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The Dyfi hills / 3 days / 30 miles (48km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

Date: 16 Sep 2005
Start / Finish: Dinas Mawddwy. Free car park and toilets at the North end of the village SH859150.
Maps: Explorer OL23 Cadair Idris.

Day 1Llyn Foeldinas & the Maesglase ridge7.4 miles / 3570 feet (11.9km / 1088m)
Day 2Mynydd Cwmcelli & Esgair Ddu13 miles / 2970 feet (20.9km / 905m)
Day 3The Afon Clywedog valley10 miles / 1470 feet (16.1km / 448m)

A backpack of the Dyfi hills around Dinas Mawddwy, taking in the underrated Maesglase ridge and the very seldom climbed Marilyns to the South, and returning along the deserted valley of the Afon Clywedog. We saw nobody at all in the whole 3 days, which included a weekend.

Day 1 - Llyn Foeldinas & the Maesglase ridge

Walking up to the A470, a signed footpath climbs through the forest to the old quarry. A stile gives access to an incline which levels out at the colourful quarried rock face, and we then picked up a faint path northwards which petered out. A pathless but quite easy climb N across a marshy area gained the shore of Llyn Foeldinas with the Arans beyond, on a backcloth of dark grey clouds that seemed to emphasize the chill of the cold northerly wind.

Llyn Foeldinas & the Arans
Llyn Foeldinas & the Arans (16 Sep 2005__09:56:12)

Walking W to the summit of Foel Dinas, there is a grand prospect of the Maesglase cliffs and the thin waterfalls. The descent to the narrow neck of Bwlch Siglen is rather tortuous in parts through heather and gorse, but there is an easy path that climbs around the edge of the cliffs with great views downwards and across to the Arans. The edge turns NW to Maen Du which is marked by a small cairn indicating the old high point before the true summit was later reassigned to the top of Craig Rhiw-erch to the W. The ridge continues along the fence and around the edge of the steep cliffs of Craig Portas, giving grand views into the cwm, and bending NW to the summit of Cribin Fawr which lies a short way beyond the fence.

Approaching Maesglase
Approaching Maesglase (16 Sep 2005__12:05:36)
Craig Portas & Cadair Idris
Craig Portas & Cadair Idris (16 Sep 2005__13:33:42)
Cwm Cerist from Craig Portas
Cwm Cerist from Craig Portas (16 Sep 2005__14:30:56)

Descending to the bwlch, we dropped our packs and set off NW towards the Nant Fridd-fawr. We heard the faint sound of the stream running after only a few minutes, well before the fall marked on the map, and it yielded very good water. A final steep climb to the trig point on Waun-oer brought us to the first pitch, just below the summit and sheltered from the worst of the brisk wind. There was a fine view of the Cadair Idris range across the valley and the Rhinogydd to the NW.

Snowdonia mountains from Waun-oer
Snowdonia mountains from Waun-oer (16 Sep 2005__16:33:18)

Day 2 - Mynydd Cwmcelli & Esgair Ddu

There was some rain in the night but most tops were just clearing the mist as the red sun pierced the cloud over Maesglase and bathed the Cadair Idris slopes. Once again it was the Arans that remained capped by mist. The ridge curves onwards over Mynydd Ceiswyn and down to a ladder stile. Here we descended the clear forest footpath into Cwm Ratgoed to join the track that follows the Nant Ceiswyn to meet a minor road. A short way R along the road, a footpath (unsigned) descends L just beyond the house and curves back L to a footbridge over the river. Forking R, a good path climbs SE through the woodland high above the Nant Esgair-neiriau and emerges at open fields where it becomes a faint grassy track that curves NE alongside a fence to join a farm track by some buildings. This gives very easy walking SE around Mynydd Esgairneiriau to the forest edge, where we turned NE over easy grass and picked up other tracks that took us over the small rise at spot-height 402m to a fence at Bwlch Tri Arglwydd. A final steep climb gains the trig point on Mynydd Cwmcelli, a hill fort with a tilted rampart composed partly of natural rock, and very good all round views.

Dawn sky over Cadair Idris
Dawn sky over Cadair Idris (17 Sep 2005__07:19:08)
Bog & the Rhinogydd
Bog & the Rhinogydd (17 Sep 2005__08:07:55)
Cadair Idris from Mynydd Cwmcelli
Cadair Idris from Mynydd Cwmcelli (17 Sep 2005__12:45:44)

At the base of the steep sided fort is a track that enters the forest and descends NE to a lane, which made short work of the walk to the junction at 832104. Here the track above the Afon Angell on the S side makes a pleasant alternative to the road and emerges at a pair of large metal gates, which look impregnable but there is a just a heavy chain at the top that lifts off. Rejoining the road, we walked through the hamlets of Abermynach and Aberangell to the A470.

A short walk S is the entrance to Dolcorsllwyn Farm, where the bridleway starts through the R hand gate and between the buildings, then turns R through the farmyard to a gate and track. The map shows the way ascending straight up the field, but it is far easier (and recommended to us by the farmer) to follow the track as it snakes uphill to a stone barn. Turning L here, a track marches on NE and levels out, arriving at a gate and stile by a reedy area (859096). Crossing the stile and continuing through the reeds, we veered L around some gorse bushes and crossed a low fence to join another good track that climbs to Cwm Gast alongside a tiny stream, then more steeply up the cwm to a gate. The track peters out at the plateau, but the fence leads easily to the flat grassy summit of Esgair Ddu overlooking a peaty area. The top itself is unremarkable but has pleasing spacious views and made a good pitch.

Evening sky from Esgair Ddu
Evening sky from Esgair Ddu (17 Sep 2005__17:20:06)
Pitch on Esgair Ddu
Pitch on Esgair Ddu (17 Sep 2005__17:47:42)
Evening sky from Esgair Ddu
Evening sky from Esgair Ddu (17 Sep 2005__19:16:32)

Day 3 - The Afon Clywedog valley

All the high tops were cloaked in mist at dawn but all was clear at this level. To the E lies the huge forested sprawl of Carnedd Wen, another Marilyn, renowned for difficulty of access and too problematical to include satisfactorily on this route. Descending NE on easy grass and crossing the infant Nant Craig-For, we joined a good track on the L side of the valley, not shown on the map, that leads down to the ruin of Bryn-glas amid large flocks of pheasants that are now being reared hereabouts. The track turns R here and L before the river, leading easily down to join a bridleway at a gate and ladder stile and on to the lane.

The lane meanders N and a RUPP branches off R leading E through the lower forest slopes above the Afon Dugoed. The small streams from the forest provide excellent water. At Talglanau farm, the access drive to the A458 is a permitted path which conveniently emerges onto the road very near the start of our planned byway route (908127). The entrance is blocked by a gate tied up at the sides with barbed wire, but is easily climbed. The line beyond is clear and curves uphill to join the good track above the Afon Clywedog. As we followed the track to the ruins at Gelli-ddolen, this very pleasant valley was again deserted. Passing to the L of the ruins and curving R to the sheep pens, the track crosses the Nant Carreg-hydd and we continued through more flocks of startled pheasants and through the small dark conifer plantation.

Y Foel
Y Foel (18 Sep 2005__12:15:16)

At the head of the valley is a footbridge over the river, and we turned L past a hut to the track that slants up westwards to a small plantation. The bridleway goes through the trees and traverses the very steep side of Ceseiliau, with superb views of the cwm below. At a gate, we abandoned the bridleway and joined the farm track that hairpins easily down to join the lane. A short walk down the lane is a byway that branches R over the lower slopes towards Dinas Mawddwy. It joins a footpath that drops through a wood to the footbridge over the Afon Dyfi below the car park.

View from Ceseiliau
View from Ceseiliau (18 Sep 2005__12:57:26)