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Home > Trips&Photos > Trips > SE Carneddau: Llyn Cowlyd Round

SE Carneddau: Llyn Cowlyd Round 2 days / 12 miles (19km)

OS Route Map → Map Route file →

Date: 01 Jul 2014
Start / Finish: Capel Curig.
Maps: OL17: Snowdonia & Conwy Valley or Harvey Superscale Snowdonia.

Day 1Crimpiau, Craiglwyn & Creigiau Gleision5.2miles / 2097 feet (8.4km / 639m)
Day 2Llyn Cowlyd & Pen Llithrig y Wrach6.4miles / 1496 feet (10.3km / 456m)
Llyn Cowlyd

A 2-day circuit of the south-eastern Carneddau hills flanking Llyn Cowlyd, approaching the eastern side via the Nant y Geuallt valley to Crimpiau with a visit to Llyn Coryn and ascending alongside the rocky flanks of Craig Wen to Craiglwyn and Creigiau Gleision. The return on the western side traverses Pen Llithrig y Wrach and includes our first exploration of its north ridge.

This route is largely in little frequented stretches of the Carneddau, where most of the few walkers encountered in the northern half will be bagging the Nuttall summits from Cwm Eigiau and day walkers in the south will be ascending Crimpiau from Capel Curig or Llyn Crafnant. Between these focal points there is much wild landscape to explore around Llyn y Coryn and Craig Wen.

Again we found a fine tent pitch below the north top of Creigiau Gleision, much against the odds considering the very rough terrain that pervades this landscape.

Day 1 - Crimpiau, Craiglwyn & Creigiau Gleision

The well worn path eastwards from the main road junction towards Crafnant was an easy enjoyable start to the day, passing through attractive woodland and turning into the Nant y Geuallt valley at a footbridge. Capel Curig is a focus for outdoor training and ahead we saw a common sight in these parts: a group of backpackers with the trademark signs of huge packs, usually with those awful rolled foam mats strapped on the outside along with other paraphernalia. One day I must find out the M.O. of these groups and how they operate just for interest.

The group had disappeared at the valley head leaving us with an unaccompanied ascent to the rocky summit of Crimpiau. There is a good view of Llyn Crafnant below and north-westwards towards the imposing rocky crags of Craig Wen.

Craig Wen & Craiglwyn from Crimpiau
Craig Wen & Craiglwyn from Crimpiau (01 Jul 2014__10:13:53)
Llyn Crafnant from Crimpiau
Llyn Crafnant from Crimpiau (01 Jul 2014__10:39:06)
Gallt yr Ogof from Crimpiau
Gallt yr Ogof from Crimpiau (01 Jul 2014__10:41:43)

We descended the south-west ridge to visit Llyn y Coryn, a small lake whose shore had always been too boggy to approach on previous visits in dull weather. It's quite an attractive spot in the right conditions with good mountain scenery as a backdrop.

Llyn y Coryn & Moel Siabod
Llyn y Coryn & Moel Siabod (01 Jul 2014__10:57:13)
Llyn y Coryn
Llyn y Coryn (01 Jul 2014__11:06:45)
Llyn y Coryn
Llyn y Coryn (01 Jul 2014__11:14:39)

From the lake a good path contours back along the flanks of Crimpiau to the bwlch before the looming crags of Castell y Gywnt and Craig Wen. There is a discernible trodden line ascending to the foot of Craig Wen and passing along its flank of rocky buttresses, a lovely secluded wild corner of Snowdonia where years ago we once scaled the rocks to its spine. No such mini-adventures these days though, we continued across the spongey ground past the lesser rocky bastion of Moel Ddefaid to ascend to the first Nuttall top of Craiglwyn.

Approaching Craiglwyn
Approaching Craiglwyn (01 Jul 2014__12:47:56)
Rocks below Craig Wen
Rocks below Craig Wen (01 Jul 2014__12:49:35)
Craig Wen
Craig Wen (01 Jul 2014__12:53:02)
Moel Ddefaid
Moel Ddefaid (01 Jul 2014__13:51:44)
View back to Craig Wen & Moel Siabod
View back to Craig Wen & Moel Siabod (01 Jul 2014__14:03:15)

Arriving at the main summit of Creigiau Gleision the cloud had thickened to a dull grey draining the landscape of vitality but the skies brightened approaching the north top. The main concern now was finding a good high level tent pitch on this mountain of untamed heather, tussocks and cotton grass, and hope was beginning to fade as we decided to investigate the small unnamed lake not far below the summit. We lurched towards the lake and found a suitable patch of short heathery growth very close to the water. The pitch was a very good one and the pool had extensive bogbean to augment the ubiquitous cotton grass thereabouts.

Approaching Creigiau Gleision North Top
Approaching Creigiau Gleision North Top (01 Jul 2014__15:05:55)
Pitch below Creigiau Gleision North Top
Pitch below Creigiau Gleision North Top (01 Jul 2014__16:32:02)

Day 2 - Llyn Cowlyd & Pen Llithrig y Wrach

At dawn a pleasing and warming sunrise cast its glow over the water into the tent door, a fine way to start the day pottering around the shore for attractive viewing angles in the early light and admiring the waking landscape. On such mornings we are always very slow at striking camp, lazily pausing often to scan the surroundings and soak in the atmosphere.

Sunrise at tent pitch
Sunrise at tent pitch (02 Jul 2014__05:26:03)
Early light at the pitch
Early light at the pitch (02 Jul 2014__06:39:31)
Early light at the pitch
Early light at the pitch (02 Jul 2014__07:03:07)

Rejoining the path we continued our descent to a flat stretch, usually very boggy but relatively dry today, to the kink in the fence where the path down to Llyn Cowlyd starts. This path has two variations on the map and is confusing in descent: a prominent worn path sets off but disappears without trace a short way down, once again we lost it and descended the rough heathery slopes until we spotted it again lower down the slope. Approaching Llyn Cowlyd we saw another group of overladen backpackers ascending the other branch of the path.

The dam affords a good view of Llyn Cowlyd from near water level.

Llyn Cowlyd
Llyn Cowlyd (02 Jul 2014__09:21:24)

Surveying the tangled lower heathery slopes of the north ridge of Pen Llithrig y Wrach, we decided to aim for a grassy green stripe climbing alongside a line of crags. We ascended the first few contours on an easy winding track to the old quarry, continuing some distance beyond as a deteriorating quadbike track, but that soon petered out in heather and tussocks. We slowly inched forwards to a large rock outcrop where we could assess the next stage - a brief descent into a shallow heathery ravine and a short walk along to the base of the stripe. From here the terrain was easy, and looking down from the climb we could see a distinct line coming up to this spot from the lake farther SW than our starting point on the quarry track.

The sky was becoming increasingly grey as we reached the top of the climb and soon joined a clear but relatively little walked path along the broad ridge, Carnedd Llewelyn and Pen yr Helgi Du intermittently disappearing in mist. All the summits were clear if rather dull as we reached the summit area of Pen Llithrig y Wrach to be blasted by an unsuspected and quite strong wind.

Llyn Cowlyd & Creigiau Gleision
Llyn Cowlyd & Creigiau Gleision (02 Jul 2014__09:49:20)
View back along Pen Llithrig y Wrach north ridge
View back along Pen Llithrig y Wrach north ridge (02 Jul 2014__12:22:46)
Llyn Cowlyd from Pen Llithrig y Wrach
Llyn Cowlyd from Pen Llithrig y Wrach (02 Jul 2014__12:40:27)

The descent to the footbridge at the SW end of Llyn Cowlyd follows an obvious path at first but becomes a bit vague lower down in the hummocky terrain: it is very tempting to drop down leftwards too early but keeping faith in the overall line we arrived accurately. The bridleway track provides an easy completion directly to the A5 near Capel Curig.