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Ysgafell Wen / 2 days / 18 miles (29km)

Outline Map → Map Route file →

Date: 08 Jun 2006
Start / Finish: Dolwyddelan. Good roadside parking, also a free car park by the station.
Maps: Outdoor Leisure 17 Snowdon & 18 Harlech and Bala.

Day 1Yr Arddu, Moel Meirch & Ysgafell Wen7.7 miles / 2610 feet (12.4km / 795m)
Day 2Allt Fawr, Moel Penamnen & Y Ro Wen10.6 miles / 2070 feet (17.1km / 630m)

A circuit of the hills and lakes of the Ysgafell Wen ridge from Dolwyddelan, one of the lovliest areas in Wales, and returning via the unfrequented top of Y Ro Wen. The route uses a fairly long walk-in and approaches the ridge via the seldom trodden bouldery top of Yr Arddu, another hill of this name in the area not to be confused with the one nearer to Beddgelert.

Day 1 - Yr Arddu, Moel Meirch & Ysgafell Wen

Crossing the bridge S over the Afon Lledr, a no-through road branches off westwards alongside the railway line, with a fine view of Moel Siabod to the N, and at its end, a footpath is signed L up an access drive. This becomes a pleasant woodland path above the river and railway, and Dolwyddelan Castle can be seen across the valley. The path turns R at the buildings of Bertheos and arrives at the A470. A short way R along the road is a footpath sign and stile onto a short surfaced track that crosses the river by some attractive waterfalls. At the very end of the track and well hidden is a stile onto the waymarked footpath WNW that climbs the hillside to arrive at a lane, where we turned R and followed it westwards along the valley. The heat was really building now and there was barely a trace of wind, fortunately we had a good stock of water.

Passing a ruined church, a bridleway track climbs NW past Coed Mawr and the striking crag of Clogwyn yr Adar, with the rocky E face of Yr Arddu to the L. Just after a gate at the highest point of the track, we turned L and climbed the trackless grass and bilberry slopes of Yr Arddu, a slow and very hot ascent with frequent pauses to admire the mountain views now on show to the NW, though the views were hazy. Aiming for the rocks on the skyline, the character of this hill changed in a moment to one more reminiscent of the other Yr Arddu: large slabs and boulder fields which were quite delightful. A path materialised here that made easy work of the walk to the cairn, which gave a fine view of the main ridge and Llyn Edno could be seen ahead.

Clogwyn yr Adar
Clogwyn yr Adar (08 Jun 2006__10:29:35)
Yr Aran from Foel Goch
Yr Aran from Foel Goch (08 Jun 2006__11:47:14)

Passing some pools on the ridge, we descended to the infant Afon Cwm Edno and collected good water, and climbed out towards the formidable looking slopes of Moel Meirch. There is a thin path from the S side to the rocky top, one of the finest in Wales with a platform and pointed rock at the summit and a superb view towards the Snowdon horseshoe. The path descends to the superbly secluded Llyn Edno and climbs on to the Far N top of Ysgafell Wen. A short way further is the N top with a prominent cairn overlooking the lakes of Llynnau'r Cwn, where we made our pitch and soaked up the views, now thankfully with a good breeze.

Snowdon Horseshoe and pool on Yr Arddu
Snowdon Horseshoe and pool on Yr Arddu (08 Jun 2006__12:37:46)
Snowdon Horseshoe from Moel Meirch
Snowdon Horseshoe from Moel Meirch (08 Jun 2006__14:09:55)
Llyn Edno
Llyn Edno (08 Jun 2006__14:47:12)
Llynnauír Cwn
Llynnauír Cwn (08 Jun 2006__15:29:37)
Pitch on Ysgafell Wen North Top
Pitch on Ysgafell Wen North Top (08 Jun 2006__16:13:32)

Day 2 - Allt Fawr, Moel Penamnen & Y Ro Wen

We opened the tent door in time to catch the red sun rising through the haze above Moel Siabod. It would be even hotter today but with a brisk cooling breeze on the high ground. The succession of superb lakes along the ridge to Moel Druman and Allt Fawr was a sheer delight, all rendered a deep blue in the sunshine. A path descends the NE ridge of Allt Fawr above Llyn Iwerddon and down to a bwlch above Llyn Dyrnogydd. The path fades a little further on but we made a trackless descent to join the old mine track onto the A470 at a ladder stile.

Sunrise & Moel Siabod
Sunrise & Moel Siabod (09 Jun 2006__05:12:53)
Llyn on Ysgafell Wen
Llyn on Ysgafell Wen (09 Jun 2006__06:46:26)
Moelwyn Mawr from Ysgafell Wen
Moelwyn Mawr from Ysgafell Wen (09 Jun 2006__07:05:53)
Llyn Terfyn
Llyn Terfyn (09 Jun 2006__07:29:45)
Llyn Coch & Cnicht
Llyn Coch & Cnicht (09 Jun 2006__07:42:57)
Llyn Conglog & the Moelwynion
Llyn Conglog & the Moelwynion (09 Jun 2006__08:19:16)

At this point our memory failed us: we expected an access point somewhere on the opposite side, but there was a continuous barbed fence. The steep blind corner in the road to the R looked quite dangerous, so we walked L to the Crimea Pass car park, but again there was no access point through the fence. Fortunately the fence just past the car park was low and easy to cross, and we climbed SE to meet the hill fence near the Llynau Barlwyd reservoirs, replenishing our water at a stream on the way. This is a very quiet and little trodden area, and on rounding the lower slopes of Moel Farlwyd, the shapely Moel Penamnen comes into view and dominates the scene across the water.

Llynnau Barlwyd & Moel Penamnen
Llynnau Barlwyd & Moel Penamnen (09 Jun 2006__11:14:12)

At the NE end of the lakes, a short steep climb through the rocks alongside a fence and a further climb on grass gains the summit of Moel Penamnen, marked by a low pile of stones and giving a great view across the lakes to the Moelwynion. A thin path leads E across the broad grassland and through a prominent defile to the forest corner, where a damp spongey track takes over well to the R of the trees. A path traverses the heather and sphagnum of Bryn Hafod-fraith and grass resumes on the ascent to the final objective Y Ro Wen. The summit is marked by a large hollowed out cairn and the Arenigs can be seen to the SE. A mine track directly from the top maintains its height for some distance, giving a splendid view westwards to the Carneddau, Moel Siabod and Snowdon, then makes an easy descent alongside the Afon Bwlch y Groes directly to Dolwyddelan.