|OS Route Map →||GPX Route file →|
Date: 03 Sep 2007
Start / Finish: Dolwyddelan. Good roadside parking, also a free car park by the station.
Maps: Explorer OL17 Snowdon & 18 Harlech and Bala.
|Day 1||Moel Siabod, Carnedd y Cribau & Moel Meirch||9.8 miles / 3950 feet (15.8km / 1200m)|
|Day 2||Ysgafell Wen, Allt Fawr, Moel Penamnen & Y Ro Wen||10.6 miles / 2200 feet (17.1km / 670m)|
My first solo trip: the complete version of our Ysgafell Wen route from Dolwyddelan that we did together in June 2006.
The full circuit includes Moel Siabod via Llyn y Foel and the splendid steep rocky ridge of Daear Ddu, and follows the natural curving line of the ridge around to Allt Fawr through one of the lovliest areas in Wales. Crossing the Crimea Pass, the route returns via Moel Penamnen and the unfrequented but fine viewpoint of Y Ro Wen.
The footpath and forest road northwards from Dolwyddelan made progress rapid and it was dry and cloudy as far as the finger post indicating 'Moel Siabod', but then the showers started as I approached the woodland path that climbs more steeply to the forest corner. Immediately after leaving the forest the stream must be crossed to pick up the path that climbs through the heather and rocks alongside the waterfalls to Llyn y Foel. The scene was a bit gloomy but the fine rocky ridge of Daear Ddu beckoned and there was still a long way to climb.
A path follows the S shore of the lake to the foot of the ridge, just a steep narrow jumble of rocks from here, but the path is initially clear enough when approached from this side. A short way up I kept my eyes peeled for right-turns in the path to keep on the spine of the ridge: miss these and you may end up on a slanting ascent that omits the ridge entirely. The showers continued and the rock was now very wet, and at one point I found myself traversing a very steep rock face along a tiny dripping ledge which briefly made life interesting. This sort of thing can happen depending on the choices made when the path splits or temporarily disappears, but in any case it is generally an easy and superb hands-on ascent with Llyn y Foel intermittently visible below.
Finally reaching the trig point of Moel Siabod, I was expecting other walkers to have plodded up the least interesting side from Plas y Brenin by now, but the summit was deserted. There was a lot of grey cloud on the mountains yet all but the highest tops were strangely clear, including this one.
At the foot of the long grassy W ridge I met a group of walkers apparently under the supervision of a leader, these were the only people I saw in the whole two days. The crags of Carnedd y Cribau lay ahead beyond Bwlch Rhiw'r Y chen overlooking Llynau Diwaunydd.
The descent of Carnedd y Cribau takes a lot longer than the map suggests, it is undulating, rugged and in a few places pretty wet, finally dropping down to Bwlch y Rhediad via the bouldery dome of Clogwyn Pwll Budr.
The sun gained strength and the showers stopped to give dramatic skies for the rest of the day. There is a path from here over the rugged slopes of Cerrig Cochion to the eastern flanks of Moel Meirch, but there are some very boggy bits to negotiate. In two such places a pair of ladder stiles have been erected to enable walkers to seek drier lines on the E side of the fence and return after crossing them. This is nevertheless excellent and colourful wild country which looked especially striking with the sun and shadows on the heather and rocks. We have commented before that Moel Meirch has one of the finest summits in Wales.
Llyn Edno looked particularly fine in these clear conditions and the mountains beyond were richly highlighted by the patterns of cloud in light and dark colours, definitely a spot to linger and admire the views and scenery.
At Ysgafell Wen N Top there was another excellent cloudscape into the sun to the SW over Cnicht and Llyn yr Adar. By exposing this photo for the sky and retrieving the black shadow detail I was able to capture it, it also shows the light on the sea and the end of the Lleyn Peninsula.
My first real pitch of the Hilleberg Akto presented no difficulty, and the new PHD Mimin 300 sleeping bag was quite warm enough despite the pretty cold night. I was expecting to see tents pitched at the very popular Llyn yr Adar but I could see none, and the evening view was really heartwarming.
The morning was locally clear and crisp with some distant tops holding onto mist caps. This soon gave way to an orange glow on the hills and beautiful lakes of this area as I walked the rest of the ridge around to Allt Fawr in the cool of early morning. The view from Allt Fawr was outstanding.
I descended the NE ridge of Allt Fawr to a bwlch before the final rise as on previous trips, but this time I left the ridge somewhere around 688481 to drop down grassy slopes to the air shaft on the quarry track far below. This turned out to be a quicker descent route, or at least it seemed quicker, and the track led to a ladder stile onto the A470 opposite my intended point of access to the eastern hills. There is a tall slate pillar by the stile inscribed with 'Ffestiniog Horseshoe' and an arrow pointing back along the track - I must investigate that.
Now, the problems...
On the eastern side of the A470 there is a barbed wire fence along the entire length of road in both directions, and there is currently a major road works too with the Crimea Pass car park to the N cordoned off by plastic netting. A true free spirit will always find a way though, and at the northern end of the car park I stepped over the netting and crossed the fence quite easily at a weak point in the corner. Behind the trees a slanting climb SE brought me to the fence junction at 704484, where the fence on the E side is not barbed and enables easy onward progress around to Llynnau Barlwyd.
It remains to be seen whether the National Park Authority will erect ladder stiles when the road works have finished, the obvious candidates being at the car park and the point opposite the Ffestiniog Horseshoe track.
There was a great view over Llynnau Barlwyd to the Moelwynion from the top of the steep climb to Moel Penamnen, but the lower reservoir was dry.
A thin path descends Moel Penamnen towards the minor rise of Foel-fras and I dropped down to a slightly lower tractor track for an easy walk with open spacious views, finally making a brief detour to its top. Descending near the fence, I picked up the path around the forest edge, a bit squelchy in places but not bad, which continues through a gate and around to Bryn Hafod-fraith where it becomes indistinct. The slopes are easy grass anyway and I veered R to a fence and picked up another path that climbs around the edge of the cwm to Y Ro Wen with its windshelter, giving extensive views. The old track gives a fine promenade with views across to Moel Siabod and descends easily to Dolwyddelan.