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Date: 10 Apr 2005
Start / Finish: Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog. Good roadside parking.
Maps: Explorer 255: Llangollen & Berwyn.
|Day 1||Cefn-Hir-fynydd & Y Foel||18 miles / 3410 feet (29.0km / 1039m)|
|Day 2||Moel Fferna and Pen Bwlch Llandrillo||14 miles / 1640 feet (22.5km / 500m)|
A circuit taking in parts of the Ceiriog Trail and the northern part of the Berwyn ridge.
This mainly mid-level round was quickly designed for a couple of days of reasonable weather when the high tops were expected to be misted out, and was an opportunity to investigate the Ceiriog Trail - a very mixed experience.
The lane S from Llanarmon climbs around to the shoulder of Cefn-Hir-fynydd at 146309, where the Ceiriog Trail (CT) makes a pleasant traverse of the hill eastwards with spacious views. As expected, the high Berwyn tops to the W were swathed in mist. At 173323, the CT turns S to descend into the valley around the slopes of Hen Graig and emerges at the lane junction at Fron farm (178299). (Note: at this point the CT has been diverted to avoid the farm access drive: it now continues from a waymarked stile a short way NE down the lane).
Our plan today was to follow the lane anyway, and we turned L at the next junction then R at the fork to pick up the CT at 219318, where it zigzags up to the secluded Pen-y-gwely reservoir. Just beyond the reservoir we collected very good water at the spring streamlet on the R of the track. Emerging from the trees the track gives way to muddy pasture, and the CT turns NE across a particularly awful depression where some gymnastics are required to avoid calf-deep sloppy mud and slurry. Turning NW then NE over Pen y Gwely, the walking becomes more pleasant and the views return. The CT then descends NW down the attractive wooded valley of the Nant Llechwedd-gwyn to the B4500.
Walking N to Pandy, a good track enters the steep sided valley below Craig y Pandy and climbs N to cross a stream. The enclosed track NW from here is very wet and muddy, and we reached the lane with some relief. We followed the lanes N and NE, passing a small waterfall where we crossed a stile to collect water, and reached the start of the footpath W to Y Foel (202394). Passing the thin plantation and crossing the stile, a good path starts a short way in from the fence and heads towards the top, but vanishes part way up. The rest of the climb is on short heather, and the summit is an oasis of grass and rock capped by a small cairn. We made our pitch here and enjoyed the fine clear views in the late afternoon sun, including the Clwydian hills, the cliffs of Worlds End, the Peckforton hills and the Berwyn mountains.
At dawn, surprisingly, only the high Berwyn tops were capped in mist and this soon cleared. Picking our way westwards over rough trackless heather, we picked up the mown track that descends easily NW to a small copse of trees. A good path on the R of the fence climbs to the summit of Vivod Mountain at a fence junction. Crossing the fence and turning S, a path descends to the forest where we saw a small flock of crossbills, a rare sight and only the third time we have seen them. The path follows the forest edge and continues on the R of the fence to climb Moel Fferna, where the summit windshelter lies a short walk across a wet peaty area. Descending to Bwlch Cynwyd, we diverted E to the Ceiriog Ddu to replenish water.
The thin path SW along the ridge was squelchy and quite arduous, but very enjoyable with clear views to the Snowdonia mountains. The grass and rock around the summit of Pen Bwlch Llandrillo Top was a welcome dry rest stop to admire the view as the sun finally shone. At the Wayfarers memorial stone at Bwlch Llandrillo, a good track leads E down the valley of Nant Rhydwilym and crosses to the S side at a bridge. This was a very attractive return route, and the track contours high above the little falls in the steeply incised valley and descends to the valley lane, which parallels the Afon Ceiriog back to Llanarmon.