|OS Route Map →||Route file →|
Date: 06 Dec 2008
Start / Finish: Dolwyddelan.
Maps: Outdoor Leisure 17 Snowdon & 18 Harlech and Bala.
|Day 1||Yr Arddu & Moel Meirch||6.0 miles / 2080 feet (9.7km / 633m)|
|Day 2||Llyn Edno & the Afon Lledr||7.1 miles / 900 feet (11.4km / 274m)|
A short weekender around the hills to the west of Dolwyddelan, ascending via Yr Arddu to Moel Meirch and the northernmost top of Ysgafell Wen, and returning via the wild valley of the Afon Lledr. The approach line is the same as our Ysgafell Wen trip and some of the description is copied from there.
The chaotic habit of the weather continues, bringing the occasional good day or two between miserable spells, and this was typical of the year: a fine clear day followed by thick clag and increasingly grey skies. The high peaks had retained their snowcaps and presented superb views in the clear air, and it was cold enough to freeze the upper layers of the extensive boggy ground in these parts and make the walking a bit easier.
We have remarked before that Moel Meirch is one of the finest summits in Wales, a pointed boulder and viewing platform with great views to match, and our pitch near the base of the uppermost rock pile was a real highlight.
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 and its small mist cap 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.
Passing a ruined church, a bridleway track climbs NW past Coed Mawr farm and the striking crag of Clogwyn yr Adar, with the rocky E face of Yr Arddu to the L. Further up we turned to climb the trackless slopes of Yr Arddu, an instance of a typical Welsh sloping bog but assisted by an icy crust today. We kept well left fairly near the edge to aim for a metal gate in the cross wall and eventually reached the bouldery upper slopes where a distinct path appeared. The views were superb from this fine and deserted summit.
A trackless but quite easy walk SW across the valley head brought us to the ridge path below Moel Meirch, and a short climb on a thin side path through the heather and rocks gains the excellent summit and its panoramic views. We decided to look around for a pitch just below the rocky top and found a good patch of short heather that wasn't too wet, and a great pitch it was. Frost was forming on the tent as we left for a last visit to the summit rocks to soak up the views in the fading orange light, and the sun was setting over Moel Ddu as we returned in the crisp calm air.
The morning was a typical example of a common and most frustrating phenomenon for backpackers: as we opened the frost encrusted tent door before dawn we had a crystal clear sky and a glowing first-quarter moon, but by the time we had eaten breakfast the thick cloud was already welling up from the south. Fortunately we captured some pleasing dawn silhouettes of the Manods and Arenigs to the east, and a while later an elongated mist cap formed and draped itself neatly over the tops like a blanket with the emerging sun peeping through below.
The mist was brushing the Ysgafell Wen tops as we reached Llyn Edno, which always manages to look wild and highly appealing in any conditions, one for the connoiseurs. The last rays of the struggling sun illuminated the shoreline rocky cliffs while the clouds engulfed the high peaks beyond the dark waters. The partly frozen boggy bits were quite easy to cross and we began the ascent to the Far North Top of Ysgafell Wen.
The windblown mist had engulfed the tops as we approached the cairn and that was the last of the photos today. At the next dip we dropped down a grassy breach into the upper Afon Lledr valley and followed the river past its little waterfalls on its south side. This is a lovely and seldom trodden secluded valley, if rather wet at times, and there is a discernible line of an intermittent path lower down as it crosses a side stream and approaches a ruined building on the far side of a flat marshy area. From the building a tractor track leads uphill to join an old mine track, where we turned L and followed its meandering zigzag line northwards down to the railway underpass at SH691506. We turned R here on the good track through Hendre farm to the roadhead near where we turned off on day 1. Retracing our outward route to the eastern end of the lane, we took the byway that ascends gently at first and drops down to Dolwyddelan castle and the A470, leaving a short pavement walk back to the village.