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Eastern Arenig circuit 2 days / 17 miles (28km)

OS Route Map → Map Route file →

Date: 26 Jul 2011
Start / Finish: Llanuwchllyn.
Maps: Explorer OL23 Cadair Idris.

Day 1Foel Boeth, Moel Ymenyn & Moel Llyfnant8.9miles / 2989 feet (14.4km / 911m)
Day 2Blaen-Lliw & Ffridd Trawsgoed8.3miles / 509 feet (13.4km / 155m)
View westwards from Foel Boeth

A 2-day circuit of the eastern Arenigs from Llanuwchllyn to visit a couple of new 500m Dewey hills, a quick trip conceived at short notice with little planning required and some new landscape to explore. The route is largely the same as our Arenig Fawr South Ridge & Moel Llyfnant trip except for these new tops, approaching through the forest of Y Lordship and returning via Blaen Lliw and the bridleway traversing Ffridd Trawsgoed, and some route description is copied from there.

The clarity was excellent on the first day giving pin-sharp landscapes and distant clear views, culminating in a superb night at Moel Llyfnant, the third time I've pitched here. A haze developed overnight and the light breeze died completely by dawn, prompting a very swift striking of camp to mitigate a midge onslaught and a fast return to base. The area was deserted for the whole trek.

Day 1 - Foel Boeth, Moel Ymenyn & Moel Llyfnant

I took the surfaced footpath from the A494 alongside the Afon Dyfrdwy to the church and walked up to the southern tip of Y Lordship forest on the narrow lane, where the gate onto the track has a 'Croeso - walkers welcome here' emblem. The small reclaimed quarry near the first rise now holds a pair of lakes that are progressing well, a useful haven for the flora and fauna, including reed mace and numerous smaller plants and dragonflies that were cruising the waters from the nearby forest rides.

The forestry work has proceeded since the last visit here: the fallen tree across the route has gone and some of the northern end of the track has been overlaid with logs and rough timber brash, not hard to walk on and quite handy near the usually boggy exit onto the roadhead.

Reclaimed quarry pool in Y Lordship forest
Reclaimed quarry pool in Y Lordship forest (26 Jul 2011__09:34:25)

A bridleway heads westwards via a gate and climbs through a forest ride to a wall:- a waymark points to the L side of the wall into some rough arduous terrain but I continued on an easy track on the R side, passing back through an obvious wall gap where the track veers uphill. A rough path now appears that follows the edge of the trees to a forest corner where I turned R for a steep climb up the flanks of Foel Boeth, giving a good view across the Lliw valley.

Notes for peakbaggers:- on the last visit I spotted an earthy forest track hairpinning back eastwards uphill, and I followed it for a few minutes but it led nowhere useful and began to descend. I returned to the forest boundary and a short way further WNW I saw another track ascending into the trees NW: this track is the key. It emerges from the trees into a felled area where I turned R and followed the new boundary uphill to a break where I turned R again. A short ascent further where this levels out there is a final R turn for just a brief walk to a heathery clearing. The summit seemed in no doubt and is unmarked, and the distant view is preserved over the treetops.

View across the Lliw valley
View across the Lliw valley (26 Jul 2011__11:08:42)

The 'tracks' on this forested top are similar to the short section I encountered earlier in Y Lordship, but here the logs and spiky brash are laid over matted heather and tussocks and it was like picking my way through the aftermath of the Tungus event. Having striven that far I was determined to see it through to the summit if humanly possible and I succeeded, but it's hills like these that make me mutter 'why am I doing this?' (after all, it wasn't as though it was likely to yield any hidden treasures and the summit wasn't spectacularly bad enough to be good or memorable, unlike one or two others I could name!).

I followed one such 'track' towards Moel Ymenyn for a short way and left it for a very rough and tiring drop of deep heather and tussocks to the infant Afon Dylo. Moel Ymenyn is a better prospect and the ascent is at least free of forestry trappings, a pleasant cairned top with good views eastwards and an ideal spot for a break to cool down and recuperate.

View eastwards from Moel Ymenyn
View eastwards from Moel Ymenyn (26 Jul 2011__12:33:25)
Arenig Fawr from Moel Ymenyn
Arenig Fawr from Moel Ymenyn (26 Jul 2011__12:34:10)

I headed westwards to locate the Dolydd Bychain and walked up the stream to ascend to the eastern spur of Arenig Fawr. From the upper end I walked up and down the splendid south ridge to visit the small lakes that give such a superb foreground to the mountain beyond, a long time favourite location where we have enjoyed excellent tent pitches. The views to northern Snowdonia were superbly clear.

Back at the southern end I descended easy slopes to Ceunant Coch, Moel Llyfnant growing more formidable with every step.

Headwaters of Dolydd Bychain
Headwaters of Dolydd Bychain (26 Jul 2011__13:11:41)
View to Snowdonia from the south ridge
View to Snowdonia from the south ridge (26 Jul 2011__14:27:52)
Arenig Fawr from the south ridge
Arenig Fawr from the south ridge (26 Jul 2011__14:42:28)
Wild Wales wetland on the south ridge
Wild Wales wetland on the south ridge (26 Jul 2011__14:51:22)
Arenig Fawr from Ceunant Coch below Moel Llyfnant
Arenig Fawr from Ceunant Coch below Moel Llyfnant (26 Jul 2011__15:53:48)

I crossed the valley to the ladder stile on the footpath at the base of Moel Llyfnant: I knew what to expect but it looked even steeper than usual after the rigours of earlier in the day. After a rest and a boost from a shot of Dextrose, I knuckled down for the merciless ascent of the east face, resting often to admire the views across to Arenig Fawr and southwards to the Arans, and arriving at the deserted summit as the cloud was bubbling up to give a significant covering.

I pitched the tent with the door facing northern Snowdonia, a welcome relaxing evening ending with a clear sunset over Cnicht and the waters of Llyn Trawsfynydd glistening below to the west.

The Arans and Dduallt from ascent of Moel Llyfnant
The Arans and Dduallt from ascent of Moel Llyfnant (26 Jul 2011__16:01:37)
Pitch on Moel Llyfnant
Pitch on Moel Llyfnant (26 Jul 2011__17:01:39)
Sunset over Snowdonia from Moel Llyfnant pitch
Sunset over Snowdonia from Moel Llyfnant pitch (26 Jul 2011__21:20:37)

Day 2 - Blaen-Lliw & Ffridd Trawsgoed

A pleasant light breeze blew overnight but in the clear dawn, I noticed that a deep warm haze had developed and the open tent door was hanging perfectly still: it had died completely. Uh-oh, battle stations: out with the Mosiguard, on with the Visorbuff and pack as much as possible inside the tent. A rapid depitching and I was off sharpish, stopping only very briefly for a quick photo and wafting off the midges.

Descending the western slopes, the walk along the good valley track to the pass road by the Afon Lliw is always a pleasant walk.

Dawn view of the Rhinogydd through a belt of haze
Dawn view of the Rhinogydd through a belt of haze (27 Jul 2011__07:02:29)
The Afon Lliw
The Afon Lliw (27 Jul 2011__07:44:27)
The Afon Lliw
The Afon Lliw (27 Jul 2011__07:46:55)

A short walk eastwards up the road is the start of the bridleway that crosses the wilderness past Bryn Cau to Ffridd Trawsgoed. This is a rough track of sorts through the reedy tussocky terrain, sometimes clear, sometimes not, but never hard to trace if you keep an eye on the map as it twists around. It ascends through a couple of little cuttings and meanders down to a gate and the infant Afon Erwent just beyond that is easily forded.

Moel Llyfnant & Foel Ystrodur Fawr from Bryn Cau
Moel Llyfnant & Foel Ystrodur Fawr from Bryn Cau (27 Jul 2011__08:08:23)
Moel Llyfnant from the Afon Erwent
Moel Llyfnant from the Afon Erwent (27 Jul 2011__08:32:18)
View to Craig Dolfudr from Ffridd Trawsgoedd
View to Craig Dolfudr from Ffridd Trawsgoedd (27 Jul 2011__08:44:06)

Beyond the river the track ascends to the L of a small heathery knoll and descends to a bifurcation where I took the R fork into the forest. This becomes a good forest track that emerges at the buildings of Trawscoed where I turned south down the byway to the road head: from here I followed the road to the bridge over the river, crossed to the south side and followed the narrow lane back to the A494 at Llanuwchllyn.