblers go up the North Ridge of Tryfan, and climbers generally prefer the other more challenging gullies.
Watch out for: Navigation to Heather Terrace in poor weather (more details here), slippery rocks on the lower section, loose scree in the midsection.
Fun Rating: 7/10.
Grade: 1+ to 2-
My dislikes: It was over too quickly and bypassed the North Ridge ascent, which is always fun.
Equipment List: See my kit list here.
Recommended Guide Book:
Scrambles in Snowdonia by Steve Ashton (#ad)
About Daniel Woodley
This description of Tryfan’s Nor’ Nor’ Groove route was created by Daniel Woodley, aka The Bald Scrambler.
From walking along beaches and kayaking down rivers to making his way up mountains and even jumping out of planes, Daniel has a love of the outdoors but scrambling is his real passion.
Daniel Woodley aka The Bald Scrambler